Author Topic: help choosing bernina vs babylock  (Read 16309 times)

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Offline alison

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help choosing bernina vs babylock
« on: July 14, 2009, 02:06:08 PM »
Hi - I am a master hand embroiderer who has never used a machine to sew or embroider anything. Recently I decided I want to learn to machine sew and embroider and maybe even quilt. I began searching for machines and realized immediately the limitations with embroidering on a machine due to the hoop sizes.
Some internet searching led me to the Hoopitall and Octi-hoop sites. But I digress -

I have seen a Babylock Ellure BLR ($999.00) and the Bernina line, the Artista 630 (a floor model) $3599.00 and a new Aurora 430 $3000.00 are the 3 machines that I have chosen out of all the brands and demos I have seen. Of course the price difference is tremendous between the Babylock model and the Berninas.  And I got the impression that the Bernina will cost alot more for every additional item that I might want in the future. I can easily finance any of these machines so payment is not a problem - but the guilt associated with buying a costly machine as a beginner is pretty bad for me.

I would like an easy to use machine - but a good one that will hold up. I am so intimidated by the Bernina price and is it really really worth the difference to a beginner or will the Babylock be a great machine? It is a lot of money to see if you like to sew. To top it all off I really like the people better at the Bernina dealer in my area than the other brand dealer. The Babylock dealer was ok, just a cool standoffish type and not inviting in asking if I would like to take extra classes or become involved. I am the type who needs to feel included to take classes I would rather be with people who are nice and fun, gee who wouldn't? The Bernina dealer was so fun, we laughed and she told me they have complimentary (6) classes on using your machine and of course all types of pay as you go classes and showed me the classroom etc. But I can't get past 3k for a machine...yikes! I started off looking at a Brother on HSN for 175.00 then the Brother for 499.00 and now I am up to this level. And I don't even have fabric or threads or anything else.

Additionally, I am a fine artist and can and will design my own designs if I can - yes yes I know there is software out there for that too...

Please if anyone is a voice of reason in this please help me -

Alison

Offline annenet

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Re: help choosing bernina vs babylock
« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2009, 02:48:52 PM »
I can't comment on the Babylock as I have no experience with them but I love Bernina's. The dealer support I get is great and they have a great on line presence. It's at www.berninausa.com. If you look under "learn it" you will see there are lots of videos and they do have webnars at times.

I have an Artista 165E which was the predecessor to the 630E and after 5 years and just basic maintains it's going strong. I have the hoopitall hoops and the V.5 Designer Plus software so I can get some really nice big designs with that combo. I will say Bernina's are at a bit of a premium and the accessories are pretty expensive but I think they're worth every bit. I have three Bernina machines and two Bernina sergers and I won't part with any of them!

As for the software I use the Bernina V.5 Designer Plus and do scan and digitize with it quite a bit. I'm not a full time artist but do have two degrees in Art so I'm frequently out of the box with things. The new version will be released soon and it will have Corel Draw Essentials 4 and a carve effect in it. I can't wait!
« Last Edit: July 14, 2009, 02:57:25 PM by annenet »
Too many ideas, not enough time.

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Offline alison

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Re: help choosing bernina vs babylock
« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2009, 02:52:18 PM »
thks annenet - the dealer told me that Bernina users don't part with their machines often unless sometimes upgrading - they are not easy to find used - so that says something.

great input - ali

Offline BeeBee

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Re: help choosing bernina vs babylock
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2009, 02:56:06 PM »
Yes, you usually have to pry a Bernina out of the owner's cold, dead hands.  (I'm a Viking Girl, myself).  I just caution you not to go too cheap and too low end and get a machine that doesn't do what you want and/or that you out grow in a few months.  You may also want to look into having separate machines for embroidery and for sewing - it can be less expensive and you get good machines for both services.  (I did NOT do this, btw, just an alternate thought)

Offline annenet

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Re: help choosing bernina vs babylock
« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2009, 03:00:48 PM »
Or simply do what I do! If my 165E (my main machine) is off and running in embroidery mode and I want to sew, out comes my Activa 220, 1010 or the cabinet with my Singer 201-2 get opened. If I'm not mistaken the field on the combo machines is frequently bigger. And yes, it would be out of my dieing hands to get one away from me!
Too many ideas, not enough time.

