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New Machine Advice–Bernina or Brother??

Suzyq | Posted in Equipment and Supplies on

Hi all.  You’re all very knowledgeable about everything here and hope that someone or many of you can give me your advice about machines.  I’m a newbie and visited the store that I’ll take lessons from and was kind of swayed into putting money down on a Brother NX-400.  Looked nice and and the controls seemed fairly easy to use.  The price was decent also (679 on sale) for all it could do but I was thinking after I left that it may be a heavy machine for me.  I have carpal tunnel syndrome and really shouldn’t carry a heavy machine around and I may want to take it with me to classes.  On the Bernina site I saw the 145S which seemed to me to have a lot of basic functions along with a few “extras” that I would like.  I also seems smaller so I’m thinking that it may be lighter too.  Anybody out there know?  Also, is the Bernina a better-made machine which should last a longer time?  Thanks in advance;-)

Sue

Replies

  1. FitnessNut | | #1

    Go to the store and lift them both to compare.....hopefully you can do this at one store. I don't have any experience with Brother, so can't say anything about them. I have a Bernina and love it....I know they last for years and years, but they are generally quite heavy. You'll have to check out that specific model, though, as weight varies between models. Don't forget to sew on each machine you are considering before making a final decision!

    1. Desiderata | | #2

      Berninas are well made machines, excellent quality and  keep their resale value. I have read many good things about the 145S and think it is worth checking out.

      I have also seen the Brother NX400 demonstrated but not sewn on it myself. It performed well and has many features for the price, I cannot say anything about the machine quality though.  The Brother made very nice buttonholes, though not as fine in size and quality  as the Berninas  but the technical steps were just as good.  This is usually my buying criteria, the buttonholes must be perfect for me.

      Bernina accessories are professional quality. They are pricey but worth every cent when you want the highest quality work. Does the 145S have a carrying handle?

      Go  to the dealer with all the bits and pieces of fabric you can find and test drive both.  Dealers usually have specially prepared fabric, starched etc and that is not your normal sewing fabric. Also, make buttonholes in all the fabrics  too.

      Some people have Bernina personalities, some Pfaff, some Janome etc. It depends on your feelings of control when you use the machine. I have Berninas and Pfaffs but I am a Bernina personality definitely not a Brother or Janome.

      1. Suzyq | | #3

        Interesting to read your views on the machines.  Yes, the 145S does have a handle and I hope to go to the store today to check them out better.  I too love quality....and that is in everything.  I am not by any means wealthy but I love things that are made well and that are not flimsy.  I will go without rather than to just get something for the heck of it.  So most people really like the way that the Bernina and Vikings are constructed and how they hold up.  I feel that if I am going to make a purchase, it'll be the last one for a long time. 

        Sue

        1. Desiderata | | #8

          Suzyq, how about carrying the machine in a backpack?   I have Pfaffs from the 14XX series and have travelled with them in backpacks. They are small enough and fit in a good size pack.  Well, mostly my children (teenies) carry them, no problem other than they feel self-conscious going through customs with machines in their backpacks!

          I looked at the 145S at the dealer....an oh so sweet little machine. The price wasn't too bad either and with their payment plan one could actually buy it for fun!

          1. Suzyq | | #9

            That is funny...traveling with them in backpacks.  No one would every suspect;-)

            I personally wouldn't (or couldn't) carry something like that on my back...I have enough problems but if I were younger, like my kids, well...probably would. 

            I think for now I'll just start my class (this Monday--yay!) and I'll go from there.  I'm just one who likes to do all the research before so I don't feel like a dummy when I'm there.  This dealer has all the Berninas, Vikings and Brother machines there so with the group and the classroom, I'll get a better idea.  I can't wait to do things.....and I have plenty of them to do!

            Sue

          2. Kiley | | #11

            Suzy does your Viking dealer also sell Pfaff? I recently purchased a Pfaff Select 1530. It is not too heavy and it does come with a hard case that has storage on the outside for manual and pedal. This machine will last awhile. It is a mechanical not computerized. The lightest machine I have come across to tote around is the Jem Silver which is the same as the Jem Gold. The Jem Silver is available on the internet with a blue carrying case for $199. It is limited in stitches but  has blind hem and does a beautiful buttonhole.  This is a great buy for a machine to take to class. I also have had wrist surgery and this machine doesn't bother me to tote around. I was  thinking if you got this and bought a bigger one on sale ..one for home and one to tote..you could still buy in your price range.

          3. Suzyq | | #12

            Thanks for those recommendations, but my dealer (where I'm taking classes too) has Vikings, Berninas and Brother machines.  I keep reading (maybe too much) and when I talk to the ladies at the dealer and ask them what kind of machines they have, I get a lot of answers like " I have 2 Berninas"  or " I have 1 Viking and a Bernina Serger". 

