BERNINA – A lifeline for the Disabled and sewing with chronic illnesses

BERNINA – A lifeline for the Disabled

Samantha Waude is fairly new to the world of BERNINA and not only is she learning a lot about us and our products, but we are also learning a lot about her and how it is to be an end user that is sewing with a disability.

Samantha has been supporting us as we prepare an article on our Website about Accessability. I recently chatted with her about her disability and the importance of sewing in her life. Earlier this year she received a BERNINA 480 to use and will be writing regular articles for us here on our Blog.

Image of BERNINA 480.

BERNINA 480

The B 480 is made for all sewers and hobby tailors who love beautiful design but also sophisticated automatic features. A brilliantly simple machine.

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Her blog articles

She has already written some articles and shared great tips and tricks that are exciting for all users. In her articles, she explains the challenges she deals with in her sewing room and how she uses the accessories in a helpful way. On this page you will find all of Samantha’s articles that she has published so far. It’s worth taking a look at it regularly because she will inspire us with more articles in the future.

Sewing with disabilities and chronic illnesses


About you and your sewing experience

Tell us a little about yourself and your disability.

I’m in my early 30’s, I live in Gateshead, which is just south of Newcastle in the United Kingdom. My love of crafts started at an early age, I was taught to sew young and would help sew up my dance costumes and extended into a love of all things crafty including baking, knitting, crochet, embroidery, and anything involving gluing things together.

Over the last few years, I’ve had several difficult health issues, this culminated in a serious brain virus. After a long time in hospital, several awards including ICU. I found myself at home on my own trying to recover and get back to being normal. I had a lot of problems with my speech, co-ordination, concentration and experiencing seizures. I started sewing again as it helped me and fell madly, deeply, crazy in love with it. I’ve been sewing ever since; it has helped me stay sane as I battle the constant health issues and hospital appointments.

When we talk about disabilities this can mean many types of conditions. How can we better understand these and the needs of this community?

It is a huge spectrum, and it is important to consider these with the development of your products. From mobility issues and being in a wheelchair, to neurological issues and then in the middle there are the people who don’t talk about their problems with vision or arthritis in their fingers.

Why is sewing so important to you? – has this been helped with the use of a good machine?

It is so important to work with good sewing machine because if I am not feeling so good and I have issues with things not working correctly it can really aggravate me and the experience is no longer enjoyable.

In the last couple of years accessibility has become a buzz word in the technological world – do you think that BERNINA is considering this enough in their machine development?

I believe in recent years that if was never really considered if sewing machines were good for customers with disabilities. It would be great if it could more in your minds when developing our machines. BERNINA is really leading the way on this, talking more about the great features they already have on their products.

Why is it so important that BERNINA as a company ensures our machines are accessible to people with disabilities?

Disabilities are different because ethnicity and gender they can happen to anybody at any moment and time in their life and it is more likely to happen as they age. I really believe that sewing brings so much joy to people with disabilities and chronic illnesses when they can’t get out of the house. Having a sewing machine can be a huge lifeline and can benefit someone’s quality of life.

It’s a wonderful also to make garments and things to make things easier. For example, for me I no longer have to put up with zippers in garments which I couldn’t fasten them myself and now, I can construct clothing that is easy for me to manage.

You have been using your BERNINA several months what are your favorite features?

A very important feature for me is the Knee lifter. Some days I cannot sew without it because my hands are so painful, sometimes I can’t grip, or even pull out a pin. Lifting the presser foot at the back of the machine is nearly impossible and another thing is your wonderful feet that help me guide the fabric.

Which is your favorite foot?

The Edgestitch Foot # 10. It never gets put away; I use it all the time. I just got the Patchwork Foot #97 with the guide and I just love the little screw drive with the rubber grip and the fact it has the little part piece that fits into the screw keeps it in place. I am also really impressed with the other end of the screw driver, which I use to grip the needle clamp screw when changing the needle. Thanks Samantha – I didn’t know you could do this so I am learning too.

Image of Edgestitch foot #10.

Edgestitch foot #10

Edgestitch foot #10 is a practical help for sewing finished edges even and straight. Superbly suited to applying lace and trims, Edgestitch foot #10 is also ideal for topstitching edges, pleats and hems.

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Image of patchwork foot #97.

Patchwork foot #97

The Patchwork foot is ideal for patchworking and other exact work.

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I also must mention the Walking Foot #50 which I love as it does a lot of the work for me.

Image of Walking Foot #50.

Walking Foot #50

The Walking Foot #50 with three interchangeable soles and edge ruler is an indispensable helper when sewing difficult fabrics.

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What do you think that BERNINA machines offer more than other brands?

Reliability and I just love the automatic features on the machine that require no thought – they just work. The features work very autonomously. For example, the fact that the bobbin can only be placed on the winder one way and into the machine one way. My machine doesn’t let me do it wrong.

Is there something you miss on your machine?

Larger measuring for seam allowances printed on the free arm. I sew a lot without the sewing table and I would love more measurements to keep me more accurate with my sewing. What can BERNINA do better? I would love a new overlocker with start stop functionality, so I don’t need to use the foot control.

What are your goals?

It’s my goal to make sewing and all crafts more accessible for everyone.


You can follow Samantha chronicle on social media and chat with her about sewing with disabilities and illness. Feel free to add a comment below on this page to talk with Samantha directly and ask her some questions.


Thank you for your time, Samantha. 🙂

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