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Offline Aquacasa

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Re: help choosing bernina vs babylock
« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2009, 08:48:45 PM »
Hi Alison

Just thought I would drop in with a thought for you after reading your post.
I am here in the UK and have just finished the first year of a part time (1 day week) City and Guilds Embroidery and textile course. We have learnt hand embroidery stitches and free-motion embroidery on a sewing machine.
I haven't yet gone down the embroidery machine and software route yet. I personally like to get away from a computer screen when creating something.

I have a Bernina 135S and Husqvarna Emerald 122 which I alternate for classes and a very underused Bernina 440QE for my main machine.
Have you thought about getting a cheaper machine, perhaps a mechanical bernina and getting into sewing and quilting and trying out free motion embroidery (drawing with the machine on fabric)?
I have to say I am having a fine old time dyeing bit of fabric, painting on fabric, layering scraps up, etc etc and generally free machining away. Theres lots to try out I feel as a beginner before I even think about going towards the computerised route.
I feel I have learnt a lot in the last year. My husqvarna emerald is the machine I would grab if the house was on fire! However much I fell in love with the Bernina 440QE I have as yet really hardly used it and 95% of its features are under-utilised. What I could really do with is a machine with a larger work area with 10% of the stitches the 440 has.

Not trying to persuade you out of buying a nice machine, but I just wanted to tell you about my learning process over the last year froma different embroidery point of view.
 ;D

Carrie
Carrie - Hampshire UK

If you can do something with your eyes closed, it is time to find something new.

Offline Doris W. in TN

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Re: help choosing bernina vs babylock
« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2009, 10:20:41 PM »
Alison - it appears that you are going about this the right way and weighing all aspects.    Given the price difference between the Babylock and the Berninas,   I wonder if you are comparing apples to apples, or apples to oranges.    Both brands have excellent reputations, so it comes down to dealer support, which one has the classes, seems willing to help with questions, etc.

Have you considered buying one of the Bernina Activa models, and the separate stand-alone Bernina Deco embroidery machine?  That way, if you find you don't use the embroidery much, you can sell it.   If you decide you don't enjoy sewing, you could sell that machine and keep the embroidery machine.

The Activa line of machines is lighter than the Aurora and Artista models, so they are a little bit easier to carry to classes.   The only drawback is that there is less space to the right of the needle if you plan on learning to free-motion quilt a large bed-size quilt.    You could even buy the Activa first, see if you like sewing, before you purchase the Deco.   The combined total amount of money spent would probably be close to the cost of a 630E, or less..

These are just some ideas;  something to consider.

Offline alison

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Re: help choosing bernina vs babylock
« Reply #7 on: July 14, 2009, 11:42:22 PM »
Aquacasa and Doris W. in TN - great posts - and by the end of my day today after bouncing all this around I got to a similar conclusion about what I want to do. I currently paint fabric, dye my own threads and hand embroider my own designs - but all I really really want is to free motion embroider or thread paint with a machine on the same types of work I am already doing. I was hoping that a machine may take some of the tedium and time of background/textural work that I do by hand now.  I will still do some of the hand work that can't be done by machine.

Where I got caught up was the wizardry of the embroidery modules and machines - it looks so quick and fun!

But in my comparison of the 3 machines what I wanted to know from experienced users is there really a difference in the way they sew...or some other performance issues that as a person with no machine experience I have no ability to judge.

But after soul searching and going back to my roots of the type of projects I actually work on I think I may go to a Bernina Activa which I saw in the showroom. My DH thinks its crazy to spend 7-9 hundred on a machine that does 'nothing' when the Babylock embroiders for the same amount of money. I can always sell or upgrade or who knows what but at least its a good machine right?

ali

Offline Aquacasa

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Re: help choosing bernina vs babylock
« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2009, 07:38:42 AM »
I think you have made a good choice with the Activa.
I have an Activa 135s which has blue buttons and handle and is an earlier model than the current 220 240 etc with the red buttons and red handle.
I've had the machine for about 5 years and its a great little machine. I've never had any problems with it. When buying I went for the middle Activa in the range as it came with the extension table and foot cabinet for the back of the machine.
I really like the Bernina feet, yes they are more expensive, but they are solidly made and the free motion embroidery foot just pops straight on, no screw to undo. I have bought a couple of extra feet for my machine like a cording foot and also a free motion cord couching foot. I also bought an extra little shelf for the foot wardrobe to hang the extra feet off I have bought.

I don't think you will be hard pressed to beat berninas for free motion work. Out of a group of ladies doing our course 95% had a Bernina.

