Where is This Sewing Machine Made?

Oh no.

As someone who sold high end sewing machines for over 8 years, this was a dreaded question. Not because I didn’t know the answer or was embarrassed by the answer. Not at all.  It was because I had seen so many people have a visceral, and frankly, uneducated and ignorant reaction to the answer.

So I am dedicating this blog to facts. A great deal of misinformation, speculation and gossip is available on sewing boards and even wikipedia. I contacted the most well-known brand names myself, and even checked Bloomberg to get these answers and to help anyone understand the dynamics in play here.  I want you to be educated and informed about your purchasing decisions.  Not angry and emotional.

Let me start by saying this much:

Sewing machines are not manufactured in the U.S.

NEW Author’s note, 1.21.19:

HandiQuilter has informed me that they do NOT manufacture domestic sewing machines in Utah, only the longarms.  So we are back to ZERO consumer sewing machines made in the U.S. This had been a question posed to me, so I followed up with HandiQuilter.

This is not about politics. This is about economics.  While I do not have access to manufacturing costs, I do understand dealer margins and exactly what goes into the research, development, and manufacturing of these products. You love your dealer and want them to stay in business? They have to make money.  The manufacturer has to make money.  The distributors have to make money. The people contracted by the manufacturer have to make money (including all those in marketing, customer service, etc.). You pay for all of this.

So where are they made?

Here’s the clearest breakdown.  I asked the top brands through customer service on their website a.) Where are your sewing machines manufactured? and b.) Where is your US Headquarters and what functions take place there?  These are my answers:

Bernina:

Their international headquarters is in Steckborn Switzerland.  They still manufacture there, but only the very highest end machines. The B880, the Q20 and Q24 are made in Switzerland.  Bernina is the only sewing machine manufacturer that still produces machines in what is considered the “west.” – in Switzerland. They also own Brewer and OESD embroidery.

All the rest of their regular line Bernina machines are produced in a Bernina plant in Lamphun Thailand, built in 1990. It is important to note that this plant is owned and operated by Bernina.  Here’s a great video.  Dealers from the US have visited there.  The local employees have free lunch and air conditioning.

Bernina’s US Headquarters is located in Aurora IL.  It serves as the US distribution center, and also handles marketing, tech issues, software customer service, education, etc.

Full disclosure: I know more about Bernina than the others because those were the machines I sold. And I own several of them.

Baby Lock:

Author’s Note: Tacony sold Nancy’s Notions to Missouri Star quilt Company May 27, 2020. Baby lock is a brand name owned by Tacony, a huge US corporation that also owns Koala Cabinets, Amazing Designs embroidery, vacuum cleaners and other home products. In response to my request, I promptly received an email from the Assistant General Manager of Baby Lock in Japan, where their International headquarters is located.  He tells me that Baby Lock sewing machines are manufactured in Taiwan, Vietnam, China and Thailand. Baby Lock sergers are MOSTLY made in Japan, where they own a number of factories.  According to the company, a couple of serger models (I don’t know which ones) are made in Taiwan.

They don’t technically have a US headquarters. Tacony is their US wholesale distributor and they are located in Fenton Missouri.

Viking/Husqvaqrna/Pfaff/Singer

All of the above brand names are now under one corporation: SVP Worldwide.  Their customer service response is that most of their machines are made in China.  Singer responded separately and stated that their machines are made in Brazil, China, Taiwan and Vietnam.

SVP Worldwide’s US headquarters is located in LaVergne Tennessee.  Here they handle dealer relations, customer service and software support.

An interesting note: Worldwide headquarters for SVP Worldwide is located in Hamilton Bermuda. (Not exactly the Cayman Islands, but same result…far less taxes. Shrewd?  Dishonest?  That’s for you to decide, but at least you know.)

Janome

Janome International headquarters is located in Japan, where they have 3 Janome-owned factories.  Their website clearly states that they manufacture their machines in Japan, Taiwan and Thailand.

Their US headquarters is located in Mahwah, New Jersey. This is where they handle dealer relations, education and customer service. They have a nice video about their Japanese factories on their website.

Author’s Note June 9, 2020: My understanding is that Janome merged with Elna in 2004 and continued to use their European machine designs, but began manufacturing Elna machines in Janome facilities. Exactly how this is done has not been verified to me by Janome.

Brother

I had the most difficulty contacting anyone from Brother US. Keep in mind that Brother International creates printers, fax machines, industrial sewing machines and garment printers and lots more. Their customer service line left me on hold for over 20 minutes in the middle of the day, when I called their US Headquarters located in Bridgewater, New Jersey. (Prior to that I went through rounds and rounds of automated answering prompts. NOT FUN.)

I finally called a local sewing dealership that sells Brother home and professional machines.  All they could tell me is that the machines are made in “the Orient.”

Wikipedia says China, Taiwan and Vietnam. They are widely known to share the same vendors as Baby Lock, but I cannot confirm anything from the corporation itself.

What’s the Conclusion?

Here’s my advice:  Do your homework. Research not only the features of the machines, but where they originate and how they’re made.  Lean on your local dealers. If they handle multiple brands of machines, ask them who is the easiest to work with, the most responsive. If they have the machines on hand, ask to see the original box. It must always be labeled with country of origin.  I welcome corrections or additional information.

If you work for any of these organizations, and have more detail, you can contact me at carol@edgestitch.com.

And if any of this gets you worked up, don’t even think about researching your food.

You don’t ever want to know.

118 thoughts on “Where is This Sewing Machine Made?

  1. I love my Bernina. I have had it for over ten years but decided it was time to buy a new one for the embroidery work. I have to hook up to my 10 year old lap top and send my designs to my machine etc… and it gets old. That is, it was getting old until I starting shopping around for a new one. I do not understand how a machine built by people making dollars a day can cost more than my first Toyota Corolla. If they were still being made in Switzerland, it would still be tragic but more understandable.

    • Actually, the most expensive machines are still made in Switzerland. You would be a great candidate for the 770 with embroidery or the new 5 series with embroidery. Keep an eye out around the holidays. Bernina usually has some pretty good promotions and financing. A new machine can change your life…lots of people don’t understand that but I do. I have never regretted a Bernina purchase. But I feel your pain. Machines are an investment.

        • Very likely your 700 was made in Bernina’s plant in Thailand. Also, if you have the original box, it should say where it’s made.

        • Hello. First off thank you. Your post is extremely helpful. I too have a few questions. I have been seeing since I was 15 and I am now 44. I am thinking of replacing an old Pfaff I purchased over 25 years ago. I don’t care for the bells and whistles or fancy stitches. I mainly like to do my own alterations, garment construction, basic quilts, and some home sewing. I was considering a Bernina 530 or a Bernette 35. Maybe even an industrial Juki? I don’t want to spend more than $2k but I want something that will last me the next 15 years and that is solid and reliable. After reading your post it seems that most Bernina’s are made in the same factory and with the same standards are the Bernette models. I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you. Happily Sewing in Yountville California 🙂

          • Hi, current bernettes are not made in the same factories as actual Bernina machines, nor are they the same quality. Bernettes have many plastic parts, while Berninas have a cast iron frame and a strong motor and a metal hook system. If you want a machine to last 15 years, I highly recommend a Bernina. The Bernina 530 or the 435 or 475 are within your price range. If you were to choose a bernette, I would recommend the bernette 77. It is a newer model with the same interface as the Bernina machines. Good luck and Happy Stitching!

      • Hate the B880 SE my feather weight sews fine. My Elissimo is great. When I purchased the Bernina thought I was getting a great..best door stop.

