Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Meet my new sewing machine

Ladies and gentlemen my new Bernette 15! Its around 2 weeks old and is the reason for the smile on my face as I am typing.

Update 4 Jan 2016 - This machine is now called London 5 and here is a whole list of tutorials on the stitches available on the machine and how to use them :

I was actually very happy with my old sewing machine. The machine that I was using until now was a Usha Tailor Deluxe.

 I purchased it many years back on a whim at a craft exhibition when the machine was available at a discount. Since I had no idea of sewing whatsoever at that time I just purchased a very basic machine. I had a vague idea that I wanted to sew. I started using it about 2 years after buying it. The Usha Tailor Deluxe is a robust machine and I was very happy with it until I wanted to attach a zipper foot to it. I've sewn zippers with a normal presser foot but felt that it would be great if I could fit a zipper foot for zippers and piping. I contacted the company about this. Though the response was quick they just directed me to their local dealers who were not sure whether the foot would fit the machine or not. They either didn't know (!!) or they just didn't seem interested since my machine was very basic. Ganesh kept insisting that I deserved a new machine but I wasn't ready to give up on my old one. It was only when my friend Rupi encouraged me to buy a new one did I decide to go ahead. She said I would know what I had been missing only when I bought a new one.

 The decision this time was an informed one. After sewing for quite sometime now I had a clear idea of what I was looking for - 
  • A robust machine with various presser feet.
  • A free arm for circular sewing
  • A good manual. No matter how good the demo given by the dealer is nothing can replace a well written manual. My earlier machine's manual left a lot to be desired.
  • A good number of utility stitches.
  • Machine should not vibrate at the maximum speed.
  • An easy to use bobbin winding system
  I visited a number of shops in Chikpet, Bangalore. The one that my friend Tanushree suggested turned out to be the best. They had brands that were not available in the other shops. Bernina is available only with select dealers in India and they are one of them. I also did not know that Bernina has been in India since 1992. The owner of the store Mr. Kumar and his staff patiently answered all my questions and gave me brochures. It was there that I narrowed down my choice to Usha Stitch Magic and Bernette. The Brother sewing machines had a top loading (drop-in) bobbin system which I was not comfortable with. I am used to the front/side bobbin loading system. For some reason I did not consider Singer.

I think its best never to buy a machine the first time you visit a store. Decision making is clearer when you take time to process all the information that you gather on the first visit. Apart from the brochures I got back, I also looked at reviews for various machines on sewing forums. When I wanted to know more about the Bernina models available I wrote to Bernina India on their site. The response was immediate and again more questions about the various models were answered.

Why I chose Bernette 15 by Bernina?
LED display for displaying design patterns

  • Loved its features. It comes with 6 standard presser feet. Find the brochure and a list of presser feet (click on the download tab) here
  • For similar features ( as compared to Usha Stitch Magic) the Bernette15 came at a much lesser price. I saved a few thousand rupees.
  • It has a 2 level pressure foot lift which will be useful for sewing many layers.
  • The other models in Bernina were way beyond my budget for now. Find the Bernina models available in India here on their site : Bernina India
  • It comes with a wonderful manual.

 I was also impressed with Shubha Enterprises - the store where I bought my machine. They are wonderful people to deal with so I'm sure that after sales service will be good. I got a demo of the machine by Mr. Anand from the store who was very knowledgeable.

Here is their address -
Mr. Kumar
No. 6/3 Near Upparpet Police station
Bangalore 560053

 Ph : 080-22201651 080-2226 3651

Some do's when you are buying a machine
  • Keep in mind what kind of projects you will be using your machine for. If it were only dressmaking I would have been happy with my old machine. Since I also make bags I felt the need to upgrade.
  • Ask your friends about their machines and  features/ read reviews on the internet and on sewing forums.
  • Know the functions of various presser feet. There are standard feet available and also optional feet that can be bought as and when you need them.
  • All machines from a brand might not be on display in the store. If there is something you have in mind ask for it.
  • Use the machine, that you are planning to buy, at the dealer's and don't shy away from asking questions.
What about my old machine now? My mother said she would be happy to use it.

