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Forum > Sewing Machines > Trading in my Viking for a Bernina......Which model? ( Moderated by Sharon1952, EleanorSews)

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Trading in my Viking for a Bernina......Which model?
Glassgirl
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Glassgirl
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Date: 12/7/09 8:28 PM

I have a Viking Designer I and discovered I'm just not the embroidery type. Most of my sewing is garment, quilting, alterations and home decor. I must not be too bright because I have never been comfortable with the embroidery options. In fact most of the bells and whistles still have the original seals on them. I know many of you love all this but it just isn't for me. I would like to get back to basics with a few decorative stitches available and a one step button hole. Mainly a workhorse. Love a knee lift!! I've owned a Bernina in the past and loved it. It was just a little too basic. (forward and reverse and a four step button hole) Can anyone recommend a good Bernina without all the bells and whistles? I've been reading about the 1130 and 1230 models but don't know what price range I'm looking at.
Any opinions would be appreciated. I've been sewing for 50+yrs. and make a living at it so this purchase is an important one.
Thank you.

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Glassgirl

Soolip
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Date: 12/7/09 10:06 PM

My opinion is that Bernina doesn't currently make a good machine for garment sewing. Good machines for crafting and quilting, yes, but not for sewing clothes.

The problem is that the models that have narrower (5.5) stitches and feed, and therefore greater visibility and maneuverability, lack adjustable presser foot pressure, and are capable of sewing only a few styles of buttonholes (5 max on the TOL only). To get more buttonholes and adjustable presser foot pressure, you have to get an Aurora -- which means more money and the less-desirable 9mm feed.

If you primarily do garment sewing, I suggest you look for something else. This is just my opinion. I think Bernina makes quality machines, but they are not designed for sewing.

-- Edited on 12/8/09 10:48 AM --

Natalie D.
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Natalie D.
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In reply to Glassgirl


Date: 12/8/09 0:58 AM

Even the Activa, the most affordable of the "Bernina" line has automatic and programmable buttonholes--- 5 styles I believe. I do not know if it has adjustable foot pressure, however. I've sewn every kind of garment imaginable, draperies, upholstery, quilts, etc. on my 30 year old 931 which does not have adjustable foot pressure but I guess it's a nice feature to have--- especially if you are less experienced. I have yet to use (or need) this feature, standard on my Aurora 440 (sans embroidery) which also has a 5.5mm (narrow) stitch width and a CB hook which I personally prefer for garment sewing. The feel of this machine is much like that of my 931 but it has a multitude of buttonholes and some additional handy features. No doubt I will someday happen upon a reason to use the adjustable foot pressure--- maybe a nice piece of lamé or 6 layers of French terry. ;)

At least one of the Auroras, next in the line up from the Activas, has a rotary hook and maybe a 9mm stitch width--- but definitely not the Aurora 440 & 430. I also have a different 9mm machine but, like a bevy of others who post here, I prefer the 4.5 or 5.5mm machines for garment sewing. All Auroras have adjustable foot pressure btw.

You should go to the Bernina website and look at the specs for the various machines before you visit your local dealer. Good luck with your search. :)

------
"The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted the spoons" Ralph Waldo Emerson

Soolip
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In reply to Natalie D.


Date: 12/8/09 1:16 AM

Quote: Natalie D.
Even the Activa, the most affordable of the "Bernina" line has automatic and programmable buttonholes--- 5 styles I believe. I do not know if it has adjustable foot pressure, however.

The TOL Activa offers 5 styles of automatic buttonholes, you are right. The next one down has 3. I think this machine runs around $3000. The BOL, even though it's computerized, offers a 5-step buttonhole in one, non-adjustable style. And no, there's no adjustable presser foot pressure on any of the Activas. You can get a Janome Threadbanger that has 6 buttonholes, adjustable pressure, without all those decorative stitches that nobody ever uses, for around $600. And the stitch quality is just as good, if not better. There are other machines on the market that have a much more usable selection of features than an expensive Bernina.

Adjustable presser foot pressure is not just "nice to have", it's ABSOLUTELY CRUCIAL if you sew on a variety of fabrics. I've found the Berninas to be heavy on the pressure (someone here referred to her Bernina 930 as "Leadfoot"). My Bernina has made tracks on taffeta and chewed up a fine batiste. I lightened the pressure on the old Singer and it handled these fabrics much better than the Bernina.

