articles, bernina, teaching, Teri Lucas, tutorials

It’s a good thing I can control myself

Or How I Fell in love with the BERNINA Stitch Regulator

& a tutorial!

When the Aurora 440 hit the market with the BSR (BERNINA Stitch Regulator) I tried it at a quilt show and well, wasn’t overly impressed.  In part because I was still a dedicated hand quilter, in part because the minute my hand went near it the needle started moving.  Eeek!

The second time I tried using the BSR I’d been quilting on my own for a while and had something of a rhythm going that made the BSR feel like training wheels.

And then one day I met Jeanne Delpitjeanne cook bernina educator on the set of Quilting Arts TV.  She asked me if I’d demo it on camera.  (For those of you who’ve read this before please bear with me.)  I said no and we had a conversation as to why.  Jeanne asked me to give a couple of changes a try and within 10 minutes my mind changed and I demoed on camera during my segment.  I’ve wanted a machine with the BSR for a long time and now I have one.

So what did Jeanne ask me to do?

Put the BSR in Mode 2 – the needle stops and starts when the fabric starts moving underneath the sensor.  I didn’t like the needle starting when the BSR was engaged because a pigtail formed on the back of the quilt because I’d get started a bit too slowly.  Pigtails are cute on pigs, not so much on the back of a quilt.  They can’t be buried and if you clip them well let’s just say the stitching will begin to unravel.

Both Mode 1 and Mode 2 will stop or start with the foot pedal or the stop/start button on the front of the machine.  Because of how I’d been quilting for a while using the foot pedal is more intuitive for me.  Though in Mode 2 I can use the start/stop button.

Next Jeannie adjusted the stitch length and had me sit and stitch.  By reducing the stitch length to 1.6 to 1.75 the movement was much freer.  After about 10 minutes I turned to Jeanie and said, “I want this and I can demo on camera.”    If you’ve seen Episode 505 you’ve seen what that 10 minutes can do.

So how do I set up the machine?  Here goes:

BSR Sensor
1. This is the sensor that reads how quickly the quilt is moving under the BSR
BSR plug in
2. The plug in is now located on the back of the machine making it easier to get set up for stitching.












BSR Tute needle down and stitch length
3. Stitch length adjusted from 2.0, the preset, to 1.75 which moves with me much more easily. If I’m doing really tiny pebbles I’ll make the stitch length a bit smaller. I do have to say the updates over the last few years have made even the 2.0 a lot more responsive.
BSR Tute presser foot pressure
4. The preset is 50. I actually increased it because I’m using a wool batting that is pretty squishy, this still allows the quilt to move freely under the foot.














BSR Tute stitch plate
5. The 780 comes with the straight stitch plate and I love it for piecing and quilting. When quilting with or without the BSR using the straight stitch plate keeps the quilt from being dragged down into the bobbin area preventing major heart ache. Being able to select the straight stitch plate will prevent needle and machine damage should you put another foot on and select a decorative stitch by alerting you to change the plate.


BSR Tute threaded bobbin
6. Threading the guide with finer threads is a great idea. It’s much simpler with the new bobbin system.
















BSR tute getting started
I use the open toe foot when quilting. It’s served me well over the years and I still love it a lot. I have a #24 foot on order as I like the shape of it.
BSR Tute stitching










The BERNINA stitch regulator is a great tool to add to your quilting tool kit.  If you have one and have been struggling with it try changing modes and reducing the stitch length!

17 thoughts on “It’s a good thing I can control myself”

  1. Love this post! I’ve been playing all morning, and I think BSR and I can become friends, but it’s going to take some time. 😉 I’m trying to get used to the smaller stitches. (I’m a lover of the longer more hand quilterly stitches, but can’t do them when doing detailed work, right? So, I’ll learn to love it.) Thanks so much for all the help you give me – it’s invaluable!

    1. I’m glad the blog post is helpful. If you like those longer stitches I’d say keep the stitch length a bit longer and figure out the hand movement. Try going to 1.8 and see what that does for you.

