Bernette Review & Giveaway

Did you know that Bernina designs an affordable range of sewing machines?  Until now the Swiss-designed Bernette series was not available for sale online, but Bernina has officially released them for wider distribution.  My partner, Sew Vac Direct, is excited to offer the whole series and asked me if I'd like to test one myself. 

I opted to test the Bernette 37, one of the nicer sewing machines in the series.  It retails at Sew Vac Direct for $399, which is about what you should plan to pay for a quality sewing machine at the entry level.  Today I'll be sharing my thoughts and then offering my test model for giveaway!


I sewed on the Bernette over the past few weeks while making my Rainbow Picnic Quilt, Baby Lake Cabin and some projects for my upcoming class.  My first impressions:  well-designed, intuitive and rather attractive.  Things work and feel solid.  I experienced no issues with thread breaking, needle unthreading, tangled bobbins, etc. (which is more than I can say for a cheaper Janome I tested recently and declined to review). 

I made use of speed control when sewing along some tight curves.   I quilted my picnic blanket with a zigzag stitch, using the lock stitch function to start and stop neatly at the already-finished quilt edges.  The needle down feature comes in handy all. the. time.  These are each truly useful features that many machines at this price point don't include.

The Bernette 37 is capable of 50 different stitches.  I tested some for fun.  I'd like to have a machine that has a repertoire like this, as there have been times I've wanted to use decorative stitches. 


The Bernette 37 is a computerized machine, which is the only way to get a machine capable of so many stitches.  As with any computerized machine there are some minor drawbacks like the delay with starting/stopping stitching and the fact that the machine resets itself when turned off, so you have to reset your stitch settings before you begin sewing again.  More importantly my experience shows that computerized machines will need more frequent servicing as computers are touchy beasts.

The reverse sewing function is activated by a button rather than a lever.  I'm a lever fan. 

Other than that, the only "cons" are things that I miss in comparison with my Juki, such as a knee lift and pedal-activated thread cutting.  It's not really fair to compare a $400 machine with my $1000 Juki TL 2010Q.  But if anyone's wondering, the Juki is a huge step up for a quilter and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Bottom Line

If you're looking for a solid machine with a mid-range price, you should consider the Bernette 37.  Particularly if you want to get into garment sewing and small misc. projects, the many stitch options may be worth going with a computerized model.  If you are looking in the same price range but prioritize low-maintenance over other features, I suggest you look at the Janome HD3000, which I've reviewed here.  Note that the HD3000 doesn't have speed control, needle up/down or lock stitch. 

I own two machines for myself:  the Juki and my first sewing machine, a basic Kenmore.  I use the Kenmore for zigzag stitching my bindings and for buttonhole.  If I had to replace that machine today, I'm not sure now if I'd opt for the Bernette 37 or the Janome HD3000.  Bottom line:  both are quality machines as a reasonable price with different advantages. 

Hope that helps!  I know that machine shopping is difficult.  I have worked with Sew Vac Direct for years, sending my machine in to be serviced using the original shipping packaging.  It always returns in peak condition with a short turn-around time, so I'm a happy customer.  Please let me know if you have any questions or even if you'd like to see a particular machine reviewed.  That may be something I can put on my calendar later this year!


Enter to win my review model, shipped free straight from my house to yours!  United States shipping addresses only, please.  For your chance to win, add your comment here now through noon EST on Monday, July 31st.  Good luck!

Updated:  Congrats to Nancy Sumner, our lucky winner!  Comments have now been disabled.