Tool Trove (3) – Twenty Things I Love About the Bernina Aurora 440 QE

Bernina Aurora 440 QE

There’s been a lot of interest in the Bernina Aurora 440 QE (Quilter’s Edition) from the time it entered the market place. The focus of all the attention rests on the BSR (Bernina Stitch Regulator) attachment. The 440 QE is not the only computerized free arm sewing machine that Bernina offers with this attachment, but it is a midrange Bernina machine, making it more widely available to those who can’t swallow the price of the 730 model or simply don’t need all the features that a top-of-the-line machine offers. (A friend of mine describes the price tags this way: “These are machines you drive home.”)

Although the BSR attachment is deserving of the attention it has received, the 440 QE offers sewers, quilters, fiber artists, and other artisans a host of other features worth noting. I can’t promise that this post will cover every single bell and whistle, but I will give you a list of my favorite things about this wonderful sewing and embroidery machine.

1. The Manual – Bernina writes a great manual that is detailed and easy to understand.

2. Reinforced Soft Cover – Bernina includes a carrying case with compartments for accessories.

3. Accessory Box – I love this thing. It attaches to the back of the machine for easy transport. It detaches for desk top use. There are compartments for bobbins, presser feet, sewing machine needles, and two drawers for other small parts.

4. Walking Foot – A two sole walking foot with seam guide comes standard with the machine.

5. Needle Threader – It works; what more can you ask for. (There are also three thread cutters on the machine.)

6. Clear Slide On Table – There are seam allowance markings on the table as well as a ruler in inches and centimeters. Although listed as optional, my machine came with a slide on seam guide that is fully adjustable the entire length of the table.

7. Bobbin Winder – Bernina makes a great bobbin winder with a separate motor. This one even has a little thread cutter on the on/off switch. A collapsible vertical spool pin on the right side of the machine makes winding bobbins while sewing or embroidering quite easy.

8. Cool Fluorescent Light – What a difference this makes. I’ve actually burned my hand from the heat buildup on other machines.

9. Manual Presser Foot Pressure Dial – This dial is on the head frame, making it easily accessible.

10. Free Hand System – My Bernina 1230 has this feature as well. With a little push from your right knee, the presser foot raises and lowers.

11. Horizontal and Vertical Spool Pins – Sewers need both and Bernina provides them.

12. Thread Tension Adjustment Wheel – I like having the ability to adjust the upper thread tension manually. I use many different threads and make adjustments frequently. I also like having the dial in constant visual range rather than having to open a menu to see what my tension is set at.

13. Push Button Feed Dog – The feed dog button is easily accessible from the lower right hand side of the machine.

14. Slide Speed Control – I use this feature constantly. It also works when winding bobbins and with the BSR attachment.

15. LCD Screen – The LCD screen displays a lot of important information while you’re sewing, such as needle position (there are eleven to choose from), stitch width and length, needle up/down position, recommended presser foot, presser foot pressure, stitch selection (there are 379), mirror image, pattern begin/end, BSR, memory display, service notifications, and more. It’s a lot to take in at first, but after a little use your eyes become trained and it all becomes second nature.

16. Memory – Up to 90 stitches, letters, or numbers can be saved in memory along with stitch length, stitch width, and needle position alterations.

17. Multiple Brand Sewing Machine Needles – You can use various brands of sewing machine needles. I mention this because it’s not true of all machines. I have a top-of-the-line machine manufactured by another company that can only use Schmetz needles.

18. Quick Reverse Button – Bernina has conveniently located this button in the lowest position on the front of the machine (above the needle), making a few quick reverse stitches super easy. A continuous reverse function is also available.

19. Stitch Selection Card with Holder – Sometimes the stitches displayed on the LCD screen don’t match up well with the actual stitch, so Bernina has included a double sided stitch card with a picture of each stitch and its corresponding number. The machine handle has a clamp that holds the card.

20. Versatility – This is the thing that I find most endearing about the 440 QE. For general sewing, the machine has all the features you need, along with a powerful motor. For quilting, the machine has 32 built in quilting stitches and comes with a walking foot, a real bonus. Of course, the star of the show is the BSR attachment.