I am really just learning all this stuff but I really enjoyed making a bag for one of assessment pieces. I did a lot of free motion work for the background using the straight stitch and also got some good effects and texture trying a narrow zigzag out, also some of the decorative and utility stitches worked closely together make a nice background..
My favourite thing I have learnt this last year is machine made cords. My Bernina is best at these, for some reason its harder to do on my Husqvarna.
Next term we have to do a panel and a wall hanging. The Bernina will be working overtime on that.

Just to say a lot of folk like the Bernina 1008.
Personally I can't manage without my needle threader and the needle up/down button. !
Let us know how you get on when you get your new machine.
« Last Edit: July 15, 2009, 07:43:16 AM by Aquacasa »
Carrie - Hampshire UK

If you can do something with your eyes closed, it is time to find something new.

Offline alison

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Re: help choosing bernina vs babylock
« Reply #9 on: July 15, 2009, 11:24:16 AM »
Aquacasa/Carrie -

Your post is so appreciated - to get a personal review of the differences of the Huqvarna vs. Berina machines is truly helpful. I looked at Huqvarna and they are really nice too. The types of sewing and how the easily the machine does it is exactly what I was concerned about. What about sewing organza or silk, or cording or delicate objects--there are my concerns and you have answered alot of them. I like your free spiritedness about just playing with a simple process - that is what I already do but by hand. Your posts sounds like you are having a fun time just playing with color and design - and that is the process I want with the machine too.

The silliest part of this entire thing is that I come from a family of 'Archsewers' - they make all of their own clothes and husbands shirts and well all sorts of things. My aunt taught me to embroider as a child and that became my thing. I was afraid of the sewing machines as a little girl, the noise and needles were something I dreaded. So I have stuck it out all these years being the lone hand worker in the family. But asking my mother and sisters for sewing machine opinions is not easy because they own commercial machines and sergers. Except my mother has a 42 year old Pfaff that is a convenience machine for quick projects. They have not bought new machines in years so they are not up on LCD screens and USB connections.

I am making small embroidered flower gardens and several people have asked if they were for sale in the last year or so. I am considering this possibility of selling the work - but there are things a machine can do quickly and efficiently that I do by hand. I even baste the fabric edges by hand--as there is not a machine in my home! But since the idea of selling these tiny gardens came up my creative mind is doing overtime - I could put them on scarves or blouse pockets...etc. And I think to do all this a machine is going to be the answer - but do I really want an embroidery machine? It looks easy and fun to just let a machine doodle a ready made design on a baby's bib and give it as a gift. But if one wants to sell work there are copywrite laws protecting artwork, which means it is another 1k to get software to design your own stuff and sell it.

You see I started off looking at a Brother for 175.00 and the machines have escalated in price because with research comes knowledge of "Oh the machine can do that!" I really don't want to spend much over 600-800 dollars because I don't know if this is really going to be a friendship between woman and machine. lol. What if I hate the mechanical aspect of a machine, or it is harder to do what I want then I think it might be. Oh now you are really getting an earful.

Well I am back to my tea - and going back to the stores later this morning to see the machines all over again.

ali

Offline DeniseM

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Re: help choosing bernina vs babylock
« Reply #10 on: July 15, 2009, 01:00:08 PM »
If you're looking for large hoop embroidery, you need a combo machine. The stand alone embroidery machines do not do large hoop embroidery. And they probably won't make them with larger hoops in the future because the people who buy them typically look for speed as well as perfection of design and the larger embroideries are much slower.

I also have the Bernina 165E and have yet to use it for embroidery, though I know it does a lovely job. The dealer made me nervous about breaking something that was irreplacable every time I inserted the embroidery unit. I usually embroider on my Viking Designer 1 and if you are in the market for a nice machine you might consider this model which has come down in price because it's older and has been replaced by the Diamond. The Viking SE is also an excellent machine and I understand the embroidery is better than the D1. They both come with large hoops and endless embroidery options and a special "Q" foot that has a sensor to make the embroidery even nicer and cleaner.

Personally, I don't do free motion. Like you, I was a hand embroiderer and taught myself all the stitches from diagrams. I used to embroider ornaments and did some wreaths and tree skirts. I consider myself a fairly skilled hand stitcher. But I think for the money you might look at the D1 or the SE because even though they're older the technology is ahead of Bernina. Unless you can talk yourself into the Bernina 830 which does beautiful embroidery and has a bobbin that holds more thread than any other on the market. You won't find bargains on accessories. Janome is the only company I've found that makes less expensive accesories. Bernina and Viking are about the same.


