Recently, I visited Once Upon a Quilt in Ft. Lauderdale to review BERNINA’s new 780, a sewing and embroidery machine that brings with it a great new innovation.

The folks at BERNINA call it the 9 Hook, an oversized bobbin that can hold up to 80 percent more thread. That alone is a wonderful plus.

Who among us wouldn’t want a bobbin that holds 80 percent more thread? The BERNINA 780 can sew at speeds up to 1000 stitches per minute and has lot of other standard features, including BERNINA’s exclusive stitch regulator, the capacity to sew stitches up to 9mm wide, computer connectivity and lots of embroidery designs.

At A Glance

The BERNINA 780 is a sleek, modern looking sewing machine that has a large full color LCD touch screen, LED lighting and function buttons that are most popular with today’s home sewers: start/stop; needle up/down; stitch lock; tie off; and reverse.

BERNINA 780

BERNINA 780

Navigating through the LCD touch screen is easy to understand but more on that below. The BERNINA 780 that I reviewed had an extension table, a free arm and a front loading bobbin, all of which are standard on all 780s.

Features

The standard features available on the BERNINA 780 include:

  • 1306 on board decorative and utility stitch options
    • 32 utility stitch options
    • 15 one step buttonholes
    • 3 darning programs
    • 460 total decorative stitches
    • 91 sideway motion decorative stitches
    • 33 quilting stitches
    • 28 cross stitch programs
    • 52 tapering stitches
    • 8 alphanumeric fonts
    • 130 embroidery designs
    • 12 embroidery alphabets
  • Computer connectivity via USB port
  • Drag and drop capability
  • BERNINA Design Works software
  • Position recall
  • Extra large free arm
  • 11 needle positions
  • Semi-automatic needle threader
  • Automatic jump stitch cutting
  • On board thread cutter
  • Adjustable presser foot pressure
  • Start/stop button
  • Variable speed control slider
  • History function/recently used stitch memory
  • On board tutorial
  • Design mirror rotating and scaling
  • Word Art

Working on the BERNINA 780

As with all other BERNINA sewing machines, winding the bobbin and threading the BERNINA 780 is easy enough for a beginner to master in just a little bit of time.

Stitch selection panel

Stitch selection panel

The stitch selection process, however, is not for beginners – at least not in my opinion. No doubt, there are a few who would disagree.

Perfect stitch quality

Perfect stitch quality

In order to select a desired stitch, you would have to go through several steps. First, touch the menu icon on the touch screen, then select the embroidery, quilting, utility or decorative stitch icon.

USB port and monitor plug

USB port and monitor plug

This will then open a screen displaying all of the stitch options in a particular category. Once a particular stitch is selected, the default stitch length and with settings are displayed along with an icon which will display the proper presser foot for the selected stitch.

The stitch length and width are adjusted on the touch screen as well, allowing each user to customize stitches to suit their particular needs.

For this review, I sampled several different utility and decorative stitches. Each stitch came out perfectly. To be honest, with an MSRP of more than $10,000, one wouldn’t expect anything less.

I fully expected each stitch to be absolutely perfect and was not disappointed. Each stitch I sampled was well defined, well formed and well balanced.

The USB port and monitor plug are located on the right side of the 780, making connection to a computer easy and fast.

I was impressed by the quality of the LED lighting. The positioning of the lights eliminates shadows and sheds the brightest possible light on the work space, which makes working on the BERNINA 780 very easy on tired eyes.

Window situated above the bobbin housing

Window situated above the bobbin housing

The work table has a window situated above the bobbin housing. Ideally, it should make inserting the bobbin and taking it out easier.

However, unless you have relatively small hands and wrists, this may be a bit of a challenge. Ideally, you should be able to change the bobbin without removing the work table, but I have my doubts if that is really going to work for everyone who uses this sewing machine.