        • Well, you have an expensive machine to use as a door stop. At the very least you should try to sell it. I feel bad for you, because something along the way went wrong. I don’t have much info. Either your training on the 880 was not sufficient, or it just was not the right machine for you. Your dealer should never let you get to the point of feeling so frustrated. The machine can do many things but along with that comes precision use and the knowledge of how to use it. It should also be considered a sewing *computer* more than just a sewing machine. At any rate, it just doesn’t sound like the machine for you, or your dealer has abandoned you to figure things out yourself. You have 2 choices: 1.) Go back to your dealer and list your complaints. They need to help you use the machine. 2.) Put it up for sale and cut your losses. Wishing you a better experience in the future.

          • Is baby lock a good intermediate machine for quilting and making masks etc?

          • Any machine can be good for piecing and making masks. It all depends on your price point and the features you really want. Make sure you have a dealer you can trust. I know I say that all the time. But it’s true.

          • There have been many “bad” 880s manufactured in the last few years. It has nothing to do with operator error, poor education, not understanding the machine, etc. My 880+AE Gold anniversary had problems right out of the box. It spent more time at my dealer who is great and took care of everything no questions asked. I bought a Pfaff 720 as a backup. The Pfaff 720 is an excellent machine. My Bernina 880+ AE which is 2 years old has had first it’s screen replaced, then the bobbin sensor– a known defect but Bernina kept putting them out. She has also had the mother board and the Eprom replaced. The embroidery unit didn’t work right either, that was replaced and before I forget the pedal broke too. It didn’t cost me anything except loss of sewing time and transportation to my dealer an hour away. The best advice you can give if someone has issues is to return the machine to your dealer. The worst is to sell the machine on. You are only passing problems on to a new buyer. I would not sell a machine I would not want to buy especially when you can purchase a car for the same amount of money.

          • Totally agree. The dealer needs to manage your happiness. And if they have repeated problems with a certain machine, they have the power to influence the manufacturer and make themselves heard loud and clear. I’m sorry about your experience with the B880. What a disappointment (not to mention the cost for that disappointment.) Once in a while, a machine just doesn’t perform. Sometimes you get techs who make it worse. The 8 Series from Bernina has never been a favorite of mine, though I know many people who love theirs. Over the years, I’ve bonded with some that I used, and others I wanted to throw out the window. I don’t like the hook system or the threading path. Just too sensitive and complicated for me. I do love the 7 Series. But I agree with you on all counts. And thank you for the advice on the Pfaff 720. Always good to share our experiences.

          • Thanks. Very good advice. One option would be to use it as a trade if a store will accept it. Right at the moment my 830 is working properly but owning it has been a frustrating and expensive experience.

    • Jan, this is just my opinion, but I would go with the 1008. They are widely used in schools and can take a real beating and still sew beautifully. The old 830 is a collectible and was precious in its time, but as the years go by, parts are not as available as they deteriorate. Bernina still makes the 1008 because of classroom use, so techs and parts are readily available. You could still get a new one with a warranty. Again, just my opinion, but the 1008 is the current workhorse.

  2. Fascinating. I just bought my first Bernina, a 740 and I am very happy with it. I figure it was made in Asia since it’s not top of the line.

    • Yes, a 740 is made in Thailand, but it’s manufactured in a Bernina-owned plant. It’s highly controlled and locals have decent working conditions, spotless work environment, managed by Switzerland headquarters. Plenty of info about the Thailand plant is available on the Bernina website.
      P.S. 740 is a great machine, you’re gonna love it.

      • I do love it. That and I was pleased to read your information about the Bernina owned and run factory.
        I had mid level Vikings for more than 30 years before I bought my 740. I had to get used to 9mm sewing, but I’ve had it for 7 months and I’ve never sewn more. It is just a pleasure to sew on. I also love the feet which I’ve bought on the two sales, gotten for my birthday and Chanukah. from my children who are pleased to have something to get me that I really want!
        I bought it for a number of reasons, one being that it makes fabulous buttonholes and it’s totally adjustable. I love having a buttonhole I where I can adjust the slit width. I made perfect corded buttonholes on a knit cardigan, one of the harder things to do. I just made samples on another cardigan and they too were perfect. I heard that they are discontinuing this machine. Such a shame since it is so perfect for a garment sewer.

        • I am so glad I ran across this site and thoroughly enjoyed reading all of this article/comments and the other topics elsewhere here. My question also relates to which machine to buy. I have been researching the internet daily for hours for three weeks here now trying to read and watch every possible piece of information there is. I have shifted from brand to brand thinking I wanted this or that. I believe I’ve narrowed it down to Bernina 480 or 535. My sewing is garment, home dec, I am venturing into bag making, mostly fabric but will use some fur and light weight leather, and maybe some quilting. I’m most concerned about the ease of sewing multiple layers and the quilting with 5mm, as it appears there are a lot of complaints out there by quilters using the 9mm. If you would please let me know which machine is best. I am not an expert by any means, but I’m finally retired and picking it back up again and want to enjoy it like I used to in my younger years. Thank you for your opinion and advice.

          • So those 2 machines are basically the same with a few minor distinctions that are basically personal preference. Garment sewists tend to like a 9 mm machine for the decorative stitches and a 5/8 in” seam is easy on that machine. Perfectionist quilters can still do a 1/4 in. seam on a 9mm machine, but some just really prefer the tightness of 5.5. It keeps your 1/4 in. seams on the feed dogs. If you decide on the 480, you can always purchase a straight stitch plate and that makes tiny piecing much easier. If I had to choose, I’d go with the 535. More than anything else the extra 1.5 inches to the right of the needle is the main selling point. For sewing bags, get yourself a #8 Jeans foot. When you use that with a larger needle, like a 90/14, you can sew through anything that fits under the foot. It’s perfect and you won’t break needles. (Just make sure you use a straight stitch…I think there’s a security feature for that foot so you don’t accidentally try to zigzag.)All said, they’re both solid machines. I’m excited for you! Have fun!

          • I, too, have enjoyed the information on this blog. I inherited an old Bernina from my MIL but she wore it out. Couldn’t find a $700 motor to replace the old one (1986 when purchased) with so I donated it to my local repairman for parts. I also inherited a BabyLock and a Bernette Embroidery machine. Looking to replace the sewing machine so this site has been helpful. I want to get back into sewing as retirement is also in my horizon and want to be ready and buy a new machine while I am still working. Going to check out my local Bernina dealer this weekend for ideas/advise.

    • That’s a great question. Juki was not originally on my radar, basically because there are really not a lot of Juki dealers in my area. However, I have contacted Juki and will add an update to this post when I hear back from them. Thanks for asking.

  3. My friend has a BabyLock Regula quilting machine and it had to be sent back to corporate for repair after sewing only 91 quilts in 7 months. Heard anything about these machines? She just boughtnit in May of this year.

    • I have not heard anything specific about the Regalia. As with any machine purchase, you need to depend heavily on your dealer. 91 quilts is not a trivial number in 7 months! Be sure that you have received as much training as possible on how to maintain and use your machine on your own…owner cleaning and troubleshooting on all machines is vital. After that, any issues should be handled by your dealer and then up the chain of command, which is what’s happening. No one wants an unhappy customer. I’m sure it will be resolved. Good luck!

    • I have 4 babylock machines – the Crown Jewel III long arm machine, the Flourish a low end single needle embroidery only machine, the Ovation a serger/overlock machine and the Crescendo their high end sewing machine. I love them all, and love my dealer – I wouldn’t sew with anything else. I am a long armer for my local dealer and have quilted in the same range as your 90+ quilts with no problems at all. My old Janome on the other hand… let’s just say I no longer own that one. I hope they repaired your Regalia and things are working better for you, as I say I’ve been very happy with the brand.

    • 1.21.19 I am adding a corrective note to this reply. I have since spoken to HandiQuilter and they do NOT manufacture the HQ Stitch models in Utah. Only the longarms are made there. So that leaves us with NO domestic sewing machines being made in the U.S.(that I have discovered.)

