Bernina, Viking, Pfaff, Oh My! (Updated)


Me: I’ve got nothing. I need something to blog.

IZ just looks at me.

Me: No, seriously, nothing. Say something funny.

IZ rolls his eyes and starts to leave the room.

Me: Oh, come on! Say something funny!

An hour later he sends me an email containing a fully written blog post. It’s like 3 pages long! I was totally kidding him (sorta) but since he went to so much effort, what kind of wife would I be if I didn’t publish it? He says if he keeps giving me blog fodder he should at least get his own category; I keep telling him to get his OWN blog, but does he listen? NO! So, I’ve given in and supplied a category. He isn’t wasting any time in fulfilling his threat promise. As it turns out, it’s the first in an installment of three…he promises to write the other two if there is demand for them.

Without any further introduction, a guest post from IZ. Also known as: How My Husband Totally Spilled the Beans on What He’s Giving Me for My Birthday.

Bernina, Pfaff, Viking, Oh My!

And they say buying computers is difficult. They have no idea. You think the geek debates of AMD vs. Intel and Apple vs. Microsoft are heated. You haven’t a clue. Oh, and the terminology? Gigahertz, Gigabytes, DRAM, Bus type – sound like Latin? Think again.

My friends – NOTHING – I mean NOTHING can compare with buying a sewing machine!

Why? Why on earth would I be out looking for a new sewing machine? Because I’m married and I’m married to a creative soul who is cursed beyond measure with a machine that is old. Old and one that was never really a “top of the line” machine to begin with.

Poor Wende – she’ll be working away on some marvelous craft and then a heated debate begins. It is almost predictable in its nature. Ka-chung, Ka-chung says the Monster Machine. Then come the onslaught of profanities followed by an inaudible but still there, “I’ll show you” – and they are back at it again. That Wende is able to turn anything out from Monster Machine is a matter of dark sorcery and deep magic that I have no knowledge of. Somewhere on her book cases there must be one titled, “Incantations to make your Singer Sing”.

Playing the role of white knight, I decided I should rescue my fair maiden by taming said beast and replacing it with a kinder, gentler sewing machine. A friendly dragon of sorts that could eat through leather but still respect fine silk. (Amok, Amok, Amok I run with a cheesy metaphor!) Such a lovely notion – but alas – not so easily accomplished in real life.

First, let’s talk about brands, shall we? There are plenty of them. Singer, White, Brother, Baby Lock, Juki, Janome, Elna, Viking Husqvarna, Pfaff, and Bernina to name a few of the “biggies”. But which should I consider? Who’s brand is really worth something? It seemed everywhere I turned I was given one story and then another. I consulted with the oracle of Internet and it gave me a rather garbled message – “Singer is garbage, White and Elna too. Viking, Pfaff and Bernina – we love you.”

Armed with such superior information I began to “Internet shop” to see what I could find… and what I found was that for the most part – getting a price of a sewing machine over the Internet is not exactly an easy task. What I did learn is that no matter what, sewing machines are EXPENSIVE. Did I mention they’re expensive? *cough*ouch*cough*

And this is just it. We men understand “investing” in our power tools with their lifetime guarantees and in the 40″ 1080p flat screen TV instead of that 1080i that is $1000 cheaper… but our temptation when it comes to sewing machines is to say, “Honey, THIS one looks just as good and it costs half as much – let’s get it instead!” Or, at least that’s what I tend to do! I was bound and determined by sacred oath that on this journey I would not fall for such a siren song. No, my love was going to be with this “friendly dragon” for the next 10 or 20 years… she deserved something that would sew her through thick and thin. (I love me some cheesy metaphors. I use them in real life just to watch Wende squirm.)

As I talked with different vendors and listened to their tale of why they were the best and why ONLY the machines THEY sold should be considered, I peppered them with strategic questions to fill out my rather empty book of understanding. Then, the pieces began to fall into place…

(For updated 2008 information please see The Embroiderer Strikes Back)

14 Responses to “Bernina, Viking, Pfaff, Oh My! (Updated)”

  • I TOTALLY agree with “Singer is garbage and White too. Elna, Viking, Pfaff and Bernina – we love you.”!!!!!!

    I’m an Elna fan. Before I bought my Elna I was dead set on a new Pfaff. My friend Leslie was dead set on a new Bernina. And what did we get (on the very same day at the very same time and the very same store)… an Elna. We even refer to them as “the girls”.

    I loved my Elna SEW much, I bought a second Elna (different model) and now my first one is my “travel” machine.

    My two cents… as good as the internet is, nothing will take the place of a test drive and a good, reputable shop. I can’t recommend enough you giving “THE BOYS” a try (oooo… sounds kinky). They are in my “peeps” blogroll. Not only can you try all the machines, they have classes, support, fabric, blah, blah, blah. They are the Nordstrom of sew/vac shops!


    :D  Thanks for the tip! ~W

  • blop:

    I agree w/Monica, go to the boys for a test drive. My sweetie bought me a “new, wonderful machine” or so he thought w/o my knowledge and it is okay…but I would kill for a Elna! I really recommend that Wende be the one to do the test drive, tho…afterall, she is the user and will only be satisfied if it is something that SHE can use. Wonderful hubby that you are for meeting her needs…you go, guy!