Fabrics

  • Natural fibers/cotton-linen-wool
  • Fine fabrics/silk-satin-taffeta/velvet
  • Knits(Medium to heavyweight only)
  • Synthetic fabrics/blends-rayon-polyester
  • Upholstery
  • Leather/suede
  • Fur
  • Reptile skin
  • Canvas/Twill
  • Plastic/Rubber
  • Extra thick fabrics or multiple layers

Accessories

The list of standard accessories that come with the BERNINA 780 includes:

  • 9 Presser feet
    • Reverse pattern
    • Zipper
    • Jeans
    • Open embroidery
    • Embroidery
    • Overlock
    • Sideways motion
    • Buttonhole
    • Blindstitch
  • BERNINA stitch regulator
  • 3 embroidery hoops
  • Small
  • Medium
  • Large
  • Extra needles
  • Bobbins
  • Lint brush/seam ripper
  • Screwdrivers
  • Spool caps

Optional accessories recommended for the BERNINA 780 include several specialty presser feet and notions such as:

  • Seam guides
  • Needle punch tool
  • Touch pen/stylus and holder
  • Spanish hem stitch attachment
  • Mega hoop
  • Plexiglass extension table

Maintenance







After each useMonthly*Once Each Year**As Needed
Clean race hook and feed dogs
Wipe head with soft dry cloth
Wipe head with soft damp cloth
Lubricate
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

Tying Off The Loose Ends

The BERNINA 780 is a great top of the line sewing and embroidery machine. When you consider the MSRP, however, I would only recommend it for the home sewer who is definitely a machine embroidery enthusiast.

This eliminates the novice and even people who have passed the level of beginner, but who are not interested in machine embroidery or are unsure as to whether or not machine embroidery is their thing.

When you spend as much on a sewing machine as you might spend on a used car, you want to be sure that you’re going to get your money’s worth.

If, however, you are passionate about machine embroidery, do not buy another sewing and embroidery machine without first visiting your local BERNINA dealer and asking for a demonstration of the 780.

It sews great and with an on board inventory of more than 1300 stitches, I’m sure you won’t get bored with this one.

BERNINA 780 Review
Link To Official Website
Skill Level:
Beginner
Needs lots of help – able to sew a straight seam but unfamiliar with most sewing techniques; needs assistance and instruction on basic sewing techniques.
Intermediate
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
Expert – can sew anything without instruction or assistance; possesses an expansive knowledge of sewing techniques and terminology.
Stitch quality
Speed
Ease of use
Maintenance
Pros
  • Rotate, recolor and change size of embroidery designs on touch screen
  • Full color LCD touch screen
  • Eco saver
Cons
  • Front loading bobbin can be difficult to get to
5.0Overall Score
Reader Rating: (53 Votes)

26 Responses

  1. nbr

    Nice Review. The 750 which is more affordable and has the option of buying without the embroidery module is pricey, however for a machine on this level it is competitive with other brands. It has all the best features of the 780. A few of the most notable differences are no multidirectional sewing, smaller screen and less built in software for the embroidery end of the machine. If you already have software then it is not necessary.

    Reply
  2. karen

    I just purchased this machine about a month ago. Its been back to the shop 3 times for ‘fixes’ (1 of which resulted in a whole new machine). The stitch quality on my machine is awful– the technician and bernina certified instructor both told me that I shouldn’t expect as good stitch quality as from a 5 series or from my old janome from this machine. Worst of all, it is horribly tempramental and sucks up oil like chevy suburban sucks up gas. Sorry. Not a fan and very much regretting purchasing it.

    Reply
    • Karen

      You can change the upper tension of the 780 not only on the screen upper left corner, but also in settings. I made a change in settings and now have quality stitches. Of course you must make the change systematically. Use one thread color on the top and another in the bobbin so that you can see the stitches well. Also be sure to use the same type of thread both top and bobbin. With each small tension change sew a line of stitches. Continue until you like the stitch. What ever change you make in settings will be saved when the machine is turned off. Hope this helps you.
      I feel that no one really knows the 780 and how all it’s amazing functions work.

      Reply
    • Mary

      I have the 880, with same problems you are experiencing. Presently it is deader than a door nail…..waiting for dealers tech., to certify that it is dead before they do anything about it. That really big bobbin is the worst bobbin ever…it does soak up oil and grabs threads to wrap around the case, like crazy. Biggest mistake I ever made, buying it. I asked the dealer for a replacement as I have so many projects going, and she offered a traded in 830. No thanks, too much money in the 880. As for stitch quality and beginning a stitch on the edge of the fabric, forget it, there is no comparison when you stitch with a janome or elna, or even a babylock. Good luck!