      (Earlier reply).Ah, a great question. Handi-Quilter is located in North Salt Lake, Utah, where they manufacture. Their website lets me believe that their line of HQ Stitch home sewing machines are manufactured in Utah as well. If they are indeed manufactured there, then I stand corrected. I have not seen these machines in person, nor have I worked on them, and I am not familiar with their level of quality and durability. So I will withhold judgement until they have been around long enough to be proven. With only 100 people working at their corporate office, production facility and training center, I am curious to learn more.

  4. Another thing to understand when looking at the cost of our hobby. The newer machines are all computerized. The embroidery software is a computer program – Research and development costs a lot. There is a limited market for our tools as compared to business computers and software, so the recoup of investment has to be spread over fewer machines, so the cost is higher per sewing machine or sewing related software. Other ‘hobbies’ are the same.

  5. For me, it’s not so much where the machine is made that is the main concern but the customer service that occurs after they sell a machine and the quality of the product. Are the US dealers able to fully address customer complaints or our their hands tied? Are parts and software updates available for a reasonable period of time after production on that model ends? Can we easily escalate concerns to corporate that are not being addressed or able to be addressed by local dealers? $12k later, I am learning the hard way after being a new buyer in this market, trusting my local dealer and the reputation of a brand.

  6. Per the internet, Pfaff, since around 2015, is wholly owned by ShanGong (Europe) Holding Corp., GmbH, a subsidiary of SGSB Group Co.Ltd,, a Chinese investment group. They now have no connection with Singer or Husqvarna/Viking. Could not determine where the Pfaff machines are now made, but assume they are made in China as before the acquisition.

    • All of Pfaff’s contact information on their current website for USA refers to SVP Worldwide with LaVerne TN as their US distribution center. That ‘s the info I previously was given. Shangong looks to be just an investment group that holds the Pfaff Industrial Machinery shares, not the consumer business. But I will contact LaVerne TN again to verify.

  7. Hi
    I found your article very informative.
    I replaced my 1989 Pfaff with a new,much cheaper Elna. After a month I went back to the old Pfaff.
    I need a repair to an old Elna overlocker (serger) late !980’s model.
    Would you recommend buying a new one or getting a repair?
    Thanks
    Suzanne
    PS Saw the price of the top Bernina you mentioned, and screamed!

    • Well, in my humble opinion, sergers have come a long way since the eighties. I have a Babylock and that’s the only brand of serger I would purchase at the moment. That’s not to say there aren’t others out there that are just fine. But for my money, Babylock has been perfecting their sergers for a long, long time. They are not cheap…nothing is these days as you well know. So my advice to you is to test drive and price new sergers. If you are not impressed, then get your Elna fixed. But keep in mind that the parts will be harder and harder to find for that older model. That’s just the nature of the sewing industry. Good luck!

      • Thank you Carol, for your advice. My old Elnalock L4 was made in Japan.
        I have had a look at the Babylock site here in Australia. Self threading looks amazingly tempting ! Rethreading is certainly the bugbear of these old machines.
        I only need a 4 cone overlocker and saw one with ” Air thread Extraordinaire”
        Is there a 4 thread that you recommend ?
        I have only ever used my machine as a seam binder so I don’t need extra functions that I will never use.
        I thank you for your free advice. Sorry I can’t buy from you in the U.S. but your site full of advice is wonderful.
        Suzanne

        • I really can’t recommend any specific serger as I haven’t shopped for one in a while. I have a Babylock “Imagine” if that helps. It’s a 4 thread and does everything I could ever need. I don’t really want to deal with a cover stitch at the moment. Best of luck to you…the air threading is the best.feature.ever.

  8. Just purchased a used pfaff passport 2.0 ,the tag on bottom says made in Taiwan, I get conflicting answers on where these are made now.

    • I hope you have better luck with your passport 2 than I have had. I have used mine for retreats and sewing days only. It is 5 years old and I took it to the shop because it was sluggish about starting when it started to sew. After 2 months in the shop, I have been told that they no longer make the parts to fix this machine. So I guess I now own a dust catcher. Bummer….I am not happy at all. I have an older Phaff that is probably 40 years old that is still going strong.

        • I didn’t know there was a passport 1. I know there is a passport 3 because I was going to trade up to that model before all this happened. Not now.

          • My error. My passport is a 2.0. It is one of the first ones. So far it is ok. But I don’t use it much. I use my Berninas…I have 6. Thank you for providing this service. Much appreciated.

  9. Hello Edges, so glad I stumbled across your site!

    I was just dusting off a Bernette that has been sitting for years. I was trying to determine it’s age, and started reading about where they were/are made, etc.

    I see a lot of mentions of Thailand, but mine is stamped ‘Manufactured in Taiwan for Fritz Gegauf, Ltd.’

    The first thing on the plate is
    Listed
    Sewing Machine 200, if that’s relevant.

    It’s a 740E. Looks like the serial number is 0004713. I’ve read the Bernina SNs are 8 digits. Is it different for the Bernette?

    I bought it from a friend nearly 30 years ago. I do pretty much straight forward stuff – repairs, straight seams, no heavy fabrics, etc. It worked beautifully, until it didn’t. I don’t know how to describe the problem, as I’m no expert, but the thread was bunching up on the underside of the stitching. I wasted $75 at a local shop, only to find the problem still exists.

    I’d like to know if it’s worth having someone look at it again (obviously not the same shop, LOL). I have a $99 Singer that can do my simple repairs, but was thinking of getting back into bigger things.

    Or should I just sell it as a door stop? It’s heavy enough to hold a barn door open.

    Thanks in advance in you can advise.
    Judy

    • Hi, well it sounds like you have a vintage machine. I don’t remember seeing a lot of old Bernettes. Older machines (from 30 years ago or more) were all made heavier than machines today. Bernettes these days (and for at least the last 10 years) are not manufactured by Bernina…and it sounds like yours wasn’t either. They are for lighter sewing and they are farmed out by Bernina to manufacturers around the globe. They are not made in Bernina-owned plants. This is not to say they aren’t decent machines, but they are not made like Berninas. It will cost you at a minimum around $100 to get your machine repaired, and you’ll never be able to predict what might happen next. It’s an old machine. If you are wanting to get back into sewing, I would bite the bullet and get a new machine. Things like lighting and other advances have made new machines just a dream. Also, a new Bernina will come with a 20 year manufacturer’s warranty. To me, that’s worth the investment. Just be sure to use a dealer you trust, who will train you and be there for questions and repairs. As always, this is just my opinion, and you should do what you think is best. Happy stitching!

      • I can’t thank you enough for your help. I’m going to advertise it for free in case someone out there knows enough to tinker and get it working again (or needs a heavy doorstop). If so, may they live happily ever after together.

        My mom was a seamstress forever; it was awful when she began losing her sight to macular degeneration. I wasn’t interested enough to pick up any of her machines when she passed, so the odds of me getting back into it aren’t great. I’m one of those ‘project of the day’ people, and my interests change in a heartbeat. Trust me, you’d know it if you set foot inside my house. 😂😂

        I shall keep you posted if she finds a good home.

