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Sewing Machine Reviews> Bernina> 550 QE

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Reviewed by:Whippet girl
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About Whippet girl
Member since: 4/27/13
Reviews written: 4
Sewing skills:Intermediate
sewing machines reviewed: 2
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Posted on:4/20/14 5:05 AM
Approx price paid:$1795
Had this machine for:2 months
Recommended? Yes
Bernina 550 QEFeatures
  • Computerized
  • Needle Threader
  • Needle Up/Down Setting
  • One step buttonhole
  • Free Arm
  • Adjustable Stitch Length and Width
  • Adjustable Presser Foot Pressure
  • Adjustable Needle Position
  • Auto Threading
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Review Rating: Helpful by 1 people   Very Helpful by 26 people   
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Tell us about your first impression when you used this machine.
As a long time Bernina user My first impressions of the 550 were familiarity up to a point. Having traded in my 750 for her I had to get used to the more basic interface. That was not a problem, but I did keep trying to touch the screen! Slower learner alert!
The machine is quiet, smooth and precise, as I would expect from Bernina.
It has a standard? 7 1/2 inch harp and would be classed as a full sized machine. By that I mean It does not have an extended quilting harp etc. having just come from a spacious extended harp both length and height size you might wonder if this is a problem for me? Not at all, in fact it's one of the reasons I traded the impeccably behaved 750 in. I realised I found the height of the machine looming.
I also realised that as a dressmaker, free motion embroiderer ( I dabble and hope ) and small scale quilter I did did not need a huge harp and preferred many of the benefits of the 550. Very much a personal choice.
The features I class as benefits are as follows.
I really prefer the 5.5 feed for precision and visibility, having made various dresses and blinds in the two months since I have had it I am so glad to be using the narrower feet and feed dogs. I can get into corners and keep margins of error ( I was taught I could be up to 2 mm out when I trained! ) to a minimum.
One of the key benefits was the amazing array of expensive feet she came with, the walking foot ( £100 s worth) , the BSR, the quilting foot. Most of the feet I wanted without extra cost. I did buy the number 10 foot and fell for the gathering foot too.
Compared to the 560 or 580 the value for money was greater for me.
Can I say at this point I have a PCP for bigger jobs and any embroidery I wish to do, so for those that want embroidery the 560 or 580 may be better. It was sewing on a friends 580 that made me realise why I had not bonded with my impeccable 750 and made me want a 5 series.
The free hand system comes as standard and still offers a clean precise movement. The one thing I miss from the 750 ( no not the actually snipping of the snips amazingly is that I have to press needle up at the end of a seam as I always keep it set to down, the snips lifts it for you)
The stitch is perfect, I do love the CB bobbin system, despite its limitations stitch width wise. Not that the 750 was less perfect. I might say. Changes are made via push button, as opposed to the dials on the higher spec 560/580. The implications are that you have less control over the increments. This is not an issue for me and I am happy with the increments. But some thread painters etc may need to look at this.
I am trying to cover all the things I would want to know in a review by being objective but the honest truth is that when I sat down to sew at this machine it was like coming home, I just fell in love. Possibly due to having a Virtuosa years ago, but really because it just felt right. In that way you have to test sew, like the first time you walk into the right house or drive the right car.
Was the machine manual sufficient?
The Manual is the usual Bernina style, some areas are well explained but not all. Going online to utube or the Bernina site is a great way to supplement understanding. The new APP is brilliant but be aware it may cause a serious need to buy new feet!

Did you buy any accessories? Do you use them?
The invisible zipper foot is second to none. I have used PFAFF and JANOME versions and, whilst they are fine, the Bernina foot is spot on perfect, often without moving the needle. ( although lighter weight fabric may gather in the groove that has no zipper tape in)
I also bought a straight stitch plate for piecing, habit more than need with the 5.5 opening but better safe than sorry.
In the UK there are classes available but I have not found their times user friendly. Choosing a great dealer is the best option for instruction if you work, especially as a teacher as they seem to be off when school is out!
I also LOVE LOVE LOVE the new 7 year guarantee.

