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Bernina vs Pfaff – Need Help!

MelanieofNC | Posted in Equipment and Supplies on

Hi all, I’m new! I’ve really enjoyed reading the groups discussions, lot of great information and knowledge here!

I’m in the market for a new machine (my old one finally pooped out). I have it narrowed down to either a Bernina 153 or a Pfaff QuiltStyle (was 2040, I think).

Here’s my dilemma, I like the Pfaff slightly better then the Bernina (and I love the integrated walking foot on the Pfaff), but I don’t like the sewing shop I’d have to buy the Pfaff from (and there are no other Pfaff dealers within driving distance of where I live). The shop sales person was kind of pushy and the shop seemed disorganized. And no classes are included with the machine (just learn on your own). I’m concerned if I purchased from them and I had  problems or questions, they would not be helpful. Also, I have head since my visit to that sewing shop that if you are buying a Pfaff get it from a good reputable dealer because getting help and parts from Pfaff is very difficult since they were purchased by Viking.

Okay on to the Bernina, I like the Bernina, but it is $500 more then the Pfaff. But I really like the sewing shop that sells the Bernina. All the people where very helpful and nice. Plus when you buy the machine from them you get 4, 3 hour classes on using your new machine. This is a big plus for me because I am a fairly new sewer.  The shop also has sewing groups and on going sewing project classes.  I felt this shop was much more interested keeping you as a long, term happy customer.

So with the above in mind which way would you go Bernina or Pfaff?

Thanks for any guidance you can offer!



  1. carolfresia | | #1

    Melanie, that is a true dilemma! I've tried both machines and agree that both of them are top-notch, so you shouldn't have any trouble with either. However, continued service and support are valuable, and it sounds as if your intuition is telling you to go with the dealer you feel will stand behind the product he or she sells. I'd probably go with that.

    Here's another idea--and I hope no one thinks I'm an awful opportunist for suggesting it: I wonder if the Bernina dealer, if apprised of your dilemma, would help you make your decision by, say, offering to throw in a free walking foot for the 153 as an incentive? I'm not much of a wheeler-dealer myself, but maybe that walking foot would level the playing field a little for you, as far as how the machines operate, and then you'd be choosing just on the basis of which dealer you prefer to work with.


    1. MelanieofNC | | #2


      Thanks for the quick reply!  I'm glad to hear you've used both machines and you like both.  Since you've used the Bernina 153, how do you think it does with feeding fabric without the walking foot?  A lot of the sewing I do is with thick, lots of layers, fabric and it makes me nuts on my current machine that the fabric doesn't feed through evenly.  I have the same problem with slippery fabrics on my current machine - I hate it when I get to the end of the seam and they don't match!  Do you think the Bernina does a good job with feed fabric evenly?



      1. carolfresia | | #3

        Melanie, in general I do think that Berninas have great fabric feed, but if you're using lots of thick layers, or silky fabrics or velvets, almost any machine can use a little help in the way of an even-feed foot. Maybe you can put together a sampler of the kinds of fabrics you sew, and do a test drive at the Bernina dealership, with and without a walking foot to see the difference. Most of the time a small swatch will do the trick, but since you're talking about long seams, take a bigger sample with you to try.


  2. lindamaries | | #4

    Hi, just to chime in here a little...I "upgraded" myself with a Pfaff because I could get it for a really good price. But I let the price make my decision for me which was a mistake. Although, I love my new 2030 because of the one step button holes (two kinds can be made) and just like you, thick fabric sews perfect now. I can hop a jean seam without any problems now. The seams sew with absolutely no puckering when I use the differential feed. The one thing, though, that drives me crazy about my Pfaff is the feet. I cannot see the needle as it sews. The foot has a clear plastic filler between the metal tongs on the foot. When I edge stitch, I like to run the fabric along the edge of the metal tongs and watch the needle. Now I have to change feet and use an edging foot, which really doesn't work the greatest. I guess I am extremely fussy about if the edge stitching is equal distance from the edge or not. I really have troubles edge stitching with my new machine and making tiny rolled edges because I can't SEE! The other problem is the dealer just doesn't seem to be backed by a company. I just feel that my old ways are in conflict with the new, young ways that the company operates. I might be wrong, but I just feel that they really aren't all that polite, but maybe I just caught them on a bad day or something. Or maybe they didn't like me on the phone and were reflecting that back. Sometimes I might sound icky, but I'm not really.

    1. MelanieofNC | | #5


      Thanks so much for your feedback regarding your experience with your Pfaff machine.  I agree, not being able to see the needle would bug me also!  I'm glad you pointed that out!

      This weekend I'm going to the sew store that sells Bernina and I'm going to do some test sewing, particularly on layers of fabric and slippery fabric and look for any puckering or uneven seems.  If all that checks out, I think I'll go with the Bernina.

      Thanks again!


      1. lindamaries | | #6

        Give us some feed back here when you do the testing. I've been interested in Bernina, too, but we do not have a dealer in our area.