        Thanks again,
        Judy

  10. Hi
    Great information, I am looking a buying a new machine. I currently have 3 Janome’s. I would love to have more throat area 12″ looks fantastic. I am looking at Husqvarna epic 980Q. Have you heard much about this machine. Not interested in embroidery at this time! One of my Janome’s embroidery. I just cannot find any reviews on this Epic 980Q. The next possibly Janome’s 9400. I sure hope you can help me. Thanks San

    • I’m not personally familiar with that machine (Epic 980 Q). But I glanced at this online review https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oknynimC8RU and it looks like a pretty nice machine with some decent features. Things to look for: 1. What is the manufacturer’s warranty? You want at least 10 years if not more. 2. Where and how will it be serviced? Buy from a dealer who has been trained on this machine, and does on site repair work. You don’t want it to be sent out somewhere if it needs basic maintenance. And a machine with that many features WILL eventually need maintenance and repairs. 3. Be sure to test it with your own fabric and compare it with other machines of comparable price. Does it feel solid? Does the foot wobble? How easy is it to change feet? Change settings? Change a bobbin? Finally, find out how long this model has been manufactured. I don’t like to purchase a machine that is newly introduced…a lot like new car models. Let someone else work out the bugs. Good luck in your machine search.

  11. That’s really helpful. I found the Bernina information particularly useful as I would like the 1008S but had been pondering getting a vintage 730 Record. I want a second machine for free machine embroidery to leave the Brother embroidery machine set up with the embroidery attachments.

    • Yeah, the 1008 is still a current Bernina machine. Go for it. That machine’s a tank..it will sew through anything and is very reliable. Plus, parts will be available for at least another 10-15 years.

  12. Hi, I just ran across your site. Very informative. Thank you for doing this service.

    I have been quilting for over 25 years. I started with a Pfaff and was very pleased with that machine which was made in West Germany. Then I bought the Creative Vision, made in China. Paid a lot for it. I had many issues with it. One time my dealer could not fix it and had to send it to the company. It was gone for a few months. When I called my dealer they informed me that there was good news and bad news. The bad news was that they lost my machine. The good news was that I was getting a new machine. Long story short….that machine had lots of problems. I sold it in a garage sale for very little money. In the meantime I switched to a Bernina. I bought the 830 about 10 years ago. I love the machine. I also have other Berninas. I see where Bernina is making an offer for owners of the 830 to trade for the 880. Since my 830 is about 10 years old and the no longer make that machine, I am considering making the change. My questions: 1. if I keep my 830 how long will parts be available if repair is needed. 2. Will the 880 be as well built as the 830? 3. Does the 880 have more/better features than the 830? Your advise will be greatly appreciated to help me with my decision. Thank you. Mary

    • Well, the answer is simple. If you liked your 830, you will love the 880. The mechanics of the machine are basically the same, so it won’t be completely foreign to you. The bobbin and threading work the same way. But the screen is new (much more user friendly)and lots of software features have been added. I am certain Bernina will support the 830 for at least another 5 years, if not longer. They are known to make parts and handle service for machines at least 10-15 AFTER they stop production. The 880 is manufactured in Switzerland to the best of my knowledge. I don’t see any reason why it would not be at least as well-made as your 830. In fact, they’ve had lots of years now, to tweak any issues they may have had with the 8 series. If you can afford it, you are probably an ideal customer for an 880. As always, be sure to have a reliable dealer and take all your training classes. Good luck and enjoy your machine!

    • Juki is headquartered in Japan and has a US distribution center in Florida, that handles marketing, service and sales. Some machines are made in Japan, others in China and VietNam.

  13. I’ve just read all the comments and replies above and wish that I had come across your site. I bought a Husqvarna Viking Diamond deluxe in 2012. I paid a lot of money for this machine (thinking of course that it was MADE IN SWEDEN) NZ$15,000. It had to be sent back to the distributor for a manufacturing fault TWICE. While I have no issues with the distributor of this machine in NZ. I take issue with the company – I sent an email regarding my concern that the machine was having problems, within weeks of first using it. Had I known that this was not the case of where it was made, I am darn certain (no pun intended) that would have chosen Bernina as I have owned one of these many years ago. I would like your advice regarding the Bernina 880 with the embroidery attachment. Would this machine be what I would need/want? I do a lot of ordinary sewing and a reasonable amount of embroidery work? Are Bernina bringing out a machine to match some of the capabilities of the Brother Luminaire in the future? Thank you so much for your very informative comments. I am certainly going to be very cautious on what my next machine purchase will be.

    • Well, the Brother Luminaire is a pretty impressive machine. And to be perfectly honest, most folks who own the Brother high-end machines really like them, in my experience. I don’t hear a lot of complaints. As I always say…everything depends on your dealer. Some of the software included on the Luminaire would be wasted on someone like me, as I like to do my embroidery editing/digitizing on an actual computer using embroidery software. That’s the best way to work on embroidery.imho. Some of these really deep features, even on the Bernina 880, are interesting to demonstrate, but no one ever uses them. My advice to you is to sit down and spend at least an hour on each machine. Find a salesperson willing to work with you and let him/her know you need to spend a bit of time. More than an hour on a machine and you’ll just be exhausted with your head spinning. But sit down and SEW…because that is what you’ll likely spend the most time doing at home. Does the machine feel solid? Is the bobbin easy to get at and use? Is the embroidery flawless and relatively simple to set up? Try not to get hung up on the many bells and whistles unless it is something you’ll use all the time. Size of hoop is a big plus. But whichever you choose, your dealer is everything. Make sure they offer classes and are willing to help you AFTER you’ve spent the money. Also, you may want to check out the Bernina 790 or 750, if you do a lot of sewing and some embroidery. The 7 Series is one of my favorite lines from Bernina. Best of sewing luck to you!

      • Thank you so much for the very informative reply. I have decided that I am going to purchase the Bernina 880, as the dealer was very helpful in showing me aspects of the machine etc. It looks like a great machine and another plus is that I can get it serviced in my local area, instead of having to send it away by courier, costing more $$$$$$.

    • I have a Viking Designer Diamond Deluxe and it has been working great for 9 yrs. That being said, the next machine I will buy is
      either a Brother or a Babylock. I have a Babylock Crescendo sewing only machine and it is fantastic….much quieter and smoother running.
      Vikings are now made in China. The Brothers and Babylock are made in Japan (top model, anyway) Japan is topnotch in everything they make. I am buying most all my sewing notions from companies in Japan, even though I am mostly a made in USA person…. but since sewing is my hobby, I feel it’s ok to venture out ….

      • Babylock does make some nice machines. But check your sources on where they originate. My information came from the Assistant General Manager of BabyLock in Japan. He said Babylock sewing machines are made in Taiwan, Vietnam, China and Thailand. Many of their SERGERS are manufactured in Japan. The sergers are their specialty and have been for a long time. The sewing machines are outsourced. This doesn’t mean there is anything particularly bad about that. But don’t think you’re getting a Babylock sewing machine delivered from Japan. Same with Brother, although they don’t respond readily to these kinds of questions. The Viking Designer Diamond Deluxe was also a very good machine, so I am not surprised you’ve had great luck with it. This just goes to show that good machines can come from anywhere. I’m genuinely curious where you find notions from Japan. I know they must be out there, but are hard to find. I like Yoko Saito as a designer and I know Lecien is a Japanese fabric distributor, but I would not lay money down that they manufacture their fabric or threads in Japan. It’s an interesting topic. I might have to check further. These days I’m into organic products too, so sounds like I have some research to do.

  14. I have a chance to purchase a Bernina B 350 and was wondering if you have had any experience with this machine. I would love to hear your input.

    • I love the 350. Solid as a rock, gorgeous straight stitch. Small distance from needle to machine, though, if you are thinking of quilting on it. It’s a great machine for travel. I wish it had presser foot pressure adjustment. Otherwise, I am a big fan…great for piecing.

  15. Hi! I want to buy new sewing machine for me. Which one do you recommend for me to buy bernina 350pe or bernina b530 or baby lock jubilant ? Please, help me with your advice. Thank you!

