I haven’t shared this with you before, but I have a new and amazing sewing machine! For the last 15 years I have been sewing on a Viking machine that had clearly seen better days and it finally went to the eternal hunting ground for sewing machines back in October. (What exactly sewing machines hunt for is beyond me. Lint?) My best friend is going through a non-sewing stage in her life and let me use her Viking machine which was brand new. For the first time in my life I had a foot with a hover function and a needle-down option! WOW!


I have never been that big of a sewing machine snob and I have always proudly claimed that any limitations in the quality of my quilts is from a lack of skill (or too much red wine) on my part. But I have to say that with the introduction of my monster-heavy Bernina 880, I am starting to appreciate my ignorance.

Sure, I should have been able to sew immaculate quilts on any well-functioning sewing machine, but it sure helps when your sewing machine is fantastic. Not only does it make it easier to do basic things like piecing and machine appliqué, but my new Bernina 880 also yells at me if it isn’t threaded right, makes sure I use the right foot, the right needle, and the right stitch plate for my stitch.

For the first time in my life I have nifty attachments like the Bernina Stitch Regulator which makes sure that my machine quilting stitches are the same length by reading how fast the fabric is being fed through the machine. First time I tried it I kept wanting to regulate speed with the foot pedal and if was like driving an automatic for the first time after a lifetime of driving a stick. I am getting the hang of it though…

This is an entirely new and exciting world to me. My new machine doesn’t do any of the goofy things my hold Viking did, like swallow fabric down through the stitch plate…that was always my favorite and made piecing much less fun.

Awesome as the 880 is so far, I am also a bit intimidated by it. I haven’t even opened the box for all the embroidery stuff yet because I have no clue how to use it, or what I would want to use it for. So it sits on the floor in the living room and my cat sleeps on it. On the other side I feel like trying new and complicated things, like piecing something with tons of inset seams and tiny pieces, just to see what I can really master without the excuse of a limited sewing machine.

Today however, my machine is sitting quietly on my desk as I recline back to do some hand quilting. I don’t think any machine can make me fall out of love with hand sewing.

Do you have a preference? Machine or hand or a bit of both?



22 thoughts on “My new and fancy Bernina 880

  1. Just discovered your blog and I am liking it. I have had Bernina machines for almost 20 years and they are fabulous. I however, also have not taken my embroidery stuff out of the box. Some day… As for quilting, I like hand quilting just a little better but enjoy both.

    1. Hi Lizzie, thank you for visiting and letting me know you like my blog. It means a lot. I LOVE my new Bernina 880 but it takes a lot of time and work to figure out all it can do. You can even get a pen attachment for it and it will draw for you! Do you do your piecing and appliqué by hand, or just the quilting part?

  2. Hi! Welcome at the B880club…..I have one too, and I LOVE it. I’m a quilter too, and love both ways of quilting….hand and machine.
    Felicia, take the embroidery-unit out of the box, and make some samples. It’s great for quilting too, so much lovely patterns are available for quilting.
    I wish you alot of fun with the B880…..I called mine the Beast!!! Big, heavy and sturdy…..

  3. I just ordered a bernina 880, and it will be my first sewing machine. I have always (for 10+ years) hand quilted. But, I have inflammatory arthritis, so it has gotten painful & difficult to quilt, so not any fun. I went shopping around and decided on a Bernina. I pretty much decided on the 750QE, but I got a deal I couldn’t refuse on the 880. So excited and nervous to start this adventure!

    1. Wow, I am so happy for you! The 880 is an awesome machine with an insane amount of bells and whistles. Don’t get intimidated by it. I have to admit that I haven’t even used my embroidery module. I keep thinking that now is the time but I seem to always be quilting on a deadline and haven’t had the time to learn to use it. I have promised myself that in the spring I will make a project for publications that uses the embroidery module for appliqué. We will see how that goes. The other thing I am going to teach myself this spring is hand-piecing…which I am guessing you must be pretty proficient at. I hope you are able to keep your arthritis under control, I know that can be hard to live with.


