The Great Sewing Machine Dilemma

Who knew I was looking for a sewing machine? Not me! Just a little over a month ago, I wrote about giving the Baby Lock a second chance.

My old Bernina has been in the shop now for over two months and I’m not real sure it’s been looked at.  Hopefully next week I’ll have a spare day when I can go to Kansas City and bring it back home . . still not fixed I suppose.

Thursday when Mom, Dad and I entered the quilt show, we decided to walk over to the far right wall and begin the show there. The second booth I stopped in was the Bernina booth. It was like a big magnet just drew me in there . . wouldn’t allow me to leave before talking to the Bernina folks. I suddenly found myself wanting a new sewing machine. After a few minutes with the nice Bernina lady, we decided the 430 was the perfect machine for me.  Then I decided it was college for Chad or a new sewing machine for me and I walked away without a new sewing machine.

On the next to last row of that same room, there was the Janome booth.  The nice Janome lady showed me all the features.  We decided the Janome 6600 was the perfect machine for me.  Then I decided it was college for Chad or a new sewing machine for me and I walked away without a new sewing machine.

I spent the remainder of the day debating.  33.3% of the time, I decided I didn’t need a new machine.  33.3% of the time, I decided I needed a new Bernina and 33.3% of the time, I decided I needed a new Janome machine.

What on earth do you do when you absolutely cannot make a decision?   I found my friend who was a former Bernina dealer.  I figured if anyone could talk me out of wanting a new Bernina, it should be a former Bernina dealer, right?  Wrong!  She told me she loved the 430 and thought it was a great machine.  Dang it.

Then I needed to talk to Vicky.  She has a similar Bernina.  But, I didn’t have internet access and I didn’t have her number at work.  I called Chad and asked if really wanted to finish college?  Or . . would he prefer that his mom get a new sewing machine.  (I really didn’t ask him that!)  I did ask him to send Vicky an email and ask her to call me please.  Tell her it isn’t an emergency! Here’s the email Chad sent her:

On behalf of my mother, I am passing upon the request that you call her concerning a specific sewing machine. If you find the time could you please call her.

Isn’t that funny?  Talked to Vicky and she highly recommended the 440 . . but I don’t need the BSR so it would be the 430 for me.

My friends had to be sick of hearing about it by now .. What should I do?  Bernina?  Janome?  College for Chad?

In the end, college for Chad won out.  I came home without a machine.  Doesn’t mean I’m no longer debating about what to get.  I pretty much think I want the Bernina 430.  The Janome is a great machine and most everyone I’ve talked to who has it loves it, but as Vicky said, I’m a Bernina girl and it’s really hard to think about loving another machine after having loved my Bernina 1230 so much for so many years.  I’m probably too busy in thenext few months to even think about learning to use a new machine so for now . . the sewing machine dilemma in Paducah kept me from making other purchases and for that, I guess I should be happy.

Seriously, if I get a new sewing machine, Chad can still finish college.  Please don’t think I’m that kind of mother.

I’m headed south to teach and wouldn’t you know it . . there’s not a Bernina dealer anywhere that I’m going to be so no decision can be made til next week.



  1. 1


    Judy, the 430 is a great, great, wonderful machine! I had the 440, but it’s the same as the 430, just a few extra stitches and feet. It’s the machine that really made me fall in love with quilting. I would love to have another (this time I too would go with the 430).

    It is so easy to use, I loved the button interface on the front, of course it has needle up/down and multiple right/left positions… but mostly, it just purrs and sews an absolute perfect straight stitch.

    I have a Singer 201-2, which has supposedly one of the best straight stitches (and it does) but it has nothing on the 430/440 or 630 (which I currently have) machines.

    It’s a basic workhorse, you cannot go wrong with this machine!

  2. 2

    A. L. says

    I am a Bernina person so all my comments are very biased!
    The 430 is a great machine, but if you want a new machine and still keep Chad in college, then look at the 230. I have a Bernina 640 then as a second machine I bought the White Pearl version of the 230. It is GREAT. The 230 is a hot, hot machine right now because Consumer Reports gave it the #1 rating in the March 2009 issue. Since that report came out, the 230’s are flying out of the shops!
    It is a great machine to travel with too!! All your attachments from your other Bernina will fit the 230. (That is a big plus in my book).
    So if your heart wants a new machine, get the 230 until Chad graduates! Then when he gets that super new job, he can buy his Mom a 430!!!