Offline Doris W. in TN

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Re: help choosing bernina vs babylock
« Reply #11 on: July 15, 2009, 01:31:55 PM »
What about sewing organza or silk, or cording or delicate objects--there are my concerns and you have answered alot of them.

The Activas can defnitely handle those fabrics.   A local Heirloom Sewing/Smocking shop, where many people sew on handkerchief linens, batiste, etc.,  had several Activas in their classroom.   They'll sew heavy fabrics just as well, too.

Offline annenet

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Re: help choosing bernina vs babylock
« Reply #12 on: July 15, 2009, 02:09:47 PM »
I've got an Activa 220, my "road warrior" and use it for trips and when my 165E is in the shop. I put the knee lift on it (essential)! and use the 165E's foot pedal for the needle down/up. I told DH if I had gotten this first I would have loved it as my main machine. The one thing it lacks is the auto buttonhole (not a problem, I don't have it on my 1010 either) and the fact it came with snap together feet. Once again, I have them all for my 165E so not a problem. I got an incredible price on it at the time though.

I would suggest the 230 because it does have the auto buttonhole and the nice feet. The activa will take on anything it's bigger sibling will in the line of sewing and uses the same attachments. So if it's purely a sewing machine you want this would be a good choice.
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Offline Aquacasa

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Re: help choosing bernina vs babylock
« Reply #13 on: July 15, 2009, 04:53:34 PM »
Quote
I was afraid of the sewing machines as a little girl, the noise and needles were something I dreaded. So I have stuck it out all these years being the lone hand worker in the family. But asking my mother and sisters for sewing machine opinions is not easy because they own commercial machines and sergers. Except my mother has a 42 year old Pfaff that is a convenience machine for quick projects. They have not bought new machines in years so they are not up on LCD screens and USB connections.

I learnt to sew in the early 80's as a child on my Mums mechanical Frister and Rossman (I think the equivalent to your older Kenmore machines in the US). It had a few stitches and a 4 step buttonhole.
Now I am very computer literate and have worked in accounting and computers. I have looked at the really computerised touch screen machines. When I left work in 2005 to go on maternity leave to have my daughter I took up sewing again and looked at those flashy machines. Now after being stressed out at work using a computer I decided I wanted to steer away from those types of touch screen machines. I had thought about an embroidery machine but I'd have to buy software to digitize designs and sit in front of a computer. Thats just my choice.

What I liked about my Berninas and my Husqvarna Emerald is that they are both really easy to operate. On the emerald I turn a dial and on the Bernina just press a little button for the main stitches or press the hash key and type in the 2 digit stitch number. No negotiating a touch screen. There might come a day when I want one of those machines and I have to say demos have wowed me in the shop but I feel I won't get any sewing done, I'll just be pressing buttons all day.

It also might be work getting a few books to get you started. Check out your local library.
Quilting books will often have free motion quilting patterns to try out.
Also I have a couple of books on thread painting.
Thread Painting: Simple Techniques to Add Texture & Dimension by Leni Levenson Wiener
Thread Painting Made Easy by Terry White

 Terry White has some little videos on You-tube
http://www.youtube.com/user/rscwhite
Kept me entralled for hours!

Let us know how you get on buying a machine!
From your statement copied above I think you'd be better off with something like an Activa, as at least then you won't have a machine that will scare you half to death.
Shame your not near me in the UK, you could come and play on my machines
 ;D

Carrie - Hampshire UK

If you can do something with your eyes closed, it is time to find something new.

Offline alison

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Re: help choosing bernina vs babylock
« Reply #14 on: July 16, 2009, 02:51:04 AM »
Doris - thks for qualming my fear of fabric puckering...

Annenet - I keep hearing great stuff about the knee lift on the Bernina's - sewers love it - and it sounds like you do also. I keep picturing myself patting my head and moving the other hand in front of my stomach in a circle - and wondering if using the knee lift is anything like that!

Aquacasa - I hear you re; the LCD/computerized displays. I was a software developer (ok not really I only have a degree in it lol.) In my first life I went to college for fine art and somewhere along the way learned to operate a mac and then pc and write programs etc. So I got a degree in that also - but its not my love. I am a stay-at-home right now. When I first stopped working I could not bring myself to use a pc to write a letter. Even something so simple brought back stress memories. After a few years I can tolerate it again--but I limit my pc time.

