The milestones of BERNINA History
The year 1893: The world's first hemstitch sewing machine
In 1893, Karl Friedrich Gegauf invents the hemstitch sewing machine. This machine can sew 100 stitches per minute. It was the world's first machine of this type, and also caused a major sensation abroad. The mechanical production of hemstitching was subsequently known simply as "gegaufing".
A factory is established
By 1900, 70 to 80 people were employed in the workshop; it had become a small factory. Karl Friedrich Gegauf was the technical director. His brother Georg was in charge of the business interests. The hemstitch sewing machine had found widespread use and was also being sold abroad.
The Fritz Gegauf era begins
After the death of Karl Friedrich Gegauf in 1928, his two sons Fritz and Gustav Gegauf took over their father's factory. Gustav Gegauf left the company in 1947. Fritz Gegauf was a creative person whose character defined the company for many decades and whose inventions have an effect to this day.
The sewing machine for use at home
The household sewing machine with the BERNINA brand name leaves the factory in Steckborn. The logo contains a rounded "A" and is set off by a background of shiny black lacquer. The company's namesake is the Piz Bernina, the highest summit in the eastern Alps.
The zigzag machine arrives
BERNINA's first zigzag sewing machine enters the market. To visually reinforce the Swiss quality, the brand's logo now adorns the arm.
Zigzag with free-arm
The first portable zigzag sewing machine appears in 1945. As demand developed, production numbers rose steadily upward: By 1963, BERNINA had produced one million zigzag sewing machines.
The semi-automatic arrives
The world keeps on sewing - and BERNINA continues to develop the machines. In 1954, the company markets the first machine with a patented clip-on presser foot and a semi-automatic buttonhole sewing function.
The next generation takes over
From 1959, Fritz Gegauf entrusted his daughter Odette Ueltschi with the leadership of BERNINA and she was able to take over as president of the company in 1979.
The year 1963: Committed to Swiss quality
BERNINA produces continuous innovations under the direction of Odette Ueltschi-Gegauf. In 1963, BERNINA introduces the first machine with a patented, knee-activated presser foot lifter. The Free Hand System FHS, which not only raises the presser foot, but also lowers the feed dog, is still an important feature of almost every BERNINA.
The year 1971: BERNINA pushes the pedal
A sewing machine with electric foot control - the BERNINA 830 - follows in 1971. This machine establishes itself as a top model in the 70s, remains the best seller for eleven years and enjoys legendary status today.
The year 1981-1982: Even more sewing power
Odette Ueltschi-Gegauf continues to drive innovative thinking. The BERNINA 930 is the first model with a stretch stitch function and an especially powerful engine.
The year 1986: The dawn of the computer age
In the mid-80s, BERNINA produced the1130, the first computerized sewing machine with fully automatic one-step buttonholing and stitch pattern memory.
The year 1988: Hanspeter Ueltschi takes the reins
Hanspeter Ueltschi, great-grandson of the company founder, takes over the leadership of Fritz Gegauf AG in 1988 from his mother Odette, and from now on leads the company with considerable skill and flair. Under his leadership, BERNINA develops into an iconic brand among quilters in the United States.
The year 1989: Odette becomes bernette
The 1230 model has expanded memory and fully automated one-step buttonholing. Odette Ueltschi-Gegauf continues to shape the company so effectively that the sewing machine line bernette is named after her: a combination of her first name and the brand name BERNINA.
The year 1993: Material for further advances
BERNINA made more innovative leaps in the 90s. The top-of-the-line 1630 model features 9mm (3/8 in.) stitch width, over 400 stitch patterns, monograms, 5 alphabets and enables sewing in 16 directions.
The year 1998: The first true sewing computer
Hanspeter Ueltschi introduces the first BERNINA sewing computer, the artista 180. The company has finally entered the computer age.
The year 2001: New functions, new possibilities
Many "buttons" now adorn BERNINA machines. The top-of-the-series activa 145 model is equipped with CPS software for customized settings. Scanned images can be converted into embroidery patterns with the appropriate BERNINA software.
The year 2002: BERNINA and Microsoft Windows
The world's first sewing computer with a Microsoft Windows operating system enters the market. Other features include CD-ROM drive, LCD display and memory functions for stitch combinations and embroidery designs.
The year 2004: Non-stop innovation
In 2004, BERNINA establishes another first: The company markets the BERNINA Stitch Regulator (BSR) for uniform stitch lengths in free-motion stitching. The BSR earns BERNINA the "Best Innovator" award from A.T. Kearney. The aurora 440 QE, which is equipped with the BSR, becomes the preferred machine for demanding quilters around the world.
The year 2006: Progress is our policy, now and forever
The new artista 640 and 730 machines resemble computers more and more. Features such as utility and decorative stitch programs, built-in embroidery software and - in the case of the artista 730 - even a touchscreen, are testaments to innovation and progress.
