If you follow us along on Instagram, you may have noticed that we recently welcomed a very exciting addition to our team: three brand-spanking new sewing machines from Pfaff! We were on absolute tenterhooks while they were being shipped, obsessively checking on the tracking (UPS accidentally held two of them up at their warehouse while I sweated nervously), and basically did a big team dance when they finally arrived.
Up until now, we’ve had a pretty motley crew of machines in the office and it was desperately time for an upgrade. With five us in the office, there were often line-ups to use our old machines; it almost got to the point where we started scheduling time for individual projects. At any given time we are working on multiple patterns in various stages of development, planning and shooting tutorials, or working on personal projects to share on the blog (well, that was mostly me, so I started taking all my projects home since it was often hard to squeeze in time when “real” work needed to be done). We were using a basic Bernina I bought back in 2012, a vintage Singer in cases of emergencies, the industrial that everyone but Celine is scared to use, and a Juki Serger and Brother cover stitch. All these machines have their pluses and minuses, but the wear on tear on each was starting to show since we do A LOT of sewing around here.
Why the switch to Pfaff you may be asking? Well, I was in London last fall teaching at New Craft House (btw the way I’m back in July and we still have a few spots left for our jean-making workshop) and basically fell head over heels for Pfaff Performance Icon I used while teaching the class. In my travels I’ve had the chance to try many brands, but something clicked for me with this machine. Pfaff is one of the oldest, most reputable and technologically advanced sewing machine manufacturers out there, and I starting thinking hard about making the switch. One of the biggest advantages: Did you know most Pfaffs have a walking foot BUILT INTO THE MACHINE? It’s called IDT (short for Integrated Dual Feed) which means when it’s engaged (you can choose to turn it off when you want to) your fabric feeds evenly from top and bottom. Every. Single. Time. Do you know how often I would forget to put my walking foot on when sewing knits or matching prints and spend god knows how many hours ripping out stitches? Because the IDT is integrated into the machine, it works with most of the feet which means you can switch them out as needed, and don’t need to attach a bulky walking foot. I just checked the site and IDT seems to come with all but the most entry-level machines, something I understand you pay a major premium for with other brands. As other Pfaff users have shared with me, you get big bang for your buck with these machines.
After a few months of thought and discussion with the team, we reached out to Pfaff to see if they would be interested in partnering with us and supplying our studio with machines. They were very enthusiastic from the get-go, and I have to say, this was one of the easiest, most pleasant experiences I’ve ever had communicating with a major brand. They totally get what we do around here (what I would describe as an obsessive passion for elevated sewing) and it ended up being the biggest deciding factor for me. Knowing we had a supportive partner for our sewing adventures totally tipped the scales.
Pfaff let us choose the machines we wanted, and let me tell you, I spent HOURS obsessing over models (I had a real pinch me moment – getting to hand select some of the finest machines on the market felt like we “made it