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Viking or Bernina Machine?

Needleworkmom | Posted in General Sewing Info on

Hello Everyone,

I am completely new to this site, but i love to sew. My old Elna is on its last leg. My husband wants to buy me a really nice sewing machine to use in my retirement. I quilt, sew household items, tailor, do heirloom sewing, etc. I have looked locally and it looks like the best service and follow-up classes are at the Viking or Bernina dealer. I love the stitch regulator on the Bernina Artista 730, but the Viking SE has a wonderful light and I like the computer screen better on the front of the machine. Both dealers swear their machine is the best. And yes, I do want the embroidery and all of the stitches so that I can make some of my supplies for heirloom sewing and do monograming, etc. Does anyone have any comments about these two machines? Are the extras (feet, etc.) more expensive with one or the other? Help! This is probably the last machine I will ever buy as I am 56, so I want to make the right decision.

Thanks for the input.


  1. janlorraine | | #1

    Be sure to think about whether you would like a vertical bobbin if you buy the Bernina. If you are used to a drop in bobbin, you might not like the extra effort required for a vertical bobbin. I found this out when I bought a Pfaff after using a New Home Memory Craft 6000 (Janome) for years. I couldn't believe people put up with having to reach down (after removing the cut out cover or raising the machine, removing the bobbin case, putting in the new bobbin and replacing everything compared to simply dropping in a new bobbin. But, some people apparently don't mind this procedure, but I think it is something you might want to consider since I know for certain that I will never buy another machine that does not have a drop in bobbin. The extra hassle just isn't worth it for me. IMHO.

    1. Needleworkmom | | #6

      Some great points. I am leaning toward the Viking, but I like the woman who teaches better over at Bernina.

      1. quiltingsteph | | #7

        To Needleworkmom,

        I absolutely love my Bernina Virtuosa 153 Quilter's Edition.  There is a new feature called a stitch regulator which is why I plan on upgrading to the newer machine.  Even though my machine is only 2 years old, this new technology is perfect for the top quilting called "stippling" or "meandering".   I am so excited about that feature that I am ordering the new model and selling my old model.  I have had Bernina machines for over 25 years and wouldn't use anything elso.  The nice thing about the new Bernina 740 is that you can buy it without the embroidery feature but that feature can be purchased at a later date if you want to upgrade later.  It also can be hooked up to the internet via computer and download any stitch or embroidery design.  It will last you many good years! 

        Good luck in your decision.


  2. flossie | | #2

    I will be interested in what you decide on as I am also intending to get a new machine for my retirement. I am 55 next week and my sewing needs are much the same as yours. I have been studying all the online brochures and am just getting more and more confused! I have a Pfaff (over 20 years old now) and really like the built in even feed of a Pfaff but would love a knee lift option (my sister has always used a kneelift machine). I am seriously thinking that maybe I want 2 machines - one for embroidery and one for general sewing - all I need is more money so might have to postpone retirement!!

    Regards Pauline

    1. Needleworkmom | | #4

      I hope that you are reading the answers I am getting. Some of them are
      pretty good.

      1. flossie | | #8

        Yes I am and you're right  - very helpful and informative answers. It has certainly given me more points to consider in my search. I am leaning towards Viking as I had a  Husqvarna before the Pfaff and really liked that. I think I need to start doing some test drives.

        Regard Pauline

  3. NovaSkills | | #3

    Having worked in retailers for both Viking and Bernina, and faced the same decision myself, I will note some things about them that you may want to consider.

    I eventually chose the Viking Designer 1 (SE wasn't out then) over the Bernina Artista 200.

    Bernina bobbins hold more thread than the drop-in green Viking ones. Only matters for large embroideries, really. I've only cared about that once.

    Bernina feet are noticeably more expensive than same type of thing for Viking. They attach differently, which adds to cost. There is a similar assortment of feet in both companies, and you can get a "snap-on" foot adapter for Bernina that will allow you to use Viking feet or other snap-ons.

    Bernina is more protective of their software format, and less non-OESD/Bernina software will include Artista format. Many conversion/editing programs will not write in .art format.

    Viking D1s/ESEs have at one touch certain key stitches I love and use nearly daily, and Bernina does not. Vikings have three swidths of satin stitch at a single-touch command, whereas Berninas have required selecting zigzag, then tightening up stitch length to .3 or so to get the satin, then adjusting width. This was a point of jealousy in some quilting classes.

    Vikings also have the "half-mast" presser foot position. This is what I call their pivot feature, when I teach. If you select "needle down", then whenever you stop, the needle sinks and the presser foot rises halfway, allowing pivoting without any other action on your part. No knee lift, no hands repositioned, etc. And, with the sensor system, the amount of half-mast is automatically adjusted for fabric thickness you were just sewing in.