  2. I never quite got “in sync” with the BSR on my 440 and then I purchased my Juki TL2010Q and have done a tone of FMQ on that with great results. I do a lot of white on white micro strippling and the BSR doesn’t “read” movement very well on totally white fabric so gave up on it for that and love the Juki. Last November I bought a HQ Sweet Sixteen and use it for large projects… it totally, too! My Bernina gets used rarely but performs well when I need it. Your post is a great one and probably would have helped me at the time of purchase (4 yrs. ago). I agree, the straight stitch plate is a must for nicely formed, trouble-free FMQ stitching. Hugs, Doreen

    1. One thing you can do is take the machine to the dealer and have the software for the BSR updated. The simplest thing to do it put the BSR on a new machine, plug it in and let it update the software then I’d give it one more try. I know you love your HQ and I think you’ll love the 440 too.

      1. I have gotten great results by listening to the “hum-purr” of the machine (Juki/HQ) and coordinating my hand movement accordingly so will probably not go with any software updates. I know it’s a shame and I so wish I still had my 1030 (gave that to a friend when I got the 440). Sometimes I learn the hard way! It’s (the 440) is a great machine but for FMQ I prefer an unregulated one.

  3. Teri, I don’t know how I would do without my BSR. I find it really important on my 830 LE to also pay close attention to the tension, which needs to be tested for each type/weight of thread. I use 1.75 almost exclusively. Also, I have found great success using the zig-zag stitch with the BSR for making a grassy look (I turn the quilt sideways and use a simple stipple…requires testing as to width and stitch length) for my landscapes. Great post!

  4. If my 1090 could utilize the BSR I’d be the happiest woman on the planet!
    Looks like I’ll have to wait until I can spring for a newer Bernina. When I do – you better believe it will have the BSR!

  5. Hi, Teri. This is a great post — I had a similar experience with BSR when I got the BSR/730 update for my 200. I had to go back to the dealer and have one of the sweet teachers sit down with me and show me the difference between modes 1 and 2, stopping and starting, etc. One thing that REALLY confused me on that 200/730 was that the BSR directions talked about the “start stop button” on the front of the machine, so I was trying to stop the machine with the purple button on the front of MY machine, not knowing that my machine didn’t HAVE a start-stop button. I was pushing my quick reverse button to try to turn off the BSR, and then freaking out when the machine kept sewing!! I actually didn’t come to terms with BSR until I took a free motion quilting class without using it, learned some basics about how to hold my hands, how to position the quilt so it could move freely, and started to develop muscle memory for some simple shapes. Then I went back and tried that BSR foot again and was delighted to see the huge improvement it gave me, immediately, by equalizing my wonky stitch lengths, I never went back. And I agree with you that the BSR on the 7 Series machines is much smoother and more responsive than on the earlier machines.

    One question: For Photo #4, where you say the preset is 50 but you increased it to 65, is that the presser foot pressure? I don’t recognize that screen.

    Thanks for the great tutorial!

  6. Thanks for the post, Following your suggestions, I’ve had much more success using the shorter stitch length and BSR mode 2.
    I still have a problem getting started about half the time. With needle down selected I can get a long stitch for the first stitch sometimes, sometimes I just can’t get the needle moving at all. I think it has something to do with how I move my hands when starting out. Do you have any suggestions?

    I don’t have a problem when using needle up, but I prefer needle down when quilting.

    1. Needle down is the way to go! The thought of the quilt going flying, dragging thread from the top and bobbin gives me the heebie geebies. Eeeeeeeek.

      Try reducing the presser foot pressure so the sensor can read the movement better. The other option is having the BSR updated – this may be as simple as plugging it into a newer machine, check with your local dealer on this.


  7. Thank you so much, reducing the presser foot pressure was the key to solving this puzzle. I hadn’t even thought about changing it until you suggested it. You have converted me to using the BSR with mode 2 I’m loving it.

  8. My baby quilt has a batik top, batik backing, and thin cotton batting. I was quilting on my Bernina 820 with Superior Threads’s King Tut (cotton 40-weight thread) in the top and Aurifil Mako (50-weight cotton thread) in the bobbin. The winning combination was a 90/14 topstitch needle, 1.25 top thread tension, the Bernina Stitch Regulator with the clear plastic sole set on BSR 1, and the presser foot pressure set at 85. Now I just need to finish the binding!

  9. Thank you for this great article. I also love the BSR and found that when I use it on spray-basted quilts, the sensor sometimes gets coated with a film of the basting spray, even though I use it very sparingly. I think the needle brings up a little of the adhesive at times and that is how it gets on the sensor. Ever since I discovered that, I now know to check the sensor especially if I start getting poor performance. When I notice a little film, I clean it off with a Q Tip using a tiny amount of rubbing alcohol.

Leave a Reply