I picked up my activa230 today and bought a small kit to make a quilted tote bag. Hey - its square and supposed to be easy.
Thks for the advice on the books. I looked at them on Amazon and found Terry White's website. My head is about to burst with all these brilliant techniques. Hey I was not too far away from the UK last week - I was in The Netherlands. My DH's family is from NL and we go frequently to visit. We are considering relocating to NL if we can swing it. My family tree has its roots in the UK and it is a dream of mine to visit someday. But your machines are safe and sound - no newbie to wreck them - lol.
You all sound so talented and amazing -

ali

Offline Doris W. in TN

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Re: help choosing bernina vs babylock
« Reply #15 on: July 16, 2009, 08:01:20 AM »
Alison - I love the knee lift on my Berninas.   That is one of the main reasons I bought my first Bernina back in the early 1990s.  In fact, when I  use my serger,  my knee searches for the hands-free presser foot  lifter!   I'm surprised more brands of machines don't have it.     Enjoy your new 230!   8)

Offline Aquacasa

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Re: help choosing bernina vs babylock
« Reply #16 on: July 16, 2009, 08:49:33 AM »
Congrats on your new machine. I know you are going to have fun using it.
I still love opening the little wardrobe and getting feet out!

As to the knee lift, I have one on my 440QE but haven't had a go with it yet. I'm not sure I can co-ordinate that many actions at once either!

Happy sewing.
 ;D
Carrie - Hampshire UK

If you can do something with your eyes closed, it is time to find something new.

Offline annenet

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Re: help choosing bernina vs babylock
« Reply #17 on: July 16, 2009, 12:17:04 PM »
The 230 is a great choice! Lots of stitches, autobuttonhole, you can put the knee lift on and it has the great Bernina feet! Enjoy!
Too many ideas, not enough time.

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Offline Doris W. in TN

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Re: help choosing bernina vs babylock
« Reply #18 on: July 16, 2009, 12:35:53 PM »
As to the knee lift, I have one on my 440QE but haven't had a go with it yet. I'm not sure I can co-ordinate that many actions at once either!

Carrie - Please don't be afraid of it.  :D  It's really quite easy.   The machine must be stopped and we often have the needle "down" when we engage the knee lift.   Do give it a try.     The only thing to watch for is to make sure your knee doesn't touch the bar while sewing.   That has never been a problem for me, but I hear it can happen to some people with fluffy thighs and knees.  The Bernina dealer can adjust the angle of the knee bar, if there is a problem.   In my case, it was too far away and he had to adjust it closer to my knee.  Only takes a minute at the shop.

Offline Aquacasa

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Re: help choosing bernina vs babylock
« Reply #19 on: July 16, 2009, 03:55:46 PM »
Thanks Doris.

You have given me the courage to have ago with the knee lift.
My little dealers shop is tiny, it must be only 6/7ft wide. I don't think some of our smaller UK dealers are so up on all the attachments as yours are in the US.
I new more about free motion embroidery than he did, so I think demoing a knee lift might be asking too much!

My dream one day is to fly over and hang out in the biggest sewing store I can find all day!
 ;D
Carrie - Hampshire UK

If you can do something with your eyes closed, it is time to find something new.

Offline alison

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Re: help choosing bernina vs babylock
« Reply #20 on: July 16, 2009, 05:51:39 PM »
My dear sister has been using that knee lift on hers 4ever and couldn't live without it - she hates to take her hands away for any minor interruptions and advised me to do the same - so I will give it a try after all the encouraging words from here and from her.

Carrie - yeh we do have some big, nay humongous stores here - and we found the charm of the European shops so lovely when we were there. maybe its a grass is always greener thing. there is so much room at our Bernina dealer that every machine has its own large sewing center and the long arm quilting machine and stand is in the center, there is a kitchen, bathroom and classroom for 15 people. i just love it and wish i could live in there. teehee.

ali

Offline BeeBee

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Re: help choosing bernina vs babylock
« Reply #21 on: July 16, 2009, 06:24:12 PM »
Quote
My dream one day is to fly over and hang out in the biggest sewing store I can find all day!
See you at G Street.  NYC has bigger fabric only stores, but G Street is the biggest sewing store I've ever seen.  Fabrics, machines (Bernina only, though), trims, quilting, patterns.  Come on guys, now tempt me with bigger.  Not just better - I'm sure a lot of specialty stores can do better in a particular area, I'm looking for size here.  Everyone knows size matters.  ;)

Offline Aquacasa

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Re: help choosing bernina vs babylock
« Reply #22 on: July 16, 2009, 06:38:48 PM »
Quote
there is so much room at our Bernina dealer that every machine has its own large sewing center and the long arm quilting machine and stand is in the center, there is a kitchen, bathroom and classroom for 15 people. i just love it and wish i could live in there

Quote
G Street is the biggest sewing store I've ever seen.  Fabrics, machines (Bernina only, though), trims, quilting, patterns.

