For Fans of Bernina Sewing Machines

bernina sewing machinesAre you a fan of Bernina sewing machines?  I know I certainly am.  Along with a very small number of other storied brands, Bernina seems to represent the pinnacle in sewing machine quality.  I know many sewists who can talk about their beloved Bernina sewing machines that have been handed down from generation to generation and still seem to work as well today as the day they were new.

Bernina Factory Tour

I learned only recently that I was going to have the opportunity to travel to Switzerland in the coming weeks.  So, as any fan of Bernina sewing machines would do, I immediately researched the opportunity to organize a visit to the famous Bernina factory at Steckborn on the shores of Lake Constance about an hour north of Zurich.  I was, of course devastated to learn that the factory was closed for the summer holidays.

I mentioned to the wonderful people at Bernina that was read by over 700,000 unique viewers per month according to our latest numbers.  And that among these many readers there are certainly a large number who, like me, are devoted fans of Bernina sewing machines.  I said that our readers would certainly love to learn more about the brand, its history and possibly future plans.

We were delighted to learn that Bernina would open the factory and organize a special tour for our little group!

A History of Quality Manufacturing and World Firsts

For over 120 years, Bernina has been manufacturing quality sewing machines in Switzerland as a family-owned and run company.

Bernina Sewing Machines

  • In 1893, the company's founder, Karl Friedrich, invented the hemstitch sewing machine that was capable of sewing 100 stitches per minute.
  • In 1932, during the depths of the Great Depression, Bernina manufactures its first household sewing machine at the factory in Steckborn.
  • In 1938, Bernina manufactures the first zigzag sewing machine.
  • In 1945, Bernina develops the first portable zigzag machine with a free arm.
  • In 1954, Bernina launches the first semi-automatic buttonhole sewing machine.
  • In 1986, Bernina produces the first computerized sewing machine with fully automatic one-step buttonholes.
  • In 2002, Bernina introduces the first sewing machine with a Microsoft Windows operating system.

For our many readers in Australia, here's an interesting history of Bernina from a uniquely Australian perspective:

Questions about Bernina sewing machines?

I've certainly got a good list of topics to research about Bernina sewing machines already, but I'd really like to get your help.  If you have questions you'd like me to ask or any ideas to explore with Bernina, please let me know as soon as possible in the comments below.  We'll do a follow up post with answers to the questions and photos from the factory tour after the visit.  Thanks in advance for your help.

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35 Responses to For Fans of Bernina Sewing Machines

  1. Hanlie van Vuuren says:

    Good day, This is very interesting thank you! I have a very old Bernina and a newer model. Where can I check the serial numbers as I would like to know the approximate age of the machines, please?

    Many regards

  2. Arlene says:

    Thank you so much for your informative blog on your visit. A visit to the Bernina Factory in Switzerland is definitely on my bucket list. I have been using a Bernina since I was about 12 or 13 (I am now 69!!)….my mother had one of the first Bernina’s that was brought into Sri Lanka then called Ceylon, which she was lucky to buy from an Ex-pat who was leaving Ceylon. I am now still using my darling 1630 BUT unfortunately on returning to Sri Lanka finding a Bernina dealer is absolutely impossible so as things things go wrong my poor machine is limping along. The latest being the difficulty to change the different needle positions. Looking forward to more news on Bernina machines.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Arlene, sadly there was a flood in the factory a few years back, and the molds to the old Berninas were lost in the fire. One person got killed, that is why the new installations are so much bigger and better than the original one. The closest dealer that can handle your machine is that I know off is in Singapore. I will write more about Bernina and in fact, I will write about Bernina Singapore very soon. Stay tuned, please 🙂

  3. Anne-Marie says:

    I’ve had a Bernina since mid seventies. Now after a mchine that can sew kangaroo leather. Can a Bernina manage this?

  4. Tina Simmons says:

    looking at the 880plus has anyone purchased

  5. Richard Beman says:

    All but the most expensive model of Bernina sewing machines are manufactured in Thailand. The components for even the most expensive machines are made in Thailand. It is far less expensive for Bernina to manufacture the machines in Thailand and they are trying to deceive the consumer into believing they still “Swiss made”.. Swiss design, not manufactured in Switzerland..

  6. Gail Hardock says:

    Looking forward to seeing all the previous comments and questions answered as some were the same as ones I had. So glad you have this opportunity and am going to share your experience with us…..thank you.

  7. Betty roe says:

    Would love to visit the factory it would be a dream come true ,I have a Betnina#1630 I truly love it is the very best machine I have ever owned hope you have a wonderful trip.

  8. Kathy (never stop learning) says:

    I don’t know if you have gone yet, as your post was a month ago, but if you have not gone yet, here is a question I would like answered: Since Bernina is the ONLY major brand still manufactured in Europe, are the parts made there also, or are they ordered from or made to specifications in Asia?

    I ask because I am somewhat disillusioned by the sewing industry; It seems that profits are more important than satisfied customers. Computer components are getting less expensive, most manufacturing has been moved to Asia as labor costs so much less there, and yet the cost of machines is going up by leaps and bounds. Certain companies (not Bernina) are having huge promotions (like $4,000 for your trade in) because they know they have over-priced their machines for the market and they STILL make a profit on the discounted price.

    But of course, we can’t have just profits, we must have record profits. Oh, and BRAVO, Bernina, for keeping your manufacturing in Switzerland.

