My Review of the Bernina 1008

Bernina 1800 Sewing Machine Review

Quick Notes

The Bernina 1008 is a real gem of a machine. It is a mechanical machine and as such doesn't have all the mod cons you would get with a computerised machine, but it really does embody quality, durability and style.

It is quite pricey, and so is unlikely to be a first choice for those who are just starting to get into sewing.

The Pros

  • Top quality machine
  • Durable - will last a lifetime if serviced properly

The Cons

  • Expensive
  • Limited selection of stitches
  • Cannot adjust presser foot pressure

Bernina 1008 Overview

The Bernina 1008 is Bernina's "classic" mechanical sewing machine, and is the last purely mechanical machine in Bernina's range.

It can basically be summed up in two words - simplicity and quality. It may appear to be a relatively basic machine, and in many ways it is. It doesn't have any of the fancy stitches or extra features that the more modern computerised machines have.

However it does do the basics very, very well. It is a first class machine, made from the best components, and if serviced properly will last you a lifetime. This goes some way to justifying its price. It is a very expensive machine, quite a bit more expensive than other machines which have similar features. But if you're looking at it as an investment over the very long term, it may well be worth it!

Bernina 1008 up close
The Bernina 1008 up close

I love the mechanical aspect of the machine. Everything is controlled manually, and you can feel really imagine the different gears and levers clicking away whenever you turn a dial. It really does add a lot of charm.

Let's take a look at some of the machines features...


The Bernina 1008 is quite a compact machine. But don't let that fool you – it is a heavy little monster! It weighs 9.8 kg, which is pretty heavy given its size. This is because of its metal components, which are far heavier than the plastic components you are likely to find in cheaper machines. It's not exactly portable, so if you are going to be trailing your machine to classes you might want to go for something lighter.

The machine has four front-facing dials, which I have labelled them in the image below.
Bernina 1008 dials and levers
Bernina 1008 dials and levers (copyright: Sara Dietler, Switzerland)

You might be surprised by this setup at first. The top dial is actually one dial inside of another. The outer dial controls stitch width and the inner dial controls needle position. Next you have the 6-step buttonhole dial – more about that later! You then have a dial for controlling stitch length, but which is also used for reversing stitch direction if set to the uppermost position. Finally the bottom dial is used to select between “green” and “red” stitches, but also to lower and raise the feed dogs.

I really like being able to lower the feed dogs from a dial on the front of the machine. A lot of machines have this function hidden at the back somewhere behind the free arm or extension table, which can make it fiddly and hard to access.

The stitch selector and stitch selection chart are located on top of the machine, as is the thread tension dial.

The working area is relatively small, but you can purchase an extension table if you feel you need a bit more room. If you're a quilter this might be an essential purchase!

The free arm is quite small so should be suitable even for very small cuffs for children's clothes, for example.


As I mentioned earlier, the 1008 is a simple machine, and as such doesn't offer a bewildering array of stitches like computerised machines tend to. It has 17 different stitches (of which only 2 are decorative), and 5 needle positions. I have listed out the stitches in the table below.

#1 straight stitch#9 triple straight stitch
#2 zigzag stitch#10 triple zigzag stitch
#3 blindstitch#11 stretch overlock stitch
#4 universal stitch#12 double overlock stitch
#5 knit stitch#13 stretch stitch
#6 vari-overlock stitch#14 stretch stitch
#7 running stitch#15 decorative stitch
#8 scallop stitch#16 decorative stitch

The maximum stitch length is 5 mm and the maximum stitch width is 5.5 mm.

If you think you might prefer a computerised machine, you may want to take a look at my review of the Bernina 330.

The Buttonhole

The buttonhole is a bit different on the 1008 than what you might be used to, as it is a 6-step buttonhole.

It can be a little tricky to figure out how it is supposed to be done, but the additional effort is definitely worth it as you will end up with a perfect high quality buttonhole, probably better than what you could expect from a 4-step or an automatic buttonhole system. You do need a bit of patience though!

