As a complete beginner, and someone who's hand stitching leaves a lot to be desired, what sewing machine is recommended by all you experienced milliners out there?

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Hi all,

Thousands of apologies not been on here for a while, busy making hats:-)
But I was very interested in the sewing machine debate?? I personally don't think you can beat hand sewing! But...I have a shop who's interested in stocking some of my hats but cannot afford the hand sewn options? She says she just wants pretty but affordable to all hats and fascinators and says she's not bothered that they're machine sewn?
I live in the UK and have looked and looked for a machine that will machine sew the petersham ribbon on the brim, but no luck:-( I watched a YouTube video with Philip Wright hats and he uses a very old machine that looks perfect! It has a 'guide' that you just hold the hat and ribbon, and WIZZ around the brim it goes, very quickly!
I have a regular machine but think I kind of need a 'guide' or a type of 'foot'???
Does anyone know of a brand or adaptation you can add to a regular machine please???

Kindest regards


Hi do you have classes in NY for beginners?

I work with fur felt hats and I was told this machine and that machine worked with the hats, but the two I've purchased did NOT work through fur felt.  Is the Bernina that everyone seems to praise truly capable of passing through fur felt?

Any help is much appreciated.

Adrian,  I have three Berninas, plus a Bernina serger. I have sewn on many brands of machines, and none of them come close in comparing to the Bernina.  They are made in Switzerland, and true to Swiss watch precision, Berninas are hands down, THE Rolls Royce of sewing machines!!  You don't have to spend thousands of dollars to own a brand new one!! I am still using my mothers ca. 1976, and it is a collectors machine that has appreciated in value from the original $900.00 she paid for it back then, to over $1,000.00 depending on condition.  My twin 1230's were just $500.00 each and are from ca. 1990.  Be sure to use the right size needle when working on felt.  Depending on how many layers you're working in, anything from a number 14 to an 18.  What you might find difficult is finding a good used one.  If you have a certified Bermnina dealer near you, keep after them to let you know when used Berninas show up!!  I have such a relationship with my sewing center.  



Thank you so much.  I appreciate the help.  I will begin looking.  Would you recommend the 1230 for basic brim binding and leather sweatband sewing?


Absolutely Adrian!! Sorry I didn't see your comment much earlier!!  Remember to use a leather lance point needle when sewing on leather.  

Hi Adrian,

When searching for the right machine, I asked for one that would go through 3 layers of felt and none would until I got to the Bernina. I left my felt with the retailer, and he called me back a day later and said 'yes, it worked'. He also told me that if it hadn't worked, the next step would have to be an industrial machine.

My little Bernina is a reconditioned 1973 machine, and I am so happy with it - and yes- it was recommended by all who answered my post here........

If you are in the Melbourne area, the sewing centre I went to is highly recommended! 


Thank you so much.  I appreciate the help.  I will begin looking.  Any recommendations on which machine would be best for basic brim binding and leather sweat sewing?


I cant say, I am not experienced enough with my machine yet, but if you contact Bernina they are really helpful and will get back to you in a couple of days with the answer. 

Adrian, what may explain the superior quality of the Bernina, is that each one is hand assembled in 4 hours by a trained technician. Not on an assembly line.  All machine parts are made at the Bernina factory in Switzerland, NOT farmed out to China or foreign contractors.  Quality control from start to finish!!  Each machine is tested and tested before it goes out of the factory.  Many features of the Bernina are patented only to Bernina, including the revolutionary and unique foot assembly with the cone and lever system, which requires no screw driver and switches out in seconds!! My mom's 1976 machine has it too. The automatic buttonholer on my 1230's and newer models is just amazing!!  It has a computer cell sensor, that knows how long you've made the first side of the button hole, then automatically back tacks and sews backward to finish the exact length!! Perfect buttonholes every time!! Amazing!!  Ok Bernina, I'm waiting for my commission check!!!

You've earned it! 

I'd still say the Bernina!!  Be sure to use a lance point leather needle for leather sweat bands. 

I hang my needle and free arm off the edge fo the table, when sewing around a hat, and b/c Bernina is made of metal andf heavy, it won't tip off the table !! LOOOOVE these machines!! Tools that work!!!


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