A solid investment that can keep up with your growing skills and sewing projects
Loads of stitch patterns
Fast sewing speed
High-tech not ideal for technophobes
By Esme Clemo
For speed, stitches and style, it’s hard to beat the Bernina 435.
The stitching capabilities of this high-spec model are second to none when compared to the best sewing machines on the market right now, which is why it’s among our personal favourites.
The colourful and interactive touch screen is at the forefront of computerised sewing machine technology and, once you’re used to navigating its unique system, you won’t be able to stitch without it.
At £1,295, the Bernina 435 comes in at the higher end of the price scale of the models we tested. Some might think that’s quite steep but, if your budget will stretch and you’re set on improving your sewing to work in more complex ways, it’s worth the investment. This machine is bang up-to-date, with a touch-screen interface and future-proof features – it won’t be outdated anytime soon.
If you’re still not sold on the longevity of a Bernina sewing machine, check out the extended seven-year warranty that includes parts and labour. There are certain terms and conditions to adhere to in order to qualify, such as having your machine serviced by an authorised Bernina service engineer every three years, but we think that’s totally worth it for the peace of mind the warranty offers and the continued smooth running of the machine too.
- Size: W42.3 x D20 x H32.8cm
- Weight: 9.5kg
- 650 stitch patterns (including nine buttonholes and three alphabets)
- Maximum stitch length: 6mm
- Maximum stitch width 5.5mm
- 17.7cm arm space
- 900 stitches per minute
When it comes to style, this an all-white machine still manages to stand out from the crowd for a couple of reasons. As well as the matte-black buttons and knobs, which contrast perfectly with the high-shine white finish underneath, the colour touch screen (which allows for seamless selection of functions and stitches) is the best display that we’ve seen and tested.
The free-arm makes this model look less bulky compared to its rival, while the see-through slide-on table that attaches to this feature offers even more unimpeded space for stitching should you need it.
This is a hefty model. Admittedly, it’s not the heaviest out of those we tested, but you’ll still need a solid workspace on which to store and sew with the Bernina 435. The lack of a hardcover does help make it marginally less bulky, but for some the absence of the cover will be seen as a downside.
Don’t be disheartened by the soft cover, however. Unlike some flimsy plastic covers, the Bernina fabric cover comes with rigid piping to fit the sewing machine, magnetic poppers to seal the top and pockets to store your accessories too.
The Bernina 435 is built to last – its weighty frame and seven-year warranty stand as something of a guarantee. Even the Bernina accessories have the same sturdy-finish as their sewing machines. Take the presser feet, for example – in comparison with most other brands, this trusted sewing machine specialist’s feel seriously robust.
Ease of use
If you’re a visual learner, you’re in luck. The comprehensive manual comes complete with step-by-step diagrams, images and photographs to help you get to grips with the machine. So if you do get stuck navigating this complex model or programming your stitch patterns, you won’t be stuck for long.
Admittedly, getting set-up on your new machine will take a little bit of time, so be prepared to get to know the Bernina 435 before you can get started stitching. Once you’re worked your way through the programming admin, it’s as simple as any other machine to thread and sew. Take note that the jumbo-sized bobbin is of the front-loading variety. If you get stuck, navigate to the informative on-machine videos that show you exactly what to do.
The colour touchscreen is actually incredibly simple to grasp and, without an extensive amount of buttons to push and knobs to turn, it’s easy to navigate your way through stitch selection, presser foot and needle recommendations, stitch lengths and widths.
After you’ve mastered the utility stitches, enjoy sewing with the decorative styles. A highlight is watching as the needle is mirrored graphically on-screen to show you exactly what is being stitched, so you know when and where to stop the needle without breaking the pattern.
Did we already mention the jumbo-sized bobbin? It’s just one of the little details that make a big difference with the Bernina 435, especially if you’re a quilter. The machine’s bigger bobbin holds 70% more thread than standard accessories, which means you can carry on stitching the entire quilt before it needs replenishing.
Another nod to the quilters (who will undoubtedly have this machine on their wish-list) is the extended free arm that offers seven inches to the right to make room for bigger projects. For even more stitching space, you can also add on the slide-on extension table.
The stitch sizes too are longer and wider than most household machines on the market, making it great for experimenting with those decorative stitches. There are no shortage of these on this model, which offers a total of 650 stitch patterns for you to create.
Along with the standout features, there are the usual (but all-important) functions: semi-automatic threading, start/ stop function, sliding speed control, needle up/ down button and the reverse button are all positioned within easy reach at the front of the Bernina 435.
Any other extras can be found in the handy accessories case, which zips away all your presser feet, spare bobbins, oil, brushes and other accessories for safe storage. If you want to keep the accessories with the machine, the case fits neatly into the softcover machine pocket for storage too.
Before testing the Bernina 435, I hadn’t heard anything about its vibration while stitching. There’s a good reason for this: there isn’t any. No doubt helped by its sturdy weight and solid build, this machine glides smoothly through fabric to create perfect stitches with no shakes or shudders.
There’s a little sound while stitching, bizarrely most noticeable when going at a snail’s pace. Strange as it sounds, this model seems to prefer sewing at its full 900 stitches per minute – that’s when it makes the least noise.
In terms of the stitches themselves, they cannot be criticised. Whether worked on to cotton or boiled wool, intricate floral decorative stitches behaved the same way. The only difference was the adjustment to the presser-foot pressure, to allow for the change in fabric thickness.
Take a look at the stitch chart online before you buy this model, you’re sure to be impressed with the designs and styles on offer with the decorative and alphabetical options. We certainly were.
Tried and tested verdict
With the Bernina 435, every single detail has been carefully thought about, every function adapted to make sewing easier and every accessory tweaked to make it just that little bit better. Together, the small details add up to help it really stand out among its competitors.
Based on speed and stitches, it’s up there with the best sewing machines we reviewed. So is the interactive screen, which while a little daunting on first use was actually very easy to navigate. This was in part down to the on-screen Sewing Consultant, which helps choose the right settings to suit your stitches and your projects.
For tech-lovers who want to stay ahead of their sewing game, this is the machine to see you through the coming years. It’s built to last and its modern touch-screen won’t be outdated anytime soon. If you want a machine that’s just as robust without all the mod cons, have a look at the mechanical Singer Heavy Duty 4423 model. Otherwise, look to the future with the Bernina 435.
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