Additionally, the 440 QE is an embroidery machine when purchased with the optional embroidery unit. You will often find that midrange sewing/embroidery machines come with smaller embroidery fields. Not this machine. The large (145 x 255 mm) oval embroidery hoop is standard.

One more optional feature is the Bernina Needle Punch Accessory Set. I just purchased this attachment a few days ago as a backup to my Babylock Embellisher and will do a review once I’ve had time to work with it.

There you have my twenty favorite things about this sewing machine. I believe it only fair to mention a few things that I wish were different. The extent of the stitch width is 5.5 mm. It would have been nice to have at least 6 mm if not 7 mm. Also, since this machine is named “Quilter’s Edition,” patchwork foot #57 with the side guide should be standard. Instead, Bernina packs it with the patchwork foot #37.

So much goes into the decision making process when shopping for a new sewing machine. Give a lot of thought to the features you really need and test different brands and models. Also, visit online groups that focus on the machines in which you are interested. Here are the addresses for the Bernina Aurora 440 QE Yahoo groups:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Bernina_Aurora/
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BSRfunction/

And now a little about the BSR. Whenever you try something new, it’s going to be a little awkward at first. If you’ve done any amount of free motion quilting, you know that a certain feel and rhythm develops over time. The BSR has its own feel and rhythm. The more you use it, the more accustom you become to it. At first, I considered it akin to training wheels on a bike. However, I now find myself using it more and more.

If you’ve been given the impression that it always makes perfectly even stitches, let me disabuse you of that idea. The human factor remains. If you jerk your hands you will have jerky looking stitches. However, if you keep a nice even flow to your movements, you will be rewarded with some of the nicest looking quilting stitches around.

The BSR does have a few quirks. It hates basting sprays, some more than others. I can get away with a light touch of 505, but anything else and I’ll have skipped stitches. Some have found that the BSR works best with top stitching needles. Others think it works best with silk thread. I have used Organ sharps with cotton quilting threads of different weights quite successfully, making tension adjustments along the way (it helps to make a chart of needles, threads, and tension adjustments).

The BSR that comes with the Aurora 440 QE only does straight stitches. The BSR included with the 730 also does free motion zig zag stitches. Personally, I don’t think I would use it for zig zag stitches even if had that capability, but it’s something to consider. There are two modes of operation to choose from and three free motion feet included with the attachment.

I hope you find this information helpful. If you’re interested in this machine, please visit your local Bernina dealership and give this fine machine a trial run.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

N. Rene West
Time Treasured

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22 Comments

  1. Terri said,

    March 2, 2007 at 8:24 pm

    Thank you very much for your review. It’s always helpful to get as many opinions as possible, especially when considering spending a sizeable amount of money on a machine.

  2. Lori said,

    March 2, 2007 at 8:54 pm

    I have a Aurora 440 QE as well and it is a great machine. It made my quilting so much easier than with my old machine.

  3. fembellish said,

    March 2, 2007 at 11:02 pm

    For most of us, the purchase of a sewing machine is a major event. I always like reading or hearing what owners think of a machine after they’ve had it for about 6 months or so. That’s why I recommend the Yahoo groups. Thanks for commenting, Terri.

    Lori, I appreciate your commenting on how much easier quilting is with the Aurora 440 QE. And when it’s easier, it usually follows that we will do a whole lot more of it. That’s a good thing.

  4. dailystitches said,

    May 29, 2007 at 8:38 am

    I bought the 430 to get the BSR without shelling out for the 730. I also have a Bernina 180E. The Aurora makes a better, easier buttonhole than the 180E, for some reason. You are right, the guys I work with lust after big ticket autos, but I consider both my Berninas to be my ultimate self indulgent luxuries.

  5. Abi said,

    June 10, 2007 at 1:55 pm

    Do you think this is a wise investment for a novice quilter? I feel like I’d love to have all those options, but I wouldn’t know what to do with them, and probably don’t need them. Right now, I have a basic Singer Solid State – the kind you can buy in KMart for $99. It’s VERY difficult to do any kind of free motion. I’d like to upgrade to a more quilting-friendly machine, but I’m not sure about investing thousands. Any pointers?

