Tuesday, 22 October 2013

I'm going to "have to learn" to love it...somehow

For our 40th Wedding Anniversary, my DH bought me a Bernina 820 sewing machine. It wasn’t a quick choice, I'd spent months looking at machines, determined to get the one which best suited my needs.

I want a machine I don’t really have to think about (apart from a yearly service) and one that will cope with my sewing and quilting projects. I also plan on getting a long arm quilting machine when I’m ready for one (too busy and still travelling too much to consider one at the moment) so I planned on spending many creative enjoyable hours on my new Bernina in the meantime. I’m also downsizing so this was the machine supposed to replace all my machines (11 of them) and I was planning on quilting on it as well as it has a lovely bigger arm and great lighting.
Although I knew I wanted this specific model, when my DH bought it, it was actually a surprise when it arrived – I was taken aback and delighted. This is my second Bernina. My first Bernina is many years ago now, it was a 960 semi industrial and it was a dream. But I wasn’t a quilter then, it was for general sewing. Because we were travelling, moving house and downsizing (yes, all at once) it remained unpacked for a whole year before I set it up in my studio, full of anticipation and looking forward to many creative hours behind it.

But from the beginning, my Bernina 820 hasn’t performed as well as I expected. As far as Bernina goes, I know it’s a quilters favourite machine, so my experience has been a great surprise and disappointment and I really thought I was purchasing the best machine in its range.

I’m only talking about the Bernina 820 in this post, I still think Bernina is an excellent brand but in my opinion and experience, it’s clear that Bernina lost something when they launched the 820. I thought I couldn’t go wrong with a Bernina, after all, it’s always been a regret of mine that I didn’t purchasing a Bernina 440 Quilters Edition when I had the chance years ago– I was travelling a lot at the time and I just didn’t get around to it.

It’s so hard, as an experienced quilter, to get real feedback and reviews on machines unless you own them. Bernina spends a lot of money on advertising and talking to talk, but walking the walk? You’ve got to sit down and sew before you really know the machine.
Of course I recommend before buying a machine, to try it out at a show or in store and find out everything you can about it. However I did all these things and I was and am still surprised with certain machine elements that are beginning to add up to one big and expensive disappointment…and they’re mostly only things you can realise when you have the machine at home. I don’t know what to do with this machine now – I suppose I’m going to have to make the most of it.

What I do know is that the Bernina 820 is my most expensive quilting regret and if I had my time again, I would not purchase it.

The faults and shortcomings of this machine are too many to list in one blog post, but as I sew quilts in the future, I will share experiences that arise. I want to save another quilter experiencing my own disappointment.

My Bernina 820 experience is really a lot of small disappointments that have grown into a big frustration. The bobbin shuttle is annoyingly slow and getting used to this ‘function’ speed is ridiculous. I feel like a sewing novice as I wait for the shuttle to open and shut. The knee lifter is also hard to manage – in fact for now, I’ve opted to remove it, it’s too much hassle. I use the buttons instead. Speaking of buttons, as I sew I can’t actually see the buttons easily which means you have to memorise them. I know with time I’ll get faster and better at this as they become familiar but the outlay is annoying and I wish I’d noticed how badly thought out it was before I added the 820 to my wish list. There are so many little annoyances which I’ll just have to grow to love. I have to stop myself reaching for my old machines because I am sick of the Bernina already; it just seems like such an effort to do anything with it.

It’s not the quietest machine either; it starts off with a growl which was funny at first but now is just annoying. Something else I’ve noticed is that it hates invisible thread, which is becoming an issue as I use it so much, but definitely the 820 doesn’t like any fine threads.

The stitch regulator I was dreaming about? BSR. It’s completely useless to me (and possibly anyone with quilting experience) because it’s much too slow. I'm really surprised at that as I was looking forward to using it. My natural stitching speed is too fast for it which has been a real let down. And the feet? I really wish that all the feet included with the machine would be dual feet, there are feet in my 820 kit which are not and this is a shame.

I've now met a few other ladies (too late for me) who are also unhappy with their 820's and have gone through the hassle of taking their machines to the mechanic to be fixed over and over -only to be told that there is 'nothing wrong with the machine' with the insinuation that they don't know how to sew. I have to tell you now, I really dislike it when manufacturers step away from their machines like this. The women in question certainly do know how to sew. I've also been online and it seems that I'm not alone in my dissatisfaction - many comments and forums all over the world cover the same issues of thread tension, bad stitching and an expensive merry-go-round of mechanic visits that never get to the root of the problem. All in the 820 specifically. How I wish I'd read all this before buying the 820 myself. What a mistake!

For those of you who might be wondering if  I know how to sew, I’ve been sewing for 40 years, quilting for 12 and have won over 30 quilting awards in this time. Many for Domestic Machine Quilting (which I also regularly teach). All my award winning quilts have been quilted on various domestic sewing machines (without stitch regulators) so I know a little something about tension, thread control and stitching.
But despite all my skills and knowledge to date, I wasn’t able to improve this stitch line: look at the mess on the back of this simple stitch. I’m a perfectionist and this drives me crazy. I feel a little hot under the collar just posting this image.
And look at this blanket stitch. This isn’t my first attempt either, this is after tweaking and adjusting and re-adjusting tension control. I’m not planning to go to a mechanic every time something crops up! I own other automatic machines and I know what cutting threads and tying off should look like – and it’s not this.
And now for the straw that broke the camel’s back. After spending an hour tweaking my Bernina, this happened: the needle broke. Ordinarily, no big deal. But with my 820, it proved to be yet another episode in ill considered machine elements. I was attempting to change the needle when I realised the Bernina supplied tool for loosening the screw wasn’t working.
That’s strange I thought as I continued fiddling with it. No, this really can’t be possible I decided and carried on from different angles.
Exasperated (I was in the middle of sewing at this point) I called my DH who took a quick look and came back with a tool from his toolkit – his tool fit the Bernina screw perfectly and he removed the screw for me.