    • Always get the best machine you can afford and test drive them at your dealer. There’s a big difference in price between the Jubilant and the Bernina 530. But for longevity and reliability I would probably go with the Bernina 530. It has a larger space between the needle and the machine than the B350. It has presser foot pressure adjustment (a feature I really like), a beautiful straight stitch. It comes with the standard Bernina presser feet…just an all-around good machine, and usually priced very reasonably. On the other hand, sometimes during promotions, the B350 comes with a walking foot, which is nice to have if you do a lot of quilting. It’s difficult to make a recommendation without more details from you. Things you should consider: Will you be traveling with this machine a lot, i.e., classes, retreats? Do you want to use it for quilting or just piecing? (B350 comes with a quarter-inch foot for piecing) Garment sewing? Do you have other machines like a longarm at home or is this your only machine? Do you have a reliable dealer nearby? Those are things to think about. As always, lean on your dealer and take the guide classes to learn about your machine.

    • Are those old Singer machines? I don’t have any real info about those going so far back. However, here’s a link to a website talking about the Singer 401G http://www.toolfool.org/sewing/401G.htm
      It looks like a cool machine, if you have one. I cannot vouch for any info on someone else’s site, but Germany sounds right.

  16. Hi! I came across your site while researching my Husqvarna Viking (HV) Designer SE machine (sewing & embroidery). I bought the machine in CA December of 2008. Took it back to the dealer a few months later because of a grinding sound. No problem found. Grinding over the years, haven’t put a lot of hours on the machine 0 perhaps 100 or so. Lots of time doing things other than sewing. Anyway, several months ago, there was an issue when starting my machine. The lights would flicker on the left side (the buttons) but the machine never fully turned on. I unplugged it and plugged it in again – it worked. Then, a few weeks ago it wouldn’t come on at all. I took it into the HV dealer in Joann’s for repair and cleaning. Today I got a call that it cannot be repaired. Of course, it’s out of warranty. I have a new Bernina that I’ll be using for now. From what I read, it seems that some folks have a problem with just about every machine out there. How do we decide what to buy when we’re spending $5,000 or more, even close to $20,000?!? My machine was about $5000 (that may have been after a trade-in). That was pricey considering its short life. I guess I’m venting because I just got the bad news this morning. However, I still may want to buy another embroidery machine but I have my doubts now.

    • I forgot to mention that the reason given was that my machine needed a new “mother board or something” and I got that info from the shop and not the repairman himself. The cost was as much as a new machine so it wasn’t worth it to fix. I had looked at a new machine when I dropped off mine to be fixed. I was tempted to buy a new machine and keep mine as a backup, but I will NOT be doing that now.

      • Hi Karin, It is REALLY frustrating to have a machine that does not work after a few years. I just got back from Bernina training and they repeated to me that they service and repair their machines 20 years after they go OUT of production. That is a huge commitment on the part of a manufacturer. I always tell people to make sure they have a dealer they trust. In the case of your machine, it was an electrical board that failed. I assure you, those parts are all manufactured in the same facilities. I can’t imagine any sewing manufacturer creating their own circuit boards. That takes a special skill and so even if, like Bernina, they do the manufacturing and assembly themselves, circuit boards come from a vendor. Usually they are warranted for 2-5 years and will fail either immediately or within the first year. So, hindsight is 20-20. It’s always a good idea to sew on your machine and not leave it for a long time unused. That said, my advice is always to buy from a reputable dealer who will stand behind your purchase and advocate for you. If I were going to make a recommendation on a Bernina machine at this point, it would probably be a 7 series. I own one. I love their screens and their bobbin and their embroidery capability. But you have to do your own research. If you are still in the market, I assure you , the best deals are right now through the holidays. Good luck!

        • Thank you for the feedback! I really appreciate it. I will definitely put more thought into my next purchase, but I have a Bernina that is virtually unused. I’ll use that for a while before I invest in another machine. Thanks again!

  17. I bought a janome platinum as a machine to take to workshops. It is not a high end machine but cost £175 and two and a half years later After fairly light use was told it was not repairable. After complaining to janome they managed to come up with the spare part but the cost of repair was likely to be over £90 so I did not bother but appalled that a 2 and half year old machine is difficult to get spare parts for. My bernina is about 20 years old and I have never had a problem with it.

  18. I have been using my Mother-in-laws old Nelco 1000 machine and the belt just broke. Having trouble finding a new belt so may be in the market for a new machine. VERY CONFUSING world out there!! Looking for recommendations. I am an out of practice once intermediate seamstress. Do mending, home projects. Used to sew clothing. Have never experienced embroidery/quilting so don’t know if I would get into that or not. Looking for a machine for a second home. Any suggestions? Thank you. Great Blog.

    • Congratulations on making the decision to purchase a new machine. The first thing you will find is that the lighting on new machines is FANTASTIC. LED lights everywhere and that’s worth the price of a new machine. So, I have Bernina machines, because I trust the quality and the dealers are required to support the machines. The same goes for Babylock and Pfaff,etc. But since I know very little about what you will need and your price considerations, I’ll make a wild recommendation for a starting point. Take a look at the B535. It is a solid machine with the capability for embroidery if you wanted to add an embroidery unit down the line. The computer interface is easy to use. They make smaller machines with less functionality, but you get a lot for your money with a B535. But also find out what is on sale right now. For the money, you can’t beat the B215 either, but it’s a small machine. Whatever you decide, have fun with it!

  19. Hello. I’m so glad I came across your site as I need some advice. I’m a false beginner (used to sew many years ago) and would like to buy a sewing machine. I’m not interested in quilting or embroidery, and I won’t be travelling with the machine. I’m tending toward a Bernina, but not sure which model to go for. What would you recommend?

    • Well, a lot depends on what you want to spend. A B215 will get the job done, but it has no decorative stitches or freehand system — and it’s small. I always recommend that people purchase a machine they can grow into. Because what fun is a machine that can only do the things you already know how to do? You want one that makes your life easier and is a joy. That said, if you are sewing home dec or garments, I would go for the B480. It’s a nice middle of the road machine, not particularly geared toward quilters. The B435 is also nice, and less money, but does not have the width in the foot for the wider decorative stitches. If you want to go larger, since you won’t be traveling, you won’t regret a B740. The roominess will spoil you and you’ll love the runway lighting. I know this doesn’t narrow it down much, but you really need to go in to a dealer and sew a bit to discover what you like. Good luck and Happy New Machine!!

  20. I am thinking of buying a Bernina 790+, the only thing stopping me is the price. :(. They do have good promotions and financing which I will probably take advantage of. However, I am not sure if buying the 790+ is worth the price. I was also thinking of the 770 QEE. The only thing different with the 790 was the sideways motion feed, 360 degree directional sewing. Would it be worth purchasing the 790+?

    • Do you do a lot of machine embroidery? I have found that the size difference on the screen of the 790 makes all the difference in the world. I’m a huge machine embroiderer and I like to see where I’m going, and if I’m doing quilting in the hoop, I like to be able to do some exact positioning. The 790 gives me that freedom. If you like to piece and quilt and will only occasionally be trying some machine embroidery, you might be happier with the price point of the 770. They are both good machines. Me, I am very visual. I LOVE that larger screen. Also, the 790 Plus gives you a few more software features in machine embroidery: Word Art, Endless embroidery, Pinpoint placement, etc. Just overall, the 790 has all the same nice features as the 770 but with added benefits in screen size and editing in embroidery mode. You won’t go wrong either way. (But I own a 780, the precursor to the 790 and I have loved it since the day I got it.)

