Tool Trove (4) – Bernina Needle Punch Accessory Set (also called Decorative Punch Tool)

Bernina Needle Punch Attachment

I debated whether to make this purchase for about a year, but finally decided that it would be good to have a backup for the Babylock Embellisher. Also, since I write so many machine needle felting tutorials, I thought it would be helpful to know how well they work when using different equipment.

Bernina packs the accessory set with a helpful CD that walks you through the steps necessary to set up the attachment (along with some basic tutorials). There are quite a few steps involved, but all of them are easy to perform. For example, you must remove the bobbin, bobbin case, and shuttle hook from the lower part of your machine. Then you remove the presser foot, needle, needle holder thumb screw, and stitch plate. I would suggest that you have a special container handy in which you can place these items. If your studio or sewing area looks anything like mine, you’ll understand the wisdom in this.

Next, you insert the special stitch plate with the large hole, mount the needle punch needle holder with its large screw, attach the Needle Punch presser foot, and drop the feed dogs. The bobbin case door remains open while using this attachment.

Bernina Parts

Bernina Needle Punch Attachment Parts

Much of what I say from this point on will be framed as comparisons and contrasts with the Babylock Embellisher. As I began experimenting with the Bernina Decorative Punch Tool, I immediately noticed some differences.

The Bernina Needle Punch reminds me more of hand needle punching for several reasons. First, the five needles enter the fabric directly and go through an open hole. There is no resistance in the downward or upward motion so the fabric has more force on it in both directions, much like hand felting. The Babylock Embellisher has seven needles, seven small holes in its needle plate, and seven small holes in its cloth presser (which can be adjusted up and down). The individual holes of the needle plate and cloth presser provide resistance, keeping your fabric in a more stationary position.

Babylock Needle Plate and Cloth Presser

Babylock Embellisher Needle Plate and Cloth Presser

If you do free motion quilting, you’ve probably encountered the difference a straight stitch needle plate makes on your stitches since the fabric isn’t forced down into the larger hole of the zig zag needle plate. Although stitches are not the issue here, I found some fabrics ( such as organza) a little more difficult to work with using the Bernina attachment. Hooping proved to be an adequate solution.

Of course, I tend to use fabrics that aren’t traditionally thought of as felting prospects. Bernina clearly states in the “application” section of its instruction sheet that its Needle Punch attachment is designed for wool fibers, wool yarn, felt, and boiled wool (the CD also mentions denim). The attachment does a beautiful job on all of these fibers.

In regard to the resistance/nonresistance issue, there is another consideration. The small individual holes in the Babylock needle plate give little room for error. If you twist your fabric or your needle gets bent, you’re more likely to experience needle breakage with the Babylock. As I stated previously in my review of the Embellisher, felting needles are expensive.

Second, owing to its large, open presser foot, the Bernina Needle Punch provides clear visibility of the needle action just as you would have with hand needle felting. The Embellisher’s cloth presser is opaque, so you don’t see the needles enter the fabric. I really enjoyed watching the interaction of needles with fiber. Do exercise caution on the open right side of the Bernina presser foot. It’s possible for your fingers to get dangerously close to the needles.

As you can see from the graphic below, there is a big difference in the size of the needle holders. Additionally, there is a larger separation between the Babylock’s seven needles than the Bernina’s five needles. The Babylock has an individual screw for each needle. The Bernina has one screw that tightens or loosens all of its needles. The Bernina needle holder is simple to install; the Babylock takes a little more adjusting in the line up of needles with the needle plate holes.

Needle Holders

Babylock Needle Holder (left) – Bernina Needle Holder (right)

I like both of the needle placements for different reasons. The Babylock’s larger size means your work goes faster. The Bernina’s smaller size makes couching and detail work a simple task. I change the number of needles I use on the Babylock frequently, something I won’t have to do as often with the Bernina. As an added benefit, the Bernina and Babylock needles are interchangeable although not identical (the Babylock needles are a little thinner).

Since the Bernina is also a sewing machine, lint buildup is a concern. I would recommend using the vacuum attachment made for computers after every felting session. If you practice good bobbin case hygiene, this shouldn’t be a problem. On the plus side, the features of the Bernina sewing machine such as needle up/down position and speed control are also available while felting. I really like having the needle holder stop in the up position so that I don’t accidentally bend my needles.

For day to day use, having a stand alone machine facilitates in a projects flow since you don’t have to stop and reconfigure your machine. The downside of a stand alone machine is the price. Needle felting attachments cost much less than a dedicated felting machine. Also, in some circumstances having one machine that does it all can be a great convenience. Classes, group projects, travel, and space immediately come to mind. The decision really comes down to personal preference and what works best for each individual.

After about five minutes of using the Bernina attachment, I noticed that I was no longer thinking of the differences between the two machines but rather enjoying the felting itself. I’m thankful that Bernina offers this optional attachment to its customers (on CB hook models) so that more people can enjoy this wonderful craft.

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

N. Rene West
Time Treasured

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18 Comments

  1. Rebecca Rutledge said,

    May 30, 2007 at 11:47 am

    Does the Bernina tool fit any machine, like a Singer?

  2. fembellish said,

    May 30, 2007 at 2:55 pm

    The Bernina Needlepunch Accessory only fits certain Bernina sewing machine models. However, more and more companies are making attachments for their machines or adding stand alone machines to their product line. You may want to check with your Singer dealer.

