What’s the Difference Between Pfaff and Bernina? Update 06/2022

Pfaff and Bernina are two well-known sewing machine brands that date back to the 1800s. But how do you decide which sewing machine to get if you’re wanting to upgrade or buy one for the first time?
Both Pfaff and Bernina provide a variety of manual and automated sewing, quilting, and embroidery machines. Because the exact characteristics vary depending on the machine type, it’s difficult to pick a clear victor based just on features. However, the two brands are comparable in terms of price, quality, and durability. The main difference appears to be Bernina’s stronger warranty coverage.
In the end, the brand you choose will be determined by whatever one appeals to you the most and satisfies your requirements. However, I’ll describe the similarities and differences between the two brands to assist you in making your decision. I’ll also go through the essential features, benefits, and drawbacks of some of the more popular models.

Pfaff vs Bernina

Pfaff Sewing Machines

George Michael Pfaff invented the first Pfaff sewing machine in Germany in 1862. That means the company has been around for more than 150 years. After ten years, 1,000 sewing machines had been created, a remarkable achievement given the period and the fact that the company had yet to build a facility.
In 1902, Pfaff eventually opened their first sewing machine factory, and the company took off from there. The firm produced their one millionth sewing machine eight years after the facility opened, and it had just been 50 years since the first Pfaff was invented.
Pfaff got more inventive after producing their millionth machine. They manufactured its 5 millionth sewing machine in 1950, less than 100 years after the company was founded, thanks to innovative models and a booming market for sewing machines.
When the firm introduced sewing machines with Integrated Dual Feed in 1968, it marked a watershed moment in the company’s history (IDT). This technology is still used in Pfaff sewing machines today, and it is one of the features that distinguishes this company.
In 1984, Pfaff developed their first computerized sewing machine, which led to numerous sewing machine advances. Their first sewing machine, the Creative, was released in 2011. The Creative is currently one of their most popular models, and an entire Creative range of sewing and embroidery machines has been developed as a result.

Bernina Sewing Machines

Bernina sewing machine

The Bernina sewing machine firm, which was founded in Switzerland in 1893 and is now in its fourth generation, is over 125 years old. Karl Friedrich Gegauf invented the first hemstitch sewing machine this year, which can stitch 100 stitches per minute. It was an instant hit because it was the first sewing machine with those characteristics.
Seven years later, in 1900, a small factory with 70 to 80 workers was created, allowing for the production of more sewing machines. Gegauf was in charge of the factory’s technical aspects, while his brother Georg was in charge of the company’s economic interests. Many Bernina sewing machines were sold for commercial use around the world.
Gegauf’s sons took over the company after dad died in 1928, and the first Bernina sewing machine for household use was produced in 1932. It was the first sewing machine to have the Bernina brand and emblem, which was inspired by the eastern Alps’ tallest peak.
Sewing machines became more sophisticated after Gegauf’s son Fritz took over. Every 5 to 10 years, new sewing machine models with more advanced functions were released. In 1959, Fritz Gegauf’s daughter Odette took over as CEO of Bernina, paving the door for even more revolutionary sewing machine models in the 1960s and 1970s.
In 1986, Bernina introduced its first computerized sewing machine. Odette’s son Hanspeter took over the reins in 1988, and Bernina became a household name among quilters. Bernina’s computerized sewing machines have advanced thanks to new technology, and the Bernina 830 model was introduced in 2009. Despite all of the modern versions available today, the Bernina 830 is still regarded as the best Bernina sewing machine ever.

