Friday, 5 June 2009

Sewing Machine Meme

Following my article on sewing machine feet for Sew,Mama,Sew! I've had so many emails asking what machine I have that it seemed a good time to complete their meme. Beth & Kristin are compiling a database of links so that potential buyers can read the memes written about different makes and models of machine - I so wish this had existed when I was making my choice. There comes a point in one's buying research where one has read all the technical information available and simply craves to hear subjective, personal opinion...so here is my very biased offering coming from one who is wholly in love with her machine!

What brand and model do you have?
A Pfaff Classicstyle Home 1529.

How long have you had it?
Over a year.

How much does that machine cost (approximately)?
Around £400 (about $650). Although I part-exchanged my old Babylock and the numerous feet that I had to go with it and so only paid £250 for it.

What types of things do you sew (i.e. quilting, clothing, handbags, home dec projects, etc.)?
I use all different weights of material and make everything from handbags, to quilts, to kimonos, to oven gloves and even curtains if I'm forced to...I can't think of anything I couldn't sew using this machine.

How much do you sew? How much wear and tear does the machine get?

On average I sew for about six hours a day or night, five or six times a week (although some of this time will obviously be spent pattern-drawing, cutting, pinning...and eating an occasional biscuit to sustain myself), so fairly heavy-duty usage.

Do you like/love/hate your machine? Are you ambivalent? Passionate? Does she have a name?
Oh, what's not to love? I actually find my machine perfect in every way, although I've yet to personify it by giving it a name. My love for it comes primarily because it stitches perfectly every time, so that I can get on with making things rather than losing hours fiddling around with the settings - this sounds like a small thing to be grateful for, but so many machines don't seem capable of this.

I chose to buy a Pfaff because of the built-in walking foot (IDT) which can be used in conjunction with most of the feet that I own for it. The walking foot makes sure that the top and bottom pieces of material are fed through the machine at exactly the same rate (on a standard machine the material nearest the feed dogs is fed through a fraction faster which can result in less precise results). The other thing that I love is that the feet are able to flex up and down a little, meaning that it can effortlessly sew through varying thicknesses of materials without my ever having to lift my foot from the pedal. The only thing that I sometimes wish for is an automatic needle up/down feature (this is where your machine always comes to a stop with the needle down in your material so that it's ready to pivot, rather than you having to adjust this with your flywheel), which it would need to be computerised to possess and the Luddite in me feels quite passionate about keeping my sewing machine the old-fashioned way. It would completely change the relaxation that I find in sewing if I was having to deal with a computer's inherent quirks and naughtinesses.

What features does your machine have that work well for you?
I love the different needle positions (something that my old machine didn't have)...and again, all of the above.

Is there anything that drives you nuts about your machine?
Nothing. At first I wished that it looked a little prettier and longed for shinier feet to attach to it...but I've come to love it the way it is and fight the bit of myself that craves for all utilitarian things to be aesthetically pleasing. I now look to the vintage Singer (above) that my father bought for me when I'm needing a fix of sewing machine shininess!

Do you have a great story to share about your machine (i.e., Found it under the Christmas tree? Dropped it on the kitchen floor? Sewed your fingernail to your zipper?, Got it from your Great Grandma?, etc.!)? We want to hear it!
Oh, how I wish to make something amusing up for this and tell you that my cat dragged it home after the metal foot plate accidentally found itself attached to her magnetic collar...but that would be untrue, not least because she doesn't have a magnetic collar. I bought it at my local shop. I am delighted with it. We have had no mishaps together. And now I'm feeling like a crashing bore. Did I mention that I can fold myself in half?

Would you recommend the machine to others? Why?
Yes, I feel quite evangelical about it...and would only just stop short (due to worries of being labelled a fascist) at expressing a wish for ownership of this make and model to be compulsory and for all others to be taken off the market.

