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Thread: Janome Horizon 7700 vs. Bernina 550QE vs. used Bernina 440QE

  1. #1
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    Janome Horizon 7700 vs. Bernina 550QE vs. used Bernina 440QE

    I'm in the process of saving up to upgrade my machine. I am currently using my first ever sewing machine (an inexpensive Singer). My focus is primarily on quilting, although I do make some clothing for my 2-year old daughter, in addition to hemming pants for my son, etc. I think I've narrowed it down to the Janome Horizon 7700, a new Bernina 550QE, or a used Bernina 440QE. I was looking at the Janome 6600, but I think the lack of a free-arm would be a deal-breaker. Also, the 7700 has a bigger throat.

    I've seen some scary reviews for the Janome 7700, but many of the quirks seem to have been worked out (the 1/4 inch foot, feed dog adjustments, etc). I do still have a concern about it's ability to sew over thick seam intersections, but the reviews I've seen that note this as a problem seem to be in the minority. The acufeed built-in walking foot is very appealing, as well as the automatic thread cutter, lighting, and I hear good things about the free-motion quilting.

    The Bernina 550QE was the machine I was dreaming of until I saw the Janome 7700 (which has a bigger throat and seems like more machine for the money). I do want something that will last and I've never heard of someone having a Bernina that quit. I like the feet on the Bernina better, but the thought of how much I'll end up spending on extra feet and accessories is off-putting. I'd love to have the BSR too, but at $1k, it just seems over the top expensive. I also worry that I'll regret spending so much money and wishing I would have gone with a less expensive machine.

    The 440QE to me is really just a cheaper alternative than the 550QE. I've heard and read wonderful things about the 440, and I know I'll be able to find a used one at some point for a decent price.

    So is there anyone hear who has had both machines? Is the stitch quality of the Bernina that much better that it justifies the price? Is Janome just as reliable? Has anyone been loyal to one and then switched to the other without any regrets? Help!

  2. #2
    Senior Member Hinterland's Avatar
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    I don't have a Janome, but I'll give you some advice anyway!

    Sew on all 3 machines, bringing your own fabric - including a quilt sandwich for free motion, some piecing, and machine applique. Even if it's something you don't think you'll be doing, because you never know when you'll want to learn something new.

    You can read reviews on the internet, but until you actually experience the machine you won't know which one is right for you. I have a Bernina 440 and a Sapphire 850. I'm still kicking myself for buying the 440, which I love, before I knew about the Horizon. Even if I didn't buy the Horizon, I would have liked to try it out.

    I have friends who swear by Bernina, and I have friends who are as fervent about their Janomes.

    Janet

  3. #3
    Senior Member cmw0829's Avatar
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    I have never used the Bernina machines you mention.

    I agree with Janet - try them and see what you think. Imagine what you might want to do with the machine. If you want to FMQ a larger quilt, the small throat of the Berninas will be limiting.

    When I went looking for my new machine, I was going to buy a Viking because I had a Viking. But when I compared the "feel" of the Viking Sapphire 875Q vs. the Horizon - for me - the Horizon won hands down. But that's me. I haven't been sorry. You'll know what feels good to you.

    As to features - I heartily recommend a thread cutter, needle down position and a knee lifter. Additional features of the Horizon that I especially like are the Accufeed and the automatic plate converter - converts from zigzag sized hole in the needle plate to a single hole.

    Good luck.

  4. #4
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    I have used the 440 and the 550 and they are both good machines. I bought the 440 with BSR before the 550's came out. I might have bought the 550 and BSR if they had been available at the time. The 440 has embroidery capability for $1000 which I didn't get anyway. The 550 does not have the embroidery so it's probably less expensive. I love my 440 but I've not tried a Janome so I can't offer an opinion.

  5. #5
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    I have the Janome 7700 and am quite disappointed. I have had it for a year now - it definitely doesn't like sewing over bumps! The biggest problem for me is that I do a huge amount of sewing for Project Linus and my machine needs cleaning weekly. Without it the machine skips stiches and eventually starts to break the thread. It went back to the supplier after 9 months to correct the problem but I was told that there was nothing wrong with it and just needed cleaning. For me it is just not up to the job but for less frequent sewers maybe it would be fine.

  6. #6
    Super Member Dolphyngyrl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jacki View Post
    I have the Janome 7700 and am quite disappointed. I have had it for a year now - it definitely doesn't like sewing over bumps! The biggest problem for me is that I do a huge amount of sewing for Project Linus and my machine needs cleaning weekly. Without it the machine skips stiches and eventually starts to break the thread. It went back to the supplier after 9 months to correct the problem but I was told that there was nothing wrong with it and just needed cleaning. For me it is just not up to the job but for less frequent sewers maybe it would be fine.
    I had heard something about this with janomes before, but I don't have one myself so I can't tell you. Both are highly rated so I would try them out to see what feels better for you.

  7. #7
    Super Member Candace's Avatar
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    I own both a Bernina and a Janome. They are both great machines. Comparing the 7700 to the Bernina models you mentioned is not really orange to orange comparsion as the Berninas you named also have embroidery capabilities. If you want that ability then those are the two models you should lean towards.

  8. #8
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    I have a 440 and cannot compare because I haven't used the others. The best advice you have already gotten -- try all of them and then decide. I can say the 440 is a dream. If you can get a used one for a good price, go for it -- if your test drives show it works best for you. You can always buy a BSR later when you have saved up again.

  9. #9
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    That's a good point about the embroidery capability...it's not a priority for me. I'm just so torn. I'd love the BSR and reliability/precision I've heard comes with a Bernina, but I'm also really interested in the built-in walking foot, straight stitch plate converter, and huge throat of the Janome. It appears that perhaps the only downside of Bernina is the price, but the horizon isn't exactly cheap either.

  10. #10
    Junior Member Karenowc's Avatar
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    I don't believe the Bernina 550 has the embroidery - I could be wrong, but the 580 is the embroidery machine. I had a Bernina 180E for 10 years and it never gave me any problems. I also have a 6600 and not any problems there either.
    When I wanted to upgrade to a new embroidery machine I tried them all. I bought a Babylock Ellisimo and I really like it.

    I think with most high end machines, you have to keep them clean. With the embroidery, they sew so fast, they create more than normal lint - so I clean the bobbin case, etc. each time I put in a new bobbin. Sometimes more.

    Everyone is correct - you need to spend some time trying them out.
    Karen in CA
    Babylock Ellisimo, Babylock Enlighten Serger, Janome 6600, Janome 760 for travel

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