      1. Thank you for solving my problem with my 880. I did the recalibration by holding down the left and right needle position keys and then turning the machine on. Worked out great. I am saving this site and hopefully be able to help someone else.

  4. I agree with the comments about how awesome the Bernina 880 is. That makes it ever the more disappointing that I am unable to do ANYTHING with my brand new (1 day old) 880 Sterling. I know my dealer did a “stitch-out” so assume the problem lies with my ignorance. Never-the-less, if anyone has any experience similar to mine I would so appreciate any helpful suggestions. The machine turns on and the basic sewing screen opens. From there on, nothing is working. I am unable to select the correct foot because that icon as, well as all the rest, fail to respond to tapping. I have a green light on the start/stop button so decided to just see if it will sew. An attempt to do so provokes the appearance of a screen that shows a simple outline of a foot colored in orange and a red spot alternating with a “?” and an “=”. The X at the top right of the screen does not respond to the stylus or my finger and there I sit – stuck.

  5. I love my 880 Sterling Edition. I purchased it in Jan 2015 and after being shown how to thread the upper and bobbin thread at my dealer I took it right home and started sewing. I haven’t regretted my decision to purchase my 880 for a second. Matilde the Monster (she is a monster at 40 pounds) is used almost every day and she hasn’t ever disappointed me. There are wonderful YouTube videos on how to use our machine from threading and sewing and using all the embroidery features. If you have a good dealer nearby like I do, they should offer three free classes to learn the machine. My dealer also has embroidery club classes too. Sorry Trudy, I don’t know the answer to your issue but this may help. If you hold the needle right and needle left buttons on the front of the machine at the same time and while still holding them turn the machine on and off it will bring up the screen calibration screen. You then touch within the cross hairs to tell the machine where you are touching the screen. I believe this is on YouTube and in the manual.

    Carol S

    1. Thank you, I had the same problem. I didn’t know I needed to calibrate the touch screen.
      By pressing the two buttons, and holding them until the screen came on completely, (not the first initial Bernina, but the second lighter screen) I released the buttons and then calibrated my touch screen. I was getting very frustrated. Thank you again.

  6. I have had my 880 since October of 2014. I absolutely love it!! The dealer where I bought it in Port Charolette Fl, Charolette sewing Studio, provides a mastery class to get you started and you can go to as many mastery classes as it takes to learn the machine. I used my embroidery attachment immediately!!! Part of the reason I bought it. I go to all the embroidery club classes plus many sewing classes to learn all I can. Yes at first it was overwhelming but I stuck with it till I got it. I sew just about every day. I LOVE MY BERNINA!!
    Linda DeWind

  7. I am so glad to find this site. I to have a bernina 880. It’s had a few problems and I almost regretted buying however it does so many wonderful things when it’s working. I love the BSR foot. I love the feet on a bernina and I love how the walking foot is built in. It is a beauty to look at. Too heavy to carry around. I also bought the 560 because I definely can carry it to to classes. It’s like a smaller version of the 880.

  8. I have a Bernina 880 bought in April 2014. I have nothing but trouble with it , the threader will not work,, the cutter is very slow and does not cut well, it jams up easily – on the top threading and the bobbin. The tension seems to have a mind of its own, it moves itself. This machine has been to the dealer many times, the last time he had it for 3 months. The warranty states you have to take it back to the dealer you purchased it. I would advise taking it back to the dealer and get them to properly test everything. I have had embroidery machines for years and have never had a problem with any of them. This machine cost me as much as a car and there is limited help once you take it home. I have contacted Bernina, you have to do it online, but do not get any response. At this point I am thinking of legal help or my large sewing/quilting groups say to go to the media.

    1. Hi Vale, I am sorry you have had such a hard time with your machine! They are such a big investment so I understand your frustration. I would advise that you make another attempt to contact Bernina, maybe try calling them on a non-help number and explaining what is going on. Bernina takes great pride in producing high quality machines and it certainly isn’t in their interest to have dissatisfied customers. I have no problems with mine, nor do anybody else I know, so maybe you were unfortunate and got a lemon. Best of luck.