I know Bernina had a sterling reputation for many years. My own experience has shown that they don't really make the best machines for all sewing tasks. Now that they've involved themselves in the Technology War, trying to outdo the other brands (more features, more stitches, better embroidery), they've left the people who sew garments out in the cold.

-- Edited on 12/8/09 10:50 AM --
Barbara3
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In reply to Glassgirl


Date: 12/8/09 2:01 AM


You don't mention which Bernina you used to own, what features you wished it had, and what price range you're working within. That information would help us help you think this through.

It isn't surprising that we all have our opinions, and even those of us who are quite experienced sewers don't always agree. So you're sure to get lots of differing opinions in your search. That's what makes PR interesting.

I know I'm not alone in thinking that Berninas are great for garment sewing. I currently have 3 Berninas - my 25-year-old 930, an Artista 630, and an Activa 240. I only do garment sewing (no quilting or embroidery ever), and each of these machines has been absolutely wonderful for garment sewing. As others have mentioned in other discussions, the absence of adjustable presser foot pressure on my Activa has never posed a problem for me. The 240 is the current TOL Activa and it cost me $1137 new about 18 months ago.

The best thing for you to do is to go shopping and test machines in each brand that interests you. Take your own fabrics and put each machine through its paces. See what works best for you in your price range.

glenj

glenj
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In reply to Soolip


Date: 12/8/09 3:27 AM

aurora 430 and 440 have the 5.5 width and pressure adjustment.

glenj

glenj
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In reply to Glassgirl


Date: 12/8/09 3:29 AM

I don't own an 1130 or 1230,but have heard owners of the 1130 rave about it and some have regretted upgrading from the 1130 to a supposedly better model.

poplin
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poplin
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In reply to Glassgirl


Date: 12/8/09 4:07 AM

Dear me, I just read your review on your Viking DI. So sorry to hear of all your troubles with it.

I'm not surprised to hear about your Viking dealer.

Does your Viking at least sew nice looking buttonholes? How about the stretch stitches? I'm not sure how much money you can get back trying to sell your Viking. If you can't find someone to buy it for a fair price (don't know how fair a price you can get for all the troubles that you listed in your review), I suggest that you just keep it and relegate it to sewing buttonholes, that is, if they turn out nice. Bonus if the stretch stitches turn out nice, too. I really like the lightning bolt stitch on my Viking.

Since you're looking into older Bernina models, how about the 1030? That one, I think, has adjustable presser foot pressure.

I was just about to suggest a SS only home sewing machine, but I see that you already have the Juki TL98E.

(ETA:) Okay. I know this brand might not be in your radar. But maybe you will consider vintage Singers? I just sewed a few pillowcases with piping on my Singer 503--loved it. I got this machine for dirt cheap at CL. Okay. Deals like this don't happen everyday, but they do happen. While patience is key, it does help to stalk CL every day, or more like every minute of every day.



-- Edited on 12/8/09 4:21 AM --

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Dec 2012: 2 yards

Her needlework both plain and ornamental was excellent, and she might have put a sewing machine to shame. ~James Edward Austen-Leigh, about Jane Austen

IDcam
IDcam
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CA USA
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In reply to Soolip


Date: 12/8/09 4:16 AM

Quote: Soolip
You can get a Janome Threadbanger that has 6 buttonholes, adjustable pressure, without all those decorative stitches that nobody ever uses, for around $600.

Soolip,

The Janome Threadbanger 30 recently came down in price. It's now $399 instead of $599 which I think is what it should've been all along.
JanyceR

JanyceR  Friend of PR
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In reply to Glassgirl


Date: 12/8/09 7:54 AM

A Bernina Aurora 430 runs quite a bit less than $2000.00 in my area of the country, especially on sale. This model is great for garment sewing in my opinion. It has a 5.5mm stitch width, automatic buttonhole, and not too many decorative stitches. It also has adjustable presser foot pressure.

The TOL Activas are just a little less money than the 430, not anywhere close to $3000 around here. While I own and love an Activa 230, I would recommend the Aurora. The Activa's are 3/4 size machines, their biggest limitations in my opinion.

I do primarily garment sewing, and have used Bernina's for close to 40 years. They still are quality machines, and you don't have to buy the TOL with a zillion features you don't want to get a good garment sewing machine.

I would highly recommend that you do a lot of test sewing on machines that you are interested in, no matter what the brand is. That way you will know which one is right for you.

------
Pfaff Creative Sensation Pro, Bernina 780,
B350SE,other Berninas, Pfaff Performance 5, several vintage - multiple manufacturers.
Love all my machines!

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