Pfaff vs. Bernina Sewing Machines: Key Points

Pfaff and Bernina are two companies that have a long history of producing high-quality, innovative sewing machines. They’ve both managed to keep up with the times in terms of model innovation and the variety of models available to fit the demands of any sewist, quilter, or embroiderer.
With that in mind, the majority of the distinctions between these two sewing machine manufacturers can be found in the characteristics of their models. As a result, comparing each model would be difficult. Instead, I’ve put up this table of items to consider when buying a sewing machine so you can compare the two brands quickly.
PfaffBernina
FeaturesVaries based on model, unique Pfaff features include IDT and Activstitch technology, and Shape and Stitch CreatorVaries based on model, unique Bernina features include DesignWorks technology, Stitch Regulator, and Bernina Hook
FunctionalityManual and computerized sewing, quilting, and embroidery machinesManual and computerized sewing, quilting, and embroidery machines
PortabilityTwo portable modelsFive portable models
Built-In StitchesVaries, some models have over 500Varies, some models have over 200
Stitches per MinuteUp to 800 SPM for some modelsUp to 1,000 SPM for some models
DurabilityComparable to BerninaComparable to Pfaff
QualityComparable to BerninaComparable to Pfaff
AffordabilityPrices range from hundreds to thousands of dollarsPrices range from hundreds to thousands of dollars
Service/WarrantyUp to 5 yearsUp to 20 years
Experience LevelAll levelsAll levels

Pfaff vs. Bernina: Similarities and Differences

Let’s take a closer look at each of these two brands now that you’ve had a quick summary of their main attributes. I’ll also compare and contrast the two brands to see which one is superior in specific categories.
However, because the two brands are so similar, it will be difficult to identify a clear victor in several categories. Some categories will differ only based on the sewing machine model.

Features

Machine features vary widely depending on your demands; for example, a sewing machine vs. a quilting machine vs. an embroidery machine. Each model will differ in terms of the accessories it includes as well as the capabilities of the machine itself.
Because comparing the characteristics of each model is difficult due to the large number of models available, I decided to evaluate some of the aspects that are common to all machines, as well as the company’s other technologies and software.
The Integrated Dual Feed System is included in all Pfaff machine models, as previously stated (IDT). Pfaff’s tagline is “Perfection,” and that is exactly what the IDT System aims to achieve. Pfaff sewing machines include this feature that ensures precise seams every time and that fabrics don’t pucker, stretch, or slide beneath the needle. It’s a terrific feature for sewists who work with a lot of materials, but quilters will appreciate it even more because they have so many pieces to fit together correctly.
Activstitch Technology, which assures precise stitches and seams, and Shape and Stitch Creator, both of which are elements of Pfaff’s Creative range of embroidery machines, are two more features that are unique to Pfaff.
The Bernina Hook is a fundamental distinguishing feature of Bernina sewing machines. The Bernina Hook is a centrally located driver that enables the machine to make more precise stitches at up to 1,000 stitches per minute. The bobbin also features a greater thread capacity, allowing you to sew for longer periods of time. The Stitch Regulator, which helps ensure consistent stitches, and the DesignWorks program, which is ideal for generating and implementing your own patterns, are two more standout features.
In terms of which brand has the best features, I believe it is determined on your stitching requirements. Quilters will appreciate Pfaff’s IDT system, while those with a lot of sewing tasks will appreciate Bernina’s Hook and Stitch Regulator.

Functionality

There isn’t much of a difference between Pfaff and Bernina in terms of functionality. Both firms sell machines that can do a variety of tasks. If you need a sewing, quilting, or embroidery machine, or one that can do many things, both companies have lots to offer.
They both have sewing machines, both manual and electronic. If you’re not familiar, the main distinction is that computerized sewing machines are controlled by a computer rather than by you. There are certain computerized machines that are more advanced than others, of course. When it comes down to it, though, determining which brand is superior based just on functionality is difficult.

Portability

If you’re tight on room or need to take your machine on the road, portability should be a top priority. Passport 2.0 and Passport 3.0 are two tiny and portable sewing machine models from Pfaff that are designed to be carried with you.
The Passport 2.0 has 70 built-in stitches and weighs roughly 14 pounds. The Passport 3.0 is slightly larger, coming in at around 15 pounds. It comes with 100 pre-stitched stitches.
Bernina, on the other hand, has five small and portable variants. The stitch count and size of each compact machine varies, but the top speed of the compact versions is 900 stitches per minute. The majority of their tiny versions are intended for sewing, but one is also intended for quilting.
Overall, if you appreciate options when picking a portable sewing machine, especially one for quilting, Bernina appears to be the best choice when it comes to portability. The Pfaff portable sewing machines, on the other hand, appear to be more compact and easier to transport.

