Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Journey of the Pfaff Quilt Expression far!

I have had the lovely new Pfaff Quilt Expression 4.0 sitting on my sewing table for a week now.
I've sewn 2 quilt tops, 1 cushion cover, and a quilt backing piece. So far? It's brilliant!

I was a bit worried how I would cope with the change, and re adjusting my familiarity, but I have settled in perfectly well with the Pfaff. The machine, whilst being quite technical, is incredibly easy to understand, and everything is well laid out. I have now found that sewing doesn't feel like an effort. It's easy. And whilst it always had been relatively easy and simple, it now feels so calming and relaxing. I've always loved sewing, but I now find myself sitting in front of the sewing table even more than I used to. I'm dreaming up countless number of projects I want to do, and instead of feeling overburdened with the idea of so many things I want to create and sew - I'm keen and eager to fly through them all with the Pfaff.

Before I run away with my glee and enthusiasm, I'll let you know how I decided upon the Pfaff. I, like so many I'm sure, did a lot of my research online before even going to see the model itself. For some reason I had Pfaff in mind, and was keen to check them out. I read about the machine on the Pfaff website, and then my husband and I trawled the internet reading reviews from fellow bloggers around the world. Most came back in the negative for the 4.0. I was a little bit disappointed. It seemed like such a wonderful machine, but why were so many sewers having such grief with them?

The complaints that we came across online were as follows:

- The top loading bobbin has a dip where the plastic casing comes off for removal of bobbin. Sewers were finding this dip frustrating to feed fabric along smoothly.

- The machine beeps and lets you know when the bobbin is nearing it's end. Sewers found this also frustrating as the machine would stop and not let you sew anymore, even though there was just enough thread left to finish their seam.

- The machine would eat fabric when sewing 1/4" seams. This often occurred for sewers when they were starting a new seam, not strip piecing.

- People found the machine too heavy.

- The machine would not sew over bulky seams, and would skip stitches.

- Sewing with the 1/4" foot resulted in the fabric veering off to the left, and no longer inline.

- Some issues were had with the Free Motion Quilting.

- Amongst other things.

So, you can imagine my feelings when I read all these comments! I began to think that maybe the 4.0 wasn't for me after all. But my husband suggested we go have a look and see it in action anyway.
We went to one shop first, and whilst the lady was helpful and lovely, I don't believe she knew enough about the product to give a correct demonstration of the machine.

That was when we went to Liz's Sewing Centre in Boronia, after recommendation from my friend Louise at work, who consequently has a Pfaff Quilt Expression 4.0, but a model that is a few years older.
Instantly I felt comfortable and at ease in the shop, and the ladies we're incredibly helpful and knowledgeable. After some more research online, we found that a lot of the negative reviews were written  back in the 2008 area. We seemed to think that perhaps Pfaff had taken on board some reviews and had fixed any problems.

Because when I tried the machine in both shops, I found it to work perfectly well. All the problems and concerns I had read about from other people were quickly quashed, as the machine did everything I asked of it. And even now as I have it home, it's doing everything perfectly well.

We folded up a piece of denim and the machine sewed over 4 thickness of the fabric without missing a beat. The stitches were perfect.

I have not had one bit of trouble with the fabric veering whilst sewing with the 1/4" foot. And that is even without a single hole plate (which was recommended as the only option available by others to sew straight.) The machine sews smoothly and straight with it's normal wide width plate that comes as standard.

Yes, the machine is heavy to lift, but is that really a problem? To me, that signifies that it has quality metal parts inside, and not just plastic cogs.

I have not found my machine to eat any fabric whilst starting a new seam. (The only time it did feel like it wanted to eat the fabric was this morning - and that was entirely user error. I had just cleaned the bobbin casing, and didn't have the bobbin sitting correctly in it's spot. As soon as I corrected this, the machine sewed on perfectly.) It was recommended that sewers use a single hole plate to fix this 'fabric eating machine', however I have not had the need to. I can start before the fabric, and the machine just ticks along. (Am I sounding like a Pfaff saleswoman yet???!)

Yes, the machine does beep when the bobbin is nearing the end. Which is fantastically brilliant. It means I won't sew around a whole quilt for the binding, and then realise at the end - oh, pest. I need to do it again. The machine also lets me keep sewing until the bobbin is completely empty. I'm not sure if this is a particular thing that Pfaff fixed from the previous model. If so - well done. It's great!

