Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Bernina Feet: Generic Vs the Real Deal

I love close up pictures of sewing machines and their various feet and accessories so it is with pleasure that I present giant pictures of Bernina sewing machine feet.  Recently I've been sewing with a new (to me) patchwork foot 37 on my 1974 Bernina 830 Record and I am surprised at the difference in comparison to the generic quarter inch Bernina foot that I usually use.

These days, I do almost all my sewing, quilting and dressmaking, on my Bernina.  When I first got my 707 Bernina Minimatic it didn't come with a patchwork/quarter inch foot and it was one of the first things that I bought.    Bernina parts are expensive, especially in comparison to Janome and I felt like I couldn't really justify £30+ (around $46 USD as current rates) for a genuine Bernina patchwork foot so I bought a generic Bernina style quarter inch foot for half the price.  It's the one on the left below, the genuine version is on the right:

As I had nothing else to compare to, it seemed perfectly OK, but I did notice it dragged a little, especially on a single layer of fabric.  Check the picture on the far right below- you can see why.  The generic foot is scuffed and the base material is coming through.    I have been on the look out for a second hand patchwork foot and recently on eBay, my luck came in and I bought a vintage 37 foot- see right above and left on the pics below. 

The difference is surprised me.  It feels different when stitching and I really notice it at the start and end of quarter inch seams; the seam line is straighter and much less likely to wander.  It feels different to the generic foot when I hold it, a little weightier (although only 2 grammes greater in weight) and more smoothly manufactured.  It was definitely a false economy buying the generic one but you live and learn.  I bought a Bernina walking foot a while back and whilst I got it on offer it was still a significant amount of money but it is amazing to sew knits and bulky fabrics with and I've always been glad that I sold some of my stash and splashed out.  It's hard to beat the real thing!  

What's your experience with generic sewing machine parts?  I remember buying the generic plastic bobbins for my Janome and even they seem to wind slightly differently to the real thing.


  1. I've found it's quite a mix, somethings you can't tell the difference - like the cheap Wonder Clips. Others as you found with the sewing machine foot have a very noticable difference. For instance I don't find cheap polycotton type fabrics to be worth it, I think they have a horrible feel to them.

    I do have some of the cheaper Janome bobbins and I can't say I've noticed a difference. It's such an expensive hobby that we all naturally try to cut costs where we can but it's just a case of learning which savings are worth it and which aren't but you only really find out through trial and error.

  2. I have a 930 Record that I adore. It came with a wealth of feet and they are all original to the machine and first owner. The only foot I really needed was a walking foot and since I had just spent a significant amount of money on the machine I figured it would be a long time before I could buy one. However, when I received some birthday money I bought a generic foot. It does the job - I'm not sure how well because I've never used a genuine one. I am sure that a genuine one would work better, Bernina parts are just made so well. If I ever have a surplus of cash I'll splurge on a genuine one - they run about $250 in Canadian and that a lot of fabric and yarn in my world these days!

  3. This is a really timely post as I'm currently contemplating whether I can afford a Bernina invisible zip foot. I only have a small range of presser feet but they're all genuine, including the fabulous walking foot. After reading your thoughts, I think I might just have to splash out and treat myself :)

    1. I have bought one of those for my Bernina and I do like it, plus I sew invisible zip more than standard ones. I once bought a generic invisible foot for my Janome and it was rubbish!

    2. annajo, I HIGHLY recommend the Bernina invisible zipper foot. It makes it so effortless to do invisible zippers that you will never want to do one any other way. I especially like that the Bernina invisible zipper foot allows you to easily get right up close to the zipper teeth without getting TOO close. With generics and some other brands, you can make the mistake of sewing so close to the zipper teeth that there isn't room for the zipper pull to travel alongside the teeth, and then you have to rip it out and start over again.

  4. I have been disappointed with generic feet for my vintage Singer Featherweights as well as for my modern Berninas. Bernina's presser feet are pricey for sure, but they are made so well to do their specific sewing tasks that it is worth it, IMO. Same thing with the VINTAGE Singer presser feet. I tried every generic patchwork foot on the market for my Featherweights, but they were flimsy, wiggly, basically made the Featherweight sew like a cheap toy instead of a workhorse. I finally got the best results using the original multipurpose foot that came with the Featherweight (it has an eighth of an inch right toe) along with a seam guide that screws into the bed of the machine, set at a quarter of an inch. The genuine vintage Singer foot just feeds sooo much smoother and straighter than any of the others. As for my Bernina, I'm a total foot fetishist. Because every time I DO purchase a specialty presser foot for my Bernina, as soon as I put it on my machine I have much, MUCH better results with whatever I was trying to do, whether it's an invisible zipper foot, the new 1/4" patchwork foot for 9 mm machines, or a ruffler foot. In the U.S., Bernina dealers do a "foot of the month" promotion with 25% off. Keeping an eye out for the promotions helps to make the feet more affordable, and of course eBay and other second-hand sources are great if you can find the foot you want there. They are made to last MULTIPLE lifetimes, so a 10-year-used foot is just as good as a brand-new one.

    For me, investing in the genuine presser feet is about not wanting to be "penny-wise and pound-foolish." I am spending so much on the highest quality fabric for my projects. I'm not saying that a really skilled, experienced seamstress can't achieve great results with generic feet, but I personally do not have the skill level necessary to achieve acceptable results if I have to compensate for tools that are working against me!

  5. I only have one non genuine presser foot for my bernina 801. It's a walking foot and it works well most of the time. I haven't had the opportunity to try the genuine one yet. I am wanting a rolled hem foot next.

  6. I only have Bernina feet for my Bernina, but had a generic walking foot for my old (New Home/Janome) machine and it wasn't marvellous.

  7. Exactly my feelings. I mainly sew on an ugly but fantastic Bernina 1175 and it didn't come with any feet (nor table, instructions etc). It was super cheap and very unloved. I have bought a few genuine feet and an adapter so I can use standard feet which work fine. I however spent £25 on a non-Bernina walking foot and it's dreadful, clunky and ineffectual. I wish I had sent it straight back. I wish I had saved up for the real thing. Now I'm debating buying a real one and just forgetting the £25 I've lost. This post is sending me straight to the web to buy one. I deserve it and so does my machine :-)


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