Friday, November 20, 2009

Silk Thread on Bernina 830

Note:  Updated info I've received tells me that Bernina dealers/technicians are trained and  can help your 830 handle fine threads like #100 silk.  The newer machines have been updated as well.  If you have any issues at all, contact your technician. 

Machine quilting with YLI #100 silk thread is beautiful, exquisite. Sometimes though we have to adjust the machine to get the best result, and all machines get along with this thread a bit differently. Recently I heard from Mercy, one of my advanced students, at that she is the proud new owner of a Bernina 830, and has been trying to quilt with silk that was so successful in her other Berninas, as it is in all of mine (200, 730, and new 630).

After having problems, bad tension mostly, she and her technician and folks at the mother ship Bernina discovered some tips that will help you with this thread if you have this new machine. These tips might help you even if you have a different brand electronic machine with sensors.

Mercy wrote:

"First tip - the machine is soooo smart and the thread is soooo thin that for the most part it thinks there is no thread in the machine. Well, the machine is programmed to NOT sew if it is not threaded. If you reset the machine to allow it to sew without thread, then you lose all the other features like low bobbin warning, etc.

To resolve this, hold the thread tightly with your right hand as it leaves the spool and then thread the machine with your left hand. The little extra pressure is all you need for the thread to register on the sensors. Once registered, it will be fine until you need to rethread the machine.

Second tip - for silk and decorative threads it is critical to keep the machine well oiled. I usually clean and oil my 440 whenever I refill the bobbin thread. However, this machine's bobbin has a much larger capacity - more than double - and the silk is so thin you can sew for quite awhile before you run out of bobbin thread. You must stop and force yourself to do maintenance based on sewing TIME even if you do not need to replenish bobbin thread.

Third tip - the tension has to be PERFECT. If it is just a LITTLE bit off then the top will loop or eyelash just a bit every 5th or 6th stitch. If it is off by any more than just a little bit then the bobbin thread does not come up at all and the top thread breaks."

Thanks so much Mercy! I think this advice might work too with this machine and YLI Wonder Monofilament thread.

It is terrific when quilters send me vital information like this so I can share it here, and you can discover yourself what works best in your own machine and situation, and of course, always contact your dealer if you have problems or need advice. If any of you have more information, please share via the Comments.

Susan sent me the comment that there is a special/extra guide behine/under the white device that comes out to thread the machine. It's supposed to be used for fine or slippery threads to help the threading process. Bernina technicians know about this guide.

I agree about the maintenance based on time, rather than only when the bobbin thread runs out. I clean and oil the hook and bobbin area every day I quilt right at the beginning of my session. If I quilt steadily for 3 hours, I do it again.

Silk thread leaves a bit of a waxy debris in your machine so it is vital to clean it, and a bit of oil is also good. Check the top thread pathway as well, and swab out any sticky linty stuff that remains.

Run the machine, with no thread in it, quite slowly at first and perhaps more gunk will surface and you can swab that out gently with a cotton swab. Finally, run a clean dry swab over the metal parts in the bobbin/hook area to get any leftover oil, thread the machine, run it slowly and quilt with it on a sample to work out any leftover oil. I love this time as this is when I play and come up with exciting new ideas for designs.

Be very light handed and careful when cleaning/oiling your machine. Follow your technician's advice and check your owner's manual. My Berninas hum, and keep humming, and I take great care of them so that they do.

Keep quilting! It works out the oil.....and keeps your quilting zen going strong.


Teresa C said...

Diane, I read your blog and website obsessively. I am an experienced seamstress, and advanced beginner to intermediate piecer and have just started machine quilting. I have two quick questions for you. First, do you archive the tips that you post to your website? Second, my machine manual (Bernina 170) says not to oil, so I don't. I have a friend that oils anyway. What are your thoughts on that?

California Fiber artist and composer said...

Diane---Thank you. I have not had a chance to try it on my 830---I have been using my 440 for cleaning. Another tip is only use the oil which came with the 830 for it and not the oil from other Berninas. Susan

Diane Gaudynski said...

Susan, great tip to use only the oil with the machine. I do that with mine but I think it is the normal Bernina oil. Thanks!

Teresa, check with your Bernina technician and follow their advice. I would be oiling the 170 in the one crucial spot in the bobbin area. Ask at your dealer. I know in classes many times I can save a machine from sounding like a garbage disposal with a judiciously placed drop of pure new clean Bernina oil.

No, I don't archive my tips. I shuffle them around and add new ones, so eventually they'll roll around again. If you copy and save the url for each page of tips they are in cyberspace forever and you will be able to access them by typing in that address.

Anonymous said...

RE: Bernina 830 BSR
Please correct if I'm wrong, but I set a stitch length when using BSR mode 1. It automatically goes to 2, but I usually lower that to 1.7 or so depending upon the thread. I just finished a quilt using Superior Bottom Line top and bottom. I lowered the upper tension to 3.25. BSR Mode 2 using the zigzap function does not maintain a regulated stitch length/width. I like the BSR function mostly for the less stress on my foot/leg/back as compared to regular freemotion.

RE: Oil. I had a Virutosa or Artista 160 and the manual said no oil. The case that held the bobbin was teflon and therefore was considered not to need oil. It's the metal to metal parts that require oil. Hence you only oil the bobbin on the Bernina 830 because it really is a "sewing computer" and not a mechanical machine.
Can't oil a computer. Right?

Hope I have not added confusion to the dialogue. I gain a lot of knowledge from the comments. Happy Thanksgiving, JanO

Anonymous said...

How do you un-say things? I have a Bernina Artista 730 with the BSR. I used to have an 830 from the 70's. Boy do I feel stupid. Just disregard all of the above. JanO

Diane Gaudynski said...

JanO - not to worry; you un-said it yourself...!

As I said originally, please read your owners' manuals and/or talk to your dealer or service tech about any maintenance on your own machine.

I mentioned what I used and how I maintain it successfully. There are many brands and models out there, and even within a particular model in a brand there are always variations.

There are internet groups that are devoted to various brands and machines and models. These can help get information shared too.

If you do quilt with silk thread be sure to watch for a waxy build-up in your machine from the thread after several hours of steady use, and clean it out gently.

Enjoy your machines, your threads, your quilting!

Anonymous said...


I have a Bernina 830, and it is indeed very smart! I have been trying to make a costume that has lots of gold braid as well as braid that is a combination of polyester and metallic cordings twisted together. It was absolutely necessary to stitch both decorative braids onto the linen fabric with monofilament thread.

I have been frustrated for MONTHS trying to accomplish this. I have tried various brands of monofilament thread, different size needles, different types of needles, different upper tension, different lower tension, different presser name it--I've tried it.

I bought the YLI Wonder Monofilament thread and still was having no luck. Then I read the post above that discusses how to use silk thread on the 830.

I tried the above tips with my YLI monofilament thread and VOILA! It works perfectly. What has taken months of frustrating trial and error, has now been overcome by lubricating the bobbin area and pulling slightly on the thread as I thread the machine.

My customer who has waited patiently for his costume will be so happy.

Thanks for the tip!

Marcia Smith said...

Hello Diane: I'm the Marcia who first brought her Bernina 830 to Asilomar this March. I used your #100 silk thread and had little trouble adjusting tension, etc. Also, Bernina has said the new Velocite #6 oil is good for all Berninas (and I suspect all sewing machines). I have used it for almost 2 yrs. now and all is working fine. It's cheaper by the gallon too - $20! Love you and your work! Marcia