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Bernina Sewing Machine?

Rothland's picture

I am looking for solid pros or cons to buying a computerized Bernina sewing machine (not embroidery). Having used an Elna Supermatic since about 1963 I have not needed to look for another machine and am not familiar with brands/models that are available, other than looking at Bernina because of brand reputation. I am self-taught as far as basic sewing skills are concerned which include some dress making,  changing patterns (most of the time), sewing with lace, but have never been able to utilize all features my Elna was supposed to offer. Those special stitch discs did not hold their promise and I have used this "top of the line" machine for just very basic stitches. However my time has also always limited my productivity and/or creativity. Now, finally semi-retired, I would like to sew more, especially since today's fashion (particularly short skirts & sleeveless dresses) looks riduculous on a mature woman because the proportions don't work.

The machine that intrigues me is the Activa 230 PE which offers the automatic buttonhole, but it also costs about $400 more than the 220.

Would really appreciate input to help save (or spend) money.

Flax's picture

I used to be a very rigid (post #32326, reply #1 of 4)

I used to be a very rigid anti computer sewing machine person.  A few years ago, I bought a Bernina Virtuosa 153 and I can say that I love it.  

What I hated about computer machines, is their inconvienent tendency to think for themselves.  But i found that I have even more control with my Bernina.

I own an industrial straight stitch a serger and a cheap White in addition to my 153.  I dont have any experience with the machines above but  I think their features are similar to mine.  If you get a Bernina, you will not be disapointed.  I own an alteration shop and I sew on mine all day.  '

One other thing is that my dealer told me (a couple years after I bought the machine, so I know it wasn't a selling point) is that he could keep a 153 running 'forever" he said they were so well built. 


I have no regrets.

alotofstitches's picture

I have an old Bernina 830 (post #32326, reply #2 of 4)

I have an old Bernina 830 (pur. 1976?) that I sewed for all my family on then began my sewing business with in early 1990's--it's still sewing today & doing a good job.  I did treat myself to a new Bernina 170E when my 1st grandchild was born (1998) and have enjoyed it although I do not do a lot of embroidery just personal/family stuff.  For my money you cannot go wrong with a Bernina!  It is an investment for sure but one that does hold it's value.  I have since purchased 2 more used 830s (one owner, middle aged purchases) and another 170E for my granddaughters.  They are all good machines and parts/extra feet are still available if you need them.  FYI the Bernina feet are interchangable between models:  old style refers to models 1630 and below like my 830 and new style refers to the 170, 180 Artista, Activa, etc. that came out in fall 1997.

I'm not familiar with the new model # but I think some of the models DO NOT have the "lift system" and maybe be purchased extra.  I'd never own a machine without the leg lever to left the presser foot--you then have both hands free to position your fabric.  Be sure to test drive the lift system!  Happy shopping! 

mainestitcher's picture

I have been mildly (post #32326, reply #3 of 4)

I have been mildly disappointed with my Bernina 153, as the thread tension isn't great.  I've had the same problem with the alleged "industrial" Bernina.  I can't sew anything heavier than a flat-felled shirt weight seam and have adequate tension on the needle thread.  They have been to the repair shops, (reliable repair shops, too) and the problem remains.  I was faithful to Bernina, having owned an 830 first, but these last two turned me off. 

It isn't at all clear what you want to do with your sewing.  My boss just got a Juki for me, I think it's a DDL 8700.  Straight stitch forward and back, fast and smooth.  Sews prom dresses and jeans just fine.

If you sew knits a lot, you may need a zig zag machine.  In my many years of sewing, 99% of my sewing has been straight or zig zag.  "Straight stretch " stitch is something I've always regretted, especially if I had to remove it.

You can also  check out  the Pattern Review site, there are reviews of many brands and models of sewing machines there.

It doesn't really take all kinds. It just turned out that way.
nightsewer's picture

I bought my first Bernina  an (post #32326, reply #4 of 4)

I bought my first Bernina  an 830 in 1975 after reading about it in Consumer Reports.   I was never disappointed.  I sewed everything on that machine.   As long as you oiled it and cleaned it occasionally, it would just carry on sewing.  It was never in the 25 years I used it, in the shop.  I later sold it to my girlfriend.

I tried the computerized Janome and early one, but did not like it.   It just didn't measure up to a Bernina.    

Finally, I was able to buy a Bernina 1230.  I have had it since 1990.     I love it.    It is the only machine that remembers the preceding stitch.  All other machines revert to the default stitch.   If I am using a straight stitch and then go to a zig zag, I can return to the straight stitch and it will be the exact stitch as programmed.   

It has sewn everything from football pads to silk.   Unfortunately, the football pads was a little too much for it and something ground to a halt with a lot of noise.  

I took it to a wonderful repair person at my local Bernina dealer and they did a wonderful job. My 1230 is now back to its normal wonderful self.  

I also bought myself an 831 for the REALLY tough jobs.   I would kill for the 830 0r even the 820.

I would advise you to read the reviews in Consumer Reports and the reviews in the Pattern Review site as well.    

I would never sew on anything else.   Nothing compares!