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Considering buying a Bernina

nineee | Posted in Equipment and Supplies on

Hi, I’m considering buying a Bernina sewing machine and would like to hear comments from owners of any model and why you like it.  I am a quilter and I want a large variety of decorative stitches.  I also want to be able to regulate the speed of the machine, needle up-down option, auto thread cutting would be nice.  does anyone know the differences between models such as the 200, 730 etc?  Nina


  1. solosmocker | | #1

    I do not have a Bernina but can refer you to PatternReview.Com where you will find many in depth reviews of machines by type and model by experienced sewists.

    Have to tell you, if you are using your machine for quilting, Pfaff has the even feed foot. This is a small unobtrusive part of the machine unlike other bulky even feed feet that I have seen on others. All Pfaffs have this and they were the originators. The foot is easy to use, requires no attachment as it is always there, and only requires a flick of the wrist to use or not use. NAYY

    Edited 3/24/2006 11:09 am ET by solosmocker

  2. sewingkmulkey | | #2


    I agree with solosmocker and find the evenfeed feature on Pfaff far superior to Bernina.  I sew garments AND quilts and have done so professionally for many, many years.  Berninas are good machines but please check out Pfaff machines before making your final decision.

    Karen M in Houston



    1. woodruff | | #3

      I've had a Bernina 830 and a Bernina 930e (which, in my affections, comes just after my husband and son!), and an earlier Pfaff, a 1221 or 1222, which was my introduction to the walking foot. That feature was marvelous, but that particular Pfaff was so tetchy that it was my inspiration to buy my lovely Berninas. Such jewels! Of course, they had the hands-free knee lever, and I bought walking feet for both of them.However, I am not up on the current market, and it's entirely possible that newer Pfaffs are superior machines.That said, I think the most important thing is to test drive anything you're considering. That way, you learn what's user-friendly and/or essential for you personally.

      Edited 3/25/2006 3:10 am by woodruff

  3. alotofstitches | | #4

    I have an 830 and a 170E--love both and would have no other brand!  Nothing Sews like A Bernina!

  4. FitnessNut | | #5

    I have a Bernina 180E and selected it over the comparable model Pfaff. I love it and will never even consider switching to another brand in the future. It is a solidly built machine with beautiful stitches....even the straight stitch is superior.

    You might want to check out the new models. There is a quilter's edition that has a special stitch regulator for free motion work that might interest you.

  5. mainestitcher | | #6

    I have had a bernina 830 for years.
    Three years ago I purchased a 153E, and I have to say, I'm a tad disappointed with it. I can tell you exactly what it is, too: the upper thread tension. It becomes loose over time, too loose to continue adjusting with the knob. I brought it back for a tune up, it worked for a few weeks, and started again. So I opened it up and carefully tinkered with it, and figured out how to do that adjustment.

    "Oh, Mainestitcher! You've voided the warrantee!" you're thinkin'. Yup, probably did.

    1. It was worth it to avoid the 1.5 hour round trip, no, make that two round trips, to drop off and pick up.

    2. They'd fixed it once, and it doesn't stay fixed.

    3. The company ought not give me the little hex key with my machine and expect me not to use it to get inside.

    I'n a big fan of Bernina, but I wouldn't buy this model.

  6. fineseams | | #7

    I have an 830 and a 170. The 830 has been a wonderful machine, and I still think it has the best straight stitch I've ever seen. I also love the knee lift feature on all Berninas. I find that I rarely use the embroidery module on my 170. I thought I would use it a lot to make things for my grand daughters, but I don't use it as much as I thought I would, and it does add a lot to the price. The 170 is now my main sewing machine and I really love it. I do wish it had a thread cutter, and I've looked at the newer Berninas to see if any of them have it. As far as I can tell only the top of the line machine has it and it is WAY to expensive. My current sewing configuration is the 170 for piecing and regular sewing, and a Brother 1500 for machine quilting (it has a thread cutter, which is really important for free motion quilting).

    1. nineee | | #8

      Thanks for your input.  I 've done only a little freemotion quilting and need more practice.  Bernina offers the stitch regulator and I wonder if I really need this or should just keep practicing free motion on my own.  I spoke with someone who has a thread cutter on her machine and loves it.  That would be a real plus.

      1. fineseams | | #9

        Free motion quilting is just something you have to do for a while to get comfortable. I have taught people how to do it, and one thing that everyone seems to have trouble with is trying to move too fast. You need a flat table, you need gloves or something equivalent so your hands don't slip, your machine must have a needle down position, and it is also very helpful for a beginner to be able to set the maximum speed of the machine. I encourage beginners to start on a whole cloth piece no bigger than about 30"x30" so that initially you don't have to worry about ruining a top you have put a lot of work into, and the size is small enough that managing the bulk isn't a problem. Use a stencil or draw a pattern on the top, and go as slowly as you need to in order to follow the line. Watch the length of your stitches and try to keep them about the same length as you use for sewing a seam. Stop frequently to reposition your hands. If you do this for a few hours I think you will find that you can be your own stitch regulator. I've test sewed on the high end Bernina with the stitch regulator and I personally would not pay the extra price for it. One thing I really DO like about my Bernina is that you can set the maximum speed and then still use the foot pedal. My friend has a fairly new Viking, and if you set the speed to a slower speed on the Viking, you can't use the foot pedal - it just runs constantly at that speed. With the Bernina, setting the speed just sets the maximum speed you can go, which is VERY helpful when you are first learning to machine quilt.I do wish my Bernina had a thread cutter. It is very helpful when machine quilting and you can't easily get at the bobbin thread to snip it between patterns. I've learned to bring the bobbin thread to the top by taking an extra stitch a little away from the pattern I have just completed, and then pulling the bobbin thread to the top by tightening the top thread. I also move from quilting area to area without cutting the bobbin thread if the areas are fairly close together - but a thread cutter is definitely superior.

        1. nineee | | #10

          Thank you so much.  Your advice is very helpful and I'm going to share it with my friend who is also looking to update her machine.  I have a few things against my success--no needle down position, no speed control and no flat surface.  The first two are reasons why I want a new machine.  Thanks, fineseams.  Appreciate it.

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