This is the story of why I bought and then traded in my Bernina 770QE less than a year later.
I am not a sewing machine expert, and this is the one and only Bernina machine I have ever sewn on – so this is a personal experience and I’m just relating it in case it is useful for anyone.
As well as this written post I also have a video where I tell this story on YouTube. I’ll embed it below if you’d rather watch that.
Why I Bought My Bernina
I was searching for a ruler foot for my Janome machine one night, and my husband peeked over my shoulder and asked if I was buying a new sewing machine.
I was indignant that I was not! I hadn’t actually been thinking of getting a new machine, but he put that bug in my ear!
Soooo, late one night (thanks, insomnia!) I started searching for the best machine for quilters and came across the Bernina 770QE.
I saw loads of quilters I had heard of endorsing it, including Tula Pink, and I had of course seen loads of quilters on YouTube using Berninas beforehand.
Well, I found a shop in England (I live in Scotland) that had an ex-display Bernina 770 QE for 700 pounds less than the retail price.
I could buy it online and have it delivered. I was immediately sold! …I’m a bit impulsive like that!
What sold me on the machine?
There were many things that caught my attention, like the large throat space to the right of the needle, high-precision stitches, and the Bernina Stitch Regulator (BSR).
The throat space on my Janome 4300QDC was 6.8 inches, and the Bernina had 10 inches to the right of the needle. That makes a big difference for big quilts.
Previously I have had to explore all kinds of quilt-as-you-go options for quilting really big quilts on my domestic and I was hoping this increased throat space would make it possible to quilt larger quilts.
The stitch regulator or BSR was very attractive as the bsr functionality is marketed as an easy way to keep stitches at a consistent stitch length when free motion quilting. Who doesn’t want perfect quilting stitches?
Something else I was looking forward to was the larger bobbin, the jumbo bobbin is much larger than standard bobbins which means, of course, being able to sew for longer periods of time before having to wind another one!
Also bobbin related, I was particularly taken with the idea of the bobbin sensor that lets you know when you are running low on bobbin thread.
I was hoping it would put an end to me sewing an entire row of quilt blocks not realizing that I wasn’t actually sewing because the bobbin had run out!
Some of the other selling features of the Bernina 770 QE are:
- the color touchscreen
- adjustable presser foot pressure
- Bernina hook system (honestly I never really understood this or why it is a selling feature but there was a lot of talk about it!)
- the ‘innovative Bernina dual feed’ – this is kind of like the Pfaff IDT and I think there is something similar on some Janome’s too. It is basically like a built-in walking foot.
- automatic thread cutter
- optional embroidery module and hoops (I didn’t get this so I can’t speak to that)
- Interchangeable 9 mm stitch plate and the straight stitch plate
- Adjustable stitch width and needle position
I’m sure there are others but those are the ones I can remember from what I read before purchasing.
What I Like About the Bernina 770QE
There were a few things that I loved about this Bernina that never changed from the time I got it to the time I traded it in.
I loved the larger throat space; it was lovely to have lots of space to shove my quilts through and I definitely was able to quilt bigger quilts with this large sewing space especially when I put it in the flat bed of my horn sewing cabinet.
10 inches of space versus the 6.8 I had before makes a big difference.
I also liked the hover foot feature. When you set it up in the needle-down position you can also set it up so that the foot raises when you stop sewing which allows you to easily pivot when sewing or quilting – which is awesome.
It also has a knee lift which can achieve something similar but I never used it because I liked the hover foot soo much.
Also, this machine wasn’t loud and clunky like my old one! Although it wasn’t noiseless, it was much, much quieter.
Bernina Foot Control
I also kind of liked the back-kick function on the bernina foot control.
It’s hard to explain but basically if you hit the foot at the bottom a certain way you can make the needle go down without touching a button. It’s kind of cool once you get used to it.
My Ex-Display Bernina 770QE
The fact that my machine was ex-display might be key to my experience…or it might not.
I posted my video about my experience with this machine and there were almost an equal number of comments from people who thought I just got a ‘lemon’ of a machine and those who had bought their machines new and had similar issues….so read with discretion.
I started having issues with the bobbin sensor right off the bat. It went off constantly even when I had a full bobbin.
I thought this was because it was an ex-display model, which I knew when I bought it. I later found out that it was a display machine for four years, so it has been put to good use!
I ended up calling the dealer because I couldn’t sort out the bobbin sensor issue and they had me send it back in and fixed something with the machine’s computer I think.
Once it was serviced, you would think that the sensor would stop going off, right? Wrong.
While it didn’t happen as frequently, but it would still go off far earlier than I felt like it should.
The sensor was a big selling point for me, and it was disappointing that it didn’t end up working the way I imagined.
That is when I started to have buyer’s remorse! I started questioning if I made the right decision by investing in the Bernina or if I should have gone a different route.
I guess I naively thought things would ‘just work’ with a top-of-the-line type of machine like this. The reality was that it was a steep learning curve.
I will admit I didn’t have any classes from my dealer.
There was a zoom class I could have pushed for that was offered but there was no spaces when I first bought the machine and I didn’t push for it. I probably should have.
I didn’t know what I didn’t know if you know what I mean!
As a newish quilter I had just thought expensive machine = easier, not expensive machine = you need to study to learn how to use it properly.