  21. Hi,
    I wanted to thank you for your very informative article. I had decided in 2016 that I would purchase an embroidery machine. I was in a group of mediums and everyone said you supposed to be sewing. So I did a ton of research talked to many dealers and in the end went with a Janome 500e. So bag my nightmare. The machine never completed a single embroidery without multiple thread breaks. The dealer and Janome were no help. 3 years of driving to the dealer almost every month and no luck.
    I then invested in a husquavarna Topaz 50 and it was beautiful. Had no issues and soon realized that all the Janome issues that were blamed on user error were in-fact not. I use my Topaz all the time.
    I decided to sell my Janome and get into a Bernina so I had a good quality machine. Since everyone raves about how good Bernina’s are. So I purchased a Bernina B700 embroidery only machine. From the day I got it I had constant needle breaks, nesting and was really frustrated. After multiple trips to the dealer we found the many issues. First needle breaks, turned out the foot on the machine was faulty. The foot was super loose so the needles were hitting it and breaking. A River was missing on the joint of the foot. Replaced that and still had issues. This time they noticed the entire needle unit was loose. The machine was making a weird sound and they could not figure it out. So asked me to bring it in. This time the dealer called and said they could not return the machine to me as it was faulty. It’s been replaced with a single needle Brother persona.
    I miss my Bernina it sewed beautifully when it did work. I miss the pin point placement on that machine. I am considering giving Bernina another chance and wondering what the 790 would be like. Thank you!

    • Wow, so you are a perfect example of why I always tell people to purchase from a reputable dealer. If you are having trouble with a machine, it is the dealer’s responsibility to make it right or to watch you using it so they can see what you might be doing or what is happening with the machine. As for the B790. I have a B780 which was the precursor to the 790 and I have about a gazillion stitches on it. The 780 and 790 LOVE to embroider. They are solid machines and I love mine. That said, I always use a cast iron thread stand because I am picky about the thread path and I find that Bernina’s really prefer a thread stand. Especially when embroidering because the thread is moving at such a high speed. I should do a post about that. I run the thread up through the stand, then through the little guide on the righthand side of the machine, and then to the left to thread normally. This gives you an absolutely flawless thread delivery system…no getting caught on the spool cap. So yeah, a 790 is a really fun machine to own. I hope you get one. Make an investment in a single thread, cast iron base thread stand…like $15-$20. And you will have a gazillion stitches on your Bernina machine too. Good luck!

      • I have a bernina 780 and it sews and embroiders beautifully. I use my Janome for piecing as it has a brilliant 1/4 inch foot. But it is about 10 years old, and I have seen a second hand B880 for sale. “ has not had much use, out of warranty” .
        My problem is that I have read some bad reviews about the 880, but the bobbins and hoops( and I have plenty) would be compatible, the throat space is large, and I really like the 780. I get great service from the chap who does servicing and minor repairs.
        What questions should I ask the seller to determine if her machine is a doorstop, or languishing from lack of use .
        I love reading comments and advice from this site, and hope you can help me make a decision.

        • Definitely ask if the machine has been updated recently and if it was updated regularly. When a machine is serviced regularly, the tech usually does software updates as well. Also, I would want to know why the owner is getting rid of it. Was it in the shop a lot? Did he-she not like using it? Was it too much? Or just no time? The B880 is not my favorite machine and I suspect that hook system is on its way out the door. Bernina has updated most of their machines to the same hook you have on your 780 (and isn’t it a cool machine? I love mine.) I have never been fond of the hook or the threading on the 8 Series. That said, plenty of people ADORE their machines because it is the top of the line. I bet…and I am speculating here…that the next upgrade to the 8 series will have the 7 series hook. Also, if you’re thinking of using the 880 for piecing, you may not be as happy as you are with your Janome. The 880 has 9mm feed dogs, like your 780, with a lot of the same features. So, I guess it depends on the price. But I use an older B570 at home for piecing. It still has the oscillating CB hook, 5.5 mm and a gorgeous stitch. So it’s up to you, but that would be an expensive doorstop. (I like a warranty on my machines too. For me, that’s an insurance policy.) Also, your 780 bobbins are not compatible with the 880. They are slightly different. Be sure to have a trustworthy dealer if you purchase the machine. At least you’ll be able to get it serviced if it needs it.

          • Thank you for your advice. I was a bit doubtful about the 880, and now I think I’ll wait until my Janome goes to heaven before Investing in a new machine, It still does a good job, and the service man is very good.

  22. What a lovely article! Really enjoyed reading it as well as all the advice in the comment section. Thank you for all teat information! I live in the Philippines and up to a couple of years ago our only choice was Brother and Singer. Then Juki joined the club and recently Bernina with a limited (even more expensive than anywhere else) range. When people asked me what brand was better, I always answered, the one which has a service centre close to you! I would love to have a Bernina, but the dealer has only been selling them for a year or so, has no spare parts and I doubt if he could give the after sales service paying those prices deserve!

    • Well, every Bernina dealer has requirements from Bernina that they must meet, or they cannot be a Bernina dealer. That said, it may take a new dealer a while to get a new tech up and running and properly trained. Juki has some decent machines, though I’ve never owned one. It’s good to hear from the Philippines! Take care and stay healthy!

  23. In 1998 I purchased the Viking Lily 550 and when shopping compared the decorative stitches offered with the decorative stitches in the Bernina machines. Viking won hands down. That’s when Viking was made in Sweden. Fast forward to 2009 and I purchased the Bernina 830 for $9,999. When it worked it worked very well and the features were wonderful but when it didn’t work it was expensive to repair. It was made in Switzerland. It has needed repairs (not just routine service) 4 times and total cost has been $834.75. Routine service has included tweaks but has been $120.00 +/-. I also have the Viking 965Q which I wanted for the throat space (Lily is small) and the decorative stitches. Cost: $1,959.99 in 2017. So far I have not had a problem with it. I find myself using both machines for aspects of the same project. Now I am intrigued by the new feature on some machines…the laser. I just do quilting and I think this would eliminate chalk lines which disappear when you don’t want them to. It is a new feature and I haven’t decided which machine is best. I’m not interested in embroidery. I live in the Philadelphia/Wilmington area and we do have wonderful dealers here who provide good service. Have you researched machine lasers and do you have any suggestions?

    • I’ll be honest I don’t know much about the lasers on machines. I would think it would be extremely useful for embroidery, but you are not interested in embroidery. I’m not sure how helpful that would be when quilting. I am someone who likes to free-motion. Also, straight lines need to be on a fabric surface that is locked in place. If you move your fabric, you just end up sewing a straight line on a diagonal. I don’t see how using a laser on a domestic machine would be terribly helpful. While I cannot offer any direct experience, I can tell you that I would probably start with Viking Designer Epic 2. Also, I understand completely your frustration with the 830. Bernina’s 8 series are not my favorite machines, and the 830’s had plenty of fixes. The 880’s are far better, just still not my cup of tea. Just too much. But I do love the 7 Series. Be sure to try out any features at your dealer. Most quilt shops around here are closed right now. I’m guessing Philly is pretty locked down too. So I’d hold off until you can get in and try it.

  24. Great article. Is there a short update? I am looking for a new FMQ machine. I am an art quilter. I moved to France. My Brother PQ1500S and Brother SE400 came with me. The PQ has always had tension issues. SInce being in France, I have replaced the tension assembly and now can’t get it to work at all in spite of videos etc. I have made many art pieces with the Brother SE400. It is a total pain. I took first place in an art quilt show ($1,000 for first place) and my quilt sold, so I have enough to buy something around $1,000 (euros really). I made the mistake of asking on the Collage Quilting Forum on facebook about using Industrial Machines for FMQ. A couple of replies were simple: Don’t buy from China. Uninformed to say the least. That would limit my purchase substantially. If you have any info on using an industrial machine for quilting, I would love to hear it. Looking at the Jack A5 (no oil pan, computerized tension control, stitch trimmer…). Any comments? Great article and information, thank you.

