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Message Board > Sewing Machines > Bernina vs. Viking ( Moderated by Sharon1952, EleanorSews)

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Bernina vs. Viking
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Date: 1/30/03 8:43 AM

I'm considering buying a used machine.  I've heard Bernina or Viking are the way to go.  My options right now are a Bernina Activa 131 or a Viking Lily 530, which are going for about $500 each.  First of all, are these fair prices?  I've no idea how much these go for when new or what I should pay when they're used.  I've also the option of getting older models (like a Viking 6440 or a Bernina 810), but I don't want to be stuck with a machine that will only give me a few more years.  Asre these still fairly reliable even though they're old?  I don't know what to do!  Help.  Are there any owners of any these models out there who can give me some imput on what I can expect from these machines?  I do mostly garment construction, and have little need for decorative stitches, although I could really use a fast, effective buttonhole feature and a sturdy machine that can handle denim and other tough materials.
Thanks!

bunz
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bunz
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Date: 1/30/03 3:31 PM

I've been looking at the Viking on eBay and it's been selling for $800 to $1000!  So, if you can get it for $500, that's great.

Nina

Debbie Spriggs
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Debbie Spriggs
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Date: 1/30/03 10:11 PM

I'm far more familiar with Viking than Bernina, so allow me to comment on the Vikings.  The 530 is a far superior machine to the 6440 with considerable upgrades including computer technology.  I've used both machines, and I'd choose the newer machine, if it were me.  

When it comes to one brand vs. the other, I believe both are good brands, but there is a lot of personal preference.  Just like choosing a car,  take a test drive if you can.

Dale C
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Date: 1/31/03 2:13 AM

The old model Berninas are good workhorses.  I'm not too familiar with the newer ones, but am not planning on purchasing another one from Bernina.  I have had some problems with my serger/coverstitch machine that have never been resolved.  I do have a very old 1130 and a 1004 basic model as a backup.  Both run smoothly and have been very reliable.  I've also seen older model Berninas (I don't know the model numbers, but they must be at least 15-20 years old), in some of the high school classrooms that are still running smoothly.  For basic sewing, nothing fancy, I'd purchase an older model Bernina.  For fancy stuff, I'd go with a different brand.

------
"ACK! I'm having withdrawals! Get me to a sewing machine... NOW!"

GorgeousFabrics
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GorgeousFabrics
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Date: 1/31/03 10:27 AM

I have a Viking 500 that's about 9 years old, and it's my backup machine.  I have never had a problem with it, and I love it.  When I bought my current "primary" machine (a Pfaff), I was originally looking for another Viking, the 555.  The one thing I'll say that is slightly negative about the Viking is that the presser feet, of which there are lots, are very expensive!

I don't know from Berninas, other than I have never heard a complaint about them.   I don't know how much feet run on the Berninas.  You might want to ask Gigi Louis how she likes Bernina - that's what she sews on, I think.

The other piece of advice I can give is make sure you buy from a good dealer who will stand behind the machine and service it.  The dealer really makes a huge difference.

-Ann

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Gorgeous Fabrics - the name says it all!
http://www.gorgeousfabrics.com
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Karla Kizer
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Date: 2/1/03 6:55 AM

I have both brands:

-a Bernina 830 (pre-computer days) that is 20 years old

- a Viking 550 that is now my primary machine

I have been pleased with the Bernina's long-term durability, although I had to replace the foot control twice in just a couple years - @ $125 each time!  After the second time, I decided to put my money into a new machine instead.

My Viking is now 4-1/2 years old and just recently had its first trip to the shop for a tuneup - no problems, it just needed cleaning and timing adjustments to return it to its like-new stitch quality.

I think you can find a machine that you will like in either brand.  What kind of sewing do you plan to do?  If you will be doing garments that require nice buttonholes, etc, then I think you'll find more features at a better price in the Viking line.  I bought a Viking last time because it was more reasonable priced than a Bernina with the same features.  

Re: presser feet.  I love the Bernina presser feet.  The quality is superb and they really do what they say they will do.  However, Bernina has a unique foot attachment system, and those things are pricey!  No generic feet for these machines unless you "cheat" and buy an adaptor (you bet I did!;).  The Viking feet are a more common "snap-on" variety and I've substituted generic or White brand feet for a few of the feet that I thought I wouldn't use much.  They work fine and are less expensive than the Viking feet (which I think are still less expensive than the Bernina feet.  Those babies should come packaged in little flocked jewelery boxes, given their price....)

Have I rambled on long enough to get you really confused?  My job here is done ;)  -Karla

------
“Never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and it annoys the pig.” -Robert Heinlein and Ann's father. Thanks for the reminder, Ann.

Where are we going, and what am I doing in this handbasket?

Matthew 25:40 (New International Version)
The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'



mudcat
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Date: 2/1/03 10:55 AM

One of my oldest friends bought a Viking 20+ years ago and I always wanted one after seeing what great buttonholes it made.  When I finally got around to buying a high end machine six years ago I was biased towards Viking but still took the time to take my threads and fabrics (at the time I was using a lot of metallic and rayon threads as well as rayon and other slippery fabrics) to the various dealers and tried different combinations of fabric and thread out.  I went with the Viking #1 primarily based on the great buttonholes it makes.  I thought the Bernina (don't recall the model) made unattractive buttonholes.  The Viking also appeared to me to be sturdier with a less plasticy look then some of the other machine brands I looked at.

The high price of the feet do annoy me.  And I wish it was easier to get the retail prices so I could try to buy some of these feet on eBay for a better price.

I'm probably in the minority here, but I don't see the dealer as being all that important.  I take the machine in once a year or so for tune-up service but from my perspective the quality of the sewing machine maintenance/repair person is what is important.  

~Alice

Karen Bowers
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Karen Bowers
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Date: 2/1/03 7:02 PM

the older berninas (like 5 + years) are all metal inside.  they were incredibly solid and reliable.  unfortunately not competitive enough, so bernina now uses more plastic internally than before.  
i bought my bernina 1260 5 years ago, and it's been very trustworthy for me.  i've had no problem with anything, although i grieve its annual tune-up when we are separated.

sarads

sarads
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KS USA
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In reply to GorgeousFabrics


Date: 10/11/05 1:22 AM

I have a bernina 200, there is a newer one out now and an update for the 200 which will cost if you want it. The presser feet are expensive also. Of course waited until they went on sale. I would love to have the se. Hope this helps about the presser feet. sarads

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I work at a dept store doing stock work.
I have two machines the bernina 730, viking DD, evolve serger.
Love making things for others making FSL.

diane s
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diane s  Friend of PR
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Date: 10/11/05 4:15 PM

I have a Viking 550 that bought new to upgrade from my 6460 that I also bought new. I love my 6460, it can do alot, the low gear is a nice feature if you sew alot of heavy duty fabric. The machine is about 20 years old, and if you don't get one that's been used regularly the self lubrication hardens and the machine freezes up. (about a $200.00 repair) The 530 has less features than my 550 but it is a nice machine quality machine with more than enough features. When I went from a mechanical machine to an electronic machine I thought I had died and gone to heaven:) Both Bernina and Viking feet are expensive. The price on the 530 is average if you are getting it at a dealer with a guarantee or lessons, a private party should be less expensive.

------
My grandmother taught me to sew when I was 10, and I've been sewing ever since.

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