Yes, that’s right; the Bernina supplied tool didn’t work!
Now you might think, that's no big deal. But for me, this little detail highlighted a much bigger problem with the machine overall. Well, I thought, I wonder what this means? Is my machine all genuine parts? It was purchased brand spanking new and I couldn’t accept that Bernina would allow such a fundamental oversight as supplying the wrong tool, would they?!
So my DH went back to the shop and the Bernina supplied tool didn’t fit any of the Bernina 820’s on show there either. So the store owner unpacked a new Bernina from its box to see what was inside the packed toolkit – and it was also the wrong tool.

So my Bernina was all genuine parts, but those parts weren’t well accounted for by Bernina originally. What an oversight, especially from a Swiss company. I know this is a tiny thing which can be corrected (I have my DHs tool in my kit now) but as a perfectionist, this isn’t good enough and I can only wonder what the next surprise will be. Also, I don't know about you - but sending my DH back to my dealer isn't really how I like to spend my sewing afternoons, neither of us have time for this kind of nonsense and I expect better from the 'Bernina' name.
The store gave me an alternative screw which I can unfasten by hand, and not have to use the tool, but really…what does this kind of lack of attention to detail mean?
What else am I going to have to deal with, fix and get right before I can experience a SINGLE HOURS enjoyment on this machine? Because to date, I haven't even had that.

I do know that I am overly emotional about these little incidents, sometimes all these little frustrations bottle up and I explode over minor faults – I just expected a machine that worked, but I’m still so annoyed with the whole thing and coupled with all the little irritations, feel so let down by the machine. 

My Bernina 820 is my BIGGEST sewing machine regret. I don’t know who it’s made for. It's a Quilters Edition, however the BSR is too slow for an experienced quilter. So I only recommend it for sewing enthusiasts, stationed at home. Except, if you have a machine stationed at home in your sewing studio for use - surely you want to be able to use it? And yet, every time I sit down to this machine THERE'S ANOTHER PROBLEM. Yes, I’m disappointed. I expected so much better than what this machine delivers.

But it’s here to stay now and I’m going to have to 'learn to love it.' Somehow. 

I'm going to keep trying to make it work. Obviously when you buy a machine like the 820, you do so because you want to sew. Not waste sewing time complaining. Or repairing. What I don't want to do is get on the merry-go-round of mechanics and repairs that go nowhere, leaving me without a machine for weeks at a time and out of pocket financially. I should say, 'further' out of pocket because this machine is completely useless at the moment. I'm undecided about what to do and feel completely let down by Bernina manufacturing.

Bernina is still my dream, and I’m sure there’s one out there that’s right for me. But then again, I though that about the 820 and since it arrived I've been wishing it hadn't.

And now, just when I thought my machine shopping days were over, I am once again on the lookout for a machine I can use as a tool for my creativity. The 820, I am devastated to report, is not that machine.

What's your most favoured quilting machine? I'd love to hear some real recommendations.

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Update: I really appreciate your comments they've already helped make me feel better about this whole situation. Yes, I'm fed up with this machine and frankly, I relied on the Bernina name - I trusted it too much and now I have to live with it. To that degree, it's my fault. You can't rely on reputations: I really thought that 'Bernina couldn't make a bad machine'. I was wrong. This machine is unfit for purpose. I can't simply return the machine because it sat unpacked in it's box for a year whilst we travelled Europe and then moved house. I've literally just unpacked it a few months ago. And I have tried to make it work, I really have...but if I can't make a machine work, then there's something wrong with it. 

And I also feel so burdened with it, here is the machine I so desperately wanted and I really wanted it...and my DH purchased it for me for such an important anniversary and now I just wish he hadn't. I just wish this machine hadn't happened to me.

Update 2: December 2014: This Bernina post was one of my first posts about this sewing machine. Since then, I have had numerous posts where I have mentioned my Bernina 820. When I wrote this post, I was at the beginning of my troubles. I'm sorry to say it has since got worse, Much worse. I am going to be addressing these issues in a specific post in the New Year. For the many quilters who have emailed me in distress, having experienced the exact same thing - I will also be addressing this in the same post. Because we travel so much, I am always between deciding what to do about this machine and finding the time to do it. Some days, I just want to throw it over a cliff and try again. Other days, I just want to stop sewing. Thanks for all your support on this issue. No one buys a sewing machine because they'd rather be online complaining about it. I bought this machine to sew and quilt. I can't do either of these things. 

67 comments:

  1. This is terrible. They should take it back even if it's been a year. They charge a small fortune.

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  2. What a terrible disappointment for you, I would not be a happy quilter. I would also be taking that machine back to the dealer and working out some kind of return deal with them. Maybe you could use the 820 as a trade in and get a 440. Thank you for sharing the info. I have heard others talk of problems with the new 820. I have a 440QE and love it.

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  3. Esther, what a horrible disappointing experience for you. I had one of the original Bernina 860 years ago and then a Bernina 1260, absolutely loved both. Then tried a Pfaff, which I found useless for free machine quilting and managed to return it and get a refund. Finally earlier this year my 1260 died (a very sad day indeed!) and as I couldn't justify the expense of the latest Berninas as I now do so much sewing by hand, I bought a Janome Horizon (8900 QCP) and so far am very pleased with it.
    I hope you manage to get your problems sorted out. Celia in England

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  4. I have had my Bernina 820 for three years now and have experienced quite a few of your frustrations as well (although not the screw driver, mine is working perfectly). I've been badgering the Bernina agent here in Singapore whenever I have a problem and he's very kind and usually comes to the house to fix things as it's - as you mentioned - much too heavy to lug around (I kept my 440, for workshops etc). The agent insists that I shouldn't use cotton threads, but I told him that if I spend that much money, I don't want to be limited by the threads I use. I've heard that some heads rolled at the head quarters in Switzerland over this machine and the only recommendation I have is to write to them directly with your complaints.

