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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.

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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.

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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

  11. #11
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    I have a Bernina 640 and a White Pearl. I was raised on Vikings but now days the Bernina beats it hands down. If you are sewing for family the B will walk over jeans hems for shortening pants. I do some alterations as well as having a long arm quilting business. The B switches to a single hole by changing the plate. It just pops in and out. I have BSR for it but haven't used it because of the long arm. I would suggest learning to machine quilt without it before making a purchase. It appears many don't feel the need for it. The walking foot is a good investment if you are going to attach binding. It works great. I would not buy a bunch of extra feet other than that and possibly a quarter inch foot, they have several types of them. Good luck on making your decision. Try them several times and go home and think about them before making a choice. It's almost as difficult and important as buying a car.
    Cheryl Robinson
    http://www.silverneedlestitching.com
    APQS Millenium Longarm with Intelliquilter

  12. #12
    Senior Member AnitaSt's Avatar
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    My two cents worth....I have a Bernina 430, which is pretty much the same machine as the 440. It's my only machine. It has done everything I've asked of it....thick seams, heavy fabrics, multiple layers, sheer fabrics, quilting, home dec sewing, you name it. It handles everything easily and has a beautiful straight stitch which can be even better my adding the straight stitch throat plate. I "upgraded" by buying a second-hand, hardly-used BSR for half of what a new one costs. It works wonderfully....I just need more practice at making pretty designs with it!

    I did buy several extra feet that I now realize I won't use very often and could have done without them just fine. The walking foot is an essential for quilting and I've heard reports that it is more reliable and easier (therefore cheaper) to repair or adjust, if necessary. To me, the more bells and whistles that are included on the machine itself, the more things there are to go wrong someday...sort of like a car!

    It all comes down to how the machines feel to you...keep test-driving and pushing them to do the things you want them to do.

    AnitaSt

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    I have a Bernina 430 (just like the 450 w/o the embroidery or BSR) and I also had a Janome 7700. I did not like the 7700 and sold it and got the 6600 instead. The stitch quality on the Janome vs the Bernina was comparable. The Bernina felt better made than the 7700, but the 6600 feels better than the 7700 did. I also had a 450 with BSR which I did not like so I sold that one as well. The BSR was pretty useless to be as it required me to go too slow and with the small throat space on the Bernina, it was not practicle for FMQ fo me anyway. If I had to choose between the Bernina and 7700, I would choose the Bernina.

  14. #14
    Super Member Treasureit's Avatar
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    I would go try them at a dealer before you decide. And don't believe everything they say....but try all the things you want to know about....take fabric/batting and try FMQ and use the 1/4" piecing foot and see if it works like they say it does. Then go home and think about what you thought.

  15. #15
    Senior Member CarrieC's Avatar
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    I have a bernina. I have to agree with others on here that suggested you bring your own fabric, your own quilt sandwiches etc.

    Some things to consider is your harp size. I bought the 440QE before I really started FMQ and I kick myself every day for not knowing more about harp size.

    Good luck!
    Carrie, Queen of the Seam Rippers!

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    Like AnitaSt and Solomae, I bought the 430 instead of the 440. I have had it for a few years. I do agree that the harp size is not fun to do fmq with. I recently bought a Pfaff QE4 because of the harp size and it does have the 9mm stitch instead of the 5, so even though I have no interest in embroidery, it does make the decorative stitches more useful, to me at least. I have no experience with Janomes, but it seems everyone loves them. I do enjoy the larger harp size and the auto thread cutter which my bernina does not have.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Jamiestitcher62's Avatar
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    I have the Horizon 7700 and have had it since it came out. Yes there was an issue with the design of the 1/4" foot, but they sent everyone who registered their machine a new one. It has a little notch on the bottom. It has definitely made a world of difference. I haven't had a problem with it since, sewing over the bumps, but sewing over bumps seems to be a little tricky no matter what machine you use.

    My best friend works for a sewing machine dealer/repair shop and said by far, Bernina sewing machines are in the shop more than any other brand on the market.

    I had the Janome 6600 which also had problems going over bumps, and I agree, the lack of a freearm was a bummer, I traded it in for the 7700 and I also have the Janome 11000SE and I just picked up the new Janome 4120QDC for taking to classes (it weighs 13 pounds).

    If quilting is your thing, Bernina machines are notoriously short in the throat area, almost comical when looking at them, the feet are expensive. The 7700's extra throat space has been a godsend to me anyway.

    It's a shame that Bernina has a BSR for a machine with such a small throat area. Seems like a waste.

    Try them all, but I'm a Janome girl, so take it with a grain of salt.
    Laura

  18. #18
    Senior Member cmw0829's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Silver Needle View Post
    It's almost as difficult and important as buying a car.
    I had a harder time buying a sewing machine than choosing my last new car!