How often do you use it?
In the holidays ( dogs and kids willing) I try to sew every day and will sew all day and into the night if I can. The machine has just kept going and that has included some long sessions of free motion embroidery.
Would you recommend this machine to others?
I would wholeheartedly recommend this machine to others. I have to say it has made me realise that I have gone for machine with more than I need on at times, and that has not always been the best course of action. I wanted the dual feed on the 750 and I though I would really miss it, being a huge PFaff fan too. I have not missed it at all! Bearing in mind I have access to it on other machines. The feed on the 550 is excellent as it is and has coped with some seriously tiddly bits of starting points.

Have you had any trouble with this machine? Please elaborate.
There is nothing I dislike, but I have two small issues I will be having tweaked after Easter. The spring in the FHS is rather noisy and works fine.
Also the stitch plate did not want to pop out and I had to push from underneath. In the end one of the clips snapped...which was a relief as I could get it on and off easily. I am sure That will also be dealt with. I am so unconcerned about these tweaks I don't recognise myself, as I just love it.

Do you do regular maintenance on this machine? How?
It regular oiling and is very easy to clean out.
I hope this useful and would help anyone deliberating. I would say not to overlook this fabulous machine as it's a little gem and great value for money.

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JanyceR said...
Thank you so much for this very thoughtful review. I appreciate the way you have elaborated on why this machine is right for you while being honest about the features and what exists and what is missing.
4/20/14 6:51 AM
lgrande said...
Really, really nice review. Thanks for all the details and comparisons to other models.
4/20/14 10:42 AM
Mufffet said...
Thanks for an excellent review. :) Enjoy your machine, and I agree - a nice balanced review.
4/20/14 11:56 AM
lisart said...
thanks for an excellent review. I tried a 780 on loan. Easy to use but very sensitive. decided on a Janome 12000 in the end but I think I will miss the large sideways motion stitches and being able to sew sideways. we will see.
4/20/14 12:01 PM
Pauladh said...
Very nice review, I got a 530 last Sept., have not used it much since we decided to put our house up for sale but have loved it when I have.
4/20/14 12:37 PM
CurlyCrafter said...
Great review! I love the 500 series (I have the 530) and it looks like you got yours for a terrific price! I also agree about the invisible foot - it's one of my favs!
4/21/14 0:32 AM
TikiKim said...
Awesome review, I found it very helpful, especially how you have noted how and why it is the right machine for you.
4/21/14 0:55 AM
TikiKim said...
Duplicate post
4/21/14 0:55 AM
Nancy Rhodes said...
Thoughtful reflections on needs… wants… Terrific machine review.
4/21/14 8:09 AM
pamyjo2001 said...
I don't own a Bernina (yet) but I have tried the 5 series, 7 series, and the 8 series. I am very impressed with the 5 series the most. I love the fact that Bernina constantly post FREE webinars and other training materials for their machines.
4/22/14 2:44 PM
mandy105 said...
Thank you for the review. My sewing machine is having a bit .of trouble so its great to read reviews
4/22/14 7:32 PM
Artsewer said...
A very interesting and thoughtful review. I am sure it is a great compliment to your Pfaff Creative Performance. Did you buy it preloved? The price is very good. I thought dealers could not sell less then 20% off the full retail price. Thank you a fine review.
4/23/14 9:28 PM
Whippet girl said...
Thanks for the kind words folks, really pleased the review is helpful. Artsewer, you are spot on, it's a great companion for the PCP. I think the price is the standard UK price, I wonder if the price misleading as it would not let me put in a£ sign. I don't know how many dollars it is equivalent to. Sorry for any confusion. That said the dealer let me trade my 750QE. The 750 was perfect but just not right for me.
4/30/14 6:02 PM
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