Now I am am green with envy.

But, no wonder you people post asking for help choosing a machine. There must be too much choice in those stores. I am surprised you manage to choose anything!

Carrie - Hampshire UK

If you can do something with your eyes closed, it is time to find something new.

Offline alison

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Re: help choosing bernina vs babylock
« Reply #23 on: July 17, 2009, 12:50:37 PM »
Quote
there is so much room at our Bernina dealer that every machine has its own large sewing center and the long arm quilting machine and stand is in the center, there is a kitchen, bathroom and classroom for 15 people. i just love it and wish i could live in there

Quote
G Street is the biggest sewing store I've ever seen.  Fabrics, machines (Bernina only, though), trims, quilting, patterns.

Now I am am green with envy.

But, no wonder you people post asking for help choosing a machine. There must be too much choice in those stores. I am surprised you manage to choose anything!



It is interesting that you should mention it - but we have several friends from other countries come to visit and once one of them offered to go out for milk - he came back in dismay and said something about the state of shopping in the USA - how do you ever choose which milk to buy...at home we have milk - but here you have skim, non fat, 1/2 fat, 1% fat, 2% fat, whole, organic (and another range of organic with the fat contents), soy, soy low fat, coconut milk, and then all the flavors chocolate, strawberry, coffee milks & creamers, creams, etc.

Apparently we are a picky lot over here or we just have marketing men who are making a bundle!

ali

Offline Doris W. in TN

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Re: help choosing bernina vs babylock
« Reply #24 on: July 17, 2009, 03:31:26 PM »
There must be too much choice in those stores. I am surprised you manage to choose anything!

Often the choices are overwhelming to me, especially in a department store (clothes) so I just leave.

Offline Misha

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Re: help choosing bernina vs babylock
« Reply #25 on: July 17, 2009, 08:08:29 PM »
Alison, do give that knee lift a try. You will love it. I have a knee lift on my Brother Quilt Club model and at first I did not use it for quite some time but after using it I really miss it when using my other brand machines (Pfaff, Kenmore and Viking). I am not saying my Brother is the best of all of my machines because I use them all for different types of sewing but I sure wish that all had the auto thread cutter and knee lift that my Brother has.

Offline Greg

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Re: help choosing bernina vs babylock
« Reply #26 on: July 20, 2009, 07:06:33 PM »
I used to be a Bernina guy, and really stood behind the product. I had a 930 that stitched beautifully (though it made mediocre buttonholes). The old Berninas had metal casings, and even though plastic gears were introduced in the 700 line (the old 700 line, not the new one), they seemed sturdier than everyone else's machines. Now Berninas have plastic casings, in addition to the plastic gears, and I have to wonder why these machines cost up to FIVE TIMES what many other manufacturers' machines cost. I have sewn on many brands, and I have to say that now there is really no difference in quality, or in the quality of the sewing experience between a very expensive Bernina, and a moderately-priced Janome, Babylock, Elna or Brother (lightweight k-mart models excluded, of course). I don't do embroidery, so you can leave that out of the equation too.

So, I would test drive every brand you can get your hands on, and not simply buy Viking or Bernina because of the name. You will end up paying more for much, much less.



Offline granmomus

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Re: help choosing bernina vs babylock
« Reply #27 on: July 20, 2009, 10:52:27 PM »
Now Berninas have plastic casings, in addition to the plastic gears, and I have to wonder why these machines cost up to FIVE TIMES what many other manufacturers' machines cost. I have sewn on many brands, and I have to say that now there is really no difference in quality, or in the quality of the sewing experience between a very expensive Bernina, and a moderately-priced Janome, Babylock, Elna or Brother (lightweight k-mart models excluded, of course). I don't do embroidery,




I'm happy to read that someone else feels that way, and I do love embroidery & think the Brother or Babylock are so much easier to navigate & do beautiful embroidery.
Maire

Offline Greg

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Re: help choosing bernina vs babylock
« Reply #28 on: July 21, 2009, 03:11:37 AM »
Thanks for the support :) I know that there are a lot of Bernina owners who really love their machines and they should, because Bernina makes good machines.