What factors do you think are important to consider when looking for a new machine?
When I was buying I spent an awful lot of time craving a machine that could do fancy stitches...but I've since realised that I can't imagine very many times when I'd use these and so I'm pleased that I didn't make my choice on that basis...so I suppose it's most important to think about what kind of sewing you currently do. What's really important to me is that my machine behaves impeccably so that I'm able to produce things that look exactly the way that I'd hoped that they might. I'm lucky that my local sewing machine shop really think about how each customer will use their machine and what will be best for them. When I discussed the things that I make and how many hours a day that I sew for, the lovely man there was able to convince me that what I really needed was a reliable, sturdily-built workhorse, despite the fact that even a top of the range workhorse will nearly always be less expensive than a computerised model. It's so rare to find a salesperson imploring you to spend less, but because of this I trust their advice implicitly and would now never risk buying a machine from elsewhere and have attempted to go some way to rewarding their kindness by buying a small army of feet to attach to it. My machine's simplicity means that I can fix most things myself and that on the rare occasion where I can't, it can be fixed on the same day in their workshop without waiting for expensive parts to arrive. My machine is German (and I think assembled in the Czech Republic, but Pfaff have now switched production over to China, so I'd be unlikely to buy from the newer range) and having tried out comparative Pfaff models side by side manufactured in the two different places I can say that even to the untechnically-minded, the Czech models sound and feel far superior to the Chinese versions.

Do you have a dream machine?
Yes, exactly what I have now...but I'd really like two of them so that I can stop worrying about what I will do when it eventually gives up through overuse.

And no, the materials have no relevance at all to this post and aren't even recent purchases...it simply felt too gloomy to write this without a little bit of fabricy loveliness to pad out my words!

Wishing you a lovely weekend. x

12 comments:

  1. great review, i was wondering if you have an overlocker from the same brand as i am looking into purchasing one? I have never heard of this brand and i am always confidant with german made products so thanks for the tip's.love the blog by the way martha x

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  2. Hi Martha

    My overlocker is an Elna 344, which I'm really pleased with. The Pfaff overlockers were out of my price range, but I've heard good things about them.

    Thank you for visiting. x

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  3. hi florence,
    my pfaff is poorly and i am missing her... she is due a service after a quilter's pin was sewn over! lovely review... i have been so happy with mine which i got 11 years ago.
    a happy weekend to you too xx

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  4. Great review. You are the first person to really explain the advantages of a walking foot to me. Now, I really wish I had one. I am sure that is the problem I have with irregular stitches at times. Well, it sure would give my work that more professional look.

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  5. Yay! What a great review, I am in favour of reliable and sturdy over fancy stitches so will have to take a look at this one. Thanks for all your advice!

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  6. Hello! My first time writing here. :D This is a great review! I also read the article on the sewing machine foot which I thought was really useful. Thank you.
    Congratulations on your sew magazine article! I saw it, read it and liked it very much :D I love your blog and the shop.

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  7. Just wanted to say I only found your site today and it’s really cool. You’ve been very busy and have so many good ideas. Your creations are really cute. I write a London based crafty e-zine and blog named Extremely Crafty Ideas at http://extremelycrafty.blogspot.com/ Would love to hear what you think.

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  8. Wow! Thank you for this amazing & honest post which is so full of info - I truly appreciate it. Have a good week! I live in Japan & can't invest in any of their wonderful machines as the manual & after service would all be Japanese & sadly, I don't speak Japanese.

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  9. How can you sell me so completely on this machine, then say, oh, but they're made in China now and aren't so good?

    Oh well, so far my bottom of any possible range machine has been doing ok. Even if I don't have a walker foot for it. And I can't identify what feet I DO have for it, as the manual is so badly drawn...

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  10. Hi Florence, hope you are ok :) I saw your article in Sew and thoguth it was great :) x

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  11. I am delighted to have found you via Hen, and to have read all this about sewing machines.

    I have got a very heavy "portable" Singer sewing machine in one of my minute New York City closets.

    That machine was bought way back in 1967. True. It still works. True. All the same, I would so love to sew easily again, and not to have to count every stitch (Donovan lyric, but you all are too young to remember) to make buttonholes or do any other advanced sewing.

    Thank you for all these reviews.

    I look forward to visiting you again.

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  12. I have this machine too and LOVE it. Great review I don't think you missed any of the important points. Hmmm wonder if my Dh can be convinced to get me a second one. lol.

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Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a message - it's always really lovely to hear from people.

I now tend to reply within the comments section, so please do check back if you've asked a question or wish to chat.

Florence x