      1. It’s true, most dealers do give classes on the machines. Some dealers are better at it than other. Must drag info out of them. Others are so proficient at it that it’s well worth the time to take the class. Our dealer has been doing it so long, she has bored herself and the class students, into oblivion info.

        I have had my 880 in the shop more than out. At one point it totally died. Right now it is dead in the water again. Would call it a lemon. It’s like loosing a good friend.

        I am going to a baby lock…..never thought I would have to do that, but yes, I really want to sew and embroider…..can’t count on the 880. 😢

        Luv your blog…..Happy sewing!

      2. Hi Mary, I am so sorry you are having such a hard time with the 880 breaking down and malfunctioning. I don’t really have any problems with mine. The door sensor for the bobbin compartment was just changed but that was a factory recall and didn’t cost me anything. I will absolutely agree that the 880 is not a beginner machine. I wouldn’t hand it over to somebody who has no training. My friend likes to say you have to be sure you are the “alpha bitch” when you sew on it or it will completely mess with you.
        I personally don’t do embroidery, but I do tons of applique and my machine generally accumilates a million stitches (not doing embroidery) within a few months. It is my absolute workhorse. I also use it for all my quilting and it performs great.
        I have never been on a baby lock but I have heard great things about both the company itself and the machines from other people I know in the industry.

        Best of luck to you!

      3. I just read about the recall on the bobbin door sensor. I have been fighting the bobbin door since I got it. The door opens and closes as if it is obsessed. They tell me there is no problem. How can that be? This is the first time I have heard about a bobbin sensor door recall. Apparently Paulas Fabrics at Jacksonville has not heard about it either.

  9. Why Don’t you guys take the classes the dealers offer? Every Bernina dealer I know of gives classes to teach you how to operate you machine after you purchase it. Even if you purchased online, the cost is minimal when you consider the investment in the machine. Take the classes!!!

  10. I would love to hear from anyone who has used their Bernina 880 on a quilt frame to do machine quilting, how does it perform? any issues with skipped stitches?? I have the 2008 Bernina 820 and the Bernina quilt frame. The 820 sews beautifully on the sewing table, but when I use it on the quilt frame with BSR I frequently have trouble with skipped stitches. I have had many conversations with the dealer and we cannot come up with a fix. I am considering buying an 880 because the dealer says the problems have been resolved, but I would like to hear that from an owner. Any input will be greatly appreciated!

  11. I just got the 880 and quilting frame. Hope to get all going today. My first Bernini so i’m a little nervous. Will let you know how it goes. Wish me luck

  12. I just took my 880 in because of the bobbin sensor. They replaced it and now it is working again. I do find that my 880 is like a thoroughbred race horse. Everything has to be just right and then it is absolutely beyond my wildest dreams, however if I change a thread to a wt it doesn’t like then I have spent hours, literally hours trying to just sew one seam. It is temperamental, for sure. I would love to take a class (there are none that I know of in NYC, just one way out in Brooklyn!) as I’m sure there are things I’m doing that cause it to stress ;) certainly there are things I’m doing that make it stop working and that causes ME stress! I have spent many, many hours watching you tube videos on the 880 and it all seems to effortless. That has definitely not been my experience. Still I carry on. Hoping you continue to have great success with yours!

    1. This may not be totally correct, as my evidence is just anecdotal but I am under the impression that some 880s are more like lemons than others. Mine is a total doll 99% of the time. I should add that I have NEVER attached the embroidery module but I have several million stitches on the machine and it has done A LOT of applique and free motion quilting on large projects and it does a great job. I didn’t take any of the classes offered other than the very introduction, basically because I don’t have the patience. The basics is to keep your machine clean, have it serviced every 500K stitches or so, use high quality thread, don’t ever pull your top thread out backwards, and oil the bobbin case about every bobbin change. It took me a while to figure out that it really needed that frequent oiling but apparently all Bernina machines like to get a lot of oil. And Yes, you definitely need to establish who is the boss with this machine.

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