However, there was a time when quality meant something usually that something was made to last. You would only ever have to buy one sewing machine in your life because it was made of steel and cast iron, precision engineering, and a century of experience. This type of quality used to be true of Bernina sewing machines they really were built to last. But lets face it, computer chips don't last that long. There's no point in making a sewing machine that's "built to last" when the very thing that makes it work doesn't stand a chance of lasting 20 years. So now Bernina is building machines with plastic parts and casings because they know that the faithful will just move on to a bigger, better, more expensive Bernina in a few years. That's the truth.

So, I have to ask: why pay FIVE times the price of most other sewing machines (which have more features, btw)? Yes, I know you love to sew on them, and maybe they give you some elusive "special" feeling that is not apparent to the rest of us. But what exactly makes them WORTH so much more money? I've asked this question on other forums, and to this day, no one has come up with a better answer than "well, I just love Bernina."

If there is any more evidence that this is a greedy company looking to bilk people out of cash, take a look a the current line of Activas. These would be ideal machines for people who love to sew garments, except most of them are missing a few crucial components that would even make the machines usable (in a modern sense, of course) for this purpose. Most of them don't even have adjustable presser foot pressure (my 70-year-old Singer has that, and I paid only $50). The buttonhole selection is lousy, except on the TOL Activa an even then it is barely adequate. If you want more, you have to move up to a sewing/embroidery machine. In short, Bernina doesn't really make a good basic sewing machine for making clothes. They make a great sewing machine if you're willing to spend thousands of dollars for features a garment-sewer will never use, for a few extra buttonholes and adjustable pressure-foot pressure.

Bernina attachments cost anywhere from $25 to well over $100. I've used most brands, and I can state affirmatively that Bernina attachments don't work any better than anyone else's. So again, why the price gouging? Is it the Swiss salaries? Is it to make up the cost of R&D on the overpriced (and mis-named) 830[E]? What exactly makes these machines so expensive? Or is it that Bernina is riding high on its old reputation for quality (when the meaning of the word was understood), and jacking up the prices to reinforce a "perceived" value (and considerably higher profit)?

I'm not trying to be obnoxious or snarky. I would just really, really like to know. Other than "I just love Berninas".

Rant over.


Offline RickE1

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Re: help choosing bernina vs babylock
« Reply #29 on: July 21, 2009, 03:29:41 AM »
Hi, as a Bernina tech I am going to stand behind these machines to the end. One of the biggest differences in the prices has a lot to do with the follow up services involved. All Bernina dealers are required to have a fully trained and Certified technician on hand or no dealership. All Bernina dealerships are required to give classes on operating these machines from Bernina trained teachers or no dealership. This is not a choice as in selling the other brands where you don't always know where you stand. These services may be called free but really, understand these services are built into that high price. As for the quality mentioned above of Berninas having plastic cases now and plastic gears actually there is just one fiber gear in the newer Berninas. I have never ever seen or heard of a broken gear on any electronic Bernina. These are very precise machines. Sure they have plastic cases but they are very sturdy steel (not aluminum) benieth that and could easilly hold up my 200 lbs, standing on it. Maybe there is an amount extra that is being paid for the name but Bernina is the last family owned sewing machine company for a reason and there is a lot of pride built into that. I think this pride can be seen in most any Bernina dealership you walk into. Bottom line you can be sure when buying from a Bernina store for a higher price you will not have an issue with service or training of the use of your machine. Be it new or used. Just my opinion.

Offline Greg

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Re: help choosing bernina vs babylock
« Reply #30 on: July 21, 2009, 03:47:08 AM »
Thanks for that. I know that when I bought my 930 it came with excellent support and classes (I think I got four?).

But then, so did my Janome-made Elna. So, maybe it's just the dealer? I know some Bernina dealers are great (and so was mine), but some people have complained about theirs. I'm not convinced that everything you stated justifies the high cost of the machines, especially in light of many excellent dealers selling other brands.

The classes were good, but I have to say that as an experienced sewer, I already knew what was taught. But then, the 930 is not a terribly sophisticated machine we learned basic maintenance, about the stitches, thread differences, the importance of changing needles, etc. I'm sure the newer embroidery machines require a lot more training, and these classes would be very helpful.

