My Bernina 530

bernina_530_sewing_machine

Sew Mama Sew recently asked readers to review their sewing machines to give those in the market for a new machine a place to start researching. I know when I started looking for a new machine I sought out reviews wherever I could find them. I also asked my sewing and quilting friends for their recommendations and advice.

Because there are few reviews for the Bernina B530, I am writing one here and will post the link at Sew Mama Sew. The questions are those asked by Sew Mama Sew, but I will happily answer any other questions in the comments. :)

What brand and model do you have?

I have a Bernina B530. It was used for classes at the local AQS show (for four days) so it was discounted because it wasn’t “brand new”.  It seemed brand new to me though–I could find absolutely no evidence that anyone had used it.

How long have you had it?

I’ve had it since July 2012–about a year-and-a-half.

How much does that machine cost (approximately)?

I think my husband paid around $2800. It was a birthday present. But the Bernina Stitch Regulator (BSR) and the walking foot were included in the deal. Those are two pricey additions to the B530. I believe they are included with the B550–the next model up–as well as a few more stitches and presser feet. Otherwise the B530 and B550 are identical machines.

What types of things do you sew (i.e. quilting, clothing, handbags, home dec projects, etc.)?

I mainly sew quilts–but I occasionally sew clothing, bags, curtains, mend clothes, etc.

How much do you sew? How much wear and tear does the machine get?

I try to sew every day. Some days it’s just a few minutes, but other days I can sew for hours and neglect everything else I need to do.

Do you like/love/hate your machine? Are you ambivalent? Passionate? Does she have a name?

I love this machine. I love it. I still can’t believe it is mine and I feel happy when I have lots of time to sew with it.

fmq_bernina_530
What features does your machine have that work well for you?

It works very well for free-motion quilting. I had a very basic mechanical machine that did everything I needed EXCEPT free-motion quilt. I tried everything–every needle, every kind of thread, every tension adjustment. I tried those bobbin inserts and the EZ glider.  My friend Beth (who is the most knowledgeable person I know when it comes to sewing machines–she owned the local Bernina dealership before selling it several years ago–so she knows what she is doing) checked it out and found a better free-motion foot to fit. Sometimes I could make my old machine do what I wanted–but more often than not I felt like I was fighting the machine and adjusting this or adjusting that to make it work. I was frustrated and often gave up.

But! My Bernina 530 FMQs perfectly. I barely have to adjust anything–ever–and I can FMQ for hours without a struggle. Because I learned to free-motion quilt without the BSR, I personally find it easier to quilt without it, so I almost never use it. What it can do is kind of miraculous though. I do use the walking foot often–for straight line quilting and attaching bindings.

The knee lift–or free-hand system, FHS— and needle-down feature are indispensable to me now. My old machine doesn’t have these features and I couldn’t go back. The 530 also makes gorgeous, easy, perfect and repeatable buttonholes.

And the Bernina presser feet are fantastic and easy to change.

Is there anything that drives you nuts about your machine?

The instruction manual is a little weak–in my opinion as both a user and a graphic designer. It refers to the sewing machine as the ‘sewing computer’ and it took me a while to understand what that meant. The manual feels as if it was written by a computer instead of a human being.

Would you recommend the machine to others? Why?

Yes, I would highly recommend. It just works beautifully. It’s a heavy, well-made machine that will last for years and do what I need it to do.

What factors do you think are important to consider when looking for a new machine?

The machine should have good solid basics. The controls should be clear and easy to figure out. I also think that the shop you buy from should have great customer service–you should be able to call or walk in and the shop should cheerfully help you with whatever you need.

bernina_B530_BSR_quiltingDo you have a dream machine?

Occasionally I wish for a larger harp area, because that would make free-motion quilting large pieces much easier. And I wouldn’t complain if it had an automatic thread cutter. These are things I could have if I wanted to spend more money.

But for now, I’m perfectly happy.

 

22 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for this review. I am looking to buy my first machine ever for my 30th birthday.
    I have made one quilt before many years ago and now with kids I’d love to make some for their beds. I’ve watched many YouTube tutorials on quilt making and feel ready to buy a machine.
    The b530 is on sale at the moment for $1795 and this review makes me more confident that it would be a good choice for mending and quilting.
    Are you still enjoying to quilt on it?
    Thanks again
    Julie

    Reply
    • Thanks, Julie. Yes, I still love my machine and use it almost every day. For quilting, I do use my walking foot often. The B530 does not come with a walking foot, but the B550 does. It is something you might consider because they are pricey to buy alone. (Because mine was a demo model the walking foot was included as part of the deal).