P.S. If there is a problem commenting on my blog please let me know by sending me an email. If your google profile goes in a loop while commenting you need to uncheck the "stay signed in" option, sign in again and then comment.


  1. Congrats on your new machine and thanks for this informative post. I selected Stitch magic 2 yrs ago without doing much research. I am glad I picked that model as it is serving me pretty well.

  2. Beautiful Bernette, indeed Suma. Very informative post. Did you check where is this machine made ? Top drop bobbin loading is actually very easy. I had used the conventional one before and I find this much faster. Also you can keep a check on the bobbin thread.

  3. Thatz quite a detailed post Suma. The machine is a beauty. Love her. And no stopping you now :)

  4. Thank u for your blog. It is a sweet & thoughtful gesture. please do not hesitate to contact us if u have any kind of doubt or queries. You have taken the right decision to buy bernette. Its a lovely machine :)

  5. Hey Suma,
    Congrats on the new purchase!!!!Great review too. Happy sewing.

  6. Hey Suma, congrats on the new machine! I loved the detailed post. Now am tempted to purchase one myself! :)

  7. Hi Suma, This was a very helpful review and the only Bernette review from India I found on the net. I have booked a Bernette 12 recently and it is going to arrive this weekend. Can't wait to try it out!!!

  8. Hi Suma,

    I was planning to buy Usha Stitch Magic when I came across your blog, which is very informative. I am really impressed with Bernette. I am only looking for basic features but I would rather have something with more features so that I can expand my skills over time.

    But I am from Chennai and I have sent a query out from their webpage looking for a dealer here. I have more confidence in a Swiss make but the only thing that I am doubtful about is the service provided in India. I am trying to find if Bernette have service centers around Chennai. Do you have service centers in Bangalore for Bernette? What about spare parts?

    Thank you for writing your wonderful insights. I am sure this would help a lot of people like me who are lost when trying to choose a good sewing machine.


  9. Hey Suma,

    Thanks for the review! Like the poster above, this is the only Bernette review based out of India I've seen so far. Could you please provide an update on how the machine is working for you - I'd really appreciate it?

    I recently moved to India and am looking to buy a new sewing machine and this is one I am considering. I am a bit beyond the absolute beginner stage, but not that experienced either, that I can confidently tackle a project without a detailed tute.


  10. Hi Suma, Thank you for the review. After doing some research I was pretty sure that I'd be buying the Stitch Magic from Usha. However, after reading your post, I'm having second thoughts. The Bernette looks beautiful and looks like it has some better features.

    I do have a few questions:

    - Now that you have had your Bernette for over a year, how has the experience been? Are you happy with it?

    - Would it possible to let me know at what price you bought the Bernette 15 for?


  11. I've answered all the questions above in this post :
    Happy sewing!

  12. Hi Suma,
    That was a nice review. I am planning to get my first Sewing Machine and I am trying hard to decide between the two:

    - Bernina Bernette 15
    - Usha Janome Stitch Magic

    Both demand the same price (about Rs.15,000 aprox) and Warranty.

    I read a lot about Bernina and Bernette and thing boils down to these findings:
    - Bernette is not made by Bernina (Switzerland).
    - Bernette is made in Asia, by whom is not yet clear.
    - Bernina has 5 Years Warranty, Bernette has got 2 years.

    So, technically Bernette and Janome ( Usha Janome in India ) are quite similar in performance and Quality.

    As a Brand I prefer Bernina over Janome (Usha Janome)
    But when I did checkout forums and read the reviews from user there is a 100% agreement on the Bernina Machines being the undisputed winner. But the moment its about the Bernette its quite the opposite. 90+% users prefer Janome over Bernette.

