Move Easily From Sewing To Embroidery
|May 10, 2004||in Product Reviews|
A review of
Pfaff’s top-of-the-line sewing machine, the Creative 2144 (MSRP $6,499) interlaces sewing and embroidery technology in a way that frees you to work in a more natural, and therefore more creative, way.
Unlike sewing machines that make you install an embroidery unit to embroider and then remove it to sew again, the embroidery unit of the Creative 2144 can be left on the machine all the time.
Having it already on the machine makes the embroidery unit convenient to use, like the Janome 10000′s permanently-installed embroidery unit. But when you want a lighter, less valuable sewing machine to take to class, the Creative 2144′s embroidery unit can be removed easily, like the embroidery units of most other sewing/embroidery machines.
Read my review of the Janome 10000
The seamless integration of the Creative 2144′s sewing and embroidery modes allows you to work in a more natural rhythm. You don’t have to separate in your mind the steps to do in each mode and then organize them into an efficient process.
The Creative 2144′s embroidery and sewing features are integrated on some of the menus. If you select an embroidery option, the arm for the embroidery hoop slips into working position. When the next sewing stitch is selected, the arm parks safely out of the way. Switching from sewing to embroidery is as easy as switching to a new foot.
Even though I am a “pigeonhole thinker” from my years in the computer field, I moved smoothly through all the menus, doing just what I felt like doing at the moment. I did a lot less planning and thinking ahead, since I didn’t have to switch from embroidery-only to sewing-only.
With less planning to do, using the Creative 2144 is fun! At the end of my day of testing I didn’t want to stop.
Creative 2144 Sewing Machine Features
True to my pigeonhole style, I’ll cover the sewing machine features in this review and the embroidery features in the next issue.
I started my testing by spending a few minutes getting a feel for how the machine communicates. I looked at the flip-up top of the machine, where more than 300 stitches appear. The logical groupings gave me a clear picture of the choices for each menu item.
Next, I took a few minutes to see what buttons the Creative 2144 has. I found five push buttons for things like thread cutter, reverse sewing, and slow stitching. Everything else is built into the machine and appears as a picture on the color touch screen.
The only button that I didn’t find on this high-end sewing machine was a Start/Stop button. You have to use the foot pedal to sew, but not to embroider.
I started testing with the quilting stitches. These are spread over many menus, depending on whether they are joining stitches, overcastting stitches, decorative stitches, and so on.
I found my favorite stitches easily and didn’t have any trouble changing from menu to menu. But a feature I like much better than moving from menu to menu is the ability to select a stitch by number.
When I selected a stitch to use, I had the ability to change everything about it. I found easy access to the stitch length and width and pattern elongation.
I could flip-flop the stitch and tie it off at the beginning, the end, or both. With the push of one button, I could use a single stitch as a motif for machine-tying a quilt.
I like using a motif that way because it adds to the design as well as securing the layers of the quilt. I use a star motif for machine-tying backgrounds on house quilts. I use a heart motif for baby quilts for girls, and animals for baby boys.
The tension for each stitch is set at the factory to the best tension for that particular stitch. Nonetheless, I could change the tension for any stitch.
Among all the stitches I tried, I changed the tension only twice, and that had a lot to do with all the different threads I tested, including mismatched thread in the bobbin.
One stitch for which I changed the tension was the hand-look quilting stitch. I found I liked the look better if I increased the tension by one full number. (Tension settings are in quarters, for fine adjustments.)
And I liked the look of straight stitching using rayon thread in the bobbin and jeans thread on top if I loosened the tension by one full number. All the other stitches and threads looked great at the factory settings.
Personal Stitch Menu
When I’m using the straight stitch for machine quilting I like the stitch parameters changed. And I change them again for paper piecing. That seemed a bit tedious until I found that I could store any stitch, along with all my favorite settings for that stitch, in a personal stitch menu.
The personal stitch menu saves me going from menu to menu to use my favorite stitches. And when I store a stitch in the personal stitch menu, it remembers all the special settings I’ve set for that stitch.
Gathering all my favorite stitches with their unique settings into a single menu is the next-best thing to being able to design my own sewing machine.
The Creative 2144 has an entire menu devoted to Antique Quilting Stitches. These are stitches that I’d use for crazy quilting or even folk art. There are so many beautiful stitches in the Creative 2144 that I was designing quilts and borders in my head the whole time I sat at the sewing machine.
I tested the satin, feather, and blanket stitches on a heart shape that I wanted to machine applique onto a background. I used stabilizer on the back of the background piece. The satin stitch was perfect (and very beautiful in Madeira PolyNeon thread). The Creative 2144 does a beautiful taper at the points.
I was pleased how easy it was to feed the curved sides of the heart under the foot. The stitches aligned perfectly with the edge of my applique piece.
I did a build-it-yourself buttonhole, using the satin stitch to make the sides and a decorative bartack at each end. I just mirror-imaged the bartack design left to right for the opposite end of the buttonhole.
Done in contrasting colors, these designer buttonholes would look great on wearable art.
Testing The Feet
I starting testing the feet by trying to get a good 1/4″ seam with the 1A foot, which comes with the machine. I liked working with the 1A foot, moving the needle position using an on-screen button to get an accurate 1/4″ seam.
Next I tried the 1/4″ patchwork foot (which costs extra). Since the patchwork foot uses the edge of the foot for the correct measurement, not all of the feed dogs are covered. I had more trouble keeping the fabric lined up than I did with the wider 1A foot.
Next I engaged the built-in walking feature Pfaff calls Integrated Dual Feed (IDT). I re-tested the 1A foot and the 1/4″ foot and got better results with both because IDT feeds the top and bottom fabric simultaneously.
Many sewing machines offer a walking foot, but Pfaff builds this feature into their sewing machines with IDT. It keeps Pfaff customers coming back time after time.
Next I switched to the free-motion foot for some machine quilting. The extra layers of the quilt sandwich didn’t make it any harder than appliqueing.
Since Pfaff’s IDT system converts your choice of foot to a walking foot, I only tried a couple of different feet on my quilt sandwich and was extremely happy with both.
The one problem I had with the Creative 2144 was when it came to recommending which foot to use for a given stitch. I had to open an extra screen to see the recommended foot.
That’s a small inconvenience and wouldn’t even be worth mentioning if it weren’t for the fact that if you forget to check that extra screen for a foot recommendation, you might break the needle. Not all stitches work safely with all feet. You shouldn’t have to take an extra step to find information that’s that important.
In the next issue I’ll review the Creative 2144′s embroidery features. Though with all the sewing features that come with the Creative 2144, I don’t know how much time I’d have available to do embroidery. I had so many ideas while just sewing that I’d have to stay up all night to try them all.
You can read Part 2 of this review here
A big Quilter’s Review thank you to the owners of The Constant Quilter of Andover, New Hampshire. Cleta McCormick and Linda Barnes have been very pleasant and helpful, especially during the product testing for this review.
Even though The Constant Quilter has been open for only a few weeks, it is drawing quilters from all over the state. Everyone is happy to have such nice people running such a nice shop. I am so lucky to have this new shop just down the hill and across the covered bridge from my house!
The Constant Quilter
139 Pancake Road
Andover, NH 03216
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