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  5. how sad Esther that your dream machine is not a dream! It must be very irritating to battle each time you wish to create something lovely...really not good enough, I would be putting all of the problems into a letter to head office and keep annoying them until they do something about it, it's not like your a novice quilter, we all appreciate your honesty and knowledge that you so generously give.

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  6. Esther that is so sad to hear.you should be able to return it. I have the new 780 and I love it!

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  7. you should have stuck to your old machine and bought a Sweet 16, I got a 440QE for the BSR and HATE it (the BSR not the machine) , A year ago i got the sweet 16 and it is wonderful for FMQ, maybe you could trade that way

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  8. Oh, that's a terrible dissappointment, Esther! Such an expensive machine and than such a disaster!!
    I have a Bernina 440QE and it took me some time to get use to the BSR-system...... I'm still not always happy with the stitches....
    But it will have to do; I'm not buying another machine......
    But in your case: it is almost brandnew!! Can't the shop-owner swop it for another machine? I would think he would love to help his customer........!
    Anyway: I understand your frustration all the better, because I'm a perfetionists also......
    AND such expensive machines should work as they promise!!!!!!
    Good luck to you....!
    Ria (the Netherlands)

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  9. Thanks for writing this post and being honest. I bought a new machine a year ago, Husqvarna, which was expensive to me. It has done everything I asked of a machine so far.
    I looked at the Bernina's, but they were just out of my budget. A lot of my friends have Bernina and I felt a little envy. But after hearing your story and knowing the beautiful work you do I am beginning to understand that it is not the name of the machine but how it works for the owner. I'll just keep plugging away with my current machine. My older machine is 44, a Kenmore, heavy as lead, just had serviced for the 4th time and runs like a top. But the new one is sweet and great for quilting!!!

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  10. I am so sorry you are not in love with your machine, it is so disappointing when you and your machine just don't quite get along.

    I am so glad you posted about it, I am machine shopping and trying to decide between a Bernina and Janome. I had a Bernina 180e, it was top of the line when I bought it, but it was outdated very very quickly, within 5 years of buying it I could no longer transfer embroidery designs as the required software needs windows 95 (nothing newer works) a parallel port for the security device and serial port for the connecting cable. I was looking at $3000 to upgrade the software and embroidery unit - so instead I spent half that on a Janome 350e which has a USB port and requires no special software. I love my Janomes (I have added a 6600P since plus a smaller one to cart around), but Bernina has always had such a good name for quality and I prefer a vertical bobbin rather than a drop in, but I will be looking more closely at the new Janome 1500 now I think! Don't want BSR as I tried it once and I also go too fast for it, plus I have a longarm anyway.

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  11. I thought a long time before publishing this post because I'm still holding onto the idea that the Bernina name = quality even though I have not experienced that to be true in this instance. Yes, this is an expensive machine which makes this all the worse. This was supposed to be such a joyous and useful gift and it's turned into such a disappointing headache, I just want my opinion out there. If I'd known about the 820 I would not have purchased it.

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  12. I'm so sorry you've had such trouble. You sound exactly how I felt after the purchase of my previous machine - a Pfaff QE 4.0. It just had so many problems, and so wanted to love it. I am an experienced quilter, and simply couldn't get it to free-motion quilt acceptably. I'd always been a Pfaff girl, and just trusted the brand - but no longer. Early last year I got rid of it and got an 820, which I do love. I found it was a steep learning curve, not only being new to Bernina, but because it really is a sewing computer. I've made over 30 quilts on it in that time, putting on over 1.5 million stitches (I do all my own quilting, plus a small amount of customer work). It handles everything I throw at it, and does so well. I did try the BSR, but found it wasn't for me - I think it's a feature aimed at novice quilters; it certainly wasn't a selling point for me, but I felt I should give it a go. I agree it's a bit slow doing things, but I've got used to it, and work around that now. I also totally understand about the button visibility - it was one of my complaints when I posted about it in the early days. Again, I have got used to it, but I still think with a little button redesign they could be more visible without compromising visibility of the sewing area - which I do like. Yes, it's heavy, but I rarely need to move my machine and I am a relatively young quilter, so I'm happy to manage when I do need to. So in answer to your question who it's made for, as a quilter, I definitely feel mine is perfect for me. I do hope you can develop a happy relationship with yours. Are you able to try a different 820 to see if they're just glitches in your machine?

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  13. I would really try to work out something with Bernina - sewing will not be fun if you do not like your sewing machine. Possibly as someone said it could be used as a trade in - maybe bring the machine back to the place it was bought at and point out all the things wrong with it? I am mainly a hand piecer and hand quilter but this past year I bought a new machine for when I do machine work and have had such good luck with it - but it is not computerized - it is a Juki TL-2010Q and I love it - a little louder than what I was used to -- now I still need to teach myself how to free motion.
    Good luck - sewing is about enjoyment so you really might need to trade the machine in or find someone who will want to buy it from you and then get something to be happy with

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  14. I can relate to this post as I too have a new Berinia 820 and have experienced some of the same problems. This was my first and last Bernina purchase. If I could return it I would but no such luck.

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  15. I purchased the Bernina 830 after having a 440QE for a few years. I tried to love it but I hated it. I finally packed it up after two years and traded it in for a 550 and 330QE. I know I took a huge financial loss but I am so happy with the other two machines. Good luck in bonding with your 820.