  3. 3


    I’m a Viking girl, had a Bernina when I opened my shop and continued to sew on it until we became a Viking dealer, talk about a conversion. I didn’t buy a Viking as soon as we started carrying them, why would I there was a perfectly good Bernina at home, but once I started using the Sapphire 870 I was hooked. So while you’re out of town look for a Husqvarna Viking dealer and ask to test drive the Sapphire 870, there are some really cool things that we quilters love, like the 10″ arm, four different presser foot positions, 29 different needle positions, sensor system (tells the presser foot how think your fabric is), selective thread cutter (just push the button). It offers a 1/4″ foot and a 1/4″ stitch…I could go on and on but I wanted to throw yet another machine in the mix for you to think about.

  4. 4


    To Bernina or not to Bernina.. that is the question… by coincidence I had an invitation to see the new Bernina 880 [my guess is will cost thousands of pounds!!] in a couple of weeks time, but I am trying to resist.
    I have a Bernina Artista 165 and Pfaff 7570 which I use all the time and how I wish I could combine the two to make the perfect machine [for me!].

    Just think of all the money you’ll be saving when you get your own eggs, so buying a new machine will cost nothing at all!

  5. 5


    I must be a Janome girl — I have a Gem for big classes where I don’t want to take my Featherweight, a 3000 I leave in Texas so I don’t have to pack a sewing machine when we go down for the winter, and a 6500 that is my everyday sewing machine. I bought the 6500 used, less than a year old, maybe three years ago; a lady traded it in when the new model came out. Got it at a fraction of new, and it’s been wonderful.

  6. 6


    Do you think your neighbors would mind if you bought more chickens to sell the eggs for sewing machine money?

  7. 7


    Are you looking for a machine primarily for piecing? I absolutely adore my Juki TL-98E for piecing. it only does a straight stitch but it’s a darned perfect one!

  8. 8


    What can I say, I am a dedicated Singer user. At least for quilting. I also have a Janome I use for regular sewing. Remember, I am new to the quilting world. I just can’t get my mind around the prices these machines sell for. One day perhaps but not any time soon.

    I know that whatever decision you make will bring you a great deal of pleasure and me too because you will use that machine to stitch up new designs for us.VBG

  9. 9


    I too am a dedicated Bernina gal. I have the 440, no long arm and still don’t use the BSR. I do however quilt on it with the darning foot just like I did on my Bernina Activa ….guess it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks. Never could get used to the BSR. Maybe I will dedicate this summer to learning it….who knows…

    I also like the SewEzi table…. NAYY…

  10. 10


    Chad’s email was so cute!! Made me laugh out loud!

    I vote for the 430! But you already knew that! 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  11. 11


    I completely understand where you are coming from…..tuition or machine, machine or tuition…………for me………machine won!!! I’m a Pfaffie…..wouldn’t use anything else for piecing…..but………Bernina kept calling my name, and a couple of months ago when I was at retreat, the dealer gave tooooooooo good of deal……so the aurora 440 with BSR jumped into my suitcase and came home with me. So now I have two great machines that each have there function in my sewing space, no switching back-n-forth between piecing and free-motion/machine applique……..both have found a spot in my heart…… So now I’m just working abit harder than I planned to resave the tuition money, by the end of June I should be back to where I was.

    You know the comment about more chickens so you could have “egg money” to buy a new machine with, when I was growing up, the “egg money” belonged to Mom for her to spend as she wished (alot of times it still went for necessities, but it was her decision to spend it).

    When I attended the lecture/trunk show of Brenda Henning, anytime she wanted something new……..she just wrote another book, and she was able to get what she wanted…….she’s now working on a new house.

    So Judy, you need to write another book and maybe the funds could go towards a new machine………

    Karen L

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    MY feeling is….get the brand of machine that you can get serviced and repaired the easiest (AND the quickest) if something goes wrong. When I hear you say your Bernina has been at the repair place for two months and probably hasn’t even been looked at, that sounds disturbing and I wonder if you’d be happier with another brand of machine that would have better service than what you are currently getting from Bernina. The major manufacturers all have some very good machines….and all have pros and cons….but make a decision based on where you will go AFTER you have the machine for service…and how satisfactory your dealings will be with that repair place. The machines can all be wonderful…but they all eventually need servicing and waiting a couple of months to get it back, to me, is totally unsatisfactory.

  13. 13


    I’m a Janome woman through and through. Love them all! I never have problems with any of mine (I currently have two but have had three at one time) and I’ve bought every one of them used when someone just had to upgrade for the latest machine. blessings, marlene

  14. 15


    Judy I am looking forward to keeping up with the “rest of the story” with this saga. I too am a Bernina person, but I also agree with Pat about only buying a machine where you can get good service.