      Please let me know what you choose!

      Reply
      • Hi,
        Thanks for your reply. Actually I asked about the walking foot and in this current promotion I woudl get the walking foot included! So that is great to know that it is a useful attachment.
        Very excited.
        Thanks
        Julie

        Reply
        • Where did you buy your 530?

          Reply
        • Where did you buy your machine?

          Reply
  2. Thank you forms ting this review. Having looked at a new 530 today I am now questioning the 550 just for the walking foot! However the price quoted to me today was $2500 without a walking foot! And that was with a 20% discount. Sadly, there is only one distributed in the state where I live so comparative shopping is nonexistent !

    Reply
    • Hi Deb–Thanks for commenting! Wow–that price seems high to me–was that for the 530 or 550? Are there any big quilt trade shows you could attend–they often sell their demo models and have great promotions. I really love my 530–but I do use the walking foot often and wouldn’t want to be without it, especially for quilting. I really wondered if the high cost of a Bernina would be worth it–but after almost two years I have zero regrets.

      Reply
  3. Thank you so much for this review! I’m thinking about purchasing this machine so it was wonderful to hear your thoughts. You mentioned harp space – how big is the throat area on this machine?

    Reply
    • Hi Rachel–

      There are about 7.5 inches of space in the harp. I would love more room–but a larger machine wasn’t in the budget so I make do.

      Reply
  4. Hi Kim,

    I have had a B 530 for nearly a year, and I’m pleased. The wide range of fabrics and layers that it sews (without sending it into the shop) has impressed me.

    Reply
    • I agree, kris!

      It just seems like a sturdy and well-made machine that will do anything I need it to. I’m still very pleased!

      Reply
  5. Thank you so much for this information. Opinions from others that sew are invaluable. This has helped make up my mind….I will bring one home next week!. :)

    Reply
    • Yay! You are going to LOVE it Vicki! I dont think you can go wrong with one of these Berninas!

      Reply
  6. I am so happy to read this review. I wasn’t sure if I was ready to buy another Bernina, but this one caught my husband’s eye yesterday, and it is currently on sale for $1999. Beautiful looking and it felt smooth. Considering taking a small doll outfit to try out sewing on it along with some lace and fabric to see if it will do heirloom sewing to my satisfaction. If so, I just may do it. Thanks for the information

    Reply
    • Hi Kathleen–
      I don’t do heirloom sewing, but I spent yesterday free-motion quilting with thick 12-weight cotton thread and when I finished I realized that the machine handled it without any trouble at all. It would have been a battle with my old machine, if not impossible! Do give one a test drive–I don’t think you will have any regrets.

      Reply
  7. June 11, 2015
    Hi Kim, thank you for the very nice review. My dear kind husband just bought the B530 Bernina for me 2 days ago. I traded in my Bernina 1230 I’ve had for over 20 years, which I loved but was looking to up grade. This was a very big splurge for us! I’m so very grateful & excited for this gift!! I was hoping so much to get the model with BSR however that was way out of our price range. I’ve never been able to free motion quilt with success so the BSR was something I really hoped for. Kim, you said you’re use to free motion quilting without the BSR, are you willing to sell the BSR that came with your machine? If you are, how much would you need to get for that foot?
    Thank you in advance for your reply!
    Suzie

    Reply
  8. Thank you very much for this review. I want a machine for my Daughters home in another state and this would be the answer. I would use it for general sewing and piecing when I visit! Thank you!!

    Reply
  9. Hi, your comments about the Bernina 530 have been very helpful. I have a Bernina 1008 and I am looking to upgrade. I do general sewing and not quilting. Would this be the correct machine to upgrade too? It costs 1400 pounds in England and I want to make sure it is the right machine. The buttonhole application sounds amazing. Thanks for your help.
    Sylvie

    Reply
    • Hi Sylvie–I love this machine for general sewing as well. I am sewing some knits on it now and it just works beautifully. I can’t imagine you would be disappointed if you purchased it. It’s just a great tool that always works the way it should. Thanks for reading!

      Reply
  10. I love this machine! I purchased one in April 2016, but unfortunately I needed a wider foot and dual feed for the dog collars I make, so I had to jump up to the 740. I live in a small condo and don’t have the room to have two machines, otherwise I’d keep it. Do you know of a site I can re-sell it on? It has less than 8 hours of use on it and I want it to go to a good home! It truly is a wonderful machine. It would ship like new, in mfg box with everything included. Thanks for your help! Great review too! It’s one of the reasons I went with the Bernina!

    Reply

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