Bernina Bernette 56 Sewing Machine Review with Scary of the Shaffer Sisters!

We have another talented blogger today sharing about her sewing machine– Scary from the Shaffer Sisters blog. (And no, I’ve gotten to know her, and she’s not scary at all!) The Shaffer Sister’s blog is a great place to see some amazing sewing, but the real reason we visit is for the inspiration. These ladies sew (and blog) from the heart. For example– check out the story behind their Sewbration of Womenhood series!

We are expecially because she’s review a Bernina Bernette machine, which are some of Bernina’s most affordable machines!

Hi, I’m Scary….from the Shaffer Sisters and I am here to tell you about my sewing partner in crime Ms. Elizabeth Ross (Betsy for short).

Elizabeth Ross is a Bernina Bernette 56, I have had her for almost 4 1/2 years, but the first 2 years she stayed pretty close to her box waiting for me to return to sewing. She was a Christmas gift from my Mom after my $40 thrift store machine didn’t work out. My mom told me that she would pay $200 dollars towards a machine, she was $200 so I was left only to pay $12 in tax. Though she had a life of ease she has been a real work horse the last 3 years, making several quilts & lots of clothing.

Source: Tysew I meant to get a picture of Betty Ross in her natural location (the kitchen table) but a few weeks she had a terrible fall & is vacationing in Idaho until the time comes for me to pick her up.

The front loading bobbin makes her the easiest machine to deal with bobbin tension & knotting issues. Her best feature might be the ease in which she shirrs, honestly it is better than any machine I have ever seen.  Her strength is perfect for sewing through the thickest fabrics. I have never felt like any project that I have done I was pushing her past her limits. She works excellent with the ruffling foot, which is good because I love me some ruffles.

This is my first completed project with Betsy for my niece Ty’s birthday

She is a little temperamental when it comes to button holes. She has a 4 step button hole and sometimes she can be real stubborn on the get go of each step & sometimes it causes the fabric to get a jammed in the feed dogs.

If your machine suddenly disappeared– what would you look for in a new machine?

When Betsy feel on the ground a few weeks ago I knew she was going to need to be serviced I thought about trading her in but as I was packing all her accessories to go, I got a emotional. She is the first sewing machine that is all mine. Growing up the 3 of us girls shared the same machine through each 4H project or prom dress with my mom. One day I would love to have a machine that had a differential feed or 1 step button hole but  I think I would still keep Betsy around for Ryder & Boston to sew on because she is strong & very reliable.

Would you recommend this machine to your best friend? Is there any other advice about sewing machine shopping that you would give her?

With out a doubt! I honestly feel like it is one of the best machines for the price range, it is retained nearly all of its value since the day I purchased it. Al (my lil’ sis) & I used to have a sewing group with our friends. It seemed like nearly every project their machines would have little tension issues. We often would say, “Oh Brother! Use our machine instead.”

If you are in the market for a new sewing machine:

  • WITHOUT A DOUBT go to a local dealer that you can trust: All of the Shaffer Sisters machines were purchased at the Twin Falls Sewing Center, my Mom & Grandma have had them servicing their machines for decades & the sewing machine we learned to sew as a youth was purchased there (which my mom still uses today). If you don’t have an idea where to go ask the people that sew in your area they will know.
  • Give them your price range and try out all the machines in that price range: It is important to weigh the features you are looking for when pricing machines. Listen for a machine you like the sound of; some of the ones I tried had a higher pitched noise and others had lower pitch roar. Test stitches and different weights of fabrics, ask the sales people what features they love. Ask them to compare.
  • Keep an open mind to a specific brand or model. I loved the Janome Machine that I used in my college classes & I grew up sewing on a Viking but my Bernina Bernette has been awesome & it features were better for me than the others that were at the dealership at the time.
  • Take advantage of the extras that the dealer throws in: This I learned the hard way, some things needed to be adjusted but I didn’t make the time to get it done. My sisters have had little adjustments made, parts fixed and machines serviced in the first year. Mine was still in my closet so I didn’t and I wish I would have.
  • Price the accessories through Amazon before purchasing them from the dealer.  Betsy is a low shank machine so I can buy my accessories at a fraction of the cost by looking on Amazon for the off brand accessories. I have had great luck with the Distinctive brand accessories. I have the Home Decor Foot package for almost 3 years with great success, I have also purchased a few random ones as well.

What is your favorite that you made with your current sewing machine? 

Choosing a favorite sewing project is like choosing a favorite kid (near impossible depending on the day) at the moment the tie is favorite sewing project would be a tie between Boston’s Winter Pixie Collection, that I made her for her 2nd birthday. It had so many textures and fabrics (satin, organza fur, several types of lace, knit). I wanted equal parts fantasy and function.

And the swim suits I just made for the kids, which they just adore. Betsy did pretty good with swimwear there were a few moments where we found ourselves frustrated, but it was our first go at swimwear. I know that we will get lots of use this summer with their swimsuits since I made them they have already worn them several times.

If your sewing machine could be any other color other than what it is now, what would it be?

Betsy would look so pretty in light turquoise & pearl (it current colors aren’t that far off) but with a damask print over the front face.

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts! Your sewing machine has good taste– we love turquoise damask too! Here are a few of our favorite projects from the Shaffer Sisters:

The Soleil dress– an absolutely gorgeous dress and photoshoot!

This pretty damask coat!

and of course her perfectly pleated skirt pattern– The Betty Skirt!

Thanks again for joining us Scary!


  1. Susan says

    Does the spool of thread lay down and have you ever replaced the spool cap? I have looked for a better fitting cap and have not been able to find one. I am currently using a wound up rubber band. Also, I live on Oahu and my machine is on the Big Island where I will travel to for visits so I do some sewing on my down time. I think my machine is a Bernette 10 but I don’t see any on the internet and the one that looks the most like mine is the Bernette 56 ( I could be wrong about the model I think I have but it definitely looks like the 56 but of course I can’t see the spool holder from the pictures I see on the internet; guess I have to keep trying).

  2. Susan says

    I am the same Susan that wrote on August 15, 2014 at 9:33 pm and I have since found out that my bernette sewing machine is a 56 model. I am still inquiring about a snug fitting spool cap. Maybe there is another brand besides a Bernina one that would fit. Guess I’ll keep inquiring. I have gone into a sewing store but could not find the right fit.

  3. says

    The limited up and down beats that have been robotic gave birth on the innovation of the “New Wave” genre.
    If you’ve got always loved hearing music and you also
    think that you have the ear to make some really good
    beats, this will be the industry that you will love to get into.
    Ideally you would like to build a drum beat which includes
    4-8 measures.

  4. says

    When you have your blog set up you will then need
    to promote it to drive traffic to it. Then Susan begins’ singing her song, “I Dreamed a Dream”‘ Within seconds the whole atmosphere changes.
    Shopping online is a convenient way to get the things you want.

  5. Barbara says

    I own this sewing machine and would like to have a manual. I want to be sure I have it threaded correctly. Please help.

Leave a Reply to Mary Hurst Cancel reply