UnBoxing a Bernina 380 - What do you get?? And a Bernina Newbie's impression :)

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Hey Guys!

You may remember when I was looking at getting a new sewing machine? Well if you are on twitter or Instagram, you will have noticed that I bit the bullet and invested heavily in my sewing future.

I had never considered Bernina before as a machine that I might use. I knew they were the best, but I didn't like how slim and tall they were, I didn't like how little space on the neck you had to sew over the footplate, and I didn't like how simple looking the 1 and 2 series were, which were the only ones I was familiar with.

Its a terrible thing to say, and my dealer thought I was mad for not considering certain machines because of how they look. Thankfully, my partner understood! He is massively into aesthetic. You should have seen how long it took him to choose a television (hint: we are talking months in double figures).

At the end of the day, you need to be happy with what you buy, and have feel positive sitting at it, no?

Well my first inkling that I may consider Bernina was looking at Lauren from Lladybird's 350PE. Seeing it occasionally in her photo's, in a natural sewing environment was what swayed me. Throw in on top that you get a table extension as standard was what really sealed the deal - the slim neck problem solved.

Now the reason I went for the 380 over the 350, was only because I got an amazing deal on my machine. I really wanted to keep it local, for support, and to support my local sewing shop. They were happy to match an offer I had found which had £100 off the machine (which made it only £100 more than the 350) and a walking foot included (worth £99). Otherwise I may not have stepped up to the 380.

I had never sewn with a Bernina before so they ordered it in, and I had an agonising week to wait to try it out as my shifts at work didn't line up with their opening hours. Argh! Thankfully, she was leaving it boxed and sealed for me, so I was a happy camper. I didn't want someone touching my (potential) baby!

So I went there yesterday morning and spent 4 hours chatting and playing. I was unsure when we unboxed it, but I could find no fault with it as we played. By the end, I was panicking about having to make a decision but it felt like it was mine. When my partner was turning up, I knew we would be on a time limit to get back to the car so I just went 'Yes, buy it'. At times like that, money seems no more precious to me than beans.
You gotta have joy in your life! And my machine at home, was not making sewing feel joyful to me.


What I would have liked when I was looking at machines was more home reviews, natural environment pictures, user impressions, etc. My main point of reference was Bernina themselves, which is of course biased. But I did have some sewists help with questions! And my dealer is pretty straight talking, and will answer your questions straight.

So I thought perhaps, any of you guys out there who are pondering a purchase, may like to see what comes out of that tightly packed box.

Firstly the Beauty itself

Next the extension table

The Knee-Lift (lifts the presser foot)

A Cloth-Guide

The Foot Pedal

The Dust Cover

The Accessories Case

The Included Presser Feet
1 - Reverse Pattern Foot
2 - Overlock Foot
3A - Automatic Buttonhole Foot
4 - Zipper Foot
5 - Blindstitch Foot
8 - Jeans foot
20 - Open Embroidery Foot

The Other Accessories
5 Bobbins (one in the machine)
Selection of Bernina Needles
Seam Guide
Height compensating tool
Bernina Seam Ripper
Lint Brust
Oil/Lubricant (Only to be used in bobbin case)
2 Foam pads (Vertical Spool Pin)
3 Spool Disc Clamps (Horizontal Spool pin)
Star Alan Key

The Three-Sole Walking Foot

The Decorative Stitch Guide (Fits to stand up in handle)

A little pack of threads

The Guarantee
Instruction Booklet
Accessories guide
Price list for Accessories

Also - not pictured is the box!