The year 2009: The greatest BERNINA of all time
The BERNINA 830 is a machine of superlatives - the biggest and fastest machine ever produced at a BERNINA factory. For this product alone, 15 patent applications were filed. The Swiss precision of the B 830 guarantees an unforgettable sewing and embroidery experience.
The year 2009: The next innovation award
With the CutWork Tool and CutWork software, BERNINA customers can design shapes onscreen for the first time and then cut them out with the sewing machine. CutWork was awarded the Swiss Technology Award in 2009.
The year 2011: A new look for BERNINA
The introduction of the new 5 Series (BERNINA 530, 550 QE and 580) presents a new image for the BERNINA brand. The logo is now embroidered and supplemented with the claim "made to create".
The year 2012: BERNINA 7 Series – Extended space for sewing, quilting and embroidering
Simple and classic are a couple of words that describe the new
BERNINA 7 Series. At BERNINA, we concentrate not only on
sophisticated technologies, but also on setting new standards
in product design and performance.
The year 2012: BERNINA 9 Hook – unlimited creativity
With the launch of the 7 Series, BERNINA presents a world’s first, the BERNINA 9 Hook (B 9 Hook). Combining the two best hook technologies, the B 9 Hook is patent pending.
The year 2012: BERNINA DesignWorks Software Suite
Creativity has three new dimensions: combine embroideries with CutWork, PaintWork, or CrystalWork. You'll be amazed at the magnificent effects you can achieve.
The year 2013 - BERNINA 880
The BERNINA 880 is our most sophisticated creation and leaves nothing to desire. Discover new stunning functions like the Stitch Designer or the Color Wheel.
The year 2013: BERNINA Embroidery Software 7
Get creative turning embroidery dreams into reality with great new threedimensional (3D) features like PunchWork, StumpWork, Trapunto and Raised Satin. The new DesignerPlus Embroidery Software 7 includes a range of 3D effects for unique surface embellishments.
The year 2014: BERNINA E 16
BERNINA’s first multi-needle Embroidery machine. The BERNINA E 16 represents the latest in embroidery technology, delivering the highest quality stitching, ease of use and industrial durability.
The year 2015: BERNINA's first longarm quilting machine
The introduction of the two longarm quilting machines, Q 24 and Q 20, is a dream come true for many quilters. The two longarm quilting machines stand out due to their ease of use and high-quality, robust design. They can be used to produce quilts with a length of up to 3 m. The integrated BERNINA Stitch Regulator ensures precise stitches of equal length and the operation of the machine from the front makes free-motion quilting a completely new experience.
A high-quality quilting frame has been developed for the BERNINA Q 24, which is available in three sizes. The Q 20 comes with a quilt table as standard, but can also be used on a frame.
The year 2015: The new BERNINA 7 Series
Plenty of room, very high speeds and absolute precision. With the new 7 Series models, BERNINA set new standards in 2015. The BERNINA 790, BERNINA 770 Quilter's Edition (QE), BERNINA 740 and 720 offer innovative features, such as BERNINA Adaptive Thread Tension, and are equipped with the BERNINA Hook. This guarantees perfect stitch quality, with a stitch width of up to 9 mm and speeds of up to 1000 stitches per minute.
The year 2016: BERNINA's first embroidery only machine
With the BERNINA 700 BERNINA's first embroidery only machine is born. It enchants embroidery enthusiasts with its extra-large embroidery area, the precise positioning of motifs and many other innovative features.
The year 2017: NEW BERNINA 5 Series
New embroidery functions were launched by BERNINA on the new 5 Series, the
B 790 PLUS and the B 880 PLUS. And BERNINA will continue to be a family-run business in the future as the 5th generation is already in the starting blocks.
The year 2018: Celebrating your creativity!
BERNINA celebrated an important anniversary. It was 125 years since the company was founded by Karl Friedrich Gegauf – a very special year! To celebrate, BERNINA brought special limited-edition models with a gold faceplate on to the market, as well as two real gold-plated presser feet and a golden anniversary box.
The year 2019: Make magic with BERNINA
BERNINA announces the launch of the new Tula Pink Special Edition machines featuring the B 770 QE and B 570 QE.
The rainbow oil slick finish on the freearm cover and the thread take-up lever cover together with the exquisite faceplate designed by Tula Pink turn the Special edition into a one-of-a-kind sewing and embroidery machine.
The year 2020: NEW BERNINA L 8 Series
BERNINA presents a new milestone in its history – the ultimative Overlocker L 850 and the revolutionary Overlock/Coverstitch Combo machine L 890. These innovations, manufactured by BERNINA, are 100 % designed and engineered in Switzerland.