      Reply
  3. Pam

    Karen I understand. Thankfully I did not buy this machine. I tested it and the stitch out was horrible on the back and I had to adjust every stitch when I first looked at this machine. Bernina has corrected some of the issues BUT what I have found is that the 5 series does a much better job.

    I even looked at the new 880 and was not impressed. If would recommend the 5 series over the 7 and 8 series.

    Reply
  4. Karen Lagergren

    I purchased the 780 on 11/12. It has been in the shop three times. Each time with tension issues. The first time was at the dealership where I purchased the machine. I learned not only that the technician did not know how to oil the machine but he was not certified. I then re-registered my machine when the tension was once again off. I had originally been told not to touch the bobbin tension and the tech at this dealership told me the same thing.

    Two weeks ago I once again had a tension problem. I live a distance from the dealer and waiting a week I was able to get one day service. I now have a new red bobbin case which does not have a tension adjustment. I am presently sewing with a beautiful stitch. I have been making adjustments it the pressure on the presses foot with success. There is a lot to learn about this machine. I love so many of the features. It is my 4th Bernina. My first was a used 530 Record, 2nd a 1030, then a used 1090, and now the 780.

    Reply
    • Venora

      Hi Karen, I bought this for my 60th after much research.
      I do like it a lot but haven’t had enough time to learn all of it.
      I had it back to shop for buzzing noise only, and all I had to do was update the firmware on line, which took a few goes because I’m not IT orientated, but I persevered with daughters IT Helen and it is great.
      Bernina have worked hard at fixing things here.
      It costs so much, it’s worth the while trying the hardest I can to learn it!
      Venora

      Reply
  5. Chris

    I bought the 780 because I wanted a BErnina to relace my 20+ yr old Viking. I immediatley jumped in and spent all summer embroidering flowers on silk organza for my daughter’s wedding dress. The flowers were drawn and sent to an outside digitizer. It was a steep learning curve for me as I am so NOT tech savvy, but I love my machine because I love what it did for me while making that dress. I have a lot more to learn, but am VERY satisfied with ‘Edna’. My only criticism is with the manual. It apparently does not speak my language and I find it hard to find stuff that I need clarified, and then at times I am still not clear. On several occasions it was earier to look something up via Google/u-tube.
    I had the touch screen stop working after showing the machine to a friend who was considering up-grading to a 780. A local quilt shop Long armer told me to bring it in, he contacted the tech guy who services at their shop, and they together recalibrated it (via phone instructions) at no charge, and I hadn’t purchesd the machine from that store! That has been my only problem.
    There is some ctiticism out there about the front loading bobbin being hard to get at. I do not have a problem with that and don’t have to look to re-load it. If the magnetic bobbin holding mechanism needs to be removed , that is a little more testy I’ll admit.

    Reply
  6. Gayle Hall

    I basically stumbled onto this site doing general research on the B780. I really like the machine specific info provided in this review, e.g. available stitch breakdown, features, etc., but I feel the reviewer’s explanations could be improved by accurately describing some of the selection processes. They were made to sound more difficult than they actually are.

    After reading through the comments, it sounds like the writers had not taken advantage of the free Machine Mastery classes that are essential to a happy and successful experience with any Bernina machine. Bernina machines are precision tools meant to last a lifetime. As consumers, if we’re going to lay out the big bucks for any top of the line machine, we should be prepared and willing to invest the time in gaining a thorough understanding of its operational requirements.

    When I plan to buy a machine, I do extensive research up front, BEFORE I give the dealer my money. Part of that research involves the dealer’s reputation in the community. Are their customers satisfied and happy? The Yelp site helps with this aspect. I take a couple of classes at that dealership so I can talk to a few of the customers and make a better assessment. I talk with the service technician and get a better feel for his level of expertise and knowledge of the machines. And, I talk to the store owner who decides whether or not to spend the money and send their techs to formal training on the machines. Unfortunately, many dealers do not, and it definitely shows when it comes to Bernina machines. In order to test and set the tensions properly on these machines, the technicians must use weights, which can only be purchased from Bernina. Unless this is being done in your dealer’s shop, you are likely to be dissatisfied with the stitch quality. These machines are shipped from Switzerland to your dealer’s shop with many handling points along the way. Thus, many opportunities for being mishandled. By the time they arrive at your dealer, they need to be completely serviced and have the tensions thoroughly checked and rebalanced, using those weights. What it really boils down to is how conscientious the technician is and how dedicated he/she is to placing a quality assured product in the hands of the consumer.

