Top 10 BERNINA Sewing Machine Questions

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We have listed the top 10 most asked questions BERNINA sewing machine owners ask. From cleaning, oiling, and needles to tension, generic feet, and needle threaders, below are the answers to these and other commonly asked questions.

Rather watch than read? This video answers every question including a BONUS #11 question at the end.

1. Do I need to oil my BERNINA sewing machine?

Yes. BERNINA sewing machine operates best with small daily lubrication. Only use clear sewing machine oil available from your BERNINA sewing machine retailer. If you need assistance with where or how to oil your BERNINA sewing machine, your BERNINA store will be happy to help. We also have cleaning and oiling tutorials for most BERNINA machines at

For BERNINA Jumbo Bobbin users such as BERNINA 7 series machines, check out our ingenious “Flip” trick for getting the BERNINA jumbo hook back in place.

2. How often should I change my needle?

Sewing machine needles are the lifeblood of a sewing machine. Using the right needle for the fabric and thread thickness choose can be the difference between frustration and success. Change the needle as soon as any type of thread break, frayed thread, a skipped stitch, or thread looping occurs. Click here for a BERNINA needle chart.

3. How do I adjust my tension?

Sewing machine tension should be one of your least worries. Tension is to be adjusted when the top and bobbin threads different in weight and a balanced stitch is not being achieved. Make sure the BERNINA sewing machine is cleaned, oiled, threaded with quality thread, and has the correct needle in prior to adjusting tension.

4. When do I need to have my sewing machine professionally cleaned?

BERNINA sewing machines should be professionally cleaned annually especially if you sew a lot. One person’s “a lot” can be another person’s average month of sewing. BERNINA sewing machines that stick to a regular service schedule last longer and run smoother over their life span.

5. My sewing machine always has “birds nests” down in the bobbin area, what is going wrong?

Ah, the nasty “bird’s nest” scenario. We have all experienced it. This occurs with the top thread is not correctly seated in the TOP tension. It has nothing to to with the bobbin. This is typically an operator error problem which can easily be corrected by rethreading the upper thread.

6. Why won’t my needle threader work?

Needle threaders can easily be bent and become unaligned with the needle eye when improper use happens. Make sure you are using your needle threader correctly by watching a video of your needle threader. If it needs adjusting, have your local BERNINA service center assist with realignment.

7. Does it hurt the machine to travel with it? Or to sew over thick fabrics? 

Sewing machines have no problem going for a car ride. They are built solid to handle all sorts of jostling that may come from bumpy roads, in and out of cars, setting up and down on tables, and it’s the original trip from the factory to your home. Search “UPS Drop Test” to learn more about how companies must plan for all types of shipping and drop scenarios.  

BERNINA sewing machines are also designed with one of the highest piercing power of all sewing machines. Next time you have a thick fabrics or a thick seam, give your BERNINA a chance to show you how strong it is.

8. What type of bobbin does my BERNINA sewing machine use?

BERNINA manufactures many different sewing machine models with a handful of different bobbin styles. Always use the correct genuine BERNINA bobbins in your BERNINA sewing machine. Your local BERNINA store will be happy to assist you with your bobbin needs.

BERNINA has a list of which bobbins go with which sewing machines. Click here to see the list.

9. What kind of thread should I be using on my BERNINA sewing machine?

Quality sewing thread is key to any sewing machine’s performance. The more you pay for thread, the better quality it is. Check with your local BERNINA store for threads they recommend. Some of our favorite brands at our store include: Isacord, Mettler, and Aurifil

10. Do I need to hold my threads when starting to sew? 

It is not necessary to hold your threads when starting to sew on a BERNINA sewing machine. Do make sure there is fabric underneath the needle before the first stitch is taken and that the take-up lever is in the highest position.

11. Can I use generic feet on my Bernina sewing machine? 

Generic presser feet are not the place to skimp when it comes to BERNINA ownership. BERNINA’s amazing selection and quality presser feet have years of engineering research that have made them the best they possibly can be. No one would even dream of putting generic Ferrari car parts in a Ferrari – a BERNINA sewing machine is no different.

Want to Learn More?

Check out our Bernina Stitching Cosmos online course and click here for additional BERNINA Sewing Machine FAQ’s.

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