The Bobbin 'Dip.' 
Whilst maybe not the greatest design thought, I have not found it to be an issue as yet.

The machine does have a dip in the casing where the top loading bobbin sits. I could imagine that this could be frustrating for some people, but I have not found it to be an issue yet. The only thing I have found so far with it, is when I am sewing two rows of sewn squares together for example. And say, one row of squares has the seams ironed flat to the left. If that row of left-pressed seams is on the bottom as I sew it, the seams do hit the dip, and tend to pop the other way. Now, that could be a problem if you let it be one. I however, have quickly adjusted to just lifting the fabric slightly as it comes to the join, and letting it ride over the dip. And if that doesn't work, all it takes is a quick poke of your finger to flip the seam back the right way. It's no trouble for me, and if that is the only quirk of the machine that may be frustrating - then to me - it doesn't matter one bit!

Possible frustration with the Bobbin Dip would be a left pressed seam getting caught. 
Note the seam under the cream fabric. Bear in mind, this is an already sewn piece of fabric. 
'Tis just for illustration purposes.

As for the Free Motion Quilting, I have only had a short play of that so far. When I tried it at the first shop I went to, we had great trouble getting it to work well, and to not skip stitches. My husband and I put that down to the thread used, to an old needle, to incorrect tension, and not enough knowledge. I then found out, when I went to the other shop, that we had the wrong foot on at the first shop. No wonder it didn't play properly.

So, at the second shop, the lady set it up for me and showed me how to do it myself. And I was able to tick along quilting just fine. And since I've had it home, I have had more time playing with it. I have found that I need to adjust the tension to sit on 5.2, and to adjust the pivot height of the foot to 2. This may only make sense to you if you have a 4.0 sitting in front of you, but so far, that's what I have found to work best.

Things I love about the machine so far? 

The built in thread cutter.
How did I ever survive without one for so long?!
I can piece something, press the button, have my threads cut, and be done in a matter of seconds. It's brilliant! This is one very reason why sewing feels so easy and simple now!

The Automatic presser foot lift.
I was concerned I would struggle with this. The machine does not have a lever to lift your presser foot up and down. Instead it automatically puts it down for you when you start sewing. You can either program it to lift at the end, or just easily press a button. I have quickly fallen into the habit of using this function, and I really like it. I almost feel rather lazy.

The stitches.
I have 222 stitches I can choose from, including 3 different alphabets. The stitches look beautiful, and I'm greatly looking forward to playing with them in the future. You can also adjust the width of the stitches, which I think is pretty nifty.

The 1/4" stitch.
It's perfect. No, really. It is perfect. I always thought I was sewing a pretty near on perfect 1/4" stitch. But this machine really does it accurately. I have done a few tests now, and yep - every time! The only piecing I have done so far is squares, and the seams butt and match in perfectly well.

The smoothness.
Oh gosh, it's smooth. I know that sounds silly, but it really is. It just slides along so beautifully. I like the gentle whirring sound it makes, and I like how it feels like nothing is an issue for this machine. It feels simple.

The bobbin.
I love that it lets me know when it's getting to the end. So very clever and will save me a great deal of frustration!

The style and look.
I know. It doesn't really matter how a machine looks. But this one sure is pretty. I like how big and wide the machine is. It feels solid. It has a very wide throat, which will be great for quilting, and a nice wide sewing space. I also like how wide the sewing foot is. I wouldn't have thought that would matter here nor there, but it's nice to have a wide surface to put your foot on and find easily under the table.

It's a Pfaff.
My mother has a 30 something year old Pfaff, that is a jolly weight to lift, and a solid beast to use. I learnt to sew on that machine when I was 5, and it is still running perfectly well to this day. It's got German origins, which I also have. I feel an interesting connection and attachment with Pfaff. Some strange romantic notion from my childhood obviously.

In general.
I really like it overall. I have greatly enjoyed my week of sewing so far. I feel like I'm getting to know the ins and outs of the machine, and figuring out how to use it properly. I think with any machine, and any brand, there can always be 'lemons,' and one should always research carefully before making any purchase. I felt like we were taking a risk with buying the Pfaff initially, but I am ever so glad we did. It will be interesting to see how our journey progresses and where it takes us. But for now - I have a wonderful new sewing machine that I thoroughly enjoy using, and consistently look forward to using every day. And that is money well spent.

A follow up review will come in a few months!