        I've heard that to be a Bernina dealer there is a huge investment of cash and time. I heard that just so a Bernina dealer can stock an embroidery machine, the dealer has to take a class and pay their own cash about $5,000 just to learn about it. They can't sell an embroidery machine unless they have the class. That is just what I've heard. I don't know anything about Pfaff dealerships how they do things with training.

        I'd like to say, though, I do love my Pfaff because I can really sew nicely with it. I just finished a christening gown and no puckers on the seams. The needle that moves side to side in different positions

        is really a nice feature. I was doing a lot of gathering and just shifting that needle made it so easy to run the stitch. I just hate the edging guessing that I have to do. I've discovered how to get around this problem, but my old Kenmore was such a good edger, I miss that, but do not miss the puckers!

        1. ElonaM | | #7

          I don't know if it's been mentioned yet, but I found it very instructive to compare the appearance of buttonholes from the machines I was considering. Some are WAY better than others.

        2. enidshapiro | | #8

          I have a Pfaff too.  It sews beautifully.  What trick have you found with the edging problem? 

          1. lindamaries | | #9

            I use the zipper foot. I can see the needle with that one.

            Let me explain a bit more...

            The edging foot has a little blade that comes down and is suppose to ride along the edge, but here again I cannot see the needle in relation to the edge because there is so much metal and stuff around where the needle is suppose to enter the fabric. It is almost as if I am sewing using my faith in hopes that the edge stitching is equal distant from the edge. I'm not a truster. Never have been.

            I'm one that can't believe without seeing. So I use the zipper foot.

            Also, If the fabric is thin and lightweight or also if I haven't really pressed the area super sharp, the edger foot doesn't want to stay on the edge.

            Edited 10/5/2002 9:15:53 AM ET by lindamaries

          2. bbqbarbie | | #10

            I feel support is very important as well as price.  I did not like the pushy Bernina dealer nor feel they will support me with questions.  I did visit the Brother Dealer and fell in love with the owners.  They offer several sewing class as well as embroirdary (which I don't think I am intereeted in doing).  They should me several and invited me to come and try all of them - spend as much time as I want playing with them.  They say they are very user friendly.  I sew Home Dec for relaxation and plan to get into it more and possibly charge a little bit.  I was looking at the Brother 6000.  If I wanted to spend about $800 more I could go with the Brother 6500 that will do all sorts of fancy embroidary (something I could really grow into if I wanted to later).  Can anyone comment on the Brother machines?  Thank you.


        3. MelanieofNC | | #14


          I wanted to tell you that I purchased the Bernina 153 yesterday! I'm really happy I decided to go that direction.  I did lots of test sewing on it and really like how easy it was to use.  The 153 comes with a walking foot and a "Hands-Free" system.  The Hands-Free system consists of a special foot peddle and foot lift bar that you can press with your knee to raise or lower the presser foot.  And it you press on the back of the sewing foot peddle it will raise or lower the needle (depending on it's current position).  I really like this system, since it leaves you hands free to sew and control the fabric.

          I'm glad it's the weekend, cause I'm really looking forward to doing some sewing on it.  I almost called in sick today at work - just so I could stay home and play with my new sewing machine! :-)

          Again, thanks for you input!


          1. carolfresia | | #16

            Melanie, congratulations on your new best friend! How nice that you've made your decision and are already having such a good time working with your new machine.

            FYI, just this morning I was doing a little sewing in the Threads sewing "studio," where we have an older-model, fairly basic (non-computerized) Bernina machine. I don't use a Bernina at home, so every time I sit down at this machine I have to retrain myself to use its features. But today I was really struck by how helpful the knee-operated presser-foot lifter can be, as well as the needle up/down control with the foot pedal.



          2. MelanieofNC | | #19

            Hi Carol,

            What a fun job you must have!  I'm sure you work hard at Threads, but how great it must be to be exposed to all that creativity!

            Yeah, the knee lift on the Bernina was such a hoot at first - it felt really awkward!  But after a few times, I got used to it, now I wouldn't do with out!

            Thanks for your guidance when I was researching my choices!


          3. lindamaries | | #17


            I got to thinking about Bernina and looked up the dealer location on the internet. By golly, there is one just a bit south of me.

            I'm thinking of taking a trip down there and check out their machines.

            I do like my Pfaff, but I can always use another sewing machine!

            Maybe three or four, more to play with!!!!!

            Enjoy your new machine and you better go to work so you can earn money for cloth!


          4. MelanieofNC | | #18

            Linda -

            Wow! Yet ANOTHER sewing machine!?  I think your hooked! LOL!  IF, I were to buy another machine, I think I'd get an embroidery machine - Of course then my husband would leave me and it would be just me, my sewing machines and the cat! LOL!

            Have fun checking out the Berninas!


          5. lindamaries | | #21

            I just received another catalog in the mail. Of course, I always read those cover to cover "cause I love to dream about all that neat stuff. I was looking at all those pressing tools that are made out of wood. There are so many different kinds. I think that they are mostly used in tailoring. I'd love to learn more about how to use those pressing tools.

