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Overwelmed...looking at new machines...help from Bernina owners, please!

Overwelmed...looking at new machines...help from Bernina owners, please!

Old 10-24-2011, 09:28 PM
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I really never thought this day would come....for my birthday, Oct. 22, my DH suggested that I look for a new machine. I now have a 25 year old Bernina 910, that I love, love, love, but if you have sewn for very long you will know that it does nothing like most of the newer machines do. For a couple of years now I have read all the posts here about all the different machines, I have gone to patternreview.com and I thought I knew what my "dream" machine was, until now, when I really might get one! I went to the Bernina dealer today and I am totally confused. These machines do so much that I am so totally unfamilar with, I don't know if some of the features are something I will want or not, and I don't think I will know until I take the classes(offered after purchase). I don't think I am interested in embroidery, but some advise that I get a machine that it could be added later in case I change my mind. I looked at the 440, 450, 600 series(3 models), 730, and 820 and the new 550 and 580. Some do one thing and not another but the next machine is the opposite, yikes! Since I do love my old Bernina, that is where I started, but I did think(because of the price) that I would look at all the good brands before deciding, but if each brand is this confusing, it will take me a year to decide on a machine!! I guess my first question for any of you that own a Bernina less than the 820-830 is- do you regret not getting a machine with a larger throat space? Since several of the models come with the BSR for machine quilting, I wonder if many people really do much quilting on the machines with the smaller throats. Any advise will be so appreciated!
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Old 10-25-2011, 12:15 AM
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First of all, KEEP the 910!!! Next, think about your budget and what you really want this machine to do now. While it's a good thought to choose a model to which embroidery can be added, that's a whole 'nuther (expensive and complex) pursuit. Many prefer separate machines anyway, in order to sew on one, while supervising the other embroider. If you don't yet do embroidery, make sure your choice meets your sewing and quilting needs first. Personally, I strongly prefer the 5.5mm stitch width machines for piecing and general sewing. I find it a challenge to make narrow hems and seams and do tiny, tight work, with the widely-spaced feed dogs of the 9mm machines. HOWEVER, only the 9mm machines have the auto thread cutter and of course the wider decorative stitches. If your 910 is in good health and you have the space, then you can always piece with it. The 820 and 830 are huge and heavy. You might need a new table or cabinet to handle the size and weight. They're also NOT portable. But, they have the 12" harps, built-in dual feed, larger bobbins, and the most advanced sewing and embroidery features Bernina has. The 820 (sewing only-can't add embroidery) isn't much more than than the 580, 6 series, or 730. I have the 820 and LOVE everything about it except the 9mm feed dogs, which I find challenging for piecing and narrow seams and hems. But the huge harp (you can even put it on a frame) and luxury sewing features are worth that one weakness. I use my 440 for precision piecing and tiny work (spaghetti straps, mini sock monkeys and all their outfits, narrow hems, etc). But I miss the auto cut, built-in dual feed, much larger bobbin, etc on the 440 sometimes. For me, multiple Berninas are the solution. The 6 series have a LOT to offer. I think the first decision is 5.5mm versus 9mm stitch width. Not everyone prefers the 5.5 as I do, so test drive both (and if course your final choices!) with your fabrics, threads, and sewing tasks, and go from there. If 9mm works well for you for your general sewing and piecing, that's great, because then you get the wider stitches and auto-cut. The 430, 440, 530, 550, 630/635 are 5.5mm machines. The 450, 580, 640, 730, 820, and 830 have 9mm stitch width. The 450 doesn't have auto cut, though. The 4 series need to be connected to a computer for embroidery. The 530, 550, and 820 can't embroider. I hope that helps. Take your time, test drive like crazy, but relax, because these are all superb machines. I have a 240, 440, 820, and (vintage mechanicals) 930 and 731. All excellent.
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Old 10-25-2011, 12:16 AM
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I have a Bernina 153 QE-10 years old now. Absolutely love it.Does not do embroidery but has dozens of fancy stitches.Do not have the BSR but does a great job freemotion.Having said all that,I do regret not having a larger throat space and am now looking for a mid arm to use on my Happy Jack frame
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Old 10-25-2011, 02:20 AM
Join Date: Aug 2011
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I have a 440. I love the BSR, even though I've now got a longarm. (Longarms are a wee bit of overkill for things like mugrugs, so I've got the flexibility for both.) It was a little tough, but I did manage to do a 108x108" lonestar wedding quilt with the 440 & BSR with few problems - just get the large extension table (the one that's 24x24".)

