Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Bernina 950 Industrial Sewing Machine Review

I purchased my semi-Industrial Bernina 950 machine in 2001. I don't remember the exact price, but I want to say I paid right around $1,700. (You can get one here: Click here for Bernina, Tacsew, Refrey Sewing Machines and Juki Sergers from AllBrands.com.) I managed to get my local Bernina Dealer to get it for me for the price I would have had to pay to get it thru the mail from a catalogue. I used it daily for 3 or 4 years with no major problems. I was doing contract sewing that required me to straight stitch and then zig zag every seam, like a false flat felled seam. I was using the buttonhole on the jackets I was making at that time too.

This is considered a craft machine because it has decorative stitches and a built in buttonhole. I know that some people don't like it because it has plastic gears inside.

It is not as fast as a regular Industrial Machine and I don't use it as often right now because its slower than my Industrial straight stitch Pfaff.

A person I did Contract Sewing for had one, so that was how I was introduced to it. When I was waiting for my work to be finished, or if there was something she needed done right away before I went home for a week, I used hers. I got to the point in my sewing that I *needed* a faster machine. The first time I did a job on it, I finished so fast I was truly stunned.

Our machines both ended up with the same problem. The hand dial (I'm bad at names for stuff, its how you move the needle up and down) has a loosener for winding the bobbin, that wears out very quickly. I never saw hers work and mine wore out before the first year was thru. When I want to wind bobbins I have to take the bobbin case out, because I can't keep the needle from going up and down. This wasn't really a big deal when I sewed for her because we only used 2 or 3 thread colors and I could wind all the bobbins at once. You *can* wind a bobbin while you are sewing. I really don't even think about it, but it is an issue with the machine since we both had it happen. Mine was fixed once, but I've given up, I won't even ask to have it fixed again.

Overall, I really love the machine, I wish I had more to do on it. It is smooth and sturdy and comes with a bunch of feet (including an applique and zipper foot).

Bobbins are expensive, I think I had to pay 2.25 each. 

 Bernina Tacsew 950 Genuine Original Proprietary Solid Metal Empty Bobbins 330-026-030 - Pack of 10, with No Extra Holes On Either Side (Singer FW 221)


Lesalicious said...

Love your blog thanks for stopping by my blog I love visiters. That's great to have that sewing machine that long and no problems with it. :)

sumr said...

I have a Bernina 950 as well. I went to the Fashion Institute of Technology where I sewed exclusively on a Juki. When I graduated my mom, living in VA, bought me the Bernina from JoAnn fabrics. Although, I was thrilled that she surprised me with such a thoughtful gift I really had wanted a Juki. I haven't had the best of luck with it although, I rarely sew (had it since probably 2000). I have had a multitude of what I thought were problems with it. Mostly, now I am just wondering what purposes & types of fabrics this machine can sew on. I think my mom, & I, thought it'd be a speedy industrial machine that I could sew pretty much anything with. I'm not finding that to be the case. I think I've read, over the past years, that it' better for light to medium weight fabric. What has been your experience?

Diane said...

Hi sumr, I'm sorry to hear you've had problems with your machine. It isn't really an industrial as can only do about 2000 spm. A true industrial does about 5000 or 6000 spm. I bought it to sew on felted wool because I needed to straight stitch, then zig zag throughout the garment like a false flat felled seam and finish with button holes. If I had bought a true industrial I would have needed 2 or 3 machines and I couldn't afford it. I have used it a lot for dance costumes/swimsuits and lightly for most other things because I do have an industrial Pfaff straight stitch. So I've used it on a variety of fabrics with success, denim, quilting cotton, lycra, felted wool, silk chiffon, etc. It does have many advantages of an industrial. Sturdy table, faster that most home machines, etc. Some things to note, the bobbin goes into the bobbin case in the opposite direction of all my other machines (see the manual), the needle goes in slightly off center (the book says 6 on the clock), and I am a needle changer, I change often and use ball point most often. HTH!

janice844 said...

