Bernette 35 Swiss Design Sewing Machine side view

If you were to snatch a glimpse of an average sewing room anywhere in the US, you would probably find a Brother, Baby Lock or a Singer (or multiple of those) sitting there. It’s debatable whether those are the best sewing machine brands, but they are certainly most popular. Bernina probably wouldn’t make it to top three. Nevertheless, many professionals are absolutely thrilled with the performance and quality of their machines. And not even the hefty price tags can change their minds.

In this article, I will try to figure out what singles out Bernina from other brands. Also, why you should or shouldn’t consider getting one. Finally, I will examine some of the best bets when it comes to their models.

But first, a word or two about the company. As you can guess from their logo, they are a Swiss company. With 126 years of tradition (and counting), their excellent reputation has been carved in stone for decades. And it keeps being so even today, in an era of powerful stitching computers. The founder was Karl Friedrich Gegauf, a medical college dropout who aspired to be a mechanic. Which was, as we now know, a great decision. Among his first inventions were monogram embroidery machine and hemstitch sewing machine. Another of the company’s landmark inventions were portable zigzag machines, which soon became famous across the world.

They were among the first manufacturers to recognize the paradigm shift that was taking place in the sewing world. So, in 2002, they came up with the first computerized sewing and embroidery machine in the world, Artista 200.

Today, they keep on making sophisticated high-end models with many advanced functions, while remaining robust, powerful, and durable as ever. Uniquely, most of their models are still being manufactured in their homeland Switzerland.

Is Bernina Your Next Sewing Machine?

Naturally, there isn’t a “one size fits all” answer to this question. However, take this as a rule of thumb. If you are only just starting out as a sewist, Bernina probably shouldn’t be your first choice. Even though they have an entry-level series for beginners, those are still at least twice the price of the most basic Brother or Singer models. The best advice would be to get a cheap, simple machine to play with until you hone your skills enough to proceed to the next level.

But even if you’re a few years into sewing as a hobbyist, a cheap basic machine should meet all of your needs. You don’t need a stitching monster that can blast at 1,100 stitches per minute while you enjoy a cup of coffee (that it made for you, ehem). All you need is a handy little tool that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg and won’t cause much headache down the road.

However, if you have (or plan on having) a sewing business, several hundred (or even thousand) bucks shouldn’t be too massive an investment. And you may rest assured that they will pay themselves several times over even within a couple months. You need a reliable, sturdy, and sophisticated workhorse. Bernina machines are all of that and more. The best part is – your grandkids will likely use it too. And not just as a stylish piece of antique.

Too Expensive? Try a Bernette!

As the sewing market increased and competition went fiercer than ever, Bernina folks grew aware of the price issue. So, they developed a separate line even in the 1970s, and called it Bernette. Today, this brand stands on its own. From its parent company it inherited quality and innovation, while being much more affordable for entry-level craftspeople.

So, if you need a decent mechanical, electronic or combined machine for sewing, embroidery or both, but don’t want to get ripped off, Bernette might be a good choice for you. What I really appreciate is that their machines come with Bernina dealer support.

Top 5 Bernina Machines

Before I proceed with the list, I must admit something. Usually, when I make lists of best machines in this or that category, I have to choose from hundreds of models. In this case, my task isn’t nearly as tough. Bernina doesn’t boast of hundreds of lines. On the contrary, they only have eight series to date, with a couple dozen models – and that’s it.

If you ask me, it’s not a bad thing at all. To me, it means that they have full confidence in each and every model they release. Their main asset is quality rather than quantity. And they are right to put that forward as a selling point.

Choosing from their lines is quite easy. Their series 2 to 4 were designed with newbies in mind, but all of them are upgradeable, with functionality growing along with your skill. Accordingly, they are also more affordable. As for series 5 to 8, they are for professional sewists, quilters and embroiderers. Naturally, you will have to splash more money on those.

Bernette 35 Swiss Design Sewing Machine – Most Affordable Model

An entirely mechanical machine, this cute little Bernette features 23 stitches and seven presser feet – more than enough to get you going. You can adjust stitch width, length and choose patterns with three dial knobs, and adjust your thread tension with a wheel. With just over 16 pounds, it’s lightweight enough to bring and use on the go. The only automatic function is the buttonhole, which will sew on its own, without you having to raise the needle or do anything else. Now, as I said, even the most basic Bernina models will have more powerful functions than their competitors. So, this machine will sew at the top speed of 860 stitches per minute. It’s not anywhere near an industrial grade model, but is still faster than its peers within this price range.

