Saturday, October 10, 2015


After a few weeks of being machine-less......and after tons of confusion as I researched what machine would be the best fit for me......I made a decision, changed my mind, and made another one.

First let me address the brand that disappointed me beyond belief.  During my long time role as an instructor in the quilt world, I'd been fortunate to be included in both Pfaff and Bernina's loaner programs throughout the years.

The reason I enjoyed sewing on a Bernina was its precision piece and quality. The reason I enjoyed sewing on a Pfaff was their one-time exclusive dual feed feature. It was invaluable to me for straight line quilting/bindings etc.  Though Bernina's walking foot did essentially the same thing.....I personally had difficulty using it.  I wear trifocals.....and no matter how hard I eyes simply refused to track the sort of jerking movements of the walking foot.  Most quilters have no problem with it but I did.

Like so many businesses, there has been a lot of consolidation with machine manufacturers.  Unfortunately, all too often the quality of the product suffers.  Happily, Bernina is still made in Switzerland. Sadly, Pfaff is no longer manufactured in Germany, rather their almost all plastic machines now come out of China.

Replacing a machine for some of us may be like trying to replace a loved pet!!  If money and space were no object.... my decision would have been different. So, even after being warned NOT to purchase a Pfaff that isn't at least 6 years old, I did anyway. (Expressions 4.2)  This was not an easy feat given the closest dealer is over 4+ hrs. round trip away.  After a total of 3 trips trying to get this thing to stitch a simple straight line and turn a went back!
I feel a bit disloyal revealing my experience, but honestly, after 30 years of sewing I KNOW how to thread a machine and know when the bobbin and needle tensions aren't right!!  Even after the factory trained repair person 'fixed' this brand new machine, I was never able to get a satisfactory stitch. This is an example of the back of one and bobbin threads are exactly the same weight....just different colors.....note the horrible tension, esp. where I stitched squared corners....the front wasn't much better as the bobbin thread was too visible on that side as well. Perhaps my experience is not the norm, and if there was a dealer closer, maybe with more adjustments the tension issues could have been solved....but that wasn't the case so I crossed Pfaff off my list.

Now, let me say that Bernina is a fine machine, Bernina owners LOVE their machines. However, I had leaned toward the Pfaff quite honestly with my pocket book in mind.  Their machine fit my current cabinet (the Bernina with the same features would not).  It came with all the necessary feet, the Bernina did not.  Therefore, besides the higher price point of the machine, many extra costs would have been necessary.  Now after the fact, I realize my thriftiness ended up causing two weeks of hassles and stress!

So, I began my search again..... which ended yesterday. 
 More work will be necessary to get my sewing space set up....everything had to be moved.
My nearly 25 year old Horn cabinets will not accommodate these newer/larger machines.  By the time 'the husband' figured out the cost of purchasing a new saw to cut the opening larger.....and then realized the remaining surround may not have enough support was clear I had to have another one. This has the whole room in an uproar as I try to figure how how to juggle my space to fit the new very sturdy table into my sewing 'pod'.  

I'm sure it will be moved several times before I get the right combo.  My space isn't all that small, the issue is more about lighting.  I sew in a loft area, with tall sloping wood ceiling and not too much natural light.  There is a long bank of lights that runs down the center of the room, which requires my workspace to be located directly below it.  

I really found it shocking how difficult the process of replacing a machine became. But, perhaps this is more than you wanted to know! I did a ton of research online and found generously provided tutorials and reviews of other sewers so helpful.  Perhaps this post will serve to help someone else.

I'll share more once I'm all set up.....


margaret said...

what a chore purchasing a new machine can be, I take it you have gone for a bernina. I too have a horn cabinet but it is on the spare bedroom and I ssw in the kitchen. Also have a bernina the 1230 model but it died on me this morning went I went to mend Helen`s leggings 2 tine screws from the bobbin have come out so need to get the machine man to it, think I will get it serviced at the same time . Fingers crossed you have mores success with the latest machine

Exuberantcolor/Wanda S Hanson said...

I am disappointed in the newer Pfaff machines too (the last 12 years). Having worked for a Pfaff dealership and watching the quality dwindle with each sale of the company to a new invester was heartbreaking. I luckily have 3 of the older models and they are all working great, so fingers crossed, I may be able to continue sewing with the built in dual feed. My newer machines are Babylock and it is an excellent company.

crafty cat corner said...

So glad it's not just me that finds all of these modern machines a nightmare.
I mess about with the tension but can never get it quite right.
Also, they are so light weight, I remember hardly being able to lift my machines in the dim and distant past and made my wedding dress on my Mum's old Singer treadle.
Hope you finally get sorted out.

Vivian Helena said...

I keep going back to my 25 year old Pfaff..I do have a new one, but think it is all the computer stuff that gets me.. I just bought a Sweet 16, have had friends rave.. Hope I did the right thing, and now to find space in my studio.. arrives next week!
good luck, When I started there were only two machines that everyone wanted.. guess that has changed!

Kathy said...

What an ordeal! And to be so far away from all the dealers makes it even harder. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that machine keeps plugging along because I would have the same kind of upheaval in my studio. Hope you get back to (the new) normal soon!

Teresa Duryea Wong said...

Did you buy the Bernina? I have the Bernina 820. For the first year, I was ready to throw it out the window - it had a lot of problems. But I have worked through them now - after upteem trips to the dealer. I do enjoy sewing on mine now. I also bought the Horn table with the electric lift. Expensive but worth it so I can lift the machine for bobbin oil and cleaning. Good luck!

The Idaho Beauty said...

Ack! You've left us hanging!!! Am so curious to know what you finally bought. Realized after my recommendations the one thing I failed to mention was this bit about tried and true companies being bought out - and often by a company that knows nothing about what they are folding into their portfolios. The same thing happened with Viking where my loyalties lie and I blame that move on the failings I see in the newer models. On a happier note, after years of sewing machine companies virtually ignoring the specific needs of the quilter over the garment and home dec sewer, they finally realized what a big market we are and that our complaints were legitimate. Thus some of the features that have become musts for us in a sewing machine when we go looking for one.

Nancy said...

Oh my- nothing is ever simple, is it? All the time, effort, and study going into this is like a new addition to your house! Good luck with the new machine.

Lara B. said...

What a monumental task you faced Mary! Not just in the search for a new machine, but in the traveling and the revamping of your sewing space! Lighting is very important, especially for those of us with weaker eyes.
I'm laughing that you left this a mystery and am looking forward to seeing how you set up your new sewing machine!