I too have a 950 which was 2nd hand (like new,) so have no instruction book and no idea which way round the bobbin goes into the case??? And I think my needle goes up and down when I wind a bobbin. Does yours have a light over the needle? Mine doesn't, I think that if it does, it's an original Swiss machine, and without a light it's built somewhere else??? It's been lovely for months but last night the needle started hitting the 'thing that goes round underneath,' my mechanic is away until Monday, so I'm a bit worried. I have a Brother industrial so I'll have to switch to that, I did consider a really fast industrial with thread cutter, instead of the 950 but my Brother's one of the newer cream ones, incidentally, the old beaten up Brother industrials seem to be built better, I've used lots of different ones.

Diane said...

Hi Janice,
If you've been sewing successfully, you have the bobbin in correctly. Never heard the light thing, interesting. Mine doesn't have any but the snake one. Sounds like the timing is off on your machine, best to wait for the mechanic if you don't know how to fix it. The center part of the hand wheel should turn toward you to keep the needle from going up and down while you wind a bobbin, otherwise take out the bobbin case while you are winding! Have a great day!

Chrisbeads said...

I have a 950 which I bought quite a long time ago, maybe 15 years. It doesn't have an internal light over the needle, but there is a light mounted on the back of the table which can be swivelled in any direction.
When I first got the machine it sewed OK in straight stitch but didn't do any fancy stitches. Then I found that the person who sold it to me had put the wrong size needle in the machine and it was too short. Got the right needles and really haven't had any problems since. One service call in 15 years is not bad.
The 950 was advertised as "semi-industrial" here in Australia. Not as fast as an industrial but copes with a lot heavier fabrics than a domestic machine.
Also you may find that some fabrics are best sewn using a walking foot, especially if they are slippery, such as vinyl or shiny fabrics.
I have done a huge amount of applique and machine embroidery with it and it sews beautifully.

judy said...

I am looking at the bernina 950. I make ice skating and dance costumes. How does it sew on lycra? I saw in your blog that you also sew on lycra. Thanks for the information.

Diane said...

Hi Judy, I have had success sewing on Lycra fabrics for dance costumes with this machine. If you are used to sewing with a home Pfaff with a dual feed, it may feel a little odd at first but you will soon love the speed and stability this machine offers(I used a home Pfaff with dual feed with my lycra sewing before this machine). I keep meaning to write another post on this machine, it has many advantages of Industrial machines but in exchange for the cut in speed it is not so specialized. When I bought it I was able to do more sewing immediately without the cost of investing in 3 separate machines. Take the plunge and watch your productivity skyrocket!

Leslie Pennel said...

Do you know where I can find an instruction manual? I have the machine. No manual. It's not sewing correctly and I'm pretty positive it's a user error.. :)

Diane said...

Hi Leslie, Did you see my post on threading the machine? http://thoughtsfromaseamstress.blogspot.com/2009/05/tutorial-thread-bernina-950.html
Two things that stand out, the needle should not be straight on, but "5 o'clock", and the bobbin goes in the bibbin case opposite of most of my other machines. Good Luck!

Diane said...

ack! bobbin... typing in the dark,lol

Marcia Cash, Traveler in Thyme said...

Re: lubricating Bernina 950:
the manual says "5 oil bearings on thread take-up and needle bar drive" , but I only see 4 little holes at the joints of the rocker arms. Where is the 5th oil point?

Montana Kaye said...

well, i wrote here once and then lost it. so will try again. i am looking at a 950 and wondering if it will sew leather and also i make bags with Pendleton and use lots of folds and it gets thick. will this machine do that...hope so. I really want an industial...
Kaye Tufton
Dagmar, Montana

maggi said...

I am a dressmaker& bridal seamstress. I also do alterations & zipper replacements on all manner of clothing from silk to heavy winter coats. I have always thought of the 950 as the most versatile machine for light industrial sewing ever produced I have had my 950 (bought used) for over 15 years & have never had any major issues with it. Being an older machine it has metal gears & parts, not plastic. It does have the light over the needle but I use a goose neck light.the older machines are the best . I have used a 950, 40 hours a week for 30 years , with no major downtime what so ever. over time I have learned to diagnose problems & do basic repairs to my own machine.
if your having Bobbin winding issues, check the center wheel on the hand wheel it has s screw in it that comes loose from time to time. Re tighten this screw.
If you are having issues with uneven thread tension or skipping when sewing bulky fabric, you can adjust your foot pressure. take the top off the machine, at the top of the needle post there is a screw, tighten the screw by turning clockwise . there is a spring hidden underneath the screw that applies more pressure to the foot so it will handle heavier fabrics.