Built-in Stitches

Based on the amount of built-in stitches, it’s difficult to compare these two sewing machine brands. The amount of built-in stitches is solely dependent on the model. The usefulness of a machine can also influence how many stitches it has, whether it’s for sewing, embroidery, or quilting.
Pfaff tiny machines, for example, contain only 70 to 100 built-in stitches. The computerized Creative variants, on the other hand, can have up to 800 stitches pre-installed.
Bernina sewing machines feature fewer built-in stitches than other brands, with the highest number I’ve found being around 200. Pfaff appears to be the superior choice if you need a lot of stitches. If you don’t require a large number of stitches, though, Bernina may be a better option.

Stitches per Minute

Another factor where identifying whether is better is dependent on the individual model is stitches per minute. Pfaff machines, on the other hand, appear to have slower speeds than Bernina machines.
Pfaff machines can stitch at speeds of up to 800 stitches per minute, whereas Bernina machines can stitch at up to 1,000 stitches per minute. Even the smallest Bernina machines can stitch at speeds of up to 900 stitches per minute.
Bernina appears to have the advantage in terms of speed if you need a speedier machine or have a lot of jobs to complete rapidly.

Durability

Both Pfaff and Bernina have a reputation for producing high-quality sewing machines that endure a long period. Machines that are more expensive tend to be more durable, whilst machines that are less expensive are likely to be less durable.
Even though compact machines are smaller and more portable, they are likely to be less durable, especially if they are not properly protected when traveling. Overall, it’s difficult to say which brand is more durable because they both have the potential to endure for years if properly cared for.

Quality

Both brands are high-quality appliances that are as durable as they are. That is why these two companies have been in business for almost a century. Both of these companies produce equipment with several functions, and they are continually striving to improve and innovate their goods.
Quality is usually equal to what you pay for it, just like durability. More expensive models are additional likely to be constructed with higher-quality materials and have more accessories and advanced features. Overall, they are both distinctive and innovative in their own ways, but it’s difficult to determine which one is superior because both firms are dedicated to excellence and client pleasure.

Affordability

In terms of price, these two brands are relatively similar, and none is inherently more economical than the other. Sewing machines range in price from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars in both cases. The cost is determined by whether the machine is electronic or manual, as well as various features and extras.
Because computerized machines are more high-tech, they will cost more than manual machines. Similarly, machines meant for advanced sewers are likely to be more expensive. If you’re a beginner or have a limited budget, though, you’ll be able to discover a machine that meets your demands.

Service/Warranty

One area where one of these brands outperforms the other is service and warranty. While both companies are dedicated to ensuring customer satisfaction and offering the materials necessary for sewing success, you should consider what will happen if your machine breaks down.
Pfaff sewing machines come with a two-year warranty or a five-year warranty if you live in the United Kingdom, regardless of the fault with the machine. Bernina, on the other hand, offers a 2-year electrical components warranty, a 5-year circuit board warranty, and a 20-year mechanical parts warranty.
Of course, each of these warranty policies comes with its own set of terms and limitations. Bernina, on the other hand, has a better warranty. So that’s something to think about if you’re looking to get a more expensive machine.

Experience Level

Pfaff has almost 150 years of sewing machine experience, and Bernina has over 125 years of sewing machine experience. Having said that, both firms are aware of their customers’ desires and demands when it comes to sewing machines.
Beginner, intermediate, and advanced sewists can all benefit from the machines offered by both businesses. Sewists can also find tools, videos, and software on each company’s website to help them master their trade. There is no apparent winner in this contest.