  9. Linda says:

    I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my Bernina 930. It was the top of the line in 1983. We were told it was the last model to be completely mechanical as they were going to add computer components in future models. I still tell my husband every time I finish a project, “Honey, thank you for buying me my Bernina. It sews like a dream.” I don’t know when you were going to visit the factory. I hope I have not missed the story and photos about it.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Linda, the report from the factory visit will come out in the next couple weeks so please stay tuned.

  10. I have two Bernina machines which I love. One is fairly basic which I use most of the time for regular sewing and the other is a 6-series embroidery machine which I don’t use to its full potential. Silly really, I dislike machine embroidery with a passion so I am not sure why I even bought it. It is a nice machine though. I also have an old (1973) Elna Supermatic which was fabulous in its day, but sadly Elna has not kept up as Bernina has.

  11. SidraG says:

    I believe in the late 90’s the factory had flooded. I was devastated when my machine (that I had purchased in 75) had fallen & could not be repaired. Something was tweaked and the old machine molds were ruined. I replaced it with another Bernina, but I sure did miss my original.
    Have a good time on your tour

  12. Jean says:

    Thank you Andrea, that was really helpful. Feel a lot more secure about taking my beauty with me to Canada.

  13. Brenda Osborne says:

    I love my Bernina 1080. Two years ago I had to replace a light bulb in it. That’s the only repair in 25 years. Wish everything was built like a Bernina.

  14. Sheilah Mathias says:

    I am a huge BERNINA fan. I love all of my BERNINA. My question is…Why isn’t there any promotions/highlights etc shown for the sergers? They are amazing! I feel like they have been ignored. In the latest BERNINA Big Book of Feet, the serger isn’t even mentioned. Why?

  15. Jean says:

    I love my B710, including the colour! I am about to move from the UK to Canada, should I take my machine with me or buy new when I get there. Not sure if I will get the same excellent use if I have to use a transformer with it. I have contacted Bernina but have not had a response. Please help with this one as time is running out.

    • When I moved from Switzerland to the US, I took my sewing machines with me. One is a Bernina 123 and one a Pfaff. both of them I used with the transformer and there was absolutly no problem.They only problem I encountered is with the light bubs. Those you need to bring with you. They will need to be made for what the machine needs without transformer. And then you will need the service person know to not change it, unless broken. Actually, that reminds me I should try to find a light bulb for my old Bernina 123. She still has the original light bulb…
      I later bought a new Bernina in the US and asked Bernina in Switzerland if I could have an extra German instruction manual for it. They did send one to my mother-in-law, where I picked it up the next time I visited.

  16. Karen says:

    I own a Bernina1130 and I’m ashamed to say that I’ve never had it serviced in the 30 years I’ve owned it. It has always run beautifully and I’m afraid to let anyone service it as I’ve heard too many horror stories of machines running worse after servicing. I love my Bernina and would like to know if I should oil or do anything else other than the usual brushing out the scraps and threads and oiling the bobbin parts occasionally.

  17. Eileen Blanchard says:

    That was an excellent video, it surely demonstrates why Bernina is Number 1 for so many sewists! Thanks for the opportunity to get a glimpse into their excellence.

  18. Susan says:

    I’d also like to find a decent repair service in Paris. I haven’t been very happy with my experiences so far.

  19. ParisGrrl says:

    I adore my Berninas, but have been having difficulty locating a cleaning/repair service in Paris, France that is trained and comfortable with these machines. if you could shed any light on that I’d be grateful!

  20. Pat says:

    Hoping they will eventually produce a 7 series machine that can handle the entire jumbo hoop. New 7 series machine coming out for sept. Keeping fingers crossed that it might use the jumbo hoop.

  21. Daryl says:

    I heard that only the more expensive Bernina machines are still made in Switzerland now, but the rest are made in Taiwan or China or elsewhere. Is this true and why aren’t they all made in Switzerland? Cutting costs?

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Thanks for contributing this question. Definitely planning to find out as much as possible about this. Seems like an important issue for many people.

    • Beverly Wood says:

      Bernina are the only machines not manufactured in China or Taiwan. All made in Switzerland.

    • Margo says:

      the identification “tag” on the back of my Bernina sewing machine reads that it was manufactured in Switzerland, whereas the identification label on the back of my Bernina serger reads that it was manufactured for Bernina Switzerland. As far as I know Bernina serger are being manufactured by Juki

      • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

        Hi Margo, we’ll address all this in our up-coming article coming out in the next few days. We learned a lot about how and where Bernina manufacture during our visit. I look forward to sharing with you.

  22. Beverly Wood says:

    What an opportunity. Enjoy an stay safe. I would like to know why they don’t put a prettier faceplate on their 7 series machines. Plain grey is rather dull to look at. No, I don’t sit in front of my B530 Swiss Edition and think how pretty it is. I have it working on average 2-3 hrs a day. When I quilt, I go fo 8-10 hrs a day to get it done. I want to upgrade to a 7 series but the B 710- B 770 only have a grey faceplate. Kinda boring. Looking forward to your pics and post of your visit.

    • Eileen Blanchard says:

      Wow ! I never thought of my old white Bernina as boring. I guess it could be considered so. I am always amazed at the reliability, the smooth quiet operation, and the magic that appears from that old boring white model that I bought back in the 70´s.

  23. Deby Coles says:

    How exciting Mayra. I’d love to get a chance to look around a sewing machine factory. Looking forward to reading all about it.

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