    The real deal maker for me was the sensor system. I sew such a huge variety of fabrics that I preferred a machine that would just automatically adjust for whatever came across it next, without walking feet or anything else. And would then sew at that adjustment at whatever speed I wanted. Pfaffs had the built in walking foot, but that slows down sewing somewhat. My D1 simply sews right off neoprene, denim, gauze, linen or whatever to the next thing, no adjustments needed. There is even an extra height foot lift to hitch it up over embroidery hoops or thick areas.

    I recently found out that the machine will sew through cardboard, given a sturdy needle. I installed a size 18 universal needle to sew wierd costume and props materials, including making an imitation leather manuscript cover with a cardboard accounting organizer folder as the inner stiffener. To keep the material in place as it is thrown about stage, I sewed the spine fabric through the cardboard. No problem.

    I do know, though, that some people prefer the Artista embroidery digitizing software and the specific way it interfaces with the sewing machine. For me, that didn't make the deal, but you may have other needs.

    And, of course, the machine and class support is critical, so you are right to pick one with a good dealer.


    1. Needleworkmom | | #5

      Thanks for the pointers. You obviously know what you are talking about.

    2. Ramc | | #11

      I have just read Novaskills' comments on Bernina vs Viking...

      I wonder about ease of obtaining parts.  I have never had a  delay with my old Bernina 1030. And it is a great sewing machine, as far as I am concerned. I have had a Huskylock 936 serger for about 3 years and the repairman cannot seem to get parts in a timely manner. Last year I needed a new throat plate (one of the stitch fingers had come off the S plate). It took six ( yes, 6) weeks for the part to arrive.  Now I need a needle clamp (the head of the D screw is damaged)... It was first ordered on May18 and has been reordered weekly since then... Are all Viking parts that hard to acquire?

      Consequently, I would be very hesitant to buy another Viking and am actually wanting to trade in this serger for one from Bernina.

      Has anyone any comments on this situation?



      1. MaryinColorado | | #12

        I think the parts issue may be related to the dealer/repairperson/or location.  I own three Vikings and have never had any issues.  The one time my Designer 1 was in for a few days, they gave me a loaner machine just like my own. 

        You can get a stitch regulator for some of the Husq/Vikings but I haven't needed it and I do just about everything my muse can come up with.  I love having an extra bobbin case to adjust, it's white so it won't get mixed up with the factory preset one.  I use it for bobbin work with large thick dec threads. 

        The free upgrades for both the machine and software were a selling point for me. 

        I think the reputation of the dealership is very important and thier customer service/free classes/ factory authorized repair service/etc.  One employee wouldn't sway me one way or the other as they may be gone tomorrow, but knowledgable staff is important!

        I use most of the same feet for my Rose as for the Designer 1.  Check out available hoop sizes for each machine and does it have conversion capabilities to convert most companies designs into the required format?

        I have heard great things about both companies so it probably boils down to personal preferance while using the machine, the comfort and precision.  I love the super wide stitches using the S foot at the touch of a button.  Love the many beautiful heirloom stitches.

        Check out http://www.patternreview.com for thier machine evals and take your own fabrics to test drive.  Ask lots of questions. 

        I don't like having a computer next to sewing area due to dust/lint. 

        Good luck in your search!  Take your time deciding!  Mary

      2. thehat | | #13

        Hi did you try to order direct from the company  I would think if you have the part number and  look on your web site you might get better service just a thought  have a great day

      3. NovaSkills | | #14

        Sorry your service experience has not been good. One thing to remember is that dealers will often need to batch together several customers' parts needs to make up a minimum order quantity that entitles the dealer to price or shipping discounts. If you hit the wrong end of that cycle, you may have a longer wait. You might ask about that timing issue when you request an item. And, yes, order online if you know the part #.

        A dealer will order certain parts in quantity whenever his inventory gets below some determined amount or he's totally out of the item, but others aren't used as frequently and are ordered as needed. Screws should be in the first category, as they do get lost or damaged. Throat plates are more model-specific, and a dealer might not have a deep stock unless they have a significant repair business.

        I have noticed that dealers who do a large share of their income in repairs tend to have more instock parts than those who do more initial sales percentage. That's why, in my area, the Bernina place takes longer to get in parts for older machines than the Viking dealer.

        Your 1030, by the way, is a very good Bernina, which you may want to keep while you acquire a newer model of either company. It's a great machine to have as backup.