    Any sewing machine repairs that take 2 months to do are most likely done by someone who does not understand how to repair a machine or they send out the machine to be repaired. Only Bernina dealers should be able to purchase Bernina parts and equipment. When I was selling machines I tried to not keep the machine for more then a week unless I had to order a part, which was rare with the Bernina’s I sold. Repairs should be cleared with the client before they are performed and parts should not be ordered unless the client approves.

    My advice is to really be sure you “need” the machine and keep an eye open for a good price. The best service usually will come from the store that sold you the machine, but not always.

  15. 16


    Additional comment: some good machines are traded in every year, because some people have the need for the newest and “best” every year.

  16. 17


    I’m a Janome/Elna girl….My first real sewing machine was an Elna and I’ve had 2 of them and loved them. When I decided to look at a new machine I wound up with the Janome 4900 and then a few months later traded it in on a Janome 6600…Not a moment’s regret. The machine has been wonderful and I think it’ll last me quite awhile 🙂

    My BFF is a Bernins girl and just got a 440. I don’t think she’s had a chance to use it yet though because she was waiting for the insert to arrive for her table and she just got that yesterday. I can’t wait to see what she thinks of it.

    I’m sure you’ll love whatever you decide to buy!

  17. 18

    Evelyn says

    Ohhhh, hard choices. I had a great Elna and gave it to my sister in law when I upgraded to the Janome 9000. The main circuit board on the Janome blew after the warranty and will cost about $900 to fix – so I haven’t had it fixed yet. That Elna is now 17 years old and still being used constantly… My back-up machine is the Janome 3050… purchcased because all the same feet from the 9000 would fit… but that machine has issues too. But it sews pretty good and I’ve made alot of things on it so I won’t complain… too much! My sister has my Nana’s OLD Bernina and it is WONDERFUL. This is the machine that I sew on when I visit my sister (she has another). Because I often make clothes – I like this machine for lots of reasons. But for just basic quilt piecing – my favorite is another sister’s Kenmore… from 1969. Just a basic machine perfect for quilting. Heavy though for classes but that thing isn’t going to vibrate off a table, I tell ya! My DH wanted to get me the Viking Saphire last year until I found out about it and said NO! I would like to have it, but I don’t “need” it. BUT – I did really like that machine… made me smile and smile so that is probably why DH wanted me to get it. That’s just because he has never seen me with industrial machines – my next machine will be industrial – like the Consew 315R2 – nothing wrong with 5000 S.P.M!!!
    I guess the important thing is that you are happy with whatever you are sewing on so you can keep making your great quilts! You don’t want your main machine in the shop all the time… and we know what happens when you change machines 1/2 way through a quilt – sometimes things just don’t line up the same.
    Cheers! Evelyn

  18. 19


    I’m completely infatuated with my new Janome 6600. I got such a great deal on it that my son was able to return for his final semester of college. My current debate is a new longarm or the daughter’s freshman year of college. We’ll see how that one works out.

  19. 20

    Susan says

    Where will you be teaching? Do you have a schedule for those interested or are these closed events?

  20. 21

    Deb says

    You were debating on whether or not you needed (wanted) a new machine?????? Man, and I always thought that was a given, doesnt EVERYONE?
    I agree with Evenlyn. I have a Juki industrial walking foot, and that 5000 stm is great! Although, that one will go through BONE, so you better know what you are doing! I am debating between a Juki 98Q, and another industrial (they have speed and a table for the same price). I have 2 Pfaffs and MANY old Singers (finally just got my first FEATHERWEIGHT!) 2 old Neccis, (16 total) and they all stich wonderfully. I could not pick, and yet, I wouldnt hesitate to get another one. What can I say, some women like SHOES, and some sewing machines! I dont envy your decision. I am having enough trouble with my own!

  21. 22


    I guess I’ll throw in my two cents – my first ‘pricy’ machine was a Pfaff which I still use and love. About 3 years ago I succumbed to a wonderful saleswoman – I swear she could sell dog poop in a can – and purchased a Bernina 440 which I also love.
    I use them both. Last winter while we were in Texas I bought a Baby Lock Audrey which is their new lightweight machine – perfect for travel and classes.
    I agree with the others regarding your Bernina service – time to find another dealer. I took my Bernina in for service a few months ago and had it back in a week. I’m in St. Louis, probably farther for you to travel – but 2 months without my Bernina would drive me crazy.

  22. 23


    I believe the Bernina would probably be the one you would want. I have had several different brands and I prefer the Bernina. It just sounds better and more solid and I think they don’t get a lot wrong with them unless they are a lemon to begin with.