Kimberly Speth has created a great detailed video of the buttonhole process on the 1008, so if you want to see how it's done, take a look at the video below!


Durability is one of the areas where the Bernina 1008 really shines. The lack of plastic components means that there is much less which is likely to break. And the lack of any computing power is also a blessing for the machine's durability - there are no chips or complex electronic components which can break down.

Be sure to clean the machine regularly, and oil it as instructed in the Owner's Manual. It is also a good idea to get it serviced every once in a while, typically once a year but less frequently will probably be fine too. If you treat it well, it will last you a lifetime!

The Details

Presser Feet

The 1008 comes with a snap-on shank, and 5 different soles which can easily snap-on to the provided shank. This is great for switching between feet quickly, but it means you miss out on Bernina's famous full shank feet.

The full shank feet are very high quality presser feet, which help eliminate small vibrations which may throw off your stitches. It really is a shame the machine doesn't come with the full shank feet as standard. They can be bought separately, but they are pretty expensive!

The following soles are provided:

  • All-purpose reverse pattern sole
  • Zipper sole
  • Overlock sole
  • Buttonhole sole
  • Blind hem sole

Stitch Quality and Speed

As you would expect, there are no issues at all with stitch quality for this machine. All of your stitches will look perfect.

The 1008 has a sturdy feel to it when sewing, and the whole experience is incredibly smooth. It's fairly quick too, as you can speed along at 1000 stitches per minute.

It does have an AC motor, and so may not have quite as much piercing power as a machine with a DC motor.


Pricing is obviously an important consideration when you are choosing a sewing machine, and warrants particular discussion for the Bernina 1008.

It is true that it is a pricey machine, and it should be seen as an investment. Many people are likely to be put off by its price tag, especially when you consider that it is a relatively basic machine in terms of what it offers. Whether it is overpriced or not is a matter of debate, but it is certainly pricier than many alternative machines which offer similar features.

The Bernina Brand

It almost goes without saying these days that the Bernina brand is a real leader in terms of producing top quality sewing machines. The flip side of that coin is of course that they are more expensive. If you want to see how Bernina stacks up against some of the other main sewing machine brands, have a ready of my Which is the Best Sewing Machine Brand? page.

The Bernina 1008 is no exception amongst Bernina machines - like the others, it is an excellent but very pricey machine!

13 thoughts on “My Review of the Bernina 1008

  1. I love Bernina sewing machines. This review is very informative when deciding between a basic model and a computerised model.

    1. Have you tried turning the screw on the bobbin case? Your machine should come with a tiny screwdriver. Turn the screw so that the when you hold the bobbin case up by the thread alone, it doesn’t drop until you give the thread a slight upward tug as if you would if you were holding a yo yo.

  2. Hey. I am looking to buy a second hand Bernina 1008 for my partner as a surprise. I know she needs a machine that can do an invisible stitch. Can anyone please tell me if this model will do that. Many thanks.

  3. I was wondering how adjustable the buttonhole settings are. Can you vary the width? I have an older Bernina with the same buttonhole system but the buttonholes are a bit too chunky for shirts.

  4. My 1008 seems to do a small zig zag stitch with the feed dogs lowered for free motion stitching even when the stitch width is on zero. Can you tell me how to get it to sew a straight stitch in this position?

  5. I have one of the older 1008 models. It needed a snap-on presser foot adapter which I bought from several different people. None seem to have the original Bernina part available, and I’ve started using the machine, however, if the presser foot is up, and I attempt to lower the needle (just to check for position), the needle bar hits the adapter! Is this a normal occurrence? It shouldn’t matter once the foot is down for sewing, but I was wondering about it. ?

  6. I love my Bernina 1008 – have had it for some years now – however suddenly the bottom stitches are very loose in loops – have changed the needle and tightened the bobbin – what am I doing wrong.
    Local machine shop on shut down.
    I really need it as am in the process of sewing Scrub Bags for our NHS Hospital

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