        1. Ramc | | #15

          NovaSkills:  Thank you for your answer.  That does explain a little what it is going on.  I also 'heard' yesterday that Viking was doing something (retooling, maybe) in the factory and had not let dealers, et al, know.  Seems strange not to say what is going on when knowing might create a little more patience.

          I will never trade my Bernina 1030 in. It is the most reliable machine I have ever owned. I use it for a lot of sewing. The serger fills special needs... finishes (rolled edges), finished seams all in one go, cover stitch for hemming Tshirts,  and the list goes on. 

          Again, thank you.



          1. JanF | | #16

            I dont blame you - I had a 1030 - and got rid of it - I'm sure after about 20yrs??[if it wasn't a 1030 - def. a 930] (why - to get the capability of linking to a computer - cos I had to get to grips with this for school - but I wish I'd waited)and boy my new Bernina is not a patch on the old one!(its a 1630)
            Buy in haste - repent at leisure??
            I'm definitely going to be a pain to my local dealer when I change ready for my retirement (counting the time away!!) and spend AGES trying them all out and 'cos Ill be retired - a bit like wearing purple - I will TAKE ALL THE TIME I WANT to decide - even if I'm in the way!!
            This is my one piece of advice to anyone buying.
            I can't comment really about viking /bernina 'cos haven't used a viking in years - but didn't rate them that much 25yrs ago!
            Oh crikey isn't that a pathetic statement - strike it - I can't possibly know what vikings are about can I in that case!!

          2. Ramc | | #17

            Hi, JanF. 

            Yes, I know what you mean about the newer Berninas (maybe it's not all of them?). The one I bought to have in our second home is, I think, a 1003.   I am always trying to get it to be more cooperative... I don't know if it has a chronic tension problem but no one seems to be able to adjust it so that the bobbin thread doesn't break. (Only slightly frustrating, note sarcasm).  After I bought it someone said that it was made in THailand. I had thought that I could trust Bernina... I guess the only answer is what you will do for your next machine.  And that's what I am going to be doing for the next 18 months or so until we can return to our summer on the Cape and winter in Key West schedule. Right now, I think I will be sewing costumes all summer for 2 local theatres because my granddaughter is an actess-singer-musician and I am glad that at least the Bernina is working.


          3. NovaSkills | | #18

            Hey, another costume sewer! I'm Wardrobe Supervisor for our local theatre, and I've got two big kids' musicals this summer...Good News (roaring 20s era) and The Wiz (rock version of Wizard of Oz). Nearly 50 kids in one, 76 in the other. Whew!

            As you go through Florida enroute to Key West, stop over in Jupiter and say hello. Maybe I can get you some show tickets, depending on the timing. We kick off the season with Same Time, Next Year, then on to The Boyfriend.


          4. Ramc | | #19

            Jenna, That would be fun, especially since we have a friend in Hobe Sound that we like to visit .  In Key West, I help with costumes for the Waterfront Playhouse (and the Red Barn; we all cooperate); they usually hire a designer for the bigger shows. The one I like to tell people that I did costumes for is "Naked Boys Singing"... they actually do use costumes for some of the scenes.  Here on Cape Cod, I work with the costume designer for Harwich Junior Theatre... mostly because my granddaughter takes classes there and usually is in one show a season.  We'd all have heart attacks or nervous breakdowns if the director cast 76 in one show! The theater probably seats around 160, so not all the parents would get in for opening and closing nights.

            This summer I'll be working on Robin Hood, The little Mermaid (the designer will be away for this one, so I'll have to do more work) and Charlotte's Web. My granddaughter is in "Rock n Roll Tonight", a revue of rnr, so mostly store bought costumes.  The others are going to need some real sewing.


          5. NovaSkills | | #20

            Well, once you get to Hobe Sound, I'm right down US 1, a couple miles south of Jupiter Inlet. The theatre is just off Indiantown Rd & US 1.

            You should let me know when you expect to be by this area. I don't go on this site all the time, but get notification if a message is addressed to me.



  4. fabricholic | | #9

    See if they won't throw in some feet or let you buy a bunch of feet at a big discount. Now is the time, while they want your business. I have a Designer SE. I don't want to comment, because I didn't have the time it took to read and practice before I dove in and used my machine. My machine has a glitch that they are fixing now. The pendulum timing was off and it would say it had broken upper thread when it didn't. The repair man said that when I get it back it will be wonderful. I do love the machine, though. I have had fun with the 3D Professional software. I like the way you can just plug up the dongle to the machine after you have downloaded your designs. Be sure and update your machine on line often, (make sure if has the new updates).


    1. Needleworkmom | | #10

      Thanks for your reply. I appreciate all the information I can get.

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