    So, All these information is making it quite difficult for me to make a choice.

    I would highly appreciate if you could give some feedback regarding the performance, sturdiness, built Quality, perfectness in stitch, capacity to handle heavy stitching once a while etc. between the two models (Bernette 15 and Usha Janome Stitch Magic). And also your recommendation.


  13. Hi Sapam,

    I can imagine your dilemma. I too found that they are quite similar in performance and quality.
    When I bought my machine, Bernette 15 cost me Rs. 9200 while the Usha Janome stitch magic was somewhere between Rs.12000 - Rs.13000. Also, a well written manual was very important for me since I am self taught. These two factors helped me go for the Bernette 15.
    It won't be fair to recommend a machine since I haven't really used the Usha Janome. I can only say that Bernette works great for me. I have used it for a year and a half and have had no problems at all. I haven't tried any heavy duty sewing nor have I sewn for hours on end. I recently sewed a pouch with laminate (table cover material) and it worked out fine.
    Usha Janome offers free demos. Maybe trying it out will help you decide. All the best in your search. Happy Sewing!

  14. Hi Suma,
    Thank you for the information.

    I am planning to do few bags, Home Decor and Child Cloths etc.

    I did called up the Bernina Creative Center in Mumbai. And it seems Bernina did setup a factory in Thailand, so they seem to have pretty good control over the quality of their products not made in Swiss.

    I think I will probably and most hopefully certain that I'll go for Bernette 15. And it is also the high end of the three Mechanical Series 10, 12, 15.


  15. Hi Suma,
    I am definitely going for Bernette 15 at least. But the more I research and look around I am developing a liking for Bernina 330. Its for sure 3 times costlier but seems to be able to handle heavy duty sewing without breaking a sweat. Also that model got 5 year warranty. I might loose an arm and leg to get that model ( BERNINA 330). So still wondering if its worth the arm and leg ;)


    1. Hey..
      I am planning to start with sewing myself. Till now I have just tried my hands on borrowed machines thus have almost zero understanding of sewing machines thus would like to know in more detail about the choice I should make about the sewing machine, as I plan to do heavy duty sewing as well sewing on light weight fabrics like chiffon etc. Extra features like embroidery and all will be good to have as they can help me expand my sewing horizons. Though I ll be starting with sewing, I like to buy something which can last me years.

  16. Folks. nice reading this trail and thanks Suma for starting it. For the past few months i am fixed with Usha Janome stitchmagic...for price and value i guess no other make comes close. Tho one dealer did mention that brother 2700 is cheaper in india and offers equal or even more feature-functionality. As you said too, i did not like the top-load bobbin style - it was in the BM 2600 (brother - made in china model) that i bought in 2010 and sold for less than half price last month... i found it leading to waste a lot of thread from the spool as well as the bobbin...does anyone else too feel likewise?
    I have used the singer merritt table top(1983-1994), a 1990s model of fashion maker, novell and brother over the last 30 years plus...the table top when i was in highschool was a barebones simple to use straight-stitching one that served me the longest. The other 3 were too multifeatured for the spare time that i had and somewhat complex to quickly adjust to - too many knobs to turn...for me. So i kept upgrading from one to the other and not using them to the best advantage...pointlessly!
    now after reading your post i figure that the bernina comes close to usha janome stitchmagic...but i still would want to go for usha...everyone seems to agree that usha is the sturdier of all the mid-range (cost-wise) machines on sale in india...
    Any thoughts to share anyone?
    thanks in advance...
    best regards

  17. Hello Suma,

    I want to buy a automatic sewing machine and my friend told me to go in for Usha Janome Allure blindly. while i was browsing for sewing machine reviews, i landed up at your site and after reading this post, i almost decided to buy bernette 15 - which is now bernette london 5 and costing 12.5k. Just yesterday, my colleague from Mumbai told to give a look at Novel sewing machine Auto 55 or 39. Now i am in a dilemma, which one to go in for..bernette or novel. can you please help me decide. my need is for stitching stitching...basic curtain makings and all home needs, bit of embrodiary datz it. Please share me some thoughts.
    Many thanks, Dhanalakshmi