    • Congratulations on being an award-winning quilter! So, the award winners that I know use longarm machines or Bernina 7 Series machines, way out of your price range. But most of the time it is the technique of the artist, not the $$$ of the machine. I would start with Janome MemoryCraft 6650. My Dad has a similar machine and it has been reliable. The only problem I see with it, is that if you ever want to hem pants etc., the table doesn’t drop to give you the ability to work on a sleeve or pant leg. But otherwise, it looks like a decent machine. The other one that catches my eye for a quilter is the Babylock Jazz II. It has a 12 in. throat, looks like it comes with 9 feet, including the free motion quilting foot, and a knee lift. And the price is perfect. Not an overdone machine, but might be just what you’re looking for. The Jack A5 looks impressive. I have no idea how to use that for free motion. I’d have to try it and likely you should too. Also, that machine is not inexpensive. It’s not designed, as you know, for artwork. It’s designed for high through-put clothing manufacturing. Straight lines at very high speeds. (Would actually be really nice for making masks or face-coverings which are all the rage here in the US.) I would consider Juki machines too, if you have them near you. Good luck and congratulations again!

  25. I have a Pfaff Creative Sensation. Bought it used. Worked beautifully for a few years. Then it would shut down unexpectedly during embroidering. Our local quilt shop sell brothers and Janome but tech looked at my machine. Could not fix. Drove an 1 1/2 to a Pfaff dealer and they said it was the old wiring in my house (house was 2 years old). Cost $45. Drove in a different direction another 1 1/2 hours. They could not fix but sent the machine to Tennessee. Cost me $540, but works like it is brand new. They had to but a new servo motor and a new shaft. Was a lot cheaper than buying a new Pfaff which are $12,000 now.

  26. Hello! I am going to buy a serger machine. I am trying to decide between Pfaff Coverlock 4.0 ,Pfaff admire air 5000 and Janome at 2000. Which would you recommend from the above. If you would recommend another machine in this range entirely, please let me know! Thank you very much!

    • Threading is a deal-breaker for me when it comes to sergers. I would get a Babylock all day any day. I have two of them. They are a piece of cake to thread with the “air puff” and they serge consistently and reliably. The Janome and the Admire Air both look like they behave a lot like my older Babylock, so depending on the price, either may not be a bad choice. (FYI, clearly, Bablock lost the patent on their air threader because now everyone has the same thing.) That Pfaff coverlock looks impressive, but I would have to sew on it and see how it threads. That said, any serger will work for you as long as you know how to use it and you have a dealer you can trust. And of course, price matters, too. Good luck with your selection! Write back and tell us which one you picked.

  27. I have a Pfaff 1199, bought in the mid 1970’s. it has been. a wonderful basic machine a real workhorse.Recently it has needed repair ( perhaps twice in 40 years ) and was told by the tech, that of course going forward, there are certain things that will no longer be repairable if they should fail. I will not buy another pfaff as they are now made in Shanghai. I am a pretty basic sewer, new garments, repairs, a few crafts, and I might be interested in venturing out a little bit more with a new machine. Can you recommend a nice basic machine to replace it, I am thinking a bernina , or even a janome, or would you have other recommendations? thanks so much .

    • Yeah, those older machines lasted 40 years or more and they were sooo solid. You won’t find that same thing in a machine today, but I am a Bernina girl because they are still made with cast iron frames, hand-polished feet and a strong solid hook system. Try looking at the Bernina 480 to start. While it is still a fairly basic machine, it would be an upgrade from what you’ve been using, in terms of lighting and technology. You can move up or down from there, but it would be a good place to start. If you don’t want any of the latest tech or bells and whistles, Bernina still makes a classic mechanical machine, the 1008. These are often used in classrooms. It’s super solid, but I like my nice screen and LED lighting. Go for an updated machine…you still get a 20 year warranty on mechanical parts.

  28. I am considering buying a Pfaff Quilt Ambition 630. I had a previous Pfaff that lasted over 30 years, I think a 1472 or similar number? Loved it. Then I inherited my Mom’s Singer Curvy. Yuk. I sew home decor, mend, hem, piece quilts, make a baby quilt every year or two, etc.
    Things I like about 630:
    Quilt foot: I don’t need a full on quilting machine
    Immediate tie off
    Distance from needle to tower
    Needle threader
    Extra pressure foot lift
    Bobbin winding from needle
    Button sewing – I use it to tie quilts
    LED lighting

    The only other brand I’m interested in is Bernina. Is there a similar one I should consider? The 630 pretty much hits the high end of my price range.

    • So the Pfaff 630 looks like a good machine. My only caveat is that I don’t know firsthand about the quality of recent Pfaff machines. I had a Pfaff 20 years ago, which was a wonderful machine. But Pfaff has gone through a lot of changes since then. They are, as you know, owned by the same company as Singer. You can find mixed reviews about every manufacturer, and I always say…shop the dealer as much as the machine. Because they’re the ones you will turn to if you have an issue. As for a comparable Bernina, I would suggest a 740, but that could get pricey. I know they’re running a trade-in, trade-up promo til the end of the month. Good luck to you and happy stitching!

      • Another reader wanted to anonymously send a message. It’s just one data point, but FYI:
        “Do not buy a Pfaff. The quality is not there. I used to be a Pfaff customer with obout 5 machines. The ones made in West Germany and Chech were wonderful. Then I bought on made in China. They had to replace it twice. I finally sold it in a garage sale for pennies. I then went to Bernina. I love my 5 Berninas. Good luck. Be sure to thoroughly check you dealer. I went to a dessert 90 miles from my home because they were the best.”

        • I would not buy a Phaff machine again. I purchased one and it had a 10 year warranty. I needed it repaired in less than 5 years and they no longer made parts for it. So I now have a dust catcher and I am very disappointed.

  29. Update:
    “Tacony, a huge US corporation that also owns Nancy’s Notions”
    Tacony recently sold Nancy’s Notions to the Missouri Star company.

    Also, Janome owns the Swiss company Elna which is manufactured at the Janome factories.

    Thanks for writing this. Nicer to see all this info in one place!

    • Thank you, yes. As of May 27, 2020, Missouri Star Quilt company owns Nancy’s Notions. I knew Nancy’s Notions was in trouble after the death of Nancy Zieman as I’d heard folks complaining about the retail store, and I know they had a closeout sale. It’s been so long since I’ve visited MSQC. I don’t know how they will be incorporating it into their business. I might give them a call to find out more. They have a pretty large fullfillment capability, so as a catalog business, I think it makes sense.

  30. Came across your article doing research on purchasing a new machine. Just getting back into sewing retired. Had a singer which I purchased in 1980 for 35 years sewed great no problems. Took it to have a tune up never worked correctly again it was the best model for that time paid about 900 for it then. Took it back twice to the service center it never worked properly again. Was a big sewing then went to work full time so stared sewing less. Have a Singer stylist, it ok but does not sew like my old singer. Thinking of purchasing a new machine, the singer is in for a tune up. Would like something with many stitches and maybe a few embroidery stitches. Want something that can take multiple layers.
    Have made garments in past years, many home projects, slip covers, do a lot of crafts now.
    The dealers has a floor model baby lock Rachel on special but this looks much like the stylist. The dealer recommended the Janome 3000. I was looking at the brilliant. I also had a brother machine from the late 50s nothing fancy, had a machine don’t know the brand was made in Poland purchased around 2002. Want something sturdy, fast motion, easy bobbin. My old singer had the bobbin fill in place which I loved seems they no longer have this option. You seem to have a wealth of knowledge, would appreciate your input. I’m confused. I have been sewing for 58 years learned in a singer store

    • Well, I don’t have direct experience with either the Janome HD3000 or the Babylock Rachel. Just judging by their features, I would be more inclined to go with the Janome, which has a 6.5 mm maximun stitch width. However, I am not a fan of a drop-in bobbin, which they both have. The Rachel has more decorative stitches. But to be honest, I know very few people who use all the decorative stitches a machine has available. If you are looking for a machine that will sew through heavy fabric and multiple layers, I’m not sure either of these are perfect. AS you probably know, I am a Bernina fan. It would be more expensive, but you should look at a B435. Even if you test drive a B215 which is Bernina’s entry level, you will feel its power. They have cast iron frames to support their powerful motors, so even though the outside is plastic, it will feel more like your old Singer. Plus metal parts on the inside and a 20 year manufacturer’s warranty on mechanical parts. If you decide to go with the Janome or Babylock, just be sure to test drive them with multiple layers and make sure you feel like they can handle the work you want to do. Once you sew on the machines, you will know which one you are bonding with. I know it’s crazy but it’s true. And always be sure you have a dealer you trust. Good luck and Happy Sewing!

