There are few things an avid home sewer likes more than a well-organized, busy sewing machine shop.

That is the exact experience we had when we recently visited Once Upon a Quilt, a delightful BERNINA distributor in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

The primary purpose for the visit was to check out the new sewing, quilting and embroidery machines in the BERNINA 5 Series… the 530, 550 QE and 580.

The 580 is BERNINA’s new embroidery machine. The 530 is the BERNINA’s latest addition to their line of multi-function machines; and the 550 QE is the newest BERNINA home quilting machine. The ‘QE’ stands for Quilters’ Edition.

At A Glance

When you first look at them, the 530 and 550 QE appear to be identical in every way. Upon closer examination of the presser foot, however, you will clearly see that the BERNINA 550 QE is equipped with the exclusive BERNINA Stitch Regulator (BSR).

Bernina 550 QE sewing machine

Bernina 550 Quilters’ Edition

The BSR is a specialized presser foot that assures the user that quilting stitches remain even and consistent while executing freehand stitches or working with thick layers of fabric.

BSR - Bernina Stitch Regulator

BSR – Bernina Stitch Regulator

While the stitch regulator is an optional accessory which can be added to any BERNINA sewing, quilting or embroidery machine, it comes as a standard feature on the BERNINA 550 QE.


Many of the other features available on the BERNINA 550 QE are also found on the 530. They include:

  • Capability to sew up to 900 stitches per minute
  • 100 create and save stitch combinations
  • Adjustable stitch length and width
  • Semi-automatic needle threader
  • Adjustable pressure foot pressure
  • Adjustable speed control

Working on the Bernina 550 Quilters’ Edition

The on board threading guide and top winding bobbin are just the first user friendly steps in a wonderful sewing experience.

The touch pad helps guide users through each step in creating the perfect sewing and quilting projects.

On board threading guide on the Bernina 530

On board threading guide

The addition of the standard BERNINA Stitch Regulator, the front loading bobbin and the free hand sewing system make working on the BERNINA 550 QE one of the most pleasant sewing experiences possible.

The freehand sewing system, coupled with the BSR makes quilting a breeze.

No matter how many fabric layers we use, the BERNINA 550 QE makes quilting so easy, even a novice can execute a multitude of beautiful quilt projects.

The freehand sewing system on the Bernina 530 QE

The freehand sewing system and the BSR

The spacious extension table has a convenient window that allows users to change the bobbin without removing it and when it is not in use, a functional free arm is exposed, facilitating easy access to sleeve hems, cuffs and other small sewing tasks.

The on board rulers on the base of the BERNINA 550 QE and the extension table coupled with the seam guide etched onto the needle plate are features that any sewer would appreciate.

These seemingly insignificant add-ons are extremely valuable time savers.

On board rulers on the base of the BERNINA 550 QE

On board rulers on the base of the BERNINA 550 QE

The BERNINA 550 QE is capable of rendering up to 900 stitches per minute. While it is running, users will notice how smoothly and quietly it operates, and the ergonomic design makes it possible for users to sew or long hours with fewer rest stops.

That’s because the BERNINA 550 QE is specifically designed to minimize fatigue as well as shoulder, neck and wrist discomfort.


  • Natural fibers/cotton-linen-wool
  • Fine fabrics/silk-satin-taffeta/velvet
  • Knits
  • Synthetic fabrics/blends-rayon-polyester
  • Upholstery
  • Leather/suede
  • Fur
  • Canvas/Twill
  • Extra thick fabrics or multiple layers


The list of standard accessories for the BERNINA 550 QE differs from the 550 QE in that the 550 QE has three additional presser feet to accommodate more efficient machine quilting.

The list of accessories available with the 550 QE model includes:

  • 8 snap on presser feet
  • BSR – Bernina Stitch Regulator
  • Reverse pattern
  • Walking
  • Open Embroidery
  • Patchwork
  • Buttonhole
  • Zipper
  • Blindstitch
  • Slide on extension table
  • Seam guide etched onto needle plate
  • On board ruler
  • Hands free presser foot lifter
  • Carrying case


After each useMonthly*Once Each Year**As Needed
Clean loopers and feed dogs
Wipe head with soft dry cloth
Wipe head with soft damp cloth
Service by sewing machine repair professional

* more often if the machine is used for extended periods of time or if used frequently

**more often if the machine is used heavily or if it is not operating properly


The BERNINA 550 QE is one of three brand new machines by BERNINA.

