One day, I happened to drop in to say hello to the staff at Once Upon a Quilt in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and came upon the Q-20.

When I returned to review this machine, I learned that although the Q-20 is capable of working with a large quilt frame, it is the first long arm quilting machine that BERNINA designed to also function as a sit down quilter. In fact, in its standard configuration, the Q-20 comes as a sit down quilting machine.

At A Glance



A USB port

A USB port

The BERNINA Q-20 has a bobbin winder on the right side of the machine and a thread path that carries the thread on both sides of the machine head before going to the automatic needle threader, which initially signals to me that the threading process is not as simple as some others I have seen.

There is also a series of bright LED lights which extend the entire length of the arm and under the needle; presser foot tension release control; electronic presser foot lift; and a USB port.

There is a bright LCD screen above the needle which is used in the process of adjusting the stitch length. The automatic needle threader and a bright LED light are directly beneath the needle.

The machine is mounted on a table that is custom designed specifically for the BERNINA Q-20. This table is available in two standard colors – English white ash and Asian golden teak.

A bobbin winder

A bobbin winder

It is also available in six additional finishes – American birdseye maple, North American oak, Canadian maple, American walnut, Brazilian cherry and African ebony.

With all those options, anyone who purchases one of these machines can be assured of matching their personal taste, style and décor.


  • Adjustable stitch length from 1.05mm – 25.4mm
  • Personal program
  • BERNINA stitch regulation system [dual stitch regulators]
  • On board bobbin winder
  • Compatible with domestic sewing needles
  • Automatic thread tension
  • Automatic presser foot lift
  • Automatic needle threader
  • 4.3” LED touchscreen
  • Sews up to 2200 stitches per minute
  • Standard table opens to reveal two large storage compartments on either side the machine head

Working on the BERNINA Q-20

Following the thread guides on the BERNINA Q-20 requires referring to the owner’s manual in order to properly thread the machine. Winding the bobbin, however, is far less complicated and labor intensive.

Adjusting the stitch length is surprisingly uncomplicated. All that is required is to follow the easy to understand guides on the touchscreen.



Once the desired stitch length is set, the only thing left to do is to touch the icon on the screen to lower the presser foot, place my hands atop the fabric on both sides of the needle, and press the foot pedal. The speed is controlled by the amount of pressure you apply to the foot pedal.

While operating the BERNINA Q-20, I found it to at first to be as easy as driving an old Volkswagen Beetle with no power steering. The BERNINA Q-20 is lightning fast as well.

When combined with the seeming stiffness of the steering mechanism, I must say that it took me a few attempts before I could comfortably operate the Q-20.

After my ‘test drive’, I was able to negotiate the use of the BERNINA Q-20, I found it to be rather easy to operate. Despite a considerable amount of noise, the stitches made by the BERNINA Q-20 are well formed, sturdy and evenly shaped.

Well formed, sturdy and evenly shaped stitches

Well formed, sturdy and evenly shaped stitches


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


Standard accessories:

  • Free motion foot
  • Instructional DVD
  • Owner’s manual
  • Metal accessories case


Optional accessories:

  • Horizontal and vertical spool holders
  • Twin needle stitch plate
  • Optional presser feet:
    • Embroidery foot
    • Free motion embroidery foot
    • Teardrop embroidery foot
    • Quilting foot
    • Free motion couching foot
    • Echo quilting and cutwork foot
    • Ruler foot
    • Ruler base kit


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
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

Regardless of how fast or slow the BERNINA Q-20 is operating, however, I discovered that there was considerable noise.

When compared with other sit down quilting machines that I have reviewed, [Handiquilter Sweet 16, Janome Artistic Quilter 18 SC and Baby Lock Tiara II] the BERNINA Q-20 is the loudest.

If you are not already accustomed with working with a high speed sit down quilting machine, the BERNINA Q-20 might seem a bit intimidating.

Although my machine quilting experience is extremely limited to say the best, I was able to make all of the necessary adjustments in my own approach to this machine and get comfortable with it after just a few attempts.

After those adjustments were made, I found the BERNINA Q-20 to be rather easy to operate. I did, however, notice a little bit of vibration while moving the fabric beneath then needle and creating a small freehand design during the course of this review.

The fact that the BERNINA Q-20 is equipped with the patented BERNINA dual stitch regulator is a major advantage.

The BSR has a long standing track record for guaranteeing balanced stitches on BERNINA sewing and quilting machines. This single feature assures users that the Q-20 will deliver even, balanced stitches each and every time.

The BERNINA Q-20 has the BERNINA name and reputation behind it. It is versatile and can be used either as a sit down quilting machine with the standard table or with an optional frame.

Either way, anyone who adds this machine to their home sewing room will be assured of quality stitching and the excellent standard of operation and dependability that the BERNINA brand is so well known for.

If you are a machine quilting enthusiast who would doesn’t have the space to accommodate a full sized quilting frame or would simply prefer to sit down while creating beautiful quilted projects, you should visit your local BERNINA dealer for a demonstration of the Q-20 before deciding upon which sit down quilting machine to invest in.

BERNINA Q-20 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
  • Built in stitch regulator
  • Noisy
4.6Overall Score
Reader Rating: (1 Vote)

3 Responses

  1. Mary

    Beautiful machine, but like you commented, it IS extremely noisey. We saw it at a quilt fest at Jacksonville. It was so noisey that we thought there was something wrong with it. Used to working on the Babylock Tiara which is whisper quiet.

  2. Julie

    Your statement that the speed is determined by how hard you press the foot pedal is incorrect. The speed is determined by how fast you move the fabric. The foot pedal merely acts as an on/off switch.

  3. Vicky

    Would like to know the price range on this Bernina…I assume it is much more expensive than the other sit-down quilting machines.


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