    1. Hi Dhanalakshmi,
      I get asked this a number of times :) But I think ,since I haven't used Usha Allure or Novel, it would really be unfair to compare. I reviewed the Bernette because I've used it. I have friends who own Allure and they love it. My cousin owns a Novel and she loves her too :) Any of the 3 machines should work for you since you require it for basic home sewing.
      Here's my suggestion : Take your time if you are feeling confused. Try using the machines at the store or get them to give you a demo. They might even come home for a demo if you ask. Make a list of features of each one and then decide.
      Hope this helps you.

    2. Thank you Suma for your prompt reply. I will borrow sometime to decided which one to go in for. I liked Novel for its price and features (10 k for 55 stitches) but i hardly have any review about this sewing machine on the net (few did not even know it there was a brand by Novel) so i am little reluctant. You have mentioned your cousin owning Novel. Which model is it and how long has she been using it. Once again Thank you

    3. Hi Dhanu,
      Novel sewing machines started in Pune and since I'm from Pune I've known about the brand for a long time. My cousin's machine has around 28 stitches and she has been using it for almost 4 years now. I hadn't considered Novel when I bought my machine. But do consider it. Ask for a demo of the machine from the dealer and then decide. Take your time. All the best with your search :)

    4. Hello Suma,
      i checked with one of the distributor who recommends singer or usha rather than Novel. He says the straight stich in novel are good hit but not the automatic ones as the motor is not of good quality compared to usha or singer & Singer has more features than Usha with almost same cost. keeping fingers crossed!!

  18. Wow, great article, I really appreciate your thought process and having it explained properly, thank you! Your Blog Images Awesome. Geminy Sewing Machine

  19. thanks for this beautiful info. Your Dressing is great and I appreciate it. You must go and check Geminy sewing Machines to have a look on great Over Lock Sewing Machines

  20. Hello Suma,

    Would be really great if you can do a review post of this sewing machine??

    Thanks, Dhanu

    1. You mean the Geminy sewing machine from the comment above? Thats a good idea, Dhanu! Thanks! I could do a review and a giveaway.
      Have you decided on your machine yet?

  21. Suma,
    I wanted you to do a review on Bernette 15. It will be useful for those who want to decide on what to buy...they really donot have to go through what i went
    Yes, i finalised on Bernette 15 now London 5....after all the hoof ups.

  22. Hi Suma,

    I bought a Bernette 15 for my daughter nearly 4 years ago when it was launched in India and she is very happy with it. No, she loves it ! :)

  23. Thanks for sharing this blog,its really very useful to know about Bernette,My choice is to buy a Bernette machine,keep updating more threads Best Embroidery Sewing Machines in Chennai

  24. Hi Suma, I am exactly in the same position before you got your bernina. Also I stitch all my dresses, blouses myself. So these days for piping work and all, zipper foot is getting essential. Hence the query. I happened to see a demo of Usha Allure at an exhibition. I am impressed. But confused. Should I go for Bernina or Usha. Are there service centres in Bombay for Bernina? Will servicing of automatic machines cost a fortune?

  25. Hey thanks. This helped me decide on Bernette London 5!

  26. Hi
    Good to see you so much in love with your machine. I've just one query, how does it handle soft leather and other heavy stuff. Somehow I haven't come across any review mentioning the materials it could stitch. Furthermore what is it's weight? I had bought an Usha Janome wonder stitch 18 years ago. It has served me fine. I have sewn garments for myself and my children and other household stuff for which it did well enough. But recently I tried to stitch soft leather which it couldn't. I had tried it with a roller foot. So now I want a machine which is more versatile.

  27. Thanks for share this article, it very useful for me.
    I look forward to your new article.
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