    If you haven’t taken the Machine Mastery classes, do it!! You’ll be so happy you did. If you do and you don’t think the instructor knew enough to be teaching the class, tell the owner and tell Bernina. Trust me, Bernina wants to know if their dealers aren’t delivering the quality of service expected by Bernina. Bernina USA will make sure you get what you deserve from your investment. This is simply not true of any other manufacturer.

    Reply
    • Karen

      Actually I have taken all the mastery classes and now have been given a 3rd new machine. Quality just isn’t there in my experience

      Reply
      • Nancy

        It seems that way. I am on my second and the stitch the right of needle especially on the back side of the stitch is not good. I love a lot of things about my machine the750, but it surprised me how much trouble this line has had. In concept its terrific in actuality not so great. I wonder if any new machiens of any brand can be trusted. I am a pretty die hard Bernina person, but I am not completely opposed to looking and using something different.

  7. Mary

    I can say that I just purchased an Elna 900 and the stitch is amazingly beautiful, top and bottom. I do have the dead 880; while alive it did not have good stitch quality, in fact taking off on the edge of fabric was impossible. I have a dealer whom gets nasty when a problem arises and it’s been difficult getting good service. As I said above, it sucks up oil. The Elna is great though.

    Reply
  8. Martha

    I just purchased the 780. I’m a quilter and love to sew but wanted to adventure out more to embroidery took several classes and keep the book handy! It’s a wonderful machine it does more than I ever expected. I have a 1130 Bernina still use that for my retreats, because the 780 is way to heavy to lug around. Love Bernina!

    Reply
    • Isobel

      Hello Martha
      I too have the Bernina 1130 from new – 25 years old now! and still I love it. I do not wish to part exchange or sell it as its my workhorse, but would really love a computerised embroidery machine and have been offered the 780E and the 830E both with an embroidery unit.
      However I am in such a dilema! I had not expected the 780 to be discontinued and of course the 830 has been too. The 830 is a trade-up and the 780 and ex-demonstrator and I do not know which to go for – a good saving on both, but still a lot of money so need to make the right decision. I know the 780 has had ‘problems’ initially, but am assured they are not on the machine being offered. Any advice welcome please.
      regards
      Isobel

      Reply
      • Mary

        Having had the 830 myself, I would advise you to take a. Hunk of fabric and thread, into the shop or where ever it is for sale, wind the bobbin, set the bobbin in place and start sewing, fast, slow, and stop starts. Then set up the embroidery module and commence to embroidering. Spend a day with it, and if you don’t have any problems, give it some serious thought. If you encounter problems, then …….. Whatever. It’s a nice machine, on a good day. The feet are very expensive and you MUST have a good tech.

      • Venora

        Hi Isobel,
        I would look at the 780 before the 830 as it’s easier to thread for a start.
        The updates on the 780 have fixed a lot of issues, but really it’s what is easier to understand for you, I don’t really like the technician from where I bought mine but can’t do anything about that.
        Best of luck

    • Venora

      Hi Martha,
      I have both of your machines too!
      I would like to converse with you regarding your experiences on the 780 and learn more stuff about it all.
      Still love the 1130 to take to class though.
      I’m brand new to computer machines though.

      Reply
  9. Scarlet

    I thought I was the only person alive not happy with a Bernina. My experience with my 560 has been less than satisfactory…. From stitch quality, needle position problems and customer service from my local dealer. I wanted a Bernina for 15 years! I was so excited to finally have the opportunity to purchase one, and I’ve regretted it since. I surely won’t be buying the embroidery module which was the plan.

    Reply
    • Mary

      I am with u on your complaints. The people that love their machines have good dealers. The bad dealers are the culprits. They are gready and lazy….simple ad that. Find a dealer that will listen to you and help.

      Reply
    • Mary

      I am with u on your complaints. The people that love their machines have good dealers. The bad dealers are the culprits. They are gready and lazy….simple ad that. Find a dealer that will listen to you and help.

