When my sewing machine broke down several weeks ago, I went into a state of denial. “It can’t possibly be broken!” I lamented. It quite obviously was, the bobbin race had shunted forward and there were some confused looking springs sat where the race should have been….
It was like the passing of a beloved pet, one that has seen you through good and bad times, and well she was so young, she hadn’t quite reached her 5th birthday! She went to the repair shop for assessment but I knew she would be a write-off - the repair quote came back at around 70% of the purchase value!
Well, I had been toying with the idea of a new machine for a year or so, just wasn’t expecting it to be under these circumstances. I know woefully little about sewing machine features, I’ve always avoiding knowing too much in case it launches a new obsession with technology! But I knew what I was looking for in an upgrade. It was time to go computerised with all the handy functions that come with that, also decorative stitches for embellishing Miss Mango’s clothes and alphabet were all on the list.
I went along to a sewing shop to check out the range there and the sales assistant did her upselling well, introducing me to the little bit of Pfaff magic that is IDT (or dual feed technology) and I was quite stunned. (I’m not sure if it was because of what IDT can do or how it was that I had never heard of it before?! Apparently Pfaff were quite clever in getting it patented, since that has ceased its been incorporated into Janome and Silver Viscount machines too.)
If you’re pondering “What is this dual feed, IDT you speak of?”, it is also known as the “built-in walking foot” although I am told it works differently (and superiorly to the attachable walking-foot). What happens is that while your feed-dogs feed fabric from below, the dual-feed feeds it from above and behind. The result is seams that align perfectly (not half an inch difference despite them being cut the same length) and without the need for pins. Fine and slippery fabrics are sewn smoothly without puckers. You also wondering how you’ve been living without this? Its controlled by a lever than snaps onto the foot so it can be de-activated too. In contrast the walking foot attachment feeds from the side, slowing down the travel speed of the fabric under the foot which is why you can still get puckering on slippery fabric seams. (Enlightenment that has only taken me 12 years to acquire!)
Now the drawback was the cost of these machines, placing most of them outside of my meagre budget. But there was news, a new Pfaff range with a machine that would be closer to what I was looking to spend,the Ambition 1.0, if I would like to come back after their release to demo it? Yes I would, and I did.
I took with me the vilest, most horrible to sew samples of fabric I could find. Fabric after fabric the machine churned out beautiful flat seams and even stitches. It was very pretty. The 1.5 even prettier still. But it it still didn’t tick all my boxes and didn’t feel like it quite belonged with me. And I wasn’t sure that I wanted to spend half a grand on a machine that wasn’t making me do happy dances around the room.
Sensing my apprehension, the assistant (and a lovely, helpful person she was too) , asked if I was really set on a new machine? Well there’s a leading question….
I thought and decided no, it wasn’t a new machine I wanted per se, just that particular feature so the assistant disappeared and produced a part exchange they had recently taken in. The Pfaff Creative 1475 CD It was love at first sight. Despite probably being as old as me (“Made in West Germany dates her a bit), and a little on the yellowed and Amstrad looking side, she sat there proudly ticking off the checklist of features I had in my head: IDT, computerised, needle-down & speed control functions, decorative stitches, alphabets and oh, is that monogramming?? Yes, please! I think. So we played with her and an hour later I left the shop with my new best friend at my side, costing a fraction of the price of the new machine.
(I’ve pinched web pics as my camera is still packed away from my last gig).
I thought it would be really hard to welcome a new machine into my life, but I am totally smitten already. I love the fact she’s practically vintage, she’s fitted in straightaway at home! If you ever have the opportunity to own one, I would definitely recommend it. Pfaff also made a “Creative Designer” attachment to go with this machine. Its basically a plastic box and some graph paper and apparently a pain to use but I’m keeping an eye on eBay for one as I’d still like to give it a go. I love puzzles and frustration! I’ll post a proper review soon with lots more details and pics.
My old machine was actually repaired, the company whose costumes I was working on offered to fund the repairs. I was quite unimpressed to get the paperwork and notice that the expensive repair did not include the new needle or bobbin they put in to test it! And less than 2 hours into my next piece of sewing the bobbin race practically leapt through the throat plate and fell silent again. I replaced the broken needle and put back in the bobbin the repair shop had put in (wasn’t going to pay for another one). They looked it over quickly and said, “Well its got a Singer bobbin in it, course it isn’t going to work!”. I explained I had switched to its own brand of bobbin when I loaded it with thread for my project, they’re not getting away with that one!