  31. This may be an odd question. Are the Bernina machines manufactured differently for the US market vs the rest if the world? I had a 430, then upgraded to a 770qe. Brand new out of the box. It has the same backlash issue that my 430 did. Backlash that ONLY happens when the feed dogs are down and I am Free motion embroidering.

    The reason I am asking is because I have several friends over the world with the same machines, same sewing process, and they have never had this issue. I have never had this issue on my Singer or Brother… ONLY on my Berninas. I don’t know anyone in the US who sews this process, so I can’t ask them if they have the issue.

    I have videoed the bobbin while the dogs are up then dropped them. The bobbin moves at a consistent rotation when the dogs are up, then inconsistently , many times stopping completely when the dogs are dropped.

    Thoughts?

    • I’ll be honest, I have a hard time picturing what you’re describing. I suggest asking your dealer what’s going on. I would bring my machine and show them what you’re talking about. I believe that all the machines are made exactly the same. However, I know that in the past sometimes Bernina had versions of machines or models that are specific to Europe or other places and never were distributed in the US. But a 770 should be a 770 anywhere. One more thought. Have you tried using the stitch regulator to see if the same thing happens? Or not using it if it’s happening when you do? One thing to keep in mind–because this happens to me when I am free motion quilting–is that if your heel hits the foot pedal a certain way, it could cause the machine to stop and lift the presser foot. I have to be careful about where I put my foot so I don’t do a heel tap while sewing. But other than that, your best bet is to get it in front of a tech. Good luck!

      • Thank you for your quick reply. I sat at the dealer’s for total of about 6 hours sewing free motion. I went in with the attitude of “Watch me and tell me what I’m doing wrong” even though I’ve been doing this for close to 10 years on a Singer and Brother with never a problem. They said I was doing everything right from loading the bobbin to threading and everything in between. They called Bernina tech support, and the guy couldn’t understand that I was fme, NOT the computer module.🙄
        I don’t like the BSR, so I didn’t think to run a test with it. I’ll see what the bobbin does.
        Since my friends in other countries don’t have my issues, I thought MAYBE there was a manufacturing difference in the US model.

        Anyway… thanks so much for your input. I’ll test the BSR and see what happens.

    • I have had backlash issues on Brothers, Pfaff, NECCHI, and Janome. Always with the feeddogs down and FMQ. I don’t know the size of the bobbins for the Bernina, as I have heard they are unique to them. However, the most miraculous solution came when I discovered Magic Genie Bobbin washers. In fact, the results were so amazing I sent before and after photos to Pat LaPierre, the owner of the company who manufactures and sells the product (Lapierre Studios). They were designed by Sharon Schambers, who is an expert on most things sewing/quilting. I purchased mine on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

      • Those Magic Genie bobbin washers may work on some machines but I would NOT recommend them for Bernina. Their machines are built with too much precision and the bobbins have sensors. I have no experience with them on other machines, so just a word of caution.

  32. Hi, what a wealth of knowledge and wonderful to find some very useful input and opinions. I am wanting to buy a mechanical machine as I have a fully computerised Janome that also embroiders but hanker after a strong, fast, simple mechanical. I also hanker after a Bernina! I was considering going for a 1008 but am a tad concerned that there’s no pressure foot pressure adjustment. I’m only interested in garment sewing really so is this likely to be problematic and, if so, is there a way around it or would you recommend my looking at something else? Thank you!

    • Oh, you are someone after my own heart. For simple sewing, I went all the way up to a Bernina 570 *JUST* to get the adjustable presser foot pressure. The 1008 is a great machine and will last forever, but there are a few features that a garment sewist should have (IMHO, you’ll never regret an auto-buttonhole.)). You can take a look at the Bernina 435 or 530. They are not mechanical, but they are the lowest end Berninas that offer presser foot pressure adjustments–manually. I have done a quick look through Juki and Sailrite (these are the two places I would look for mechanical machines.) And what I find is that neither the Juki home sewing machines or Sailrite have that feature. So, sadly, I think you have to get a slightly upgraded machine with some electronics. I’m open to any info from others who might know of a mechanical machine with presser foot pressure adjustment. (Hey, manufacturers! This is a feature we would like to see on a mechanical machine!)

      • Thanks so much for your time I will look in to those two 🙂
        I made the mistake of talking to my husband about my quandary yesterday. I say mistake because I find that he (and possibly all other halves) tends to view things so differently to me that I end up in a pickle and almost wish I hadn’t asked.

        Take this instance; he says getting a mechanical machine that’s gone out of production is crazy, that its a simple machine that is over-priced purely because of rarity. He also thinks that if I get a 1008 that my current computerised Janome will end up benched and not be used. His view is to trade in my Janome and get a higher end Bernina. He likes them because he’s an engineer and appreciates the build quality.
        This wasn’t where I was thinking at all, so now I’m all over the place.
        My question is given the 1008 had that CB hook, where in the Bernina range do you need to be to access that (with presser foot pressure adjustment haha)?
        And given that I’m not looking to quilt and haven’t this far been drawn to embroidering either so I’m not looking for 450 stitches and all, the embroidery functionality as such.
        Head is spinning. In a good way, of course!

        • Well, here is the problem. I believe Bernina is moving away from the CB Hook (Which I actually love). But the newer hook system is just fine too. So, that said, the 3 Series is the only CURRENT series left with the CB Hook. But it doesn’t have presser foot pressure adjustment. Wouldn’t that be a nice feature to add to those 3 Series machines?? Anyway, there are still a lot of slightly older machines at dealers. You might have to call around. I have an older 570, with the CB hook AND presser foot pressure adjustment. So you might still be able to find the CB hook on some new but outdated machines, especially at a dealer who had a large stock on hand. Or they might have had a trade-in for people who wanted to move up to the 8 Series,etc. Look for the 5 Series and ask if they have any with the CB Hook. Wow, you set yourself up for a challenge. Good luck! (And if you cannot find any, the newer Bernina hook system is just fine. Sew with it and see for yourself. In that case, the 435 or 530 are ideal for you.)

          • Oh I know, I really have given myself a challenge. I should just stay home and sew, shouldn’t I? Haha. Also, we can’t get the B535 in Europe, we have a B540 which is a little different. It was a 9mm stitch width. I wish the option of the B535 existed over here but sadly not. Again thank you so much.

  33. My understanding is that Baby Lock sewing machines are made by Brother.They are the same thing. Most dealers have told me that Baby Lock buys their sewing machines from Brother. If you look closley they have the same models with just differnt coloring on the casings and diffent names. I am told machine parts and accessories are interchangeble. Baby Lock sergers may be a differnt case or source however.

    • That seems to be the general consensus. But no one from either organization will clarify. Neither organization (Babylock or Brother) actually owns and operates manufacturing facilities. Babylock has some factories in Japan for sergers. Other than that, it’s all outsourced, and those sources are unknown. They can easily overlap.

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