Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Pfaff Quilt Expression 2046

I sew on a Pfaff Quilt Expression 2046.

Prior to that I had a "New Home" model that I got from a garage sale. (New Home is now Janome) It was a pretty good machine and it was an excellent transition as I learned whether I wanted to sew a lot, or just a little.  I recycled that machine by giving it to my niece for Christmas one year.

Back to the Pfaff.

I did a fair amount of research prior to buying this sewing machine, but the decision came down to how I thought I'd use the machine.  You can spend anything you like on a sewing machine - $50 to $50000. What matters is that you get joy out of your work on the machine. It should enable you to get your work done without getting in the way.

My primary reasons were:
  • Integrated Dual Feed (IDF) - On Pfaff machines, there is a "feed dog" above where the fabric goes. It's like having a permanent walking foot every time you sew. If needed, you can disable it.
Integrated Dual Feed

  • Features - A good number of features without jumping to the next level: an embroidery machine.
  • Price - I think I paid around $1700 for the machine.
  • Quilting support, including a quilting add-on package with extension table, quarter inch foot, free motion foot.
  • Support - there was a Pfaff store/sewing center within walking distance of my house.

Now that I've used the machine for 3 years, here are some reasons I've come to love this machine:
  • I adore the IDF. The best thing about the integrated dual feed is that you can use any presser foot with it (if it's designed to do so - which most Pfaff feet are). It's like using a walking foot and a zipper foot all at once, for example. 
  • Low-bobbin detector - there's a little laser "eye" in the bobbin area that scans how much thread is left. The computerized screen displays an icon when the bobbin is low.
  • Built-in needle threader: It's a tiny hook that fits through the eye of the needle and pulls your thread through. Handy.
  • Two thread spindles. Nice.
  • It packs up neatly when I need to take it to guild or class. It's not too heavy.
  • When I forget to change the face plate and the needle crashes into it, the machine detects the pressure and stops before it breaks the needle.  Yeah, I forget every once in a while.
No machine is perfect, and you don't know what you want or don't want until you use a machine for a while and try to do various tasks. Here are some observations from the 3 years I've been in relationship with this machine:
  • It is not that good at winding bobbins. It doesn't provide enough tension, and you end up with a bobbin threaded loosely. I have figured out a work around, but it's annoying.  
  • I wish there was an easy way to put the needle down when you stop sewing. On Berninas I think you just tap the foot pedal. On my machine, you can do it manually with the wheel, or push a button on the front panel near the computer screen. 
    • Pfaffs have a needle down button that toggles the machine into needle-down mode. In this mode, the needle always stops in down position. This is good. But, sometimes I forget to push the button ahead of time, or I didn't realize I would need the needle down at a particular moment.
    • Often, my hands are all tied up in my project and I don't want to have to let go, break concentration and refocus my eyes to push a button on the screen or twist the wheel.  Can't I just tap something with my toe or knee or finger, right there by my work? Ideally, this tap would be a one-time-only action; that is, it wouldn't toggle the machine into needle-down-all-the-time mode.
I realize I have written about many machine topics and terms that may be unfamiliar. I will do a series of posts on these individual topics and I'll include pictures to illustrate the concepts. 

Lots of people have a sewing machine but don't know how to use its features or what they are for. These posts should help you progress in your sewing to the next level.

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