Bernina Aurora 440 – First Impressions

I did it! I bought the Bernina 440 with the BSR! Now, as of this moment, I’ve truly had very little time to play, since I picked it up on my way to the Black Forest Quilt Guild meeting last night, and it was very late when I got home. Then this morning, I taught the first part of the Machine Quilting – Master the Basics class at the Gussy Goose. I do want to share some of my first impressions with you, before I go and play this afternoon.

It’s interesting that when you buy a machine like this in Germany, they don’t open the machine and set it up and run it before they hand it over. When I worked for a Pfaff dealership in the States years ago, they would set the machine up and run it at high speed (unthreaded) for at least an hour. The called it “sewing it in,” and no machine left the store without this first sew in. At least you knew, when you got it home, that it was going to work. The dealer handed me my Bernina, and the box still had the plastic straps on it from the factory, so obviously that kind of thing doesn’t happen here. Not a big deal, I suppose, but I did have this vision of opening the box and setting the thing up and finding something wrong last night, and then not being able to fix it until today or Monday.

There was absolutely nothing wrong with the machine though, other than the huge amount of oil that came off of the parts in the thread path and coated the first few inches of my seamline in oil. Ugh. I’m assuming it will all get out of there soon, after I sew with it some more. When I unboxed it, my first thought was how well it’s packed! The machine is completely surrounded with Styrofoam, not just bits at the top and bottom, which seems like it’s much more secure in shipment than some other machines. It feels heavier than my other machines, and seems very solidly built to last. The only part of it that gives me pause is the table surface that attaches to the free arm of the machine; it’s plastic, and it seems like one good accidental whack would break it to pieces.

The dealer told me that this Bernina 440 can use either 110v or 220v power, and is auto switching; when I’m ready to move (let that be soon!) all I have to do is buy a 110v power cord, and the machine will recognize it and use the proper power without having to set a switch. It’s not so bad having to move a switch to the right voltage if you’re going from Europe to the States, but if you’re moving this way and you happen to forget to move the voltage switch on something, it’s not pretty. (Ask me how I know that!) With the Bernina, I have one less thing to worry about.

I LOVE the accessory box! It holds all the little bits, and the best part is that there is room to add more shelves inside it when you get more bits! Like all the other feet I want to get! I’ve heard it said over the years that Bernina is king of the feet, since they have a foot for absolutely everything! True, so true. I like the speed control foot too, since the cord winds up very neatly on a holder on the bottom, and the end plugs into the side for storage. Perfect.

Back to the reasons that I wanted this thing in the beginning: the CFL (Cool Fluorescent Light), the magnifiers and the open toe free motion foot (#24). I LOVE the light. I could sew without the lights on in my studio if I wanted to with no problem at all. It’s not all yellow and one-sided like other machine lights, and I don’t have to have all these extra lights hanging over my sewing machine to be able to see clearly to free motion quilt. The magnifying set was a must have add on to the machine; remember the tiniest stippling ever? I could have used this magnifier set then for sure! The #24 foot is also a must buy item since it has the open toe for the best visibility, but even the free motion foot #9 that comes standard on the machine is wonderful, since it’s so small and trim, and the back of it is offset so that you can see directly behind the foot when you’re free motion quilting.

I’m off to play now, and really do some test driving and comparisons to my other machines. More later!