      Reply
  10. Nancy Mack

    I have a Bernina 350 Special Edition and a 580. The 350 is my back up and class machine. It does a great job though you must have a firm grasp on the thread tails or the needle will unthread when starting to stitch. The foot control is extremely sensitive and even resting your foot will cause the machine to continue stitching. That being said, the stitch itself is great, no issues with tension etc. It’s a basic machine. I wanted to upgrade and got the 580. I am not in love with this machine at all. I’ve had a lot of upper tension issues, it’s difficult to start stitching at the edge of the fabric, often when I’m pivoting close to the edge the material gets sucked up into the sole plate. Ever since I took a BSR class I feel like the stitch quality has degraded, I cannot seem to get the tension right. I have never used the embroidery module, who knew embroidery could take all day, is quite expensive, with a steep learning curve. I was thinking of upgrading to a 770 which is embroidery capable, but reading over reviews now I’m not so sure. The feet for that machine are very expensive, but with Berninas it’s the feet that make the machines. Now I’m thinking I already have all the feet for my 580, and I’ll need to upgrade for the 770-is it worth the expense. My local dealer also sells Janomes, they seem so quiet. I am going to test drive both this week. I want to stick with my local dealer as he’s very close, and the only quilting store in my city. It’s a tough decision.

    Reply
    • Mary

      Go with the Janome! I bought the Elna 900 which is built by Janome. I LOVE that machine. I have the Bernina 880, which has been a total nightmare ever since I bought it. You are right about the embroidery snafu…..it’s an all day job. I do all of my sewing on the Elna, it has a beautiful stitch. When I embroider it’s done on the 880, if it’s working. Wish I had not bought the 880.

      Reply
  11. Isobel

    It was very interesting reading everyone’s view on different machines (Bernina included). I am, however, a lifelong fan of Bernina and took the plunge and went for the 830 that was offered. It has hardly been used and the person trading up to the 880 has one in each of three countries! I haven’t used the machine yet, due to being unwell, but am itching to get my hands on it. I am quite nervous too, as my local dealer ran through the basics on a couple of occasions, but that was back in August/September and the “old grey cells” aren’t what they were, so I am hoping I can work it out without a degree! Thank you to those who commented on my query. I think (hoping) that it is a matter of getting to grips with a new way of sewing that causes the issues people have had……watch this space. Oh, and a belated “Happy New Year”.

    Reply
  12. Amy

    I have sewed on Berninas almost exclusively my entire adult life – my first was the original 830, handed down from my mother (I later handed it down to my MIL, along with my mom’s 1130 after mom was no longer able to sew). The only non-Bernina machine I’ve owned was a Memory Craft 8000, which I replaced after a couple of years with the 1630. (I recently attended a quilt retreat where I borrowed an MC8000 – now I remember exactly why I got rid of it.) I bought my 780 18 months ago and love it. Yes, it sometimes requires tweaking and patience, but playing around with the machine is part of the fun. The embroidery is beautiful and I love that I have a bigger field than I had with my 630. This is my sixth Bernina sewing machine. I’ve also owned two sergers and the original Deco embroidery machine. You’ll never catch me buying another brand.

    Reply
  13. Steele

    I too have sewn on berninas my entire life. I started at age 7 on a 730, then my mother bought the 830 of which I still have. Then I bought the 1130 for $1000 from a going out of business sale, which I had for 12 yrs problem free. Bought the 1530 and and paid $1500 and passed my 1130 to my mom as a trade for her 830 for my kids to use. Then 2 yrs ago I bought the B 750….$5000 for a behemoth of plastics junk. Almost every time I start to sew the thread gets sucked down and knots.

    As a result not too long ago when the thread knotted I was turning the hand wheel to bring the needle up and the hand wheel broke off. It’ll go on but makes a clanking noise as I sew. The freehand mechanism is so loose the knee lift bled to the point it sometimes won’t lift the preset foot.

    Then just today as I’m working to finish a large project the bobbin warning came on. The door was shut but when I went to see again the warning came back on. I took the case out then the bobbin and a little wire that is down under a little piece had dislodged and was sticking up. And since its past a year I have to pay for a new bobbin case grrrrr.

    And the only thing the guy I bought from can do is brag about how he sells the most berninas in ca and hi. But when it comes to needing service they are very lacking. And he’ll swear nobody has any problems and that they are made with the same quality as always.

    Excuse me? Plastic bobbins and cases is not the same quality as before. My other machines have metal bobbins and cases. All that being said, lots of new features that broaden the range of scope of what you can make with these new machines. If they’re not broken!

    Reply

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