Pros
  • Very affordable considering the average price of a Bernina.
  • Highly adjustable stitches.
  • Five of each stitch width and length options.
  • Very easy to use.
  • No computerized functions.
  • More powerful than most entry-level machines.
Cons
  • Entirely mechanical.
  • Not allowing for much customization.

Bernette 38 Swiss Design Computerized Sewing Machine

Bernette’s top model, it comes nowhere near the prices of standard Bernina machines. Yet, it boasts a wide array of functions including whopping 394 stitches, eight one-step buttonholes, eight presser feet, three alphabets, speed regulator. It’s easy to regulate the stitching speed on the display, with maximum of 820 stitches per minute. You will also get a hard cover and an extension table. All of that makes this purchase a great value for the money. In terms of performance, it’s hard to find a more reliable machine within this price range.

Pros
  • Excellent value.
  • Wonderful number of stitches.
  • Automatic needle threader and thread cutter.
  • Good for quilting too, even though it’s not advertised as such.
Cons
  • Beginners will have a steeper learning curve.
  • Some customers complain that it’s a bit noisy.

Bernette 38 Swiss Design Computerized Sewing Machine
  • Stitch Width 7 mm
  • Hook System Drop-In
  • Free arm 170 mm
  • Patterns 394
  • Buttonholes 8 (1-step)

Bernina 530 Sewing and Quilting Machine

Beginners would probably feel overwhelmed with this model, even if they could afford it. On the other hand, intermediate to professional sewists and quilters will rejoice at its rich functionality and sophistication. 148 stitches (22 utility, 117 decorative including 12 quilting stitches) are probably more than you’ll ever need. Since it’s basically a little computer, it will save your favorite stitches and patterns for easy access in the future. The needle threader can either be semi-automatic or entirely automatic. And that will save you much time down the road. Plus, you can wind the bobbin while sewing, without turning off the machine. You can upgrade this machine with the famous Bernina stitch regulator, which is an outstanding feature for free-motion sewing. Pity it isn’t included in the machine.

Pros
  • 11 needle positions.
  • Automatic needle threader.
  • Long-term and short-term stitch memory.
  • USB connection.
  • Knee lifter.
  • Free-arm table extension and carrying bag included.
  • Automatic and manual buttonhole.
Cons
  • Bernina stitch regulator is sold separately.
  • Walking foot not included.
  • Very expensive.

Bernina 530 Sewing and Quilting Machine
  • Optimum stitch control
  • Automatic one-step buttonhole
  • Wide range of stitches
  • Optional Bernina Stitch Regulator

Bernina Artista 630E Sewing, Quilting and Embroidery Machine

I had to include one of these most versatile models from the Artista series. One of the features that I absolutely adore is the Bernina stitch regulator for smooth, spotless stitches even at varying speeds. You can take advantage of 480 stitches and 70 built-in embroidery designs. But that’s not all of it. Since it has USB interface, you can download thousands of designs from the internet and employ them at once. There is exceptional speed control, start/stop button, and free-hand system.

Pros
  • Extremely versatile.
  • Large, intuitive LCD touchscreen.
  • Excellent for quilters due to Bernina stitch regulator.
  • Excellent for embroiderers too, thanks to the embroidery module.
  • A sturdy and durable workhorse.
Cons
  • Very expensive machine.
  • Expensive maintenance.

Bernina 830 Embroidery and Sewing Machine – Performance Monster

Sewists and embroiderers alike will be thrilled with this machine. It offers 50% more sewing space than other models, as well as a separate embroidery module 40 inches long. But quilters can consider it too, especially because of the extremely high, 15mm foot lift. The stitching speed of 1,100 stitches per minute (and 1,000 embroidery stitches) is equivalent to the industrial grade machines. Thus, it will be a lifesaver for professionals who deal with tons of work on a daily basis. The dual feed system will handle multiple layers of fabric like a breeze. And you will find lots of embroidery designs and hoops in the accessories pouch.

Pros
  • Extremely fast yet smooth operating.
  • Bobbin bigger by 40%.
  • Many accessories and extras, especially for embroidery.
  • Large working space, even for the biggest projects.
  • Very versatile machine, for sewing, embroidery, quilting.
Cons
  • Extremely expensive.

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Bernina 830 Embroidery and Sewing Machine
  • Bernina 830 Embroidery and Sewing Machine