I’ve just come back from an inspirational and fun few days at Bernina headquarters north of Chicago. A group of approximately 25 of us gathered for an information session on what’s new with Bernina...and there is plenty!… and for some camaraderie with fellow national artisans that we see on the road but don’t have time to sit and talk with as much as we’d like.
I’ve been a member of the Bernina Artisan group for over a decade. It has been such a thrill and an honor to have been invited to be a part of this prestigious group of sewing and quilting teachers and industry insiders! Many of them are well-known to anyone who quilts, as you will see in the photos.
Our meetings are always so much fun and informative and filled with food! My first meeting was at Oklahoma Embroidery and Design in Oklahoma which is a subsidiary of Bernina and makes embroidery designs and software. The second meeting was here in the Bernina home office and the third meeting was at the Bernina factory in Steckborn, Switzerland!! About 78 of us there for 5 days of tours to thread factory, fashion museum, lacemaking museum, fine dining and of course classes at the Bernina headquarters…wow was that an experience of a lifetime!!
This last weekend was frigid Chicago weather outside but lots of warm food inside! We were split into groups and each had hands-on use of the new machines. First I made a linen pillow on the 580 using the circle making tool which was lots of fun. I always like the attachments where you take your hands off and it just sews perfectly by itself!! The best part of this was the perfect couching of 3 threads in the circle…amazing! I also loved the Spanish hemstitching attachment which helps you hold the two fabrics apart at the exact distance to leave open space in your hemstitches. I could have used that when I was doing so much French heirloom sewing years ago and just had to eyeball it and go very slowly!
Next I tried the longarm with the Bernina 830 and the tablet software. I heard about this and was anxious to try it. Truthfully, after the instructor told us how to program one stitch….I could figure out the rest! It is that intuitive and simple! I already have the 830, so you would just put it on the carriage behind the 10 foot frame, attach the tablet and go! Wonder if I could make space in my family room?? It was very fun to have it stitch out perfect patterns on our quilt piece.
The last class was on the brand new 780 model. It really was a bit mind-blowing to think that some engineers in Switzerland thought of and worked out how to do cutwork and crystal templates using a sewing machine! It sure was fun to watch it cut out around our embroidery perfectly! Amazing is the word brought to mind since I know how hard it would be to manually cut small areas between embroidery stitching! And of course, everyone loved the bling! Making a crystal transfer to iron on top of the embroidery was so unique and I can see it becoming addicting!
The last day we had a tour of the Brewer warehouse . WOW! Berninas stacked to the ceiling in rows that seemed to go on forever! We were mesmerized! In the other rows were fabric, notions and millions of items! I thought they would check our pockets on the way out!
Besides all the info and the shopping experience and the food at this reunion, we also had some special times. I loved meeting new people and seeing, hearing about what they do. Ricky Tims and Alex Anderson attended and had some very powerful messages. First he showed a video about a woman who had a stroke, was paralyzed on one side of her body and then took up quilting! She was incredible cutting with one hand, having special adaptive equipment and using the knee lift on the Bernina. Her quilts were not simple either! Her stitching and applique could rival those of any of the artisans in the room!! Ricky said in person that the quality was excellent. It was especially poignant to us because Libby Lehman is a part of this artisan group and was absent due to the massive stroke she had this Spring. She sent us a video with a big hello and we hear she is making good progress now. Everyone wants her to return to our quilt world! This video will be on The Quilt Show next year so look for it and subscribe if you are not a member, to see more wonderful quilting videos!
Ricky also gave a speech on how he went from musician to master quilter and star in the quilting industry, which combined with the video above, gave a message of being consciously grateful for what you have in life and hyper awareness of how you touch the lives of some people you meet. You may not know it now, or ever, but you could have an important influence on a stranger. Ricky’s message was about the tired salesman in Sears selling a machine to his grandma who in turn gave the machine to him and started this new career/life rolling!
Also the message of gratitude during the holiday season seems to be strongest while later in the year, it tends to wane. This trip with people flying in during the snowstorm, planes delayed, luggage lost, etc…I could hear many artisans saying…..so what? Luggage being late is not the worst thing in your life!
Well, I’ve come home very inspired to sew more, learn new things, try everything and to be more grateful for all my blessings! I can’t wait till next year’s reunion! Happy New Year to all!