  3. Suzanne Parsons said,

    August 19, 2007 at 8:56 pm

    i just watched fons and porter use the felting attachment on their bernina and i want to try this out. i have a bernina 1260. my little workhorse – i don’t know what a cb hook model is. please educate me.
    thanks – suz sends

  4. Ronna said,

    July 3, 2008 at 7:05 pm

    CB Hook Models:
    Fits ALL BERNINA CB Hook models:
    # artista 165, 170, 630
    # aurora 430, 440
    # virtuosa 150, 153, 155, 160, 163
    # activa 125, 135, 145, 130, 131, 140, 210, 220, 230, 240
    # 1000 series: 1004, 1005, 1006, 1008, 1010, 1011, 1015, 1020, 1030, 1031, 1080, 1090, 1120, 1130, 1230, 1260, 1530
    # 900 series 900, 910, 930, 931, 932
    # 800 series 800, 801, 802, 803, 807, 808, 809, 810, 811, 817, 818, 819, 830, 831, 832
    # 700 series 700, 707, 708, 709, 717, 718, 719, 730 (NOT artista 730), 731, 732
    # 600 series 600, 610, 642, 644
    # 500 series 530, 532, 534
    # 125

    • Jacqui said,

      February 5, 2010 at 10:22 pm

      I am interested in getting the Bernina Needle Punch attachment to try on my 1260. I am hoping the cost is not prohibitive. Does anyone have an idea of the price range for this attachment. Thanks

  5. sandy said,

    October 13, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    I contacted our nearby Bernina store and I was told that only the 230, 220, 210, 240, 430, 440 and the 630 models will work with the Bernina needlepunch kit. Is that true?

  6. Kathy said,

    December 10, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    Thanks for this wonderful information — I am just starting to do some needle felting (by hand) and am interested in the attachment for my Bernina. Can you give me a ballpark idea of the price – I shudder to think what it might cost given the price of the throat plate and bobbin case that I purchased? (I live in Canada)

  7. Leslie Haggstrom said,

    December 27, 2008 at 11:05 am

    I just got the bernina Accessory kit for Christmas…now find that you must have tthe upgraded thread guide replacement kit. Is this essential? Does it cost money? Do you install it yourself? I want to use this on two machines, 153QE and mostly the 140 back up machine.

  8. susana said,

    January 24, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    Hi all,
    I do appreciate your article as im considering buying the bernina attachement for my 440,however my dealer doesn’t carry any piece to demonstrate it nor i know anyone around who does,i’m lil concerned about the point you raised with the attachemnet backfall of using light fabrics like organza and silk ( i do like to use these fabrics) any solution for that??
    can we felt on velvet??

  9. Susan Henyon said,

    March 11, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    not all of the above listed Bernina’s will use the felting attachment. I got all excited when I saw this list & then contacted my dealer. Currently the needlepunch will only fit the current line of 5.5mm
    machines. So any 5.5mm machine from 1260 and prior, it does not fit due to
    the style of the presser feet etc. The needle punch accessory will fit any
    activa, virtuosa, aurora 430/440, and the artista 165/170/180/185 and the
    630…Not the artista 730. (March 11, 2009)

  10. Joan said,

    September 17, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    Thank you so much. I have a 700 series, and the needle punch accessory looked like it would work! Now, I just have to find out how much and where to buy. The web sites I have looked at don’t exactly tell you that part! Thanks again!

  11. irene wilson said,

    October 3, 2009 at 10:36 am

    I have my lovely Bernina Nova, very old but very faithful, certainly seen better days. I have purchased a standard needle felting attachment from
    Feltcraf in the hope that I can convert my sewing machine. Is this possible or would I be wasting my time?

  12. Frankie said,

    April 25, 2010 at 11:23 am

    I have a Bernina 440 QE when I try to embroidery the computer screen tells me that the top thread is broken when it isn’t. I push the blue start button and it sews 15 or 20 stitches and stops again and tells me the thread is broken. Is there something wrong with my machine?

  13. Patty jay said,

    August 14, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    Im a little disapointed that I had purchased a 1005 CB hook machine for teh felter. and wanted to dedicate it only for feltin and now….. I am finding its not doable. Would there be a machinist who can tool the plate so it works on my felting foot. I think it just needs a larger hole for the needles. I would have really appreciated that Bernina not mislead people by saying ALL CB hook machines. maybe I should contact them and see if they can create an adapter plate… very disappointed. Patty

  14. Maria Meza said,

    November 26, 2010 at 9:27 am

    .

    Hi,
    I’m Maria Meza from Peru and I’m keen on looking for a ‘needle holder’ which belong to Baby Lock BL4-838. I’m also looking for the complete equiqment which include all the needles in the package.

    I’m looking forward to hearing from you very soon.
    Many thanks,

    Maria Meza

  15. aflam maroc said,

    January 14, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    This post is great. thank you for sharing these helpful infos. I appreciate your work man

  16. louise said,

    July 31, 2011 at 4:32 am

    Hi like so many other people I’m now wondering if there is some way of finding an needle punch kit to fit my machine. I’ve got an 830 so is there some adaptor that will do the job.

  17. Mary said,

    October 4, 2015 at 5:00 pm

    Is compatible with singer?


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