Diane said...

Sorry so incredibly sloe getting to this...Marcia, mine doesn't say 5 points, sorry. Montana Kayne, I haven't tried leather, but I haven't found its maximum thickness yet. This is more of a semi industrial. If I was sewing on leather and heavier fabrics I would probably make a different choice. Maggi thank you so much for your experienced thoughts and advice, I hope someone finds it helpful and useful. My Bernina 950 is still a valuable machine, but now that I have other industrials, it isn't usually my first choice. I have taken it to my youth theater job to use there because of its versatility, but also because it isn't my first choice for running production or even an alteration!

Anonymous said...

thankyou for your information Maggie
I want to purchase the bernina 950 semi industrial ,because of its versatility for the present time as I want to start making my own clothes, not sure wether to get new or second hand..amy

Diane said...

Hi Amy, If you can get a good one second hand go for it! I purchased this one new because I needed it for work and couldn't wait to find a used one. I definitely don't regret it! All my other industrials are used and great anyway.

Unknown said...

Re: lubricating Bernina 950:
the manual says "5 oil bearings on thread take-up and needle bar drive" , ... Where is the 5th oil point?

It is on the arms turning the wheel makes the 5th appear, some of the other won't be visible.

I have a question about "oiling the oil point on the hook" Does anyone know where that point is?

Diane said...

The point on the hook is where the bobbin case goes. Take out the bobbin case and turn the wheel until you see the "hook" point. I put a couple drops on and run the machine without thread or bobbin case for 30 seconds or so and then put it all back together.

Unknown said...


I just purchased Bernina 950. I wrote a sewing machine parts dealer, Irene, and she sent me this link: http://www.sewingpartsonline.com/instruction-manual-bernina-950.aspx

You'll have your manual immediately;)


Anonymous said...

I purchase a 950 the other day. However, I can not get the thread that is jammed out of the bobbin hole and the needle will not move up and down when I press on the foot pedal. The hand wheel still turns though. Any suggestions as to what I can do. I am unfamiliar with the machine. I know I will love it once I learn how to use it --Thanks

Diane said...

Hi, If you aren't sure what to do next it sounds like the machine may need to be serviced by a professional!

prem said...

Hi diane. Doesnt seem like there too many people sewing with the 950. Please put some youtube videos of you sewing on yours.

For the thread jam: tilt your machine back and check the bobbin case. You might have to take out the hook/shuttle and whole assembly. Be mindful when when you are taking this apart because you will need to put it back correctly and time it. I had a mean jam and just had to do this on my Tacsew 950 (same exact machine as Bernina 950) and it took all of Saturday night and a few hours Sunday morning to get the hook/needle to finally get a stitch again...extremely frustrating but hey, I now know how to fix the issue myself and didn't have to pay anyone.
Additionally, like diane mentioned, your needle should be facing get between the 6-7 o'clock position...and make sure it is facing the front...that is important to prevent these types of issues. Good luck.

Diane said...

Thanks for the info, prem! I am having trouble uploading still :p. I do have a couple short videos of me using the Bernina 950 here: http://thoughtsfromaseamstress.blogspot.com/2009/05/tutorial-redo-worn-out-elastic.html
I hope to figure out youtube soon!

Scott Pecora said...

Question? Some of you have referred to the "older" Bernina 950 models that apparently don't have plastic gears. If true, when did Bernina change over to plastic gears, what year, generation, or series of the 950 model changed to plastic? Scott

Heidi said...

I purchased the Tacsew 950 a year and 1/2 ago and it came without set up instructions. It is sitting here collecting dust and I paid a lot of money for it but no one thus far can help.
I just noticed above that there was a link to purchase the manual and I just did, thank you!
Will this have full set up instructions? I am used to using more commercial machines and this one is very confusing to me.

Thanks so much!

Anonymous said...

I am interested in the bobbin holders in picture of Bernina at web site. where can they be purchased?

Diane said...

Anonymous, here they are:


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