While this particular model is specifically designed to handle all sewing tasks, the BERNINA Stitch Regulator makes it an ideal choice for the home sewer who is partial to machine embroidery.

Freehand quilting designs on Bernina 530 QE

Freehand quilting designs

The exclusive BERNINA freehand system is a perfect accompaniment for the machine quilter. All it takes to execute the perfect freehand quilting designs is a gentle guiding touch by the user.

The LCD screen and on board navigational buttons help even the beginner achieve perfect results each and every time.

With a price tag of $4399, the BERNINA 550 QE is within easy reach of just about any budget.

It is the most affordable quilting and sewing machine for the home sewer, and a welcome addition to any sewing room that produces any machine quilting pieces, even if the quilting specialty happens to be quilted accents on jacket fronts, collars, pockets and yokes.

Bernina 550 QE Review
Link To Official Website
Skill Level:
Needs lots of help – able to sew a straight seam but unfamiliar with most sewing techniques; needs assistance and instruction on basic sewing techniques.
Competent – can make different clothing items without assistance or guidance, but not good enough to sew intricate projects or to sew without a pattern.
Expert – can sew anything without instruction or assistance; possesses an expansive knowledge of sewing techniques and terminology.
Stitch quality
Ease of use
  • User friendly
  • More than 100 utility and decorative stitch patterns
  • USB port
  • None
5.0Overall Score
Reader Rating: (60 Votes)

12 Responses

  1. Susan Berry

    Machine sounds wonderful but need an explanation of the blue X’s and red check marks.

  2. zerlene woodward

    Only con I see is I wish some way it could tell me how much thread is left on the bobbin??? That would be so HANDY!!! Luv,luv my 550……other wise it is absoultely the BEST EVER!!

  3. zerlene woodward

    Need HELP on my free/hand machine Embroidery Please!
    Tell me how to set my top deal number? So that the white bobbin thread does not come to the top of my embroidery stitches??? ThankYou, zerlene

    • Nancy

      To adjust bobbin tension, The bobbin case has a little screw on it, just next to the tension notch. Righty tightly, lefty loosy. But a tiny 1/8″ turn goes a long way. I recommend getting a second bobbin case to adjust, and leave the original one for sewing. Bobbin work, embroidery, etc, on the second. If using bobbin thread, which is smaller, turn the screw tiny amount, then while holding the case in one hand, give the thread a slight tug. A small amount of thread should dispense, a tad less than 1/4″.

  4. Margaret Doro

    Do the feet from older machines for example Bernina 1230 fit the Bernina 550 QE?

  5. Vernelle

    Hello, Margaret –

    Thank you for visiting Sewing Insight.

    Many of the older Bernina presser feet fit the newer models. However, to be certain that everything works smoothly, I suggest you give your local Bernina dealer a call. Better yet, drop by and introduce yourself. No doubt the sales staff will be glad to assist you with any questions you may have.

    Happy stitching.

    • Robin

      Connie, the 550 QE has a few more stitches, but not many, and the BSR comes standard. It is an add on for the 530.

    • Vernelle

      Hello, Arlene

      Thank you for visiting Sewing Insight.

      To the best of my knowledge, nearly all Bernina presser feet are interchangeable. However, I caution you to verify this information with your local Bernina dealer before making a purchase.

      As a rule, quilting machines are not equipped with USB ports. This feature is usually reserved for embroidery machines when downloadable designs and software are more common.

  6. Amy

    Where is the auto thread cutter? It looks like it barely has any LED lights for that price. I also noticed there is no bobbin low sensor. There is also no touch screen and the display is not in colour for that price it seems you are getting short changed compared to other brands. No dual feed and a maximum stitch width of only 5.5 am I missing something here? How did this get 5* ??


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