SO - Some random bits of info (as many as I can remember!) -

The other machines in the 3 Series should be almost identical to sew on, there is just additional functionality, and possibly different accessories as you move between (the 350 has a few extra different feet/is missing a few different feet than the 330/380 as it's a 'Patchwork Edition')

Regular universal needles are fine, but some brands aren't the best due to slight variances, so I'm going to stick with Schmetz

The machine was actually smaller than I expected from the pictures

No oil in the machine head, only the bobbin case occasionally

Bobbins are sold individually at £1.75 each

The bobbin case is under the neck, so you won't be able to peek at it as you stitch

The throat-plate just pops up, so no screwdriver required for a quick clean

Until the end of January, new machines get a 7 year warranty (Usually 5 I think)

This warranty requires servicing by an authorised Bernina Engineer every 3 years min to remain valid, so factor that cost in (although you should service in any case). My local shop is £89 for a computerised machine for a full service.

The presser feet that came with mine are solid necks, there are snap-on versions too, but I'm not sure about what machines they should/shouldn't be used with etc - must find out. The solid neck ones clip on just as easy as a snap-on foot.

Remember, Presser Feet are pricey; snap-on are clearly going to be cheaper than solid neck. Solid neck range from about £21.50 for a straight stitch to £72 for a ruffler to £165 for a Non-prefolded bias binding foot.

The machine can be used without the pedal, and has a start/stop button with a speed regulator. Therefore the power lean and pedal lead are separate.

The pedal is amazing! So much more control of speed, etc, than any pedal I've tried. Stitching in general is incredible. I think you would have to fight to have wonky stitching on this thing.

When you select your stitch, it will tell you what foot to put on.

There are 9 needle positions - and only 3 feed dogs

There are a pattern end and pattern mirror functions

There is a needle stop at up/down function - which is active using both the pedal and without

It has really nice bright LED lights

There is a 'Balance adjuster' that occasionally may be requires for decorative patterns and a feed dog drop button

The bobbin winds automatically

The table extension is included - very handy

The 380 is the only 3 Series machine that comes with the Accessories case, the others have a zip bag.

I would avoid magnetic pin-cushions, etc, near the machine, due to the computer. There is a risk that it could wipe the memory

Keep your box, as all transport for servicing or repairs will require the box. You will be charged each time if you have thrown it away

The instruction manuals/accessories catalogue are worth a lot of money so keep them safe!

You set up a buttonhole initially, and once set it will repeat the button hole automatically for your project.

Ummmmmmm.... I think that's all I can think of for now! Hope this helps someone make that important decision!

Thanks everyone for your support!

Emmie x


  1. congrats on the new baby (machine) :D She's a beauty

  2. Congratulations! I just this weekend went to enquire about this machine so the timing of your post is perfect! The dealer almost sounded like he was trying to gear me towards the 330 but I think my mind is made up... Can I ask which dealer you bought yours from?

  3. I really like the look of Berninas and wish I could afford one, right now. Instead I bought a computerized Janome, which I like, but not as much as the Berninas I 'test drove'. Glad that you are enjoying yours!

  4. Where are you based? My dealer isn't advertising it so they may not agree to it again, but it's online here http://www.howdenssewingmachines.co.uk/acatalog/bernina_3_series.html

  5. i COMPLETELY understand what you mean about how the machine looks! Seriously, there were many I ruled out overall because of looks - and even in the Bernina's, there were only certain ones that I liked. I ended up with the 550, and LOVE it! I wanted a machine that was sleek and looked like it meant business, but not ugly either. Nothing cutesy. I think you know what I mean... :) Other than still getting the knack of making consistent buttonholes, I am head over heels in love with it. Not saying that the buttonholes are the machine's issue - I am the one who is still getting comfortable with them.

  6. Thank you for a very helpful post! I am looking to upgrade this year and was just overwhelmed trying to look on the Bernina website. Seems lots of machines are geared towards quilting, which I have no interest in. Glad to know the 380 is working out for you!

  7. Wow! Nice Emmie....Congratulations!

  8. So, after 4 years with this Swiss beauty at your service: would you still buy it again? What features have you missed? What kind of fabrics have you had any problems with? Is it enough with "so few" buttonholes and "decorative stiches?"

    As per 2018, would you still buy Bernina or opt for Janome Skyline or something from Pfaffs?


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