Many folk swear by the training and support they get from their Bernina dealers and having taken the time to really learn their machines they can get them to work for them beautifully.
For me in the end the issues I had with my machine felt like too much work for something that cost so much.
What I Didn’t Like About the Bernina 770QE
Things that I didn’t like so much were the fact that this machine was a little more fiddly than I expected, and it also was a significant learning curve since it was such a complicated machine.
It didn’t make things as easy as I thought it would. There were times that it would cause me problems that my Janome wouldn’t.
For example, frequent thread jams. Too often I would have to stop in the middle of a project to sort out a thread jam.
My machine would stop sewing and I would either see an error message pop up on the screen – the 1010 main drive sync error with a blue screen or the icon of gears with a red x through it.
When you take off the bobbin case, there is a silver hook, and if you take that off, there are these two silver things behind the hook.
There would often be a thread looped around that. Once it was removed the machine would sew again.
I don’t know if this was a user error, but it would happen several times a week! It happened even with good quality thread and new needles so I just don’t know what I was doing wrong there!
Something that I didn’t like was that the Bernina seemed to require me to use leaders when I was piecing. A leader is just a scrap of fabric that you feed through machine before you sew on what you are really trying to piece.
The issue is that without them often enough the edge of the fabric would get caught or sucked into the stitch plate. If you start on a leader this is less likely to happen as you don’t need to start at the edge of the fabric you can start part way in. Hope that makes sense!
And yes – I had this issue with the Bernina even with the straight stitch plate!
I know many people enjoy using leaders and can make bonus quilts and things that way, but my old machine didn’t need them, so I got used to piecing without them.
Bernina Stitch Regulator
The Bernina stitch regulator ended up disappointing me as it would constantly give me a warning beep that I was going too fast when free motion quilting.
And what it means is if you go that fast the stitch regulation won’t actually work.
I tend to free-motion quilt fast so in my opinion, the Bernina was going too slow!
It felt more like training wheels or a teacher telling me I was going too quickly instead of a tool to help me do what I wanted to do more easily.
I became very frustrated because I felt like I couldn’t get anything done at the speed I usually quilt. The BSR ended up being more of a hassle than I thought it would be.
I ended up not using the stitch regulator and instead using my ruler foot for free motion – even when I wasn’t using rulers.
I also did not realize how often I would have to oil the Bernina!
This was something that I was not used to.
If you’re used to oiling your sewing machine frequently, this shouldn’t be a problem for you but I was not and I felt like I was constantly getting told by the machine that I needed to oil it.
Why I Traded in my Bernina 770QE
I decided to get the machine serviced a little less than a year after I bought it as I do sew a LOT so I reckoned it was due.
I took it to a local dealer, not the one I bought it from.
When I got it back, within 10 minutes, the 1010 main drive sync error popped up on the touch screen!
I looked through all the accessible parts of the machine… I even took the screws out to double-check the top threading area! No thread to be seen.
The photo above is a different error from another time (I got so many error messages on this machine!)
I called the dealer and tried to troubleshoot.
Well, we couldn’t figure it out, so I sent it in to get looked at again.
I thought everything would be fixed when it returned, and then suddenly, the blue screen with the warning popped up again. Nooo!
That was the straw that ultimately broke the camel’s back.
I don’t know what was going on with the machine but I had already been kind of fed up with how often I had to stop my sewing to sort out some issues with it or other. …And then to have it have all these problems after a service was just more than I could take.
I felt like dealing with the machine’s ‘issues’ were taking up far too much time from what I really wanted to do – sew!
I packed everything back up and headed straight for the dealers.
I asked him if I would be able to trade it in instead of getting it serviced again. I was soooo appreciative when he said yes!
I had researched over the days when the machine was getting serviced and found a Pfaff Quilt Expression 720 that I thought I was interested in.
I spoke with the dealer who was showing me both that machine and the Janome 9450.
The Pfaff was cheaper in the end and my trade-in for the Bernina was not that great so in the end I went with the Pfaff as it was already an expense I hadn’t really budgeted for.
Final Thoughts on the Bernina 770QE
If I could go back, there are a couple of things I would do differently.
First, I would do more research. I feel like I didn’t go into the purchase with enough information – it was more of an impulse buy.
When you see your favorite Youtubers, they can really influence you into purchasing certain items!
If you can try sewing on a friend’s machine or take a class where they use the machine you are interested in that would obviously be ideal but I didn’t have either of those.
The next is that when I received the Bernia, I would have spent more time going through the manual and watching YouTube tutorials to learn more direct tips and tricks about the machine.
To be honest though if I had known how much learning was required for this machine I probably wouldn’t have bought it.
For me, if something is going to cost that much it should be relatively easy to learn. I get you have to get familiar with it but it shouldn’t be that hard!
Keep in mind – these are all my opinions! I am just stating my experience with my Bernina, and yours may (and hopefully!) will be different from mine! These issues could also be a user error, not just a mechanical error.
While this is doubtless a fabulous machine for many, it just wasn’t the one for me.
It is worth clicking through to the Youtube video version of this post and having a read of others’ comments as many have given lots of insights into not only their experience with Berninas but loads of other sewing machine brands too.
I hope you find the perfect machine for you that will let you express your creativity and enjoy yourself!
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