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  16. Such and interesting post. I am so sorry to hear of your experience but considering my son's recent sewing machine purchasing experience I am not at all surprised. About 6 weeks ago my son's old Pfaff dies and as he is a quilt designer and creator by profession he needed a replacement. I advised that he check out Berninas and Janomes as I had heard many good things about both and always wished I had a Bernina. He was able to go to a dealer that sold both and was able to talk directly to the technician that works on all the machines. The dealer and technician indicated that they have had several issues with the Bernina 820 and the 750 that he was looking at. He also looked at the Bernina 550 as he really did not want the embroidery function. They recommended he check out the Janome 8900 and it had everything he was looking for at a much lower price. He still debated for awhile as the name Bernina seems to carry an allure that is hard to resist but just last week he purchased the Janome and is thrilled with it. He even went to a large quilt show and talked to other dealers and was shocked to hear a Bernina dealer tell him that the one nice feature of the Janome is that they work well right out of the box, as if that was not something that should be expected! Now after your story my Bernina envy is over. And if you are looking for a small portable lightweight machine for taking to classes I know that Janome makes a great model that many of my quilting friends love! Good luck, I hope you are able to get some help from your dealer working out your issues.

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  17. Thanks, Esther, for your honest post. I have had Bernina envy for several years and just last weekend was thinking about going to look at a Bernina. However after reading your post and the other comments, I think I will look elsewhere. Thanks again.

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  18. so sorry you hate your new machine. I traded in my Bernina 153QE (which I loved) for the 440QE mainly because of the BSR - love the 440 machine - Hate the BSR!

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  19. I recently got a new Bernina too. I opted for the 710, which is the previous model with no embroidery capability. I have no intention of doing machine embroidery, and I don't intend to resell the machine in the near future. I agree with your comment about the noise, but this model is a bit smaller, and the buttons seem to be in a better location on the front. It has sewn with every thread I've tried, including invisible and the mylar type of metallic. I agree that more of the included feet should have been the "dual feed" type. The only problem I've found with mine was while making a clothesline bowl. The left end of the head is sew large, I couldn't tip the basket enough to make the sides angle, so I used my Pfaff. I am comfortable with the knee lift, similar to the Juki, and I'm finally comfortable with the BSR, but I did slow my quilting speed a bit. I also ordered a "regular" free motion foot to use, especially for thread painting. All my included tools have fit - especially the needle screwdriver. My dealer in Canada found an after-market hard case that fits the 710, but I agree that it is too heavy to cart around. Mine will be travelling from my summer to winter home each year. I have kept my Pfaff and my Juki to take to workshops etc., and to use as backups when I have to take it in for annual service.

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    1. Hi Susan, can you tell me the name of the hard Cade as I recently bought the 780.
      Mine is ok except for some fuzzy high pitched radio noises that come and go.
      Updated but still there, I heard that the 8 series had problems.
      Yes too expensive.

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  20. Oh you poor dear! I have the 820 and so understand your distress! I look very fondly back to the glorious days when I would sit down to sew when my only thoughts were on my project with no thoughts at all about my machine!!!

    Everything you say is true! I too went down the Bernina 820 yellow brick road with the same hopes and dreams as you ... only to be sorely disappointed and in horror over how much money I had spent for so many heartaches. And to add insult to injury both Bernina and the user groups will blame your problems on YOU not the machine, calling it "user error." Grrrrrrr ......

    Oh the stories I could tell ... but I will just say that I have made peace with my machine, so take heart. I have had her now for 3 1/2 years and I sew almost every day on her. There are things about her I LOVE (ie the huge harp space) and that I HATE (ie BSR, occasional skipped stitches). But she is here to stay for better or worse. Kinda like marriage if you know what I mean lol.

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  21. I have been using a Bernina Virtuosa 153 Quilter's Edition for about 12 years. It's okay. It is the only one of my many machines that does zig zag and other decorative stitches. I was interested in your comment that your Bernina hates invisible thread. Now this makes sense because I have always had trouble with the tension when I use the invisible thread and I thought it was my fault with poor technique or adjustments. About 5 years ago I bought a Brother Nouvelle 1500s and love it for machine quilting because it had a much wider throat. It only does a straight stitch but does it to perfection, has an industrial motor and the tension self regulates.

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  22. I am sorry to hear you are having problems bonding with your new machine but I am not hugely surprised as some of my friends sold their 440QE's and purchased the 830, they are also disappointed with their new machines.
    I love my 440QE and hope never to part with it. Was amazed when in ChCh I tried my girlfriends machine, not a Bernina and I couldn't get a small enough stitch setting for my Blanket stitch to be able to sew my LE.
    Hope you can trade or sell your machine, maybe add a second hand 440 to your stable.
    Jenny

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  23. I can understand your disappointment and being sick at heart. With your extensive experience, I am sure with purchases of all sorts, please consider stepping back one moment. There are possibilities here. You are worth it. Even with the monetary loss. Consider buying a simple straight stitch machine. Put any leftover money in a fund toward a longarm machine. Trading in a machine for one that will make your sewing experience like it used to be is such a heartwarming experience. Do not allow one more moment of frustration to affect your creativity. Please take a deep breath. You have made a great go at this. You have provided many of us invaluable information. This model is not as promised. You did not buy a Bernina to which you owe loyalty because, bottom line, that is not what Bernina is selling. I think you did a great job researching and you know what you want. One day soon you will get a spark of energy to sell or trade in. Then you can start sewing like the creative person you are. The ease in being able to use invisible thread and find easily marked buttons will bring joy to every moment with no regrets. Best of luck to you and thank you so much for this great information. I just love the sound of a nicely running machine. I sold an Artista 180 because the feed dogs were too wide for the type of work I do. I know the lady who bought it was so happy to get what she wanted at a good price. I am happy to not have the machine just sitting there. We have a great dealer in Provo Utah if you are out this way. My sister in Colorado mentioned that the Bernina's are just not the same any more. Her technician did a BEAUTIFUL job servicing my 1130. Worth every penny every time I sit down to stitch.

