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comparing sewing machines

walkon1118 | Posted in Equipment and Supplies on


I am in the process of selecting a new sewing machine and have narrowed it down to the Viking Lily 535 and the Bernina Activa 135.  Other than the slight difference in price, has anyone had occasion to compare these two machines?  I am particularly interested in the difference in the automatic buttonhole features and in overall maintenance and performance.  Any help would be appreciated.  I currently have a Viking 5530 that is 25+ yrs. old and has gone above and beyond the call of duty.


  1. JeanEsther | | #1

    I compared those two (and some others) just before Christmas. Both did fine buttonholes, and both were able to stitch well over denim flat fell seams. I don't remember all the details now, but I bought the Bernina mostly because the dealer was far more knowledgeable. I also liked that the Bernina had a stitch plate that showed inch increments on both sides of the needle; the Viking was in metrics and didn't have a mark for 5/8". (When I asked the Viking sales person if I could get a different stitch plate, he said, "Why would anyone ever need a 5/8 inch mark?" Viking kept trying to get me to buy the Designer II, which was out of my price range.)

    The Bernina has run wonderfully. Sometimes I kind of wish I had bought the 145 instead (for pattern reverse, more decorative stitches, and automatic sewing of bound buttonholes), but these items were extras and I decided they weren't worth going out of my budget. I asked the Bernina dealer to throw in some extra pressor feet for free, and he did.

    1. momcat50 | | #2

      I am looking at the 145. Price in the $1750. range where I am looking. Is that about right? What feet were thrown in? Did you get the knee-needle lift?


      1. JeanEsther | | #3

        That seems high. I paid about $1000 for the 135PE, though it was a year ago. The 145 was only a couple hundred more, I think. Hopefully you've got more than one dealer within driving distance! I'm in Orange County, California.

        I didn't get the knee lift. I asked for the 4 mm narrow straight stitch hemmer, the edge stitch, and the jeans foot. Other essentials I've since bought are the invisible zipper foot and height compensation foot for doing buttonholes near seams. I also bought the 8 mm lap seam foot and intend to buy the button sewing on foot (it's difficult to do nice shanks with the darning foot). I bought the Mastering book--you should probably ask for that to be thrown in; the little manual that comes with the machine is meager. There's an option for a much better light--maybe that comes standard now.

        Bernina had a Christmas sale around November last year.

      2. melissamouse | | #4

        Hi momcat I too am looking for a new machine and have been loyal to the bernina for 3 machines now.  My last a 1630 + is not the machine it was cracked up to be and breaks needles all the time when I am going in reverse.  If you or anyone including your dealer have insights let me know.  Im looking at the Designer 1 and the babylock ,  the top one don't know its name now.  I want to do filled embroidery which my bernina does not do although it has a wealth of decrative stitches.  I find as well the botton holes that are atomatic do not match up again open to suggestions.  love to hear input on favoured machines 

      3. mommydionne | | #5

        Regarding the knee lift, I got a 160 about 18 months ago and the knee lift comes with it,  BUT  I love it,  I've never had one before (my previous machine was an old mechanical Janome I burnt the motor out of) and it is fab,  especially ifyou do piecing or a lot of garment sewing.  It truly is an extra hand.

        Work on your dealler I got mine to throw in a Koala table one of the small ones and three extra feet with the 160 for a price tag of $2000 prior to tax


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