Even though I’ve analyzed each of these companies in terms of crucial features to look for, there are so many models to pick from that making a decision can be difficult. Let’s have a look at some of the most popular models and their essential characteristics. Perhaps it will assist you in making your selection.

Pfaff Performance Icon

Bernina vs pfaff

Pfaff’s Performance Icon sewing machine is one of their most popular models, and it offers the greatest workspace of any sewing machine on the market. This computerized sewing machine features ActivStitch technology, which includes built-in sensors for thread regulation.
This sewing machine also includes an automatic needle threader and Pfaff IDT technology, as well as a touch screen computer that is WiFi connected. To personalize your work, use the Stitch Creator function to create new stitches or change existing ones.

Pros

  • Large work area
  • IDT technology
  • WiFi connectivity

Cons

  • May take up more space

Bernina 770 QE

Bernina 770QE

Bernina’s 770 QE sewing machine is one of their most popular models. This machine is capable of both sewing and quilting. It has a patchwork foot and can handle huge quilting projects. It’s a computerized machine with a Bernina Hook and a sewing and quilting tutorial included.
Sewing speeds of up to 1,000 stitches per minute, LED sewing lights, a color touch screen, and over 200 built-in stitches are among the other characteristics of this machine. In comparison to other sewing machines, the bobbin can store up to 70% more thread.

Pros

  • Sewing and quilting
  • Fast sewing speed
  • The bobbin holds more thread

Cons

  • More advanced features require a software upgrade

Serger Models: Bernina vs Pfaff

Pfaff Coverlock 4.0

Pfaff Coverlock

One of Pfaff’s most advanced sergers is the Coverlock 4.0. It offers a huge sewing space to provide you more room to work in terms of functionality. The LCD touch screen makes it simple to choose your stitch, and then the stitch length and thread tension are automatically set with the push of a button. This serger features 25 built-in stitches and can serge up to five threads. It also comes with a plethora of accessories.

Pros

  • LCD Touch Screen
  • Up to 5-thread serging
  • Large sewing space

Cons

  • Only available through a sewing machine dealer

Bernina L 860

Bernina L 860

One of their best-selling sergers is the Bernina L 860. The Air Threader, which allows you to thread the machine in just one step, is one of the essential features. It also features a touch screen for simple programming and two separate modes, Expert and Guided, depending on your degree of skill. This serger, for example, can sew 1,500 threads per minute and store up to 100 stitches in its memory.

Pros

  • Great for knitted fabrics
  • Fast sewing speed
  • Easy and comfortable to use

Cons

  • Only available at select stores

Embroidery Machines

Pfaff Creative Icon

Pfaff’s most advanced embroidery machine to date is the Creative Icon. It includes almost 800 embroidery designs, 42 of which are unique. The tablet-sized 10-inch full-color touch screen is easy to view and use. WiFi connectivity also ensures the security of your initiatives. It, too, is fitted with the IDT technology, which ensures precise stitches every time, just like the other Pfaff machines.

Pros

  • 800+ designs
  • Large touch screen
  • Signature IDT technology

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Only a 2-year warranty

Bernina 880 Plus

The Bernina 880 Plus is a top-of-the-line embroidery machine with a massive workspace and innovative embroidery features that make every project simple and straightforward. Enhanced Editing, Total Embroidery Stitch Control, and Pinpoint Placement are some of the embroidery features. With sewing speeds of up to 1,200 stitches per minute, this machine also boasts completely automatic threading.

Pros

  • Large workspace
  • Enhanced embroidery features
  • Up to 20-year warranty for some parts

Cons

  • Expensive

Pfaff vs. Bernina: Which Is Better?

Pfaff and Bernina sewing machines are nearly identical in terms of price, quality, and longevity. Both firms offer machines for a variety of purposes and skill levels, with different features depending on the model. Bernina appears to offer the better warranty policy of the two firms. But, in the end, the choice is yours, based on your preferences and money.

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