            I just started my class and the models they had in the classroom was the Viking Interlude.   Maybe thats my machine!  :-)

          4. Kiley | | #15

            Suzy I bought my Pfaff at a Viking dealer. Viking took over Pfaff sometime ago and I just assumed that all Viking dealers sold Pfaff. Sorry, I guess I was wrong but Vikings are great machines too. I

          5. mjorymer | | #16

            The Bernina 145 is much lighter than the regular machines--partly because it is somewhat smaller but perfect for most any type of sewing. It is excellent---has the rotary hook system that had to be changed on the newer machines. The result is an absolutely perfect stitch. I have 3 Bernina sewing machines and 2 Bernina sergers.  I had a Viking/Husqvarana Designer I and a top of the line Pfaff.  I'm sure they are good machines but I just couldn't get used to them after sewing on Berninas for so long. 

            Service is always an issue and you should ask lots of questions from your dealer before you buy.

            MJ

          6. Suzyq | | #18

            Well thanks so much for your input.  It just so happens that after a couple of classes I think that the Bernina is the one I'll go for.  I was just on their website and thought that there are enough sewing features on them to keep me stiching forever.  I also like the feature of the automatic threader and little light.  Boy, these 50'ish eyes.....hard to see anything. 

            Sue

          7. fabriclover007 | | #19

            Bernina hands down!  Not knocking Brother, it may be a fine machine but I upgraded to a Bernina 15 years ago and have never looked back.  Other than routine cleaning, the machine has scarcely given me a moment's trouble, and I'm a heavy use apparel sewer.  I recently bought another Bernina but can't bear to part with my old one.  I regularly look at the auctions on ebay and the machine is nearly worth what I paid for it years ago (the workhorse 930).  You can't go wrong with a Bernina (and no, I'm not affiliated with them in any way).  As your skills grow, the machine will be able to keep pace with you.

          8. Suzyq | | #20

            That's good to hear your opinion.  I was looking at the Bernina site and the folks they have on there recommending the machines are really into quilting and I then thought that it was a better brand for just that.  I am really thinking now either the Activa 45S for it being a bit lighter and with the automatic threading.  I will need to move it around the apt. a lot so something not so full-size.  I think that most people who have Berninas love them.  Another consideration was the Viking 730, but that seems a bit heavier.  Thanks;-)

          9. ChrisHaynes | | #21

            Sometimes it is not the machine as much as the dealer.  Both brands have good (and bad) points.  Only you can determine if you like the "feel" of one over the other.  Check to see if the dealer is one you like, and will give your and your new machine good service.

          10. Suzyq | | #22

            OK All.  I went and bought a Bernina Activa 145S yesterday.  Looking good and spoke to 2 ladies at the shop who are definitely "Bernina People".  I'm going to learn this machine and thank you all for your help.  It definitely did help. 

            Now I have to get through the manuals.....:-)

            Sue

          11. Chris4 | | #23

            I have enjoyed reading your input.  I am deciding between a Bernina 135A and a Viking Interlude 445.  Have a 20 year old Kenmore and am finally upgrading.

          12. ellewren | | #24

            This last spring my husband beat me to the demo I'd scheduled and selected a Bernina Artista 200E for me.  I was there to look at the 185 and investigate the embroidery features to see if I'd even use them.  This is what can happen when you're caught in traffic...your gadget loving husband buys you the sewing machine of your dreams.  But then, I've only waited 10 years to invest in a Bernina.

            I did the dresses for my daughter's entire wedding party and my Bernina never sewed a wrong stitch...even though I sometimes did. =o)  My mom merely hemmed my son's slacks and said "wow."  I was told that the Berninas (not the Bernettes) all have the same "guts" with the differences being in the extras like decorative stitches, embroidery, computerized functions.  I've sewed for over 20 years on whatever came to hand and this machine is a joy, even without all the extras.  My personal test is whether I can sew a narrow hem on very lightweight fabric, like chiffon.  The Bernina passed with flying colors.  I hemmed a bridesmaid dress with 3 layers of chiffon, took only 30 minutes including marking and cutting as well as sewing, and the hem I put in was nicer than the original factory hem.  I love the precision of this machine.  That said, I just had my third class tonight for the embroidery software and I think I'm in heaven.

          13. FitnessNut | | #25

            My Bernina experience is much like yours. I understand the loyalty exhibited by many Bernina owners now. I, too, waited many years to have the machine of my dreams (a 180E). I don't use the embroidery as much as I would like, but the sewing capabilities of this machine astound me. I'm in the process of making jeans and every stitch is perfect (the jeans foot is something else for riding over all those thicknesses!), yet it can handle the most delicate chiffon. The major drawback to a Bernina purchase is the price. It is definitely a major cash outlay. However, from what I have seen, most of these machines are still running beautifully (purring?) 20 years down the road, whereas others have simply ceased to be.

