An Easy Way To Discover Pfaff
|March 17, 2003||in Product Reviews|
A review of
If you want to find out just what Pfaff sewing machine lovers are so crazy about, but don’t want to spend tons of money, then take a look at Pfaff’s new Lifestyle sewing machine. This low-end computerized sewing machine has one of almost everything that keeps Pfaff lovers faithful.
The Lifestyle has the Pfaff Integrated Dual Feed system (which they refer to as IDT), a built-in walking foot that works with any foot that comes with the machine. The IDT is one of the main reasons Pfaff owners are so faithful to Pfaff machines.
No matter what foot I tested, I engaged the IDT immediately. This resulted in wonderful, even stitches without having to hold the thread at the beginning of the piece. It made every stitch straight and smooth, with no thread looping on the bottom.
The Lifestyle also features through-the-needle bobbin winding. This is real convenient if you run out of thread while sewing — you don’t have to unthread the machine to wind another bobbin using your top thread.
The Lifestyle comes with two spool pins, one horizontal and one vertical, that can be used during bobbin winding. I used a different type of thread in the bobbin than in the top of the machine. The extra spool pin makes it easy to wind a bobbin without having to unthread the machine to do it. And both spool pins are long enough to hold a spool of Madeira thread.
Pfaff has done a great redesign on the keypads and buttons on the right side of the base of the machine, making them safer and easier to use. The Lifestyle has a 10-key keypad like your telephone so you can directly enter the stitch number you want. And it has a directional arrows to let you page through the stitches.
Once you have made your stitch selection, you can easily lock that selection with the press of a button. That way you don’t change from a straight stitch to a zigzag and inadvertently ruin the needle.
The Lifestyle has 31 stitches, including one buttonhole, two quilting stitches, four decorative stitches, six satin stitches, one cross stitch and 16 utility stitches. Even though this machine doesn’t have lots of choices for each type of stitch, the choices it does provide are really nice.
A mirror image button flips the stitches to the opposite direction, making the 31 stitches seem like more. And by changing the pattern length and balance of the decorative stitches, you have still more flexibility.
There are two really nice zigzag stitches. One is a triple zigzag — three rows of zig-zag stitches in parallel, the peaks of one row nestled in the valleys of the next row. And there is a dual zigzag, with one row of zigzag stitches mirroring and overlaying another row to create a row of tiny diamonds.
The Lifestyle also includes a blanket stitch for quilters. This makes a nice edge on machine applique designs. And you can use the four decorative stitches or the six satin stitches for crazy quilting.
The Lifestyle has an LCD screen approximately 1.5 inches square to display the stitch selected and its current width, length, and density. It displays a lock to indicate you have locked in the stitch. And, when appropriate, it shows a double needle with a line through it to indicate that the selected stitch isn’t appropriate for a double needle.
I was a little disappointed that it didn’t show what foot to use or the recommended tension for that stitch. To find out what foot is recommended, flip up the top of the machine and locate your stitch on the diagram. Beside the stitch number you will find the recommended foot. That was easy.
But finding the recommended tension requires the manual or experimentation. The Lifestyle includes a hand-look quilting stitch. I know that most machines that provide this stitch require that you increase the tension to a pretty high number.
I looked up the tension for the hand-look stitch in the manual, and I used the manufacturer’s recommended setting. To my surprise, it didn’t work. I changed the tension several times, but no luck.
Ruthie, who owns Nashua Sew & Vac, the shop where I was testing, told me that Pfaffs do some stitches better if you use rayon thread in the bobbin. She wound a bobbin with rayon for me to use. I put in the new bobbin, set the tension to the recommend number and got beautiful stitches. Thanks, Ruthie, that saved me lots of work.
No Quarter-Inch Foot
In spite of fact that the Lifestyle includes quilting stitches for quilters, it doesn’t include a 1/4-inch foot. But it does include 13 needle positions. So I used the standard sewing foot and moved the needle position to the right until I found the correct setting to get accurate 1/4-inch seams.
Pfaff does make an optional 1/4-inch foot for around $25. I recommend getting this optional foot rather than having to remember to set the needle position for correct 1/4-inch seams. It could save you a lot of ripping out of stitches in the long run.
There is another foot I recommend. It’s called the Free Motion Foot. It is similar to the darning foot in the way it works. But the base is square and larger than the darning foot, making it easier to see your work.
Pfaff machines use a half-way position on the presser foot lifter bar when using the free motion or darning feet, giving you good control over the movement of the quilt beneath the needle.
I enjoyed testing the Lifestyle, but there are a couple of features I miss. I’d like to have an automatic tension feature. But once I changed the bobbin thread to rayon for the quilting stitch, I didn’t have any further problems setting the manual tension to get the best look for the stitch selected.
I really miss having a needle-down feature. And unlike other machines that lack this feature, the Lifestyle always returns the needle to the up position, which makes matters worse.
On other machines, you can tap the foot pedal to get the needle into the fabric. With the Lifestyle, you have to use your hand to position the needle in the fabric.
The Lifestyle comes with a manual (for those who like manuals) and a video (for those who don’t).
A Good Introduction
Pfaff did more than jazz up the color on this model. The Lifestyle’s features makes it a good machine on which to get introduced to the famous Pfaff features.
After owning this machine, you will never want to get rid of it. Or you may want to trade it in for a fancier Pfaff with lots of stitches and the extra features.
The suggested retail price of the Lifestyle is $1,299 USD. But be sure to ask your dealer about any special offers that may be in effect. You could get a real attractive price to step into the Pfaff world of sewing.
Once again I’d like to extend a big Quilter’s Review “Thank you!” to Nashua Sew & Vac in Nashua, New Hampshire for letting me spend all day in their shop testing the Pfaff Lifestyle machine. Eddie and Ruthie, the owners, and everyone who works there make Nashua Sew & Vac a great place to shop.
Special thanks to Ruthie and Susan for their knowledge of all the machines they sell.
Nashua Sew & Vac sells Husqvarna Viking, Pfaff, White, and Elna sewing machines and accessories, and Oreck, Miele and Sebo vacuums.
They also offer many sewing and quilting classes. Visit their Web site or call them at (603) 888-2757 for a schedule of classes or to be added to the mailing list for their newsletter.
You can find this great shop with great prices at:
Nashua Sew & Vac
228 Daniel Webster Highway
Nashua, NH 03060