Bernina Activa 130/140 info

The Bernina 130 & 140 were introduced in 1998. There’s not a ton of info online anymore, so here’s a bit for anyone who might see a deal on one.

It’s not a machine I would’ve gone for on paper — not as many stitches or features as my previous machine — but I love the adjustable presser foot pressure, the straightforward interface, and the sense of control, all at a more affordable price than many used Berninas, both older and newer.

The foot pedal allows you to sink the needle slowly when you need to be precise, definitely more slowly than my Bernina 1020 (which I love for other reasons), while hitting a similar top speed.

I only sew garments, and the 130 makes narrow seams on even slippery or sheer material without trying to eat the fabric. With the right needle and  reduced tension and foot pressure, it sews knits well with straight stitch, zigzag & vari-overlock. The 140 has more stitch options for knits; it features jersey and honeycomb, among others.

The full manual (free pdf)

Bernina_130_ext_table_left__thumb    Bernina_130_ext_table_front__thumb

A couple of facts…

Although most Activas are 3/4 machines, the 130 and 140 are full size (15″ x 12  x  8).

5.5 mm max stitch width

9 needle positions

Heel tap pedal that allows you to take a half stitch (needle up/down).

Just 13 stitches on the 130: straight, zig-zag, vari-overlock, running, securing, triple, blind, double overlock, darning program, standard buttonhole, 3 decorative stitches.

The 140 has those and also super-stretch, honeycomb, jersey, universal, gathering, keyhole buttonhole, and 4 more decorative stitches.

Adjustable presser foot pressure

Stainless steel free arm

Made in Switzerland

The 130’s single  buttonhole is a 4 step and can be programmed to repeat at the same size until you turn off the machine. The 140’s additional keyhole buttonhole is a 5 step. Second beads for both are sewn in reverse. (I prefer the buttonholes on my 1020 which has second bead sewn forward, though lately I sew most by hand.)

They were  made with the low mass hook system, which includes a part plastic/part metal hook in the bobbin area. Mine has this hook and sews fine, but I’ve been told that if it gets scratched, you can have stitch problems that can be resolved by getting an all metal hook.

My 130 is quiet, but sometimes has a slight high pitched whine if it sits for a while without sewing.

Takes new style feet for category C machines* along with the Virtuosas, but unlike the rest of the Activas. Bernina’s 2016 Accessories Catalog gives a list of category C machines and compatible feet.

* Not to be confused with the C that follows the number in some “coded” feet, like #1C.

Even though it’s not built in, you can sew a basting stitch on it (and on most any machine)  by sewing a zigzag or blind hem with a double eye needle. (see my video)

Bernina (in NZ at least) still has boards, hooks, extension tables, and presumably other parts, available for this machine as of 2016.


10 thoughts on “Bernina Activa 130/140 info

  1. I am looking at buying a 140 in excellent condition for the high 500’s. Is this too expensive, private buyer with no guarantees. I have a Bernina overlocker 2000DE which is excellent. I haven’t been able to source much info online but no-one has had anything bad to say about them.


    1. I’m in New Zealand, so it’s difficult for me to say. (If you’re in NZ, it does sound like a good price here.) With no guarantees, personally I would want to be able to sit down and try it out first.

      (That said, my 130 is still running fine in 2018.)


  2. So, you can still buy presser feet for this machine? I found one I am considering buying, but, I will need more feet than what comes with it. I know you said they started making them in 98, but, do you know when they stopped? The person I am trying to buy from has no idea what year it was made.


    1. Sorry for the delay… Yes, you can see all the feet available in the Bernina app, if you have that. You just check Activa 130 under my machines, and it shows you all you can buy.


  3. I am not clear on whether the 130 has a ‘needle down’ feature. On my 153 there is a button to put the machine in ‘needle down’ mode and so whenever you stop sewing the needle is down. Can you clarify for that for me? I am looking at a used 130 machine as a backup to mine, but not sure I want it if there is not a needle down feature.

    Thanks, Joyce


    1. Joyce, it’s not the same on the 130. There’s no automated button, but instead a “heel tap” on the foot controller changes whether the needle is up or down after the machine has stopped. It stops sewing with needle up, and I rock my heel back so the needle goes down, turn the fabric, and continue sewing. (I used to have a machine with a button; I actually find it easier to keep my hands free with heel tap, but to be fair both of my machines have heel tap now, so I’m not having to remember to switch back and forth between 2 different ways of doing things.) Hope I’m not too late to help! Jess


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