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Silver Needle View Post
    I have a Bernina 640 and a White Pearl. I was raised on Vikings but now days the Bernina beats it hands down. If you are sewing for family the B will walk over jeans hems for shortening pants. I do some alterations as well as having a long arm quilting business. The B switches to a single hole by changing the plate. It just pops in and out. I have BSR for it but haven't used it because of the long arm. I would suggest learning to machine quilt without it before making a purchase. It appears many don't feel the need for it. The walking foot is a good investment if you are going to attach binding. It works great. I would not buy a bunch of extra feet other than that and possibly a quarter inch foot, they have several types of them. Good luck on making your decision. Try them several times and go home and think about them before making a choice. It's almost as difficult and important as buying a car.
    I have the Bernina 730 and love it but am considering a newer machine so I will have this one for embroidery and the other one just for quilting. I have the BSR but prefer the Leah Day method for free motion which does not require the BSR. With either you have to practice to keep your stitches even and navigate so learn without as silver needle suggests. Then the BSR will make it easier if you go that route. I do not have any other machine brands so try them all. Write down what features are most important like mirror image, a favorites button or knee lift, etc, then compare them. Good luck with your choice. You will never regret a Bernina.
    Linda

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    I have read over all the replays. As is my nature I must add my own 2 cents.
    You have to test and test some more. Bring all the fabrics that you sew with and some others that you may or may not sew with that are difficult for a machine to handle. When testing be sure you are using the right foot for the job that you are testing, as it makes a difference.
    I have both the 630Bernina, big sister for the 430/40/ 530/50
    I love this machine, it is precise, goes through everything. FM really well. I have no complaints.
    It does not have a big harp space as compared to the 7700. But I feel for an all around machine I much prefer a Bernina. Better buttonhole, feed is perfect, love the many feet and that the feet are stable never worry about getting through a think seam, Maneuvers really well.
    But then I also have just purchased the Janome 6600, looked very carefully at the 7700 and opted for the 6600. One thing that weighted on me were some bad reviews, though some say that is taken care of. The other lack of power over multiple seams. But then after my dealer had it looked at the feed dogs adjusted it sewed fine. So if you decide you want the 7700, be certain this is done, or looked at.
    As for the 6600 it is sewing over all kinds of seams so far no problems. I have had it for a week. First off I don't need a free arm, as I have the Bernina. I like this machine its, tried and true. It is rock solid, quiet, and easy to use. The Accufeed is a little cumbersome, but works great, once you get use to taking it on and off its super easy. I purchased the FMQuilting foot that comes with the Horizon, and also a blue dot bobbin case. Really if I were to pick between the Horizon and the 6600, and this was my only machine, then I think I would go for the Horizon.
    So you see its not an easy answer. lol
    Also all of the Accufeed feet except for the ruffler, pleater. And there is also a very cool and inventive foot that is a roller/tractor foot and comes with a set of different gizmos, for all kinds of jobs.
    I love both of my machines. But if I could have only one I would go with the Bernina.
    Only You can decide!

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    I have been extremely displeased with my Bernina since day one. My machine needed to go back to the factory, because the dealer wasn't able to fix a problem I had with it. Their service was poor, not consumer friendly, and expensive. Their attachments are very expensive too. I spent a summer teaching lessons at a Bernina dealer, using a variety of Bernina machines. I discovered that most of them had the same issues - which solidified my opinion that I would never purchase another Bernina product.

  22. #22
    Senior Member RonieM's Avatar
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    I have the 440 and love it. I do wish it had a thread cutting feature, but obviously I can live without it. I have a good friend that has a Janome and she hates it. It is very fickle about what threads she can use and seems to need constant attention.

    I say try them all and then buy the one that makes you happy!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamiestitcher62 View Post
    I have the Horizon 7700 and have had it since it came out. Yes there was an issue with the design of the 1/4" foot, but they sent everyone who registered their machine a new one. It has a little notch on the bottom. It has definitely made a world of difference. I haven't had a problem with it since, sewing over the bumps, but sewing over bumps seems to be a little tricky no matter what machine you use.

    My best friend works for a sewing machine dealer/repair shop and said by far, Bernina sewing machines are in the shop more than any other brand on the market.

    I had the Janome 6600 which also had problems going over bumps, and I agree, the lack of a freearm was a bummer, I traded it in for the 7700 and I also have the Janome 11000SE and I just picked up the new Janome 4120QDC for taking to classes (it weighs 13 pounds).

    If quilting is your thing, Bernina machines are notoriously short in the throat area, almost comical when looking at them, the feet are expensive. The 7700's extra throat space has been a godsend to me anyway.

    It's a shame that Bernina has a BSR for a machine with such a small throat area. Seems like a waste.

    Try them all, but I'm a Janome girl, so take it with a grain of salt.
    I'm a Janome girl all the way. I traded an old Janome in last year for the 7700. I was seriously considering the Bernina as everyone raves about them. I'm VERY happy with my Janome 7700. Did register and got the new quarter foot. I agree bumps can be a tiny challenge although nothing to keep me from recommending. Love, love, love the big throat space! Absolutely no regrets.

  24. #24
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    I love, love, love my Janome Horizon....had been leaning toward the Bernina 550 QE (mainly for the stitch regulation) but after reading all the reviews I could get on both and learning the stitch regulator has some drawbacks I ended up with the Horizon. Love the large harp, extension table, found it pretty easy to learn to use. Check out Leah Day (Daystyle Quilting) for her take on it if you haven't already.

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    I have the 7700, have had it since it came out. I love it. I do freehand quiltiing and it does a beautiful job. I have never sewn on a bernina, although people who have them love them. It's a personal preference, but I've been sold on Janome for the past 20 years. It is a wonderful machine.

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