Keep in mind that they just ended the 440 production run - they've switched over to the 550, now, which is a very nice machine indeed. So if you're willing to go for something a little older, deals are ready to be had on used 440s.
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Old 10-25-2011, 02:41 AM
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440 here and I'm in love. I also have the embroidery unit but haven't used it other than classes. I love the BSR and the walking foot that comes with this machine. I think this model is fast becoming sold out due to the newer 5 series. I was not aware that you can't embroider with the 5's. I would not trade my 440 for any machine! I have quilted baby quilts with the 440 and the smaller bed. Just recently ordered the larger bed. Anxious to get that. Enjoy the process-I call my Bernina the Harley of machines. Cause DH has his Harley and now I have mine! ha
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Old 10-25-2011, 03:00 AM
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Of the machines you mentioned, my favorite has been the 640. I think its the most versatile choice. I like the 9mm stitch width. The 4 series is a fine choice. If I was buying today, and was not worried about price. I would be buying in the 5 series or the 830.
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Old 10-25-2011, 03:18 AM
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I first discovered Berninas when I worked for a dealer who made her bread and butter doing custom dressmaking and alterations. I purchased a 1260 from her with a hefty employee discount. That was more than 20 years ago and I wore that machine out. Over the years I have had an opportunity to trade up but always went back to my 1260. I also have one of the first stand alone embroidery machines that Bernina sold. It still runs but I can no longer get software for it easily. I recently added a Brother embroidery machine to my colleciton as it uses the same software as the Bernina embroidery machine with the additional USB capacity that makes it possible to use the software from the older machine. When the wider stitch width became available on the Berninas I stuck with my 1260 because the straight stitch was more consistant without the wider stitch and the feed dogs worked better on narrow items like straps or binding etc. The only kind of machine quilting I do is on Linus quilts that are no bigger than twin bed size. On those I do simple grid pattern done with a decorative stitch at least 5 inches apart over all. ONe thing I don't like about the newer Berninas including the Artista 185 I purchased used from my local dealer when my 1260 finally gave up the ghost is the protective shield over the threading area. All of their machines have it now. When I asked the dealer why, they said someone got their hair caught in the older version without the shield. I still have trouble threading the machine because of that stupid thing.
If you plan to do mainly piecing with your sewing machine I recommend that you don't get the one with the wider stitch capacity. It is a lot less expensive. Another thing that burned me is the feet from my 1260 will not fit the newer machines because of the self threading feature. I had literaly a thousand + dollars tied up in specialty feet for my 1260 that won't fit the newer machines. Unless you plan on doing a lot of machine quilting of adult size bed quilts I wouldn't put the money into the larger harp either. Just my two cents.
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Old 10-25-2011, 04:03 AM
Join Date: Mar 2010
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I have a friend who is a sewing machine dealer. I have bought several Berninas from her. But she says the new Berninas are not made as well as the old ones that were made of metal. The new ones are mostly plastic and there are a lot of problems with them. She advocates Pfaff now more than Berninas.
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Old 10-25-2011, 04:22 AM
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I love, love, love my new 440QE. I have a 1031QE also which is 15 years old but my sweetie bought me an update this year so I could expand my horizons. I also have several old singers from the early 1900's. SO.... I have straight sewing and a touch of modern without getting too overwhelming.
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Old 10-25-2011, 04:27 AM
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Twenty five years ago I bought my first Bernina, a 930. I still have it and still like to sew on it. Five years ago my husband surprised me at Christmas with a 440, BSR, and embroidery. Love the BSR, but do not use the embroidery enough to say get it. Five years later, if my 440 went away and only had the 930, I would miss the ease of appliquing with it. the ease of sewing, and the BSR. The throat space is limiting. My advice to you, if you have been sewing on a Bernina that long, don't waste your time looking at other brands, obviously there was something about a Bernina that kept you loyal all of this time, and you are not going to find it anyplace else. My reason was the customer service and the trouble free sewing. When my husband decided I needed a new machine, he went right to the Bernina dealer I dealt with for 20 years, never thought to look at another Brand, he knew he could not go wrong with a Bernina. Focus on what model and what features you are really going to use. There is a huge price difference between the 820 and 830 but you can not go back and add embrod. later. It will give you the space for quilting. They are closing out 440s, maybe you can get a good deal, that is how I got my 930. Are you going to use the embroidery? Huge added cost? Do you need all of the bells and whistles of the 800 series? Is free motion quilting in your future? Then get one with a BSR, Good luck.
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