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When shopping for a sewing machine, you will likely run across machines manufactured by Bernina.  They are considered to be one of the most influential sewing machine brands in the world.  The actual Bernina brand began in 1893, in Steckborn, Switzerland.  The same family who started the company have passed it down through four generations, and it is still owned by them.  Bernina of America was founded in Chicago, in 1969.  The headquarters remain in Chicago, and it continues to be a location for training and education provided to Bernina dealers or Bernina customers.

The president of Bernina of America is Martin Favre.  He has been with the Bernina sewing machine company since his original position at the international headquarters in Switzerland in 1990.  During this time, he was an 'export marketing manager' for all of Western Europe, South America, and North America.  He then joined Bernina of America as the marketing manager in 1993, and later became the president in 1994.

Bernina is now known as one of the world's most popular sewing machine companies.  They were the first company to release a sewing and embroidery machine that is operated on the Microsoft Windows operating system.  This model was released in 2002.  They are also the only sewing machine company to have a patent for the 'Bernina Stitch Regulator', which automatically helps regulate stitches and keeps them straight.  This patented machine feature was released in 2004.

Bernina has a strong reputation for providing the most influential sewing and embroidery machines.  They also provide embroidery software.  Due to Bernina's reputation, many artisans and industry professionals choose to utilize the Bernina brand.  For example, this year is the second annual fashion challenge at Kent University co-sponsored by Bernina of America.  However, Bernina is not exclusive - you can buy a Bernina sewing machine as easily as you can buy a Singer sewing machine.  There are currently over 500 trained dealers selling the Bernina brand in approximately 600 stores throughout the United States.

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· Bernette Series
The sewing machines in the Bernette series are the standard models that would be recommended for home use or "hobby" use.  Bernina describes this line of sewing machines as good quality for a good price.  They do not have all of the elaborate bells and whistles as compared to the other Bernina machines, but they are great for home projects.  There are 5 models in the Bernette line.  The Bernette 92C is the most advanced of the series with a computerized system.  You can choose all of your stitches and settings with the touch of a button.

The other 4 models do not have a computerized system or an LCD screen, but they have similar features.  Upon first glance, the 82e, 66, and 56 look almost exactly alike.  However, the 82e has been updated with an improved drop-in bobbin system and hook system.  The Bernette 46 model is reminiscent of the retro models.  It has a sleek black exterior and a decorative Bernina logo.  It is also the simplest of designs made by Bernina, with only 8 stitches and snap-on presser feet.

· Activa Series
The next level of advanced features can be found in the Activa series.  Each model in the series is computerized and looks very much alike.  However, upon closer consideration, they all have different features.  For example, the Activa 210 (the most affordable model of the series) has all of the basic necessities, such as an autothreader, thread tension, and thread cutter, but it has less stitches programmed than the other models.   Bernina describes the Activa 210 as perfect for a leisure sewer or an occasional sewing project.

The Activa 220 is the next step up.  It has a holder for a magnifying glass, 50 creative stitch designs, 2 buttonhole options, programmable memory, and a variety of other features.  The 230PE is similar to the 220 except it has 70 stitches.  The last model in the Activa series is one that is more commonly used for embroidery.  It is the Activa 240 and it has 99 stitches, 3 different alphabet fonts, and 155 character or design choices.

· Bernina 8 Series
The latest series released by Bernina is the 8 series.  It includes the Bernina 820 and 830.  There is a completely different website devoted to these two machines alone.  Bernina describes these models as the "ultimate sewing experience".  The LCD screens are much larger than on the models in the other series.  There is also a longer sewing arm to provide more room for larger projects.

The 820 and 830 are very much alike, and the 820 is the latest to be released.  The 830 has a 15 inch extended arm while the 820 has a 12-inch extended arm.  The speed of both machines is significant.  They are each capable of 1,100 stitches per minute.  According to Bernina, this is the fastest of any home sewing machine.  Both models are becoming increasingly popular among quilters, crafters, fiber artisans, and fashion designers.

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