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  24. Apparently I'm not the only person with issues with a Bernina. I have the 450 and have had nothing but weird problems with it. The shop owner who sold it to me had lots of suggestions to make it work for me but they all involved buying attachments and using a certain kind of thread. None of her suggestions made the problems disappear, they only cost me more money. I know 2 people that have the same model as myself and they never have the issues that I do. I thought for the price of one of these machines, thread should not be an issue. Last year, it sat in the shop in Toronto for 3 months, getting "fixed" and it's sort of fixed but I still have the occasional issues with it. I even sent an email to Bernina and received no response. I regret buying this machine and the service sucks. I must say that I do love the BSR and only have problems with it when I sew too fast. I'm always telling myself to slow down. In hindsight, I wish I had kept my Husqvarna and bought a quilting machine like a Handi-Quilter Avante or Fusion instead.

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  25. Esther, I am a Bernina girl for over 40 years now. I own an old 830 and a new 830. I also have a Viking Designer 1. Yes, the 800 series has some quirks. The 820 is essentially an 830 without the embroidery. It is loud and heavy. It is not a machine for the technically challenged (not saying you are I'm just making a general statement). I would make sure that your machine has all the electronic updates. I have also been sewing all my life and I was not able to sit down and sew. I studied the manual and watched every video I could find. I use all types of thread in mine but I have a lot more breakage with the 830 than other machines. I still become frustrated. I cannot sew as fast as I like because the thread breaks. If you use too fine of thread in the bobbin winder it gets caught in the tension roller. When they came out with the courtesy package for the thread guide and the hook for getting out horrible thread tangles in the bobbin area it helped but didn't heal the problem. Beware that your stitch width and length knobs go out. The good thing is you have a 5-year warranty with free replacement parts. Keep your machine very clean and oiled. I routinely use waxed dental floss in my upper thread guide to remove any broken threads and lint. You will also need to experiment with needles to see which ones your machine prefers. This machine will not adjust to you. I was very upset when the 700 series came out with a bigger bobbin, quieter sound, and the same features (more or less). I still stand by the Bernina as a quality machine but every manufacturer has a dud at sometime. It's just a shame it was such an expensive one. I'm sure if you contacted Bernina directly they would make it good on a comparable 700 series machine (that all seem to love). I have found an excellent maintenance/repair man who has done Miracles with my machine. He has replaced, under warranty going on 3-years, lots of parts and updated the machine (I lost count of all the updates). After 3-years I can finally sit down and sew but I still have to pull out my manual for those features I don't use often. I also have the Bernina quilt frame and have recently been loaned another Bernina 830 to dedicate to the frame (dear Mom upgraded her 830 to an 830 LE). Good luck and find yourself a reliable person to keep your machine in tip top order.

    Maggie

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  26. I forgot to mention there is a fantastic travel case on the market. I bought it just for me 830 but love it so much I use it for general travel too. It is called a Tutto. http://store.tutto.com/2xl-machine-on-wheels-1/
    I love mine and I can almost fit machine and projects into one bag. Sometimes I spill over so I bought the additional bag that stacks on top of this bag. It works great! I've been through several bags and none have lasted as well as the Tutto.

    Good luck!
    Maggie

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  27. I totally feel your pain and have experienced the exact same thing with a Pfaff I purchased about 5 years ago.. One day I just decided that I NEEDED and new machine even though the Pfaff I had still sewed and quilted beautifully.. I chose the top of the line at the time, spent a lot of money on it and the spent the next few years being frustrated and disappointed.. I use it occasionally but have since bought a bernina 440, which is ok, but not the best piecer.

    to be honest my go to machine for piecing and quilting is a Brother 1500 which I consider the best investment in machines I have made.

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  28. So sorry that you are having a hard time with your 820!I am not sure what route I would take in your position.


    I have had Berninas since 1976 and at present have an 830 with over 6 million stitches added over last two years! It has had some glitches with a couple of the updates (which are supposed to be fixed this autumn)but other than that it has sewn beautifully. I have even quilted a quilt with metallic top thread and a different colour underthread with neither showing on the other side. I rarely have to adjust anything other than the top tension. Guess what I am saying is that this is how it should be and if yours isn't working like this your dealer needs to fix it!

    Re the BSR---------it is much faster on the 830/820 than on the 440. I am quite a slow quilter but found the 440 BSR very restricting even at my speed.The performance of the BSR is better if the spring is changed in the 820/830 BSR foot to a heavier spring. Your dealer should sort that for you.

    The other thing I didn't enjoy on the 440 were the buttons to alter the stitch width and height by increments. I prefer having knobs for those functions but of course that is just personal preference.

    Do you have the option in Australia for a day of induction with your machine with a tutor so that advice can be given and any problems with the machine sorted?

    Knee lift? I couldn't get used to mine till I switched legs and used my left foot for the foot pedal.It felt a bit like pattting my head and rubbing my tummy at first!

    I do hope you can get your machine tuned up properly and bond with it------but life is too short if you don't bond swap it out for something else and enjoy your sewing again!

    Good luck :o)

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  29. I would send it back, you should expect and get a lot better than this from a Bernina. Demand a refund.

