Quilter's Academy - Volume 2 - Sophomore Year

Vol 3 - Junior Year

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Project 10 Double Nine Patch Chain - Quilting

Please everyone, excuse me while I vent.  Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhgahhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Thank you, that feels much better.  You see, I've been quilting :)

Now I know a bad workman blames his tools (and all that), but because I'm venting, I give myself permission to rant about my sewing machine.  Don't get me wrong, my Pfaff is a wonderful machine and for dressmaking it has everything I could want, (and the purpose I bought it for) but for quilting, it could have been better designed.  I say this because my sewing machine is a Pfaff QUILT EXPRESSION 2048.  You would think that a sewing machine labelled "Quilt Expression" would have quilters in mind when it was designed.  I beg to differ.

Pfaff Quilt Expression 2048

I finished all 25 of the sunflower pattern.  Now this design turned out to be very easy to quilt and instead of having to do 4 separate runs over the pattern, I managed with just one.  Admittedly, I had to go around the design 3 times, but there were no stops.  By dragging the thread the sunflower turned out to be one easy quilting design.  I think it actually took longer to snip the dragged threads than it did to quilt the design - lol.

It maybe too hard to see in photographs, but there are lots of thread dragging going on here.

So what was the problem you're thinking?  Check out this picture...........

On the left is what's left of the needle threader after I attacked it with a quilt!

The Pfaff presser foot lifter, which is positioned on the right of the arm, instead of the back, has a special position when quilting free motion.  It sits half way down into a slot.  Theoretically, this works well, the presser foot rests lightly on top of the fabric, moving up and down with the bulk.  But look how far it sticks out to the right and how low it is when in quilting position!  If I don't want to get my quilt hung up on the lifter, I need to compress it under and to the right of it.  Considering this leaves only 4.5 inches of harp room to the right, there isn't a lot of manoeuvrability.  Added to that, it sits only 2 inches above the bed, so unless I can flatten the quilt roll to only 2 inches (unlikely) it's enviable  that there will be problems. 

Every few stitches (it seems) I would hear the THUMP of the presser foot lifter as the quilt knocked it down - jerk, stop.  Or the quilt folds would get hung up on the lifter - drag, dead stop.  Sigh.  I really don't need this aggravation!

So I finished all the free motion stuff and started on the grid.  More problems here too.  Yes, the now familiar THUMP  as the presser foot crashes down, but also a few other things.  During the course of one straight line of sewing I managed to magically unscrew the needle and the needle just fell out!  Okkaaayyy.  Next I suddenly started sewing in reverse - the reverse button is in the front of the machine, nice and handy - but the rolled up quilt in my lap (actually folded against my chest) managed to press it hard enough to engage it.  Surprise!  Hmmm.  The last straw was the program unexpectedly shifting into buttonhole.  What???  On the front of the Pfaff is a jogger dial - makes it quick and easy to select stitches, but it's also very easy to bump it.  I learned this some time ago, and 'lock' the stitch setting as a matter of course when I turn on the machine.  For some unknown reason the lock was off, the jogger was bumped to buttonhole mode and I managed to break the needle (hey it needed changing anyway).

So is all of this simply justification for buying another sewing machine?  Yes, it probably is.  I've bought a Bernina 830.   Now settle down, not the new one (I wish) - I found a vintage 830 Record on EBay and won it.  Apparently I got a really good price as the 830, manufactured in the 1970's is the last of the purely mechanical Berninas and rather coveted by collectors and sewists (I am both).  They don't come up for sale all that often, as owners love them and rarely part with them - sales are most likely to come from deceased estates by non-sewists. I'm now quite anxious that it arrives quickly and in one piece (Australia Post can be brutal)!

I still love my Pfaff (most days) it's brilliant for dressmaking and I want to try the 'antique quilting stitches' at some point (I'd love to do a crazy quilt one day).  I'm not sure how the Bernina Record will go as a quilting machine but I will surely give it a try.  Otherwise  I'll go back to my 1940 Singer 201 with it's tall harp and beautiful stitching.  I do want to use it for piecing though.  I found out recently that the wide feed dogs on my Pfaff (it does 9mm stitches) is likely to be the cause of my stitching veering to the right at the end of the seams.  The Bernina has 4mm (I think) feed dogs which I hope will overcome this problem.

I feel better now.  Thank you for listening.

Floyd is a well behaved sewing room cat.  A 2 year old Ragdoll, he is happy to sleep close by when he's not giving every new piece of fabric or batting the 'sit test'.  He prefers black fabrics (of course).

Anni, a 10 month old Maine Coon, could use lessons in cool kat behaviour.  A total klutz who has no idea of her size, she's a disaster in the sewing room.  Anything on a table is fair game to be batted to the floor and stolen away.  She loves to settle down to sleep on quilts as they are being fed through the sewing machine.

Anni is a diligent overnight quilt guard who prefers works-in-progress

Floyd however, shows a distinct preference for wool batting


  1. You didn't pull your hair out! I think I would have. Now go away, eat a chocolate, or two, have a coffee, or a tea [or something stronger], and tomorrow you will have recovered completely, ready to tackle any machine!
    On a more serious note, have you thought of getting in touch with Pfaff suggesting they make some modifications?

  2. Hi Shirlwin

    The Pfaff dealer at the quilt show told me the presser foot lever was redesigned on future models - I notice the jogger dial also disappeared!

    Chocolate sounds just the ticket.........

  3. Ha! I "won" a vintage Bernina 830-with the original Bernina walking foot that was overhauled with a new motor and foot pedal-completely mechanical No more computerized nonsense for me) just last week. She arrived in perfect shape, I just love her.

    I also picked up a Singer 201(c.1953) locally from the previous owner's daughter in the same week. They are great machines, aren't they?
    I actually named that machine, after my grandmother, who taught me at a young age to love sewing.
    She is a beauty and I just love the sound of her humming along creating perfect stitches! Who would ever think I would be this excited about a machine doing what it's supposed to do?lol!

    Both are great replacements for what I thought was going to be my "dream machine".

    I understand completely what frustration you speak of with Pfaff. I had another high end brand, that truly was taking the joy out of my sewing.
    So finally this weekend I am back, enjoying my projects once again!

    Glad we're all back on track with our machines-now, at least for me, I'll have no more excuses if my projects don't turn out right!haha!

  4. Hi Lesley,
    Aaah yes that badly designed presser foot lift from Pfaff....one reason I sold a Pfaff 2027 I used to own a couple of years ago- that, and the smaller harp.
    I am impressed by your determination to continue to quilt, despite house moving and machine issues, you are a woman on a mission and will not be stopped!! Perhaps keep your machine for piecing with or for applique instead of quilting?
    I think you will LOVE your Bernina 830. I have seen so many students produce lovely work on these mechanical machines-well done for snaffling it up. But then, you know how much I adore my Berninas, lol! And they all have the presserfoot lift at the back of the machine, healthy sized harps and stitch perfection.

  5. I found your blog the other day, and totally sympathised with your problem, as I used to have a Pfaff, and quilting caused problems. Yesterday I was surfing, and on one of the blogs (can't find it again) it said, if you had a Pfaff and wanted to do free motion quilting, you had to buy a Big Foot and this would get rid of the problem of the pressure bar getting in the way. Hope this helps.

  6. You will love your 830. My mom has one I and I tease her that when she dies, I'll fight all my siblings for it so she'd better write that in her will.

    Not a big Pfaff fan, but love my two Viking machines and now my new Janome 7700