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Forum > Sewing Machines > Bernina 380 ( Moderated by Sharon1952, EleanorSews)

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Bernina 380
RoseFromThule
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RoseFromThule
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Date: 2/21/12 6:24 AM

So a new dealer opened in town recently, that carries Bernina and a few Janome/Brother/Juki.

I had my eye on the Juki H600 for a long time, but there was no Juki dealer around. I went to the new shop but they told me that they don't carry Juki SM, only serger. The mechanic told me that Juki is good for industrial machines and sergers, but he wouldn't trust them on domestic SM.

I only sew garments, currently on a small mechanical Pfaff that I love, except that it obviously doesn't do keyhole buttonholes, is finicky about regular buttonholes and huffs and puffs on very thick fabrics (and by thick, I mean several layers of heavy denim or bulky wool).
It doesn't have any bell nor whistles so I'm not used to fancy features !

I would like a new machine to be able to sew some jeans with upholstery thread and topstitch the odd big coat in thick coating without fearing for its life or having to find ways around.

So, they offered me to try the Bernina 330. I liked it, but would have to buy the 380 to have the keyhole buttonhole. I especially liked the heavy presser feet ! It comes with big, standard feet, not snap-on.

The dealers are very nice, they all sew (quilt & garments), they didn't try to fool me or sell me their TOL machines (I actually had to insist about the 380 !), and their mechanic talked like someone you can trust.

They offered me to come back next week with my own heavy fabric and thick thread to try it again.

So, what do you think about Bernina 380 and everything ?

BTW, the machine's price is in my planned budget, so money is not the main issue although the cheaper, the better, of course.

Edit - I know that a vintage machine would be the best choice, but they are scarce around here. I can only find treadles that would take too much space. And finding a buttonholer seems just impossible.

-- Edited on 2/21/12 8:15 AM --

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Clareew
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Clareew  Friend of PR
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Date: 2/21/12 9:06 AM

I have just upgraded my 350 for a 550 (only because due to joint problems I needed to be able to FME with the BSR.)

The 3 series are wonderful, I loved my 350 and am sure you will love a 380. Check the buttonholes are going to be wide enough. I love the Juki F600 for the extra width and the fact that you can change the size of the gap between the two sides of a buttonhole.

You also do not have the possibility to adjust the presser foot pressure. This is not always a problem, but worth thinking about.

I have a Juki F600 which I appreciate but have never bonded with the way I bonded with my Bernina.

Try one out on many of the fabrics you will use (especially knits if you intend to sew them - these tend to show up need for pressure adjustments) and see how you feel.

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Clare

Machines: Juki F600, Juki 654 serger, Bernina 550 for art work, Janome Coverpro 1000cp barely used
A Singer Featherweight Centennial and an old Necci in the loft waiting for TLC

http://art-by-clare.blogspot.co.uk/

SouthernStitch
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Date: 2/21/12 10:29 AM

I just love my 350. You could always get the walking foot if you find that your fabric layers are slipping. Cheaper than going higher end.
You'll be able to tell when you bring in all your own fabrics to test it out. I personally find that the pressure is on the lighter side on my 350, and have had no fabric creep problems. If it's a particularly nasty fabric like stretch chiffon or something monstrous like that - I'd get out my walking foot.

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Bernina 780, and 530
Juki TL2010
Babylock Evolution
Singer 403a

When life gives you green velvet curtains, make a green velvet dress.

RoseFromThule
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RoseFromThule
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Date: 2/21/12 10:59 AM

I don't sew much knits or sheers fabrics, and anyway my current machine handles them well. So the new one would be more often faced with sturdy/heavy fabrics.

I'll try the heck out of it, but wanted some PR opinions as well :)

-- Edited on 2/21/12 11:00 AM --

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Maia B
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Maia B  Friend of PR
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Date: 2/21/12 11:27 AM

iSewQuiltArt wrote a thorough, favorable review of the 380. I've been CRAZY impressed with the 240 (predecessor to the 380) I bought as a travel/class machine. Hems jeans like butter, and I often just flip up the existing hem and sew through that. No hammer, no hump-jumper (though it comes with a doo-hickey for that). I don't do a lot of knits, but I haven't gotten any fabric-creep yet. I adore the #2 foot for overcasting edges.
-- Edited on 2/21/12 12:34 PM --

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🌸 Plenty of machines, mostly Berninas 🌸

Mufffet
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Mufffet  Friend of PR
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In reply to RoseFromThule


Date: 2/21/12 11:42 AM

If you put Bernina 380 in the search field up on the left, you will get several threads that talk about this machine in detail.I loved it when I used it for a day last year. Solid, sews flawlessly and just a fine machine all around. I would buy the 350 if I were buying, and add the knee lift, but actually since the 380 comes with the knee lift and so on, it is a wonderful purchase. And where you are, you get the "real feet!" I'd rather the actual Bernina feet than the rolling case, not that it probably makes much difference which feet array you get, but for the price it's nice to get the actual whole feet.