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  30. Well I agree with the other posters, you should get rid of it. Trade it in, put it on Craigs list, sell it or something. Life is too short to fight with your equipment that is supposed to be a happy work.
    All the people who think Bernina now is great are wrong. Bernina is trading on the name and reputation from the original company and machines. They were great! Dump the outrageously expensive computerized ones and find an original 730 or 830 from the 60's & early 80's. Total work horses. Bernina now makes most of the machines in Tawain. The older singers are great piecing machines too. Like the 301 series.
    I read a lot of the pro quilters blogs and a number of them have been given machines from the various companies to try out and review on their blogs. You get to really use it and write about it for free and decide if you like them. You sure have a big enough following to try this. Anyway, dump that beast and keep looking for something that will make you happy. Is the money worth the unhappiness? don't think so. Cheers

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  31. This has been a timely post from Esther for me, and I have enjoyed reading everyone's comments. I have had a very disrupted year, and it now seems that life has almosst settled back into normal mode, aside from a couple of health issues, which I hope are beginning to settle. One of which is a hip injury which hasn't enabled me to sit for any length of time. Machine sewing hasn't happened at all this year. A couple of years ago I bought a Bernina 440 for myself, giving my very much loved 1130 to my daughter. I love using the 440, but last year an opportunity came to buy an 820 for less than half price. The person selling it, an extremely experienced quilter, told me she was selling it because they were having financial difficulties. I had just inherited a small amount from an uncle who'd died. I decided that i would buy the 820 from my friend, after going to speak with my local Bernina dealer. He has looked after both my previous Berninas and I trusted his advice. He said to go ahead with the purchase at the price I was getting it for, as it was a brilliant machine. He also advised that I had to stop thinking of it as a machine, as it was a computer. So, I had several lessons on an 820 with their teacher, decided that I would love that big harp to machine quilt with, and bought it. Every time I sat down to practice machine quilting on it with my favourite thread installed, the thread would break. I rang my dealer, he said come in, bring your practice piece and the threads you're using, and I did. We couldn't replicate my problems on the shop machine. So, another lesson, and home I went, determined to master the machine. I mean, I had been sewing for 40 years, how hard could this be? I kept practising, but my thread (Bottomline both top and bottom) kept breaking and I started using different thread, under quiet personal protest. but at least the breakages stopped. Then life turned a bit upside down and I haven't sewn a machine stitch since (in over six months). For the last two weeks I have been promising myself to sit down and sew, but don't and I put the pain in my hip down as the demotivator, but really, I think it is the idea of having to start all over again with the 820, whereas with my 1130 I could just have sat and sewed. Just thinking about having to remember how to thread it all up, after giving it a big clean first is daunting. Am I sorry I bought it, yes, will I continue to be sorry, I don't know. I will go back to my (very good) dealer and have more lessons, as I realise it is a very different kind of sewing, and I need to get used to it. But it was good to read that I wasn't alone in having difficulties initially, and it was good to read the couple of posts where people are happy with their machines. It gives me hope that I can work it out. My dealer says it is just practice and familiarity with the machine that will make me like it. He and his crew loved the 820 & 830. I haven't been in since the new 700 series has been released, and it will be interesting to talk to them about it.

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  32. Very interesting post Esther - so sorry it has been this upsetting for you. I have a 440QE and love it, but don't use the BSR. I thought it was really only a feature for beginners - to help get used to free motion - and it did help with that. For me the big attraction of the larger machine is the larger throat...but I have not seriously considered a change. Hope you can resolve this with Bernina.
    Hilda

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  33. Oh Esther take it back to the dealer ASAP or call the President. That is what I did when I had trouble with a TOL embroidery machine and I got great service. You should not have to go through pain and anguish over a machine that costs so much. Or do both call and take it back. I wish I was there to go fight for you.
    Hugs and good luck. Bunny

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  34. Oh Esther my hearts goes out to you with the trouble you are having with a machine that you had such great expectations to perform. Such a let down! If I were you a send an email to Bernina with a link to this post!

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  35. I am sorry that you are having such issues with what should be a dream machine. I have a Bernina 163 and a 440QE (plus a Pfaff 1457 which is the best machine ever for quilt in the ditch. And I love them all. But - with the exception of the 163 which was a birthday present - they were bought secondhand from a dealer who was also a person who repaired machines. Even the 163 was bought after I had used a friend's for an extended period.
    A secondhand machine can be a bargain if you can find a trustworthy dealer and buy the model one or two before the current latest thing.
    (But I would write to your supplier and copy the letter to Bernina Switzerland - and send them to this blog-post)

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  36. Esther, this is unforgivable in a company like Bernina! Talk to your DH and tell him your frustrations. Maybe you can sell it to someone that won't see it the same way as you do.
    I got a Brother earlier this year, and I'm so happy with everything about it except the weight.

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  37. I have had lots of problems with my Bernina 710. Although some people are not experiencing any problems with their machines, I would not recommend that anyone purchase a 700 or 800 series until Bernina have resolved all the current problems.

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  38. This is a great post. I was at a Ricky Tim's Super Seminar when the 820 was their new machine. They had nothing but trouble with the 820 while doing their demos! I have an Aurora 435 and I have a lot of problems with thread breaking while using the BSR and my walking foot. It's also a little noisy while sewing. I prefer to piece on my Artista 210 or my two Featherweights. Hope you can resolve this problem--sewing is supposed to be fun!

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  39. Oh my goodness. I'm looking to replace my 12 year kid Bernina activa and was looking at this model. Now I don't know what to do. If anyone has any advice for me please see my blog and add a comment. I'd love to hear from you. www.pieceandtranquilty.blogspot.com

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  41. Esther, wow, I cannot tell you how glad I am to know that I am not alone! My husband bought the 820 for me as a Christmas present after much extensive research. Then we moved from KY to NC & had a baby. So the machine sat unopened for over a year. Sewed with it a very short time before it began to have thread problems. Worked on it with my husband's help & finally got it back sewing. This happened 2 more times before I decided to take it to my local Bernina dealer 45 minutes away. Their technician "fixed" it & I sewed maybe an couple of hours before the thread problems once again occurred. So I called the store's owner to discuss a trade because I was & am still convinced I have a lemon. She suggested we send it to Bernina Chicago to be fixed. I did, & now $650.00 later, it is messed up again!! I am outraged & especially frustrated by my husband & all the ladies at my local Bernina shop who tell me that I am the reason this machine does not perform as advertised. Operator error they say. Well, this operator is no sewing novice or dummy either, I have 2 degrees, one in engineering!! Even so, it should not take a degree of that type to keep this machine sewing. I, like you Ester, am truly at a loss. My mother has an Artista she bought brand new in 1994. She loves that machine & has used it to make so many beautiful things. Using her machine is what gave me the idea of one day owning a Bernina myself. Like you & others who have posted here, that dream is now a nightmare. I wish you & the other 820 owners the best of luck in finding the true machine of your dreams!