    Thanks for this great review, by the way!

  6. fembellish said,

    June 10, 2007 at 2:19 pm

    Abi, I will email you privately with an answer to your question regarding the Bernina 440 QE. The comment box doesn’t allow enough space for my answer.

  7. Maria said,

    January 3, 2008 at 9:09 am

    I would be very interested in your answer to Abi. Although I’ve been quilting for a long time, I have been using a very basic Brother model (from Walmart) that I desperately need to upgrade if I am going to continue to develop my free motion technique. I am really interested in the stitch regulator, but the price seems very high. I’d appreciate any pointers as far as upgrading to a next step up.

  8. Marge Keeney said,

    March 7, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    I am struggling with a decision to buy the Bernina 440 QE or the Viking Sapphire 870. I just want a good dependable sewing machine for quilting. I am retired and this will probably be my last sewing machine to purchase and want a good one. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you so much.

  9. Jennie said,

    April 7, 2008 at 9:56 am

    Marge, I have just been researching the same two machines. I really wanted to get the Viking for extra throat room, but have read many reviews (patternreview.com) that have highlighted problems with tension and bobbins etc with the Saphire range – it has totally put me off buying it. The last thing I want is to have to take my new machine in for “tune-ups” every other day because it’s not working properly. I have decided to buy a second-hand Bernina 440 (amazingly found one!) as I couldn’t afford a new one – primarily because of the tension reputation of their bobbin system, but am looking forward to getting use to the BSR. This machine had about the same throat space as my old Janome, which I have managed queen-size quilts on, so I’m sure I’ll manage with the Bernina.

  10. Barbie Schiefler said,

    May 4, 2008 at 6:09 am

    Please, can someone help???? My mother gave me a Berina Aurora 440 and I have no idea how to get started!!! I have a HP intel pentium laptop (Vista), bt the software is for XP and I cannot install it. Even if I could, I would not know what to do. Is there a good samarithan out there who can help?

  11. Iris said,

    May 21, 2008 at 9:01 am

    I am a a novice quilter and have the same question as Abi. Is it possiable to know your answer to Abi’s question?

  12. Karen Radtke said,

    May 29, 2008 at 11:20 am

    I also am a novice quilter who would like to upgrade my basic Kenmore machine and would appreciate hearing the comments you sent to Abi back in June of 2007. Thank you.

  13. Amy Skattebo said,

    June 16, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    Now—my $0.02 since this is SO fresh in my mind and life right now
    I spent 8 hours on Friday researching Berninas, Janome’s and verrrrry little on the Sapphire. I had completely eliminated the Berninas solely due to price! I had narrowed my search to the Janome 6600 and 4900—tried them out at the LQS, and fell in LOVE with 6600. The harp size is a WHOPPPPPING 9 inches as compared to the normal 7.

    THEN—-I contacted a Bernina dealer three hours way who was closing her doors and selling her floor models for 25% off, PLUS 15 months no interest (WHICH SEEMS TO BE A STANDARD WITH ALL BERNINA DEALERS!—-LOOK INTO THIS OPTION–seriously!!!!)
    Here I now sit (Monday) as a new owner of a NEW 440QE. Not only did I get 15 months-no interest, I ALSO showed up at the right time—SIZZLING SUMMER SALE! I got a scratch off card of 25%, so I was able to get a NEW machine at the same quoted price of her floor model.
    I “test-drove” the 440QE for three hours before leaving the store—holy buckets! Talking about bells-n-whistles! I have been quilting for 4 years using my BROTHER Walmart special, and I too wanted to finally ENJOY free-motion quilting. All the reviews I’ve read rave over the 440QE. I am SO EXCITED I am now an owner of one :0)

  14. Ben Hyrman said,

    July 1, 2008 at 11:52 pm

    I know this is a late post, but Marge my wife and I both own the Sapphire 830. Her’s is in the shop again (won’t sew a good stitch if you move the needle to -1.8). Mine is going in as soon as we get her’s back. Mine has tension issues and the buttons don’t always register a press… sometimes you need to press it 8 times before it’ll do what you want.