Please note: This review is entirely my own opinion based solely on a weeks worth of use with the Pfaff Quilt Expression 4.0. I am sure some people have had some issues with this particular model, and I in no way want to make light of their struggle, or highlight particulars. But I felt that the Pfaff is a great machine, and deserves an honest review from someone who is very happy with it. I'm sorry that it hasn't been so happy a journey for others. Hopefully Pfaff have simply altered from previous models and I am fortunate enough to have an updated version.
Please, if you are looking at getting a Pfaff, or any machine for that matter, always do your research and talk with the professionals first before making a purchase. I am extremely happy with our purchase, and I think I will be for a long time to come.

For local girls who love free fabric!

Yep, if that's you - check out the Patchwork with Gail B blog. Gail is giving away a free fat 1/8th if you print out the blog post, and bring it into the shop between January the 23rd and the 4th of February 2012. Go over to her blog and read the post for more details. Happy free fabric gathering!

Just a wee little owl bag I made for my gorgeous niece for Christmas. She loved it!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Cheese on toast?

I think not! Not for my husband, who bought me a new sewing machine! No, the day arrived and so did the sewing machine, and instead of playing on it non stop - I cooked my husband a lovely dinner of creamed spinach and eggplant, cous cous and salad. No cheese on toast for Mr Green! I think he was a bit surprised when he came home!

So on Tuesday I got the most lovely phone call from Liz's Sewing Centre in Boronia, to tell me that the machine had just arrived. Literally just arrived. The delivery man hadn't even left yet! But she knew how excited I was about my new baby, and called me straight away. Now, that is fantastic service. If you're a local, and looking for a new sewing machine, or wanting a quality service, check them out. The ladies are lovely and incredibly helpful.

So of course, I rushed down as soon as I got the call, and bought the new baby home. I'm feeling like she needs a name, but I am yet to come up with a suitable one. I think I'll need to get to know her personality first!

So I spent a good portion of my Tuesday afternoon gently opening the box and lifting her out, reading the manual, and inspecting all the parts and bits and pieces. Oh, talk about such fun! So far all I have attempted to sew are some stitches on scraps, and a practice of the Free motion Quilting. There is a lot to this machine, and I know it will take me some time to get a feel of it, and learn how to use it properly. But, so far so good! I'm looking forward to writing some reviews on My Pfaff Quilt Expression 4.0 shortly. I know I found it helpful reading reviews online by other bloggers of certain machines, so hopefully someone might find my reviews useful in time to come.

Just out of curiosity, for anyone who is reading and might comment, what kind of sewing machines do you use? I have found that the most common machines I hear people having are Brothers, Berninas and Janomes. Any good or bad experiences?

Till then, I'm off to go and sew! I have three quilts to finish, so my new baby better be prepared for a workout!

Sunday, January 15, 2012


It's a beautifully sunny Sunday as I write this. A gentle breeze is floating around outside, and I can hear a wonderful chorus of bird calls. There is something so lovely about lazy Sundays, spent at church, home and with family.

Over the past few months, weeks and especially days, I've been planning a new step for Missy Mack. I've had new opportunities open up, and an inspired new direction take my imagination. Things are still in the planning stages, but I hope to be up and running in my new venture very shortly. So, some changes will take place on my blog during this time. And I'm excitedly looking forward to starting this new season for Missy Mack.

One rather huge and exciting change - is that I'm the proud owner of a new sewing machine! I have had a wonderful journey with my current machine, a Brother NX 200 Quilters Edition, and I'm not saying goodbye to her just yet. She has served me faithfully and was a wonderful 21st present from my parents. We have sewn numerous quilts and items together, and I have greatly enjoyed using her. She will and always shall remain a treasured part of my 'sewing fleet.'
I am simply stepping up to a new and very clever machine. My darling and wonderful husband has spoiled me with a late Christmas present. I don't know of many men who will sell their precious wine collection, only to devote the money for their wife. But, my Simon has.

After much consideration and research, we settled on the Pfaff Quilt Expression 4.0.
I will type up a more detailed post of the journey it took me to decide upon the Pfaff, and of my experience with it so far. But I am yet to have her, and hopefully she will arrive at the shop in the next few days. I'm greatly looking forward to playing with my Pfaff and getting to know all her quirks and features. The day the Pfaff does arrive, I think Simon is expecting cheese on toast for dinner! And yes, I may just be too busy playing to cook!

So, a most heartfelt thank you to my wonderful husband for his generosity and kindness - I love you! And, here's to new beginnings!