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    1. Just when my DD purchased the machine, we were moving house. People can't understand that I didn't even unbox my machine for over 14 months - but that's how it was. Life happens and I wasn't ready to 'set up' my room. Then, I spent months getting to know my machine before forming an opinion - this means that my 2 year warranty was over before I'd hardly ever used the machine. And yes, now the problem - and the expenses- are all mine. I'm so disappointed.

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  42. Sorry to hear you have had such trouble with your machine. Not sure if you are still in Singapore? My friend Jessie lives here and has worked for bernina in the states and she can probably help you with your machine as I have seen her do with others when the dealer wasn't much help. Let me know if you want her contact details.

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  43. Your story hit home with my wife. She wrote this- I am so sorry you had such a time with it but at the same time, glad to hear that I'm not alone. I have my first Bernina, a 710 bought three weeks ago. When I looked at the machine I was told I'd be given a quick training to get me started and then I should get the basics class. When I picked up the machine I was told they didn't have time to do a quick training, read the book. When the machine has jammed and gone out of timing twice had was taken in. Last night I had the basics class and it jammed and went out of timing. So, they kept it and gave me a shop machine to finish the class on. I still haven't heard from them yet what the problem is. The threader is not working either. They said I broke it and that is owner error, not covered by warranty. I've been sewing for a lot of years and owned many machines but this one puts me in tears. Everything seems to be my fault, wrong thread, wrong needle, etc. Even said I was using it too hard. I'm was sewing a lot, I'm trying to get ready for shows and needed to get some table runners and placemats done. That's why I bought this machine. So, I'm back to sewing on my Pfaff Expressions 3 and stewing. Like you, I hope that I can learn to love it but I'm afraid that if they offered to take it back, I just might do it.

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  44. I, too, have a Bernina 820. I absolutely hate it. I purchased the machine and the frame so I could quilt my own quilts and also quilts for others to help pay for this investment. I also purchased the quilting software, so I have quite a bit of money tied up in this. I have had so much trouble with it - in fact, it's not working now. I took it in last week, they told me it was really dirty and now it sews "perfectly". I had it in about two months ago, so I don't know how it could have gotten so dirty. I clean everything I can see, but if I dig long enough I sometimes find more thread. I got it home, and it does not sew "perfectly." It's horrible. The thread breaks a lot, and the quality is so poor that I wouldn't dare try to quilt anyone else's work right now. I working on a scrap. I have it over two years, so I'm no longer a novice. I, too, get the line, "user error". I'm no longer buying it. I'm considering asking the place where I purchased it to buy it back, but I hate to admit defeat. I really don't want to take a loss, and I still want to quilt, but this machine is driving me insane.

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  45. I wish I'd never set eyes on this machine, it's nothing but a heartache to me and makes me feel sick with regret whenever I so much as attempt to use it. Like many of you have experienced, nothing works 'right' on this machine - its one problem after another. The onus, of course, being on me to *fix* it, with no recourse for the fact this means I will have to take it in, let it sit somewhere for weeks on end, then collect it...and all at my expense in money and time. And the biggest problem? This attitude that's out there, that somehow it's "us", all of a sudden, we don't know how to sew? Or use a sewing machine?! I am so offended by that attitude. No one invests in a machine like the 820 unless they want to sew - really sew. And no one who does that *wants* to experience difficulties. This machine was purchased so that I could use it. However I have never used it without grief. There is always something wrong. And still, I am at a crossroads with this terrible mistake I made. If I trade it in, I lose so much money which was invested into it to begin with. It is very unfair to expect me to absorb this loss because the machine doesn't do what it promised. I am so fed up and at my wits end. I really don't know how to deal with it.

    I'm heartbroken, I wish I'd never asked my husband for the 820, we should have gone on a cruise instead.

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  46. I'm sorry to hear of your problems with your Bernina - how frustrating. Try talking with Jenny Bowker who believe is a Bernina girl and is well known in 'Bernina-land' and may be able to advise you as to who to contact at HQ. With your high profile, successes and comments on this blog I would be surprised if Bernina didn't come to the party. Good luck, Helen

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  47. I am looking at buying my daughter an old 80's model Bernina 1120. She is using it to sew clothes and costumes on. It has just been serviced and comes with its book, extra feet, a cover and a basic sewing accessory kit. I would appreciate any feedback from anyone who owns/owned one of these machines along with any pros and cons. Thank you.

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  48. Hi Esther, thank you for you blog as I have had and continue to have all the same problems with my 820. I am 5th generation sewer and have several Berninas, Janomies and Babylock over lockers and enjoy creative and charity quilting. I sew for enjoyment but end in tears when trying to use my 820. I have contacted Bernina HQ Sydney who just fob me off. I have been to Fair Trading and they say I am I entIlted a full refund or a replacement machine

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    1. I wonder if that is true, regarding Fair Trade's advice as many sewers all over the world have had major issues with this machine, and none have been able to return it for a full refund which is where our issues start. We're all told to 'talk to our dealer'. Well, sorry but I know more about machines than my dealer does. I would do, I've been sewing for 40+ years!

      Just type in Bernina 820 into Google and you'll see that women around the world are in tears over this model.

      The onus being on us to continuously repair the machine and deal with it's issues, at our own cost. In reality this means taking the machine into a center to be serviced for weeks at a time, not to mention the hundreds of dollars each time. If only we could get a refund and get rid of our expensive, useless machines. They are unfit for purpose.I would gladly throw my 820 off a cliff.