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"Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible."
--Dalai Lama

I have sewing machines

Soolip
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Soolip
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Date: 2/21/12 12:40 PM

My personal experience with Bernina is that they are woefully inadequate for garment construction certainly not due to quality, but design. They simply don't have the right selection of features necessary for making clothes at an affordable price.

You need a machine that offers the following:

1) Adjustable foot pressure
2) A good selection of buttonholes (not just the 2 or 3 offered by the 380)
3) The ability to adjust the width of the buttonholes
4) The ability to adjust the cutting space of the buttonholes.

The Bernina models you are looking at don't have these features.

Maia B
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Date: 2/21/12 1:50 PM

You might be able to get a closeout/new 430 for little more than the 380. It has adjustable presser foot pressure and 6 buttonhole styles plus 1 eyelet. The 380 has 4, btw. You can see the stitches by looking in the manual online. My dealer still had a 430 as of last week-$1900.

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Artsewer
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Date: 2/21/12 11:04 PM

Personally I would jump up to the 530. I just think in the long haul you will be happier with it.
Also Maia's suggestion the 430 or 440 if you can find one.
I never touched the pressure on my previous machines and I did a lot of very well constructed and varied garments. Some times you have to pin more and know how to handle and feed the fabric.
I do think you would want an array of buttonholes. Not to muck up your plans about buying a Bernina, as I love them all..... But to be fair to yourself also look at other brands. As Soolip points out there are other machines that offer more options for less money. But in my book nothing sews like a Bernina.

-- Edited on 2/22/12 0:29 AM --

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Bernina 750Q, 635E, 380, 1630
Serger 1100DC

iSewQuiltArt
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Date: 2/21/12 11:54 PM

The Bernina keyhole buttonhole on the 380 is gorgeous. Actually, all the buttonholes are gorgeous. I always think a buttonhole is an excellent test of a sewing machine and I have never produced a bad buttonhole on my various 'ninas... I also have made buttonholes on many other brands of modern machines and have often been disappointed. Months or years on, with regular services on schedule, my Berninas sew beautifully just as they did brand new.
If presser foot pressure is important then you will want to move into the Aurora or 5 series. One thing I would say is that if you plan on sewing large projects the 3 series is a compact machine and you do have more space in the Aurora or 5 series machines.
I use my 380 for travel and teaching classes with, and its been totally fabulous for that. Having said that I have also sewn knitwear with it with the number 2 overcast foot and the walking foot and did not have rippled seams. At the time my overlocker was off being serviced (during the time before I bought a back up overlocker!) and I wanted to see how thet 380 would handle knits.
I have sewn a variety of knits with it and if it were my only machine (its not!) I believe I would not be disappointed in the ability to handle a variety of fabrics from Jeans to fine voile and jerseys.
Not all machines feed fabric in the same way and where other machines could be horrible without pressure foot pressure adjustment on fabrics I have worked with, the 3 series has been a pleasure to work on.

When I say I have had no problems with needle penetration I mean through two layers of thick wool batting, two layers of batik (densely woven medium weight fabric) with layers of Vliesofix/ Wonder Under fused applique and thread painting, plus a double fold layer of patchwork fabric for binding. I was making a textile art piece with the 380. Not once did the machine complain but if I were going to sew with that sort of bulk every day it would be on my Aurora purely because engine size is larger. At the time I was on a deadline and sewing out and about at different venues to get my piece finished and I do appreciate the easy portability as its far easier for me to lift it in a Tutto into the back of my SUV/station wagon- the back is much higher than simply opening a door of a car with lower ground clearance to put a machine behind the back seat...
Yes you can buy other machines for less money that may appear feature laden but they often come at the expense of quality and since you have the $ set aside already I can't see you being disappointed by the stitch quality.
Whilst I enjoy my vintage machines I will say the stitch quality of my modern Berninas walks all over the stitch quality of every vintage model I have ever owned or still own which were fully serviced by a skilled mechanic (from Jones hand crank, Elna SU, Bernina 900, 807, Singer 201, 66K, 319K) Older is not necessarily better - often machines suffer abuse, sometimes they are nice stitchers but just don't truly compare to say my 440 or 820 even though there are many advocates for vintage machines and they are certainly good fun).
When you go to test sew, check each machine in the store is clean and has a fresh good quality needle inserted. Test sew with a nice new topstitch needle, quality thread, stabiliser all the buttonholes you can on the machines you are interested in and compare. Fold the fabric into the layers you usually sew with fabric you use often. Sew up and over in both directions to see how the fabric layers feed with and without a hump jumper. Try some knits..and compare. Mark your samples with each machine model and review them side by side over a cup of tea/ coffee. Depending on the brands. models you try some will be easier to produce a buttonhole on and they will feel different. A really beautiful buttonhole is worth paying good money for if you are fussy or don't want the more time consuming sometimes tedious process of making a fully manual buttonhole on a vintage machine.
Hopefully with everyone's help here at PR you can find just the right machine for your needs!
-- Edited on 3/26/13 7:45 AM --

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Quilting up a storm
Bernina Girl, in possession of a small herd...

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