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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71 Responses to For Fans of Bernina Sewing Machines

  1. Vickie says:

    I would really like to own a Bernina so as to have the experience. Much love

  2. Claudia Garcia says:

    I am privileged, I have a Bernina 780 bought with a lot of sacrifice. I would like to know why 780 change to 790

  3. Diane S. says:

    My first Bernina was the 830 Record. I still have it and it sews perfectly. I ‘ve added 4 more models since including the 770 qee. Love it. My question for Bernina is why didn’t they add the larger screen to the 770.

  4. Kaelyn L. says:

    Absolutely fascinating history! My mom has a Bernina and its been a work horse for her for over 20 years! I’m saving up to invest into one as well!

  5. Beverley Patterson says:

    Beverley Patterson I have a Bernina Computer Sewing machine with the Ball have loved it and done plenty of items on it, including weddings dress craft items and patch work.Now the computer is playing up,some time it will not reverse and fancy stitches go hay wire.You my be able to help me in some way but would love a new Bernina. They are the best machine and would tell anyone that is what they should buy. Thanks Bev.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Beverley, what machine do you have? have you been able to update the software? Do you have a service center near you?

  6. rachel says:

    Is anyone selling bernina sewing machine in Ghana ? and they any plan of selling the machine in Ghana?

  7. Judy Byers says:

    I loved your description of the trip to the factory. Always have wanted a Bernina, but unfortunately have never been able to purchase. I have several Brother products and antique singers handed down to me. Would love to win this machine to expand my sewing fun and giving of presents to friends and family and church mission projects.

  8. So interesting to hear of your trip to Bernina in Switzerland what a wonderful privilege. I am a loyal Bernina owner since 1976. I just love my Bernina and use it almost every day creating new projects and being inspired. I always recommend Bernina to my sewing friends.

  9. Anna Swanson says:

    I would love to own a quality machine like the Bernina!! Oh the things I could create lol. Thank you so much for all the wonderful, useful information.

  10. Betty Calvert says:

    My Bernina Record from 1971 has been a fantastic machine, but has some issues so I would love to have a new one. Bernina is the best in the market.

  11. Donna Lee says:

    I still love my Bernina Record 930. It has been a work horse for me and will be handed down to my daughter. I will never sell my Bernina. Looking forward to your post about the factory.

  12. Janette says:

    Bought a Bernina 750 QE in 2015. Love the machine. Have always loved Bernina.. After taking a few glasses for my machine, construction was started on my house. Before construction was finished my daughter got married. ( very stressful time). Then son got married ,just after construction was finished. Anyway my question would be ,l didn’t send my information in for the warrenty on Machine. Will they still honer it if l send it in now. Well that is if post office doesn’t go on strick?

  13. Donna Anderson says:

    I have a Bernina 830, and I wouldn’t trade it for any of the new machines. It has minimal plastic parts and I have had several who wanted to trade it for a top dollar machine and I won’t do it. I bought it in the 80’s brand new, it was produced in Switzerland, and I have had it in for maintenance less than 3 times. I am very careful and keep it clean and maintained. Love it!!

    • Sheila Donnovan says:

      My Bernina 830 was given to me as an early 21st birthday present so any time now it reaches its 47th birthday. Have bought a couple of other machines when it has started to misbehave but then it starts working again and I go back to it!! Have made curtains, clothing (including coats and anoraks) and done many repairs/alterations on it as well as making smaller items for craft sales.

  14. Pingback: NEW Bernina Bernette B38 Giveaway! $749 MSRP! - So Sew Easy

  15. Lois says:

    In spite of two computerized machines, I wouldn’t give up my good old Bernina original 830 for anything! Bought in the 70’s, it still purrs away like an old friend. And has sewed through some of the most unlikely materials without hesitation. Best of all, I can take it apart, clean it and oil it myself because it is a sturdy dependable mechanical machine that doesn’t need to go to a dealer for every little thing.

  16. Beula C Rosin says:

    I have a Bernina Record 530-2 which belonged to my late mom who passed 2 years ago at 95. I have memories of my mother sewing on the machine from very young. My late dad bought her a Swiss made Elna so she kept the Benina for me. My dad modified the wooden cabinet for the Elna to fit inside. Bernina was returned to its suitcase. I started using it in the 80’s . All the foot accessories and the button hole cutter were still in the cabinet of the Bernina machine. Unfortunately the worker who was working for me at the time stole the Elna out the cabinet and all accessories for Elna disc machine as well as all the Bernina feet accessories. I wonder if Bernina Factory still has spares of the feet and the button hole cutter. I only have the foot and one bobbin which is in the machine. This Bernina must be at least 58 to 60 years old and still sews like a dream.

  17. Beula C Rosin says:

    I have a Bernina Record 530-2 which belonged to my late mom who passed 2 years ago at 95. My late dad bought her a Swiss made Elna so she kept the Benina for me. My dad modified the wooden cabinet for the Elna to fit inside. Bernina was returned to its suitcase. I have memories of my mother sewing on the machine from very young. I started using it in the 80’s . All the foot accessories and the button hole cutter were still in the cabinet of the Bernina machine. Unfortunately the worker who was working for me at the time stole the Elna out the cabinet and all accessories for Elna disc machine as well as all the Bernina feet accessories. I wonder if Bernina Factory still has spares of the feet and the button hole cutter. I only have the the foot and one bobbin which is in the machine. This Bernina must be at least 58 to 60 years old and still sews like a dream.

  18. 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

  19. 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 🙂

  20. 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?

  21. Tina Simmons says:

    looking at the 880plus has anyone purchased

  22. 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..

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

  27. 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.

  28. 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

  29. Jean says:

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

  30. 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.

  31. 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?

  32. 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.

  33. 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.

  34. 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.

  35. 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.

  36. 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!

  37. 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.

  38. 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.

  39. 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.

  40. 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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