          14. ellewren | | #26

            It is a hefty price tag, but my husband did a lot of research to confirm that Bernina's really are incredibly reliable.  My own unofficial research is that every person I know who has had a Bernina either still uses their original machine or has traded up...none of them have bought another brand.  Add to that, the store where I bought my machine does the annual tune-up and any repairs in-house...and the staff are great.  In fact, I like them so much I asked if I could teach new owner classes and they welcomed me warmly.  Now, back to my lovely silk tweed skirt that is in process on the machine as I write.  Thanks for your message!!  Happy sewing.

  2. heljay | | #4

    Having faced a similar decision a couple of years ago, I found that some excellent advice:  Be sure your new machine has a local dealer close enough to go for help and classes.  The Bernina dealer near me has a 5 year warranty plus anytime cleaning and repair as well as free classes on using the machine and other classes to pay for over time.  Being new, it helped SO much!  If you are very experienced, this probably doesn't apply as much.  I also asked if I could get a discount if I did not put the machine on credit as they were offering "free interest" for a year.  They did!  They gave me a significant discount, available ONLY if you ask.  My research implies the Bernina is an excellent machine, but I am not familiar with the Brother.  I love my Bernina!  Happy hunting!  And sewing....

  3. CarolFresia | | #5

    Suzy,

    If the weight of the machine bothers you, consider looking into a rolling travel case. There are lots of them on the market (your dealer probably even sells some), and they're really useful if you take your machine with you to classes. You'd still have to lift the machine into and out of the car, but in between, you could roll it instead and save yourself the strain.

    I worked on the Threads article that came out a couple of years ago on basic sewing machines, and we weighed all the machines reviewed (you can see the chart here: http://www.taunton.com/threads/pdf/SewingMachineChart.pdf). The range was from about 11 or 12 lbs. up to maybe 22 or 23. The lighter-weight machines (15 lbs. and under), as a rule, had far fewer options on them. Once you get to the electronic and lower-end computerized machines (the non-embroidery models), the weights came in between about 17 and 23 lbs. None of these is impossible to lift or carry, but sewing machines are notoriously non-ergonomic to haul around.

    Carol

    1. Suzyq | | #6

      Thanks for your input.  I did look at that list and like everything else, once you rate something it almost immediately becomes out of date when newer models come out.  My reasons for a lighter machine are 1) I will be using my table to sew and will have to pick up and take off each time and 2) I have stairs to carry the machine to class and 3) I have carpal tunnel in my wrists and don't want to injure myself any more than I already am.  BTW...I'm going to have surgery by the end of the year to help it.  Its just that at my local dealer, the machines they offer are the Vikings, Brother and Bernina brands and I know that the Vikings are very solid and heavy.  The Bernina Activa models seemed more compact and therefore I thought lighter too.  Its hard to tell when a machine is in the store and I'm lifting and trying to decide.  Oh well, I guess I'll start with the lessons I'm signed up for starting next week and then I'll see.  I'm so excited about them too.  Look at what excites a 51 yr old woman.....learning to sew!  hahaha! 

      Sue

      1. kayl | | #7

        You might consider something like a baby sling for toting machines up

        and downstairs. Just make sure the extra weight doesn't pull you off

        balance!

        Kay

  4. sandign47 | | #10

    I just recently purchased a Brother NX600 and really like it.  I looked at the Bernina but decided for my own purposes I chose the Brother.  I'm not sure about weight, but I can't imagine there would be major differences.  I use a rolling bag for my classes. It does have a handle on the machine also.  I also have carpal tunnel and usually I'm wearing a wrist band if I'm lifing something.  I've had no problems though.  I agree that you are better off if you sit own and try both of them.  Then buy the one you feel more comfortable with.  Good luck in your new endeavor.

    1. Suzyq | | #13

      Thanks for your advice.  I actually had put money down on a Brother NX4000 after one of the ladies kind of talked me into it.  I'm just learning so maybe which ever one I buy.....I'll just have to get comfortable with.  We'll see.  After this lesson last night....it looked good.  See?  I think you can teach an old dog new tricks. 

  5. Msmeow | | #14

    Hi, Suzy - just wanted to "weigh in" on Brother machines!  I went from a Kenmore to a Brother, so I can't speak to the Bernina, but I LOVE my Brother PC8500!  It is SOOOOO smart!  It does about everything except cut things out for you (too bad it won't do THAT!).  It is VERY heavy, though, especially in the case that holds the embroidery unit, too. 

  6. kayrosie | | #17

    I am new at this site, so here goes anyway. Don't know what to tell you about a Brother sewing machine. I have only had Elnas and as far as I can tell I love mine.  I have had an Elna some 35 years and got a new one about 8 years ago and I love it.  It is user friendly and I that is wonderfu.  No trouble with it at all. I do know people that have Bernia though and they love them. Just sew on all of them and make a decision I would say.

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