    On the plus side, the long arm is very nice as is the auto-foot down and auto-pivot (once you get used to it). I think I’ve gotten my wife talked into selling both Sapphires and putting the money towards a 440 QE with a cheaper machine as a backup (I’ll play with the backup when I want to putz).

    Also of note, our stickers on the bottom say they’re made in Sweden. A new model at the store says they’re made in China. If origin is important to you, watch for that.

  15. Aiesha Khalid said,

    July 8, 2008 at 10:48 am

    Good evening, I have been visiting your blog very often and after your reviews about 440QE I bought one in march and have been using it to my satisfaction but last week while embroidering my machine stops at every 15 to 17 stitches and beeps on the laptop it shows the thread is broken but that is not the case and on the machine screen it shows the sequence picture, embroidery of 20 mins takes up to three times.my bernina repair man is not in kuwait due to summer he has gone for holidays and I have cleaned my machine it is working fine but only this happens with embroidery did change the computer same problem please can you advise me any thing I am stuck in Kuwait till end of Aug…..
    Waiting for your reply on my e-mail addy.
    Thanks
    Aiesha

  16. WesternWilson said,

    November 22, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    I have a Husqvarna Viking D1, and am back into quilting after raising the family. I love my D1 but am now looking into Berninas. I realized quickly that for quilting, I needed a larger throat space, and it turns out I am really picky about my straight stitches, and the Bernina (with its vertical rather than horizontal bobbin) has a drop dead straight stitch. Also, I would like a stitch regulator ie. the BSR.

    So while the Vikings are wonderful machines, if I were doing it over again, I would go Bernina. Presently I am saving up for a Bernina 830.

  17. Darcy Sreebny said,

    January 2, 2009 at 6:43 am

    The manual that came with my Bernina Aurora 440 doesn’t picture the new, grey needle threader and so I cannot figure out how to attach the thread to the needle threader. Do you know where i can find an illustration? Also, the manual seems to be showing how to load the thread from the back of the machine. Surely that can’t be right? I have taken two hours of classes already, but they were on the older model of needle threader! Darcy Sreebny

  18. Michele said,

    April 1, 2009 at 8:05 pm

    Does anyone know where to get a cheaper 440, or a good used one besides Ebay?

  19. Barbara Gesell said,

    July 15, 2009 at 8:00 pm

    Hi, I too have the bernina 440 and I love, love, it. Might interest you, who are sitting on the fence about which machine to buy that consumer reports it is one of the best machines. Expensive yes but well worth every penny. Barbara in NY

  20. ajb said,

    October 8, 2009 at 4:15 am

    I just need a decent stitch and a decent working area. Today I had a test-drive of the B/440QE. It’s nice, but no bigger working area than my old Janome – which, at 30 years old – is s…o simple to use. I want to look at the V/Sapphire but the reviews (not just here, but on the www) scare me half to death!! I resist change for change’s sake, but I think it is time to get my poor arthritic hands some help. One of my favourite gimmicks on the B is the sashiko stitch. It’s pretty cute! On the whole, I am not looking for embroidery stitches – just a few helps in my old age!!

  21. Norma Bradley said,

    March 3, 2010 at 10:58 pm

    Great to read all the comments. I am considering selling my Bernina 1130 and replacing it with a 430 or 440QE. I am a professional fiber artist and do lots of free motion stitching. I was told both machine are the same except for the
    BSR. I tried the 440QE at the shop and noticed that the free motion stitch
    was not all that regular when I did curves. Guess it is getting used to a new system. I like not having to use the foot peddle for the free motion.

    Would appreciate any comments about the difference in the two machines beside the BSR and price.

  22. Diane said,

    May 12, 2010 at 9:30 am

    What a great review! I am also interested in your response to Abi. I am a novice and I need a new machine. I don’t want to invest in a machine that I will end up replacing in a couple of years but I also don’t want to buy more than I will reasonably need. Second request, if I find a used 440QE, is there anything I should be especially mindful of? Thanks!


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