But what about someone who just does garnment construction? Who just needs a good straight stitch and some buttonholes? Who already knows how to sew? I don't think a Bernina would be the best choice.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2009, 03:58:39 AM by Greg »

Offline RickE1

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Re: help choosing bernina vs babylock
« Reply #31 on: July 21, 2009, 04:44:46 AM »
Greg, I agree with much of what you say and yes a nice straight stitch may be all you need so probably any old sewing machine will do. But as far as saying you don't think a Bernina would be the best choice I would argue that no other sewing machine (other than a Singer Featherweight, the Beenie Baby of sewing machines) will hold their value for as long as a Bernina will. You are right in many ways though. Sorry about getting off topic. The BabyLock may have all she needs but it won't hold its value over time as a Bernina has shown it will. Nothing personal, you have many good points.

Offline Greg

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Re: help choosing bernina vs babylock
« Reply #32 on: July 21, 2009, 05:04:45 AM »
You got me there. I've seen 930s go on ebay for close to what I paid for mine new. Hard to say if the newer ones will be as "collectable" though I'm thinking not as much, since computer components don't seem to last as long as old steel.

Odd that you mention the Featherweights which have practically appreciated. I think they are cute machines, a good-looking portable, but certainly not the best in their class. I can't explain why a Featherweight costs 4x as much as a 301, anymore than I can explain why a Bernina costs 5x as much as a Brother/Janome/Babylock/Elna. Except maybe that people just really, really like them.

None of what I said was personal either, and I still say Bernina makes good machines. I just think that in these days of disposable technology that the high prices are, shall we say, old fashioned.

Peace
« Last Edit: July 21, 2009, 05:06:17 AM by Greg »

Offline annenet

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Re: help choosing bernina vs babylock
« Reply #33 on: July 21, 2009, 12:23:15 PM »
I have to say as an owner of three Bernina machines one mechanical and two computerized that I would have a very hard time switching brands. I sewed on a Babylock in a class and even though it was pretty nice and one of their better ones at the time my preference would still be Bernina. I just like the way they feel and the accessories are the best.

I will agree there are a lot of factors when picking a machine. As for the Featherweights as I think they're really cute I'm happy to have a Singer 201-2. When Mom got it as a kid her parents really knew what to get her! I think my Bernina 1010 will probably hit heirloom status at one point too. Those mechanical Berninas are bound to be around forever too.
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Offline sdBev

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Re: help choosing bernina vs babylock
« Reply #34 on: July 21, 2009, 04:57:47 PM »
I have a Bernina 1630, which I love love love.   I prefer a separate embroidery machine.  My 1630 is for dressmaking some quilting and crafts.  The one thing I have never liked is that I can't manually adjust the foot pressure. I do not want a machine that can do it all for me.  Sewing is a creative process for which I want control.  If I didn't want control, I'd take up free-flowing watercolors.  I think she is coming to the end-of-lifecycle.  Computerized anything is usually dead well before the 20 years I've gotten from her. I started to replace the 1630 4 years ago and felt I couldn't really find an equivalent. As I said, I don't want a combination machine, but I specifically want the knee-lift, the ability to create a gazillion decorative stitches and pressor foot control. Oh and I am partial to that 9mm wide foot, although I seldom use 9mm stitches.  But can I find a machine with just these qualities?  No for these things I must move up to a combination machine.

My last replacements, a serger and stand alone embroidery machine, have both been Janomes.  Just a note here I replaced the Bernette deco embroidery machine with a Janome.  Why?  I'm not married to Bernina.  I'm not rich.  I need the best value for the $$$ I have.  I am also not impressed with resale value.  I have resold an older machine.  It was damaged in UPS shipping.  UPS says the shipper, me, must make all claims.  So I refund to the buyer, spend 6 months corresponding with UPS and finally realize I'm out the machine, the Ebay fees and the shipping costs. When I am the shipper, I won't use UPS.  I am not looking to buy a new machine with the thought of selling and shipping the 1630.  The very thought makes me shiver.  So advancing resale value does not entice me to buy a Bernina, it makes me hold up a silver cross hoping to ward off evil. 

Ah, but here's a twist.  I'm still searching for a replacement, at my Bernina dealer.  My Bernina dealer is also a dealer for Janome, Singer and Huskvarna (sp?).  They will provide classes, servicing and support regardless of the machine I finally select. 

where's the icon for <end rant>?  Sorry this topic touched a nerve.  Probably because I've been looking for several years and am disappointed that Bernina does not meet my personal needs.

 

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