What to Look for in a Vintage Sewing Machine Part 2

Buying vintage machines bring out a whole new beast of questions about which is best for which project. However, knowing what to look for and what you’re looking at is a good place to start. This 3 part series goes over parts of vintage machines, common myths, and various methods for which they can be used.

The two most common hook types are rotary hooks and oscillating hooks. You may also come across CB hooks which are basically Bernina’s own vertical oscillating hook system. Rotary hooks spin around 360 degrees while oscillating hooks rotate about 200 degrees before doubling back on itself and never complete a full rotation. Early rotary hook systems made one rotation before grabbing the thread, while newer systems make two full rotations before grabbing the thread. For the vast majority of people, there is no practical difference. As a rule of thumb, rotary hooks are capable of achieving much higher top speeds because there is minimal resistance on the hook when spinning all the way around. Oscillating hooks on the other hand, need to reverse momentum with each oscillation, thereby introducing a ton more resistance and vibration.

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