Writing this Bernina 475 QE (Quilter's Edition) review raised some interesting points about branding, as while this excellent sewing machine has 'Quilter's Edition' in its name, it's hardly the best sewing machine for quilting I've used. That's not to say this new Bernina isn't superb, it's just there are some caveats you need to know before pressing buy on that order.
The biggest issue is this isn't good for quilting out of the box, as it doesn't come packaged with a Walking Foot and also doesn't feature a dual feed, both needed for quilting. With that said, Bernina has one of the best accessory and support setups around, including an excellent manual that offers a detailed menu of extras that can be bought for your new Bernina 475.
This aside, the Bernina 475 QE is a superb machine that builds on the brand's reputation for high-spec, good value sewing machines. To see how the Bernina 475 QE compares to similar sewing machines, read our guide to the best sewing machines available now. Also, take a look at my feature on the best Cricut machines to see how these craft cutters can work with your sewing setup.
So why do I like the Bernina 475 QE despite its failings to live up to that name? Because, overall, it's hard not to be impressed by the tech on offer – the programmable computer is bright, clear and easy to use; the Jumbo Bobbin offers 70% more thread, meaning you can put aside any threading anxieties; it comes packaged with a Patchwork Foot; and features height compensation and corner sewing.
Read on to see in detail how I found Bernina 475 QE to set up and work with, and why it's the little things Bernina does that elevate the overall quality and usability of this solid sewing machine. If you want to read up on review sewing machines, take a look at our guide to how we test craft machines.
Bernina 475 Quilter's Edition review: setup
The Bernina 475 QE impresses just by looking at it in the box – first impressions matter and this machine is packaged well and comes out easily and every part is identifiable. Honestly, it's lovely when a manufacturer considers the whole experience.
Piecing the Bernina 475 QE together is easily done. The design is simple and uncluttered, which ensures its easy to get up and running with. What I love the most about this Bernina sewing machine is how personalised and easy to program it is; you can tailor it to perfectly suit your style of working. Everything from thread tension to speed and even the colour of the LED touchscreen can be adjusted and tinkered with – which is fantastic. There's even a welcome treat of "Hello Julie" as I boot up the Bernina 475 QE.
A big plus is the excellent manual that explains, in detail, everything you need to know about using the machine. If you need more instructions there are QR codes associated with most feet and functions of the Bernina 475 QE that connect to video tutorials. It's not in the same league as the Janome Continental-M7 but it comes close, and Bernina 475 QE is a fraction of the cost.
Bernina 475 Quilter's Edition review: design
As mentioned, the Bernina 475 QE is a sleek and simple sewing machine that looks elegant and is easy to use. The look can be deceptive as the Bernina 475 QE is actually a fairly large machine that simply looks compact. The usefulness for quilting comes from the seven-inch space to the right of the needle that ensures your material won't bunch up.
While this is a larger machine, it's not too big and remains portable enough to carry to sewing bees or classes. What's really neat about this mid-priced Bernina sewing machine is it comes with the kind of features you'd expect to find on a more expensive Bernina 7 Series, which come in at double the cost. This includes the larger Jumbo Bobbin for longer, stress-free sewing and the large 4.3-inch LCD colour touchscreen.
The Bernina 475 QE also features the same Adaptive Thread Tension and Bernina Hook systems as well as bobbins that are interchangeable with other, more expensive 7 Series sewing machines – it means the Bernina 475 QE can be used as a good second machine, or a sewing machine for another family member, and you're able to share your pre-wound bobbins and work on projects together. Bernina has a clear vision to ensure its sewing machines can be used together, which is a nice design choice.
Bernina 475 Quilter's Edition review: performance
This is a very easy-to-use sewing machine, and comes with enough features and extra feet to ensure you can adapt the Bernina 475 QE to most projects and makes. Threading the machine is done easily, and there are instructions on the sewing machine itself and in the detailed instruction manual. The clear extension table is a nice touch, slots in simply, and its transparency ensures the workspace feels less bulky.
Once up and running the more intricate features of the Bernina 475 are revealed to me; for example the Creative Consultant mode, exclusive to Bernina, really helps plan and sew any new project. It's simple: enter the fabric type you're using and the sewing project, the Creative Consultant will offer advice such as which needle, cotton type and stitch number to use, as well as the foot number to attach and even whether you'll need a stabiliser. This really is an incredible feature.
Pattern start/end function
Automatic securing function
Free Hand System (FHS)
840 stitches, including 10 buttonholes
Automatic buttonhole length measuring system
Manual multi-step buttonhole
Button sew-on program
200 decorative stitches
40 quilting stitches
13 cross-stitch programs
In fact, Bernina continues to go the extra mile to ensure you can do most projects with this sewing machine, and teaches you how. The many tutorials viewed on the LCD touchscreen reveal everything from how different needles are used to sewing techniques and deep quilting tutorials – from crazy patchwork to free motion stitching. While you'll need to buy the Walking foot separately, the Bernina 475 QE does feature every function and tutorial a quilter could want.
Naturally, the Bernina 475 QE is great in use; quiet and powerful I feel in complete control of every stitch and features such as reverse sewing are incredibly useful. With 840 stitches, including 40 quilting stitches, this Bernina actually has a few more than the more expensive Bernina 750 QE. There's everything you could ask for, from overlock and darning to blind hems and blanket stitch appliqué.
Yet, as mentioned, despite the QE - Quilting Edition - name this machine lacks the Walking foot needed for quilting (it can do excellent patchwork) and it's not a dual feed machine (which means you can't stitch quilts together without the material sliding). With this said, you can buy a Walking foot, which functions as a dual feed system. And then, free motion quilting is only really done using the Bernina Stitch Regulator (BSR) accessory, but again, you need to pay extra.
It's a weird set of compromises, as the Bernina 475 QE is a 5mm stitch width machine, which is ideal for quilting, and features 40 exclusive quilting stitches, so it's ready to quilt, but to really fulfil its potential you need to spend on extras.
Bernina 475 Quilter's Edition review: price
The Bernina 475 QE has an RRP of $2749 / £1,595 but you can usually find one for £1,495 on Amazon. If you have a little more to spend then the new Bernina B 475 QE Kaffe Edition releases in August, selling for £1,695 – this special edition features 21 exclusive additional stitches and a bespoke design by acclaimed fabric artist Kaffe Fassett. The US edition retails for $3,199 but comes with a Kaffe designed dust cover and trolley.
To put the Bernina 475 QE's price in perspective it's worth knowing Bernina has 'series', from 300 all the way up to 800 series, or 3 to 8 series, and each is a step up in price – the 8 Series run up to £9k. While the Bernina 475 QE costs a little more compared to similar machines, such as the Brother Innovis NV18000Q, it does feature some similar tech and functions as the more expensive Bernina series.
As mentioned, to truly make quilts with the Bernina 475 QE you'll need to spend on accessories, a Walking foot will cost £120 and the Bernina Stitch Regulator (BSR) is £625, so keep this in mind.
Bernina 475 Quilter's Edition review: should I buy one?
The Bernina 475 QE is an excellent sewing machine that features many features usually reserved for the more expensive Bernina series machines. It's lovely to use, contains almost all the stitches and functions you could wish for, and is pre-loaded with tutorials for everything.
That said, despite the name, it's not for quilters out of the box – you will need to spend on a Walking foot. But the Bernina 475 QE does come pre-loaded with exclusive quilting stitches you won't find on other machines as well as the 5mm stitch width, which is ideal for quilting.
If you're not quilting first and simply wish to make garment projects and patchworks, then the Bernina 475 QE is perfect, and the quilting stitches and tutorials ensure you have room to grow into new skills.
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