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    2. Bernina advertise 10year warranty. What does that mean when they won't honour it and just tell you to go through your dealer with out any back up from Bernina. I have been so upset as my dealer has put all the blame on me for not using it correctly. I agree with you Esther it is an expensive, useless machine.if it plays up again when I get it back from mechanic this time I am seriously thinking of seeing my solicitor.

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  49. My husband signed up for this and I don''t know how to get it changed to my name. I don't have a 820 but I have a 710 that is just as frustrating. I bought it in September, they handed me the box and told be to sign up for a class, whenever they are. So I read the manual and tried to use it. Not a good experience. I finally got the class which focused more on the fancy stitches and feet , not the basic use and maintenance. . It has gone in three time because it was out of timing. Every time I take it in they say it is so dirty. I gave it a thorough cleaning before it went in and still heard it's dirty. This time it was out of timing and an spring in the bobbin case was out of place. Also said I must be using it to much and they want be to come in so they can watch me sew and see what I'm doing wrong. I can't believe that one. Yes, I do a lot of sewing and have been doing it for many years. Also said I should bring it in more often for cleaning. I've only had it 4 months. I too thought the Bernina name was good and I never had one before. Now I use my Pfaff that keeps plugging away and the Bernina is sitting in the closet because I'm afraid t use it. I have made contact with a man that serviced my machines for several years in the past and he's now certified for Bernina. He always did a wonderful job for me and he's going to look at the machine and see if he can help me out. This certainly isn't what I expected when I bought the machine. They called it a workhorse but it doesn't seem to be the case.

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  50. Has anyone tried and succeeded suing Bernina over the horrible 820? If it were a car, the lemon law would apply

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  51. Do you know of anyone who has tried and succeeded in suing this giant company over lost thousands of dollars and heartache owning the 820? We should not have to pay our own money to send it for service and it should not need service every 2-3 times we use it. Bobbin, gear, thread problems shouldn't even exist at this price point----they should be asking US what they can do to correct the problem, offering machine replacement or money back Personally, I can't afford to lose this many thousand $

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  52. I wish I had read this before taking the Bernina 820 plunge. I'm ready to sell mine!

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  53. Personally, I think you have struggled for long enough and would have taken it back to the supplier or even to Bernina rep in Australia and demanded my money back - it is obviously not fit for purpose. Given the amount of negative feedback I would have thought you have a good case for the small claims court too.

    I know this is all annoying but you do have customer rights and you have clearly documented and tried to rectify faults. Bernina are responsible for their product regardless of when you purchased it.

    Yes, it's a real pain to go through the process of returning a not fit for purpose product, but it is far more positive in the long run to convert your energy and frustrations into doing something more positive about it!

    Bernina cannot afford to have all this negative feedback - there's a lot of competition out there - and they have to act,.

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  54. Dear Bernina 820 owners Good luck on selling your machine. I have been to two Bernina dealerships attempting to trade in my 820, both declined! So home I went after spending yet another $200.00 in parts and service (mine was bought the first year of production, and is and has been out of warranty)
    I haven't even put it back on the frame as I am so afraid it will malfunction again. I have since bought a Brother and love it. I still don't know what to do with the Bernina. I am naive enough to think its fixed after every repair, but also intelligent enough to know better. I have owned other Bernina's and loved them I don't want to hate this machine, but alas, I do. I just want it out of my house. So now Im deciding what I'll replace it with. Does anyone know anything about the Grace quilting machine?

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  55. I want to thank you and your contributors. I have an Artista 170 QE and have been perfectly happy with it since 2001. Yesterday when I turned it on, the screen had a brightness in the middle that I have never seen before. My machine is usable but it is difficult to see the selections in the middle of the screen without looking at different angles; it saddens me to see my old friend sick. After checking my e-mail today I thought I would take a quick look at newer available models. I am so happy my search brought me to this blog. I thought that the comments might improve as I looked at more recent ones but they only confirmed the fact that I should just keep what I have and see if the screen is repairable. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

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  56. This is scary! I've been sewing for over 40 years and looking forward to getting to know my 820 in my up and coming retirement...but it seems my issues with my 820 are not unique. I was trying to find out via a blog why, after a service and an 'update' my 820 has changed its setting,such as 1330 was 3 width and 2.9 length...it now defaults to 4 and 4 ??? Plus masses of other annoying things, which results in non perfect stitching :(

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  57. How maddening for you, I have a Bernina 440qe I would like to sell. nothing wrong with it, I just prefer my Pfaff.

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  58. Glad I finally found this blog....after being told I was the lemon, not the 820!, by a dealer....ready to throw it over a cliff too!! Reverted to sewing on an ancient Singer yesterday and had a lovely and enjoyable day after 2 years of frustration on my 820. Its jammed again and I have emailed a Bernina technician, no answer!!

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  59. I am so glad to have found someone else who feels the same as me! I have actually never dared say out loud that I actually dislike my 820 immensely!!! I had the 440QE and as it was such a beautiful machine to use I stupidly thought the 820 could only be an upgrade. What a fool I was. It costs a fortune and as you say is not a joy to use. Mine is constantly stopping and telling me I need to thread it. When I'm free motioning a quilt that isn't funny, especially as it always stops with the needle up. It is driving me up the wall and has reduced me to tears.

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  60. Ditto on the Bernina 820. It is so finicky that is it not really a pleasure to use. I had a Bernina 350 that I gave to my daughter and can't ask for it back... very sad in Texas. I know this is an old post but see there is still some activity. I have had the 820 for a year and as has been said above, just can't love it.

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  61. I know I was not having any troubles with the feed dogs or bobbin, only the tension, squeal, and loud clunks the machine had made prior to the first time I had it sent out for work. https://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/86706718/thumbs/best-sewing-machine-for-quilting-choosing-the-quilting-sewing-machine

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  62. Very nice and helpful information has been given in this post. I like the way you explain the things. Keep posting. Thanks!
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