            Tight now, I only have a seam stick, a point presser, a smallish ham, a seam roll, and a double sided sleeve board. These tools are all pretty easy to use. But I see, other stuff that I have no idea what to do with them. There is this one June Tailor board that has 12 different things that you are suppose to be able to do with it. What though,? Do you know of anywhere that I could learn about these things.?

          6. MelanieofNC | | #22


            I don't have a answer for you but I had no idea all those pressing tools even existed!  What catalog are you referring to?


          7. lindamaries | | #23

            Atlanta Thread & Supply Company

            695 Red Oak Road

            Stockbridge, GA 30281

  3. GNDSCHULZE | | #11

    Hi Melanie,

    I purchased the Bernina 153 last October 2001 and have never been disappointed.  I had a Viking before for about 3 years.  It was o.k. but the Bernina is by far superior.  The stitching on the the 153 is very straight and the selection of specialized feet are unbelievable. 

    I think the support of the 7 classes I received were very helpful.  The training and exposure to the machine's capabilities was well done.  This type of education is so important.  If you are not properly trained, how will you understand and fully use the machine.  You will just be frustrated even if you have sewn for years.

    I had always wanted the Bernina mainly for the free hand system, which was worth the extra money for the 153. 

    I also had the same experience at a Pfaff store.  The class instruction was limited and others had told me if you have a problem, they were not very helpful.  The Bernina Store in Sacramento, Ca is excellent.  It is Meissner's Sewing. 

    Good Luck!


    1. MelanieofNC | | #12

      Thanks Debbie!

      I'm glad you think so highly of the 153 - You've reinforced decision!

      What do you mainly do on your 153.  Since you mentioned the free-hand feature, are you using this for quilts?


      1. GNDSCHULZE | | #13

        Hi Melanie,

        Yes.  Quilting is what I am doing now.  I have sewed for years but just recently got into quilting.  I had a Singer for about 15 years.  I always felt like I was tackling every project, pushing it through.  This Bernina is so wonderful, it glides very smoothly.  I had the Viking 350 for a while but it just didn't have the hand free system and the thread always came out of the top looper hook.  I think it was operator error but the Bernina is not set up the same way, so I have never had that problem.  It was a good machine by far better than the Singer but this Bernina 153 is great.

        I was glad I got this model because during my classes, people who had the 180 seemed to need to do more adjusting.  It is just able to do so many things that it is not as simple as the 153.  If the machine was real complicated, I would soon be frustrated.  I kind of looked at all the machines but the embroidry element is big bucks.  If you are interested, check out epinion.com and read the forums.  You spend a lot on thread and need accessories to transfer patterns.  Each embroidry card with 12 patterns or so, $150.  You might find a bargain for $120.  My friend does mostly downloading from the computer but it takes a lot manuevering to get the color components right. 

        I have sewed through thick fabric layers with no difficulty.  When you go into the store, they can show you how the stitches can be switched in and out on the computer.  I will be honest, I have not used any of the additional stitches yet but will try them eventually.  The needle down function is great, leaves your hands free to move your fabric around.  The nice thing about the 153 is that it includes the walking foot, which as an accessory could run about $100.  Through the classes, I learned about the many pressure feet available and have purchased a few.  It is a very heavy machine to move around, I guess because is mostly metal inside unlike a lot of the other newer machines.

        I have only had it a year.  My sister bought a demo of the 160 model.  It is the previous year's 163.  No walking foot, she had to buy her own.  She is very happy with her machine as well.  The 153 and 163 are the same except the pressure feet vary and the 163 holds about 10-12 more stitches in machine but the CPS software that you use to swap the stitches is basically the same.

        Another reason I bought the Bernina was their reputation for backing the machines is very good.  I read many forums prior to purchasing and that was what sold me.  You never know if you are going to get the lemon or need some minor adjustment so you want the company to back it. 

        Good Luck!


        1. MelanieofNC | | #15

          Hi Debbie,

          I just wanted to tell you I purchased the Bernina 153 yesterday!  I'm so excited to start doing some sewing on it!  I already have a few small projects lined up for this weekend! 

          Four classes are included with the sewing machine.  I take my first class the first week in November.  I'm looking forward to it.  I don't want to form too many bad sewing habits before taking the class! 

          The shop I purchased the sewing machine from teaches all different kinds of classes.  Once I get through the four classes - I think I'd like to take a quilting class.  I've never done ANY quilting - but I think I'd like it (especially with my new machine!) They teach a class that using the free-hand quilting feature. I think may take that one - I really like the look of the free-hand quilt they make in the class.

          Thanks again Debbie for all your input!


          1. GNDSCHULZE | | #20

            Hi Melanie,

            I am very happy for you.  You will love it.  Glad I was able to help you.  I am new to quilting too.  It is whole new world in sewing. 

            Good luck!


  4. dottywv | | #24

    I have a Pfaff 7570 and the Bernina 1530.  I use them both and couldn't part with either.  However, I use the Pfaff more and more.  The integrated walking foot is indispensible.  I quilt a lot and that clunky foot for the Bernina was so inconvenient.  I realized this after using the Pfaff.  If I were mainly interested in quilting, I think  I would go for a Pfaff.  Also, it makes sewing slippery fabric so much easier.

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