    I’ll let him tell the rest of the story.  But the truth is, all his research came up with the machine I wanted anyhow. Heh. 😀 ~W

  • Dude, what’s a sewing machine? (blank look) Fun post, IZ, even with the cheesy metaphors 😀


    It’s a tiny car. ~W

  • That thing is insane! Ye gads, so many bells and whistles… you’re going to have one heck of a fun birthday this year! 🙂

    I think we may need to go fabric shopping now to stock up for the event!


    Oooh, sounds like a plan.  Probably should put that on our list of things to do in Portland, eh? 😀 ~W

  • Wende, IZ cracks me up! What a nice guy, tho.

    My honey bought me a Viking Rose several years back. She’s a good machine and has brought much happiness to me and the people she has crafted for. 🙂 My friend just bought a Viking Platinum 775. She got it home and the front buttons looked different. It was MOSTLY a 775 with the buttons of a 900something! Crazy. They ordered her a new one that will be all 775. 🙂


    Hmm… that would bite!  Not that I’d know the difference.  At this point, ANYTHING is going to be such an improvement.  Especially, button holes!! 😀 ~W

  • Good entry there IZ. Keep it up.

    My s-i-l (is that what you call a sister-in-law) owns a sewing machine shop in Eugene. Make a trip there, buy a used machine and get something fantabulous. The high-end sew’ers are just like stereophiles….they always want the biggest bightest bestest and continually trade up for the next edition machine. Their old machines are in fabulous shape and they are only traded in because of that bbb thing. If you want to know the details of how to find her, just ask!


    Thanks Karan!! I’ll have IZ contact you if he hasn’t already bought the darn thing!  Oh well.. I see a serger in my future… so… Heh.  ~W

  • Oh, just another plug for the Viking machines….They sew through ANYTHING, including fingers!!! 🙂 Yep, I sewed through my finger, but it only hurt for a second while the needle went through. hee hee


    Oh… OUCH!  That’s kinda funny though, because I remember my mom saying the same thing about Vikings.  She was a professional seamstress and owned her own company.  She loved her Viking because she did a lot of alterations on Jeans and it could handle it.  But she used to say that it could sew through anything including her fingers!  This doesn’t bode well for me… since Grace isn’t my  middle name!! ~W

  • pam:

    I’m a Bernina girl myself. I have two, an older 1260 and a 180, love the older one best. I think any of the top models of Bernina, Pfaff, Elna, Viking will serve you well. (Bernina, Bernina, Bernina)


    Bernina is the Rolls Royce of sewing machines.  And I’m a champagne kind of girl… but, Bernina will have to be my NEXT machine.  You know, when I’m 60. 😀 ~W

  • Liz:

    Not only is finding the right brand for you important but finding the right dealer for you is also important. People don’t understand that when buying a sewing machine you must also consider who you are buying from. Eventually, you’ll go back for service, classes, and support for your sewing machine. My advice, regardless of which you buy, is make sure you like and trust your dealer. My preference is Pfaff.

  • J:

    I am a big fan of the Pfaff machines. I have owned many brands and Pfaffs have never let me down. I just purchased the new Pfaff and looked at all the big brands. To the Elna person: There are no real Elnas anymore they are made by Janome and Singer. The Janome is nice but the new one has some bugs to work out. The Bernina seemed great but I found the 2 floor models had tension issues and I had to constantly adjust for it (this is not automatic tension). The Viking was wonderful but, OMG the price tag. I could buy a new car! So I bought the Pfaff and have no regrets.

  • […] 1: Sewing Machine Wars When the dust settled we had learned the truth! Viking was indeed Pfaff’s father! Of course, we also learned that Elna had moved to the […]

  • JoAnn McNeill:

    Thanks for the info. after much searching I finnaly found a review on Bernina. Where did you find the info about outsourcing of the embroidery machines?? I have a Bernina 430 which has the embroidery module and have had no end of problems with the embroidery and then the regular sewing if the embroidery stops…I have tried getting my money back when was under full warranty or a letter stating it is in perfect running order so I can sell it and no luck. Even contacted Switzerland as well as the store I bought it in, area head office in Toronto, and Head Office in Montreal. I’m glad you did not purchase a Bernina.
    Thanks for the inf.

  • Billie Kay:

    I have a 30 + year old Berninia 830. I will NEVER trade it in. It sells on Ebay for the same price I bought it new in 1975. I have never had it serviced, I am able to care for it my self, with regular oiling and cleaning. I am now buying a Janome 6500 trade up from a lower model. I feel it is the best on the market for the price. But what really sold me was the dealer & his friendly service. Computerized is going to take more service I’m SURE. thanks for all internet Feedback Helps alot. BK

  • Janet Jackson:

    I have owned a Singer Touch and Sew, Viking 6570 ( passed on to y daughter-in-law), a Singer Featherweight and a Pfaff 7570 and a Janome 6600P. The Singer has nylon gears and didn’t last. My Featherweight has a great stitch and I was able to use a Viking shank and 1/4 inch foot on it for quilting. It travels with me. The Pfaff is a little fussier on tension, but the dual feed is awesome. The Janome is y back-up and has a long throat. It gives a lot of bang for the buck.
    I am now looking for either a 6570 Viking or a Bernina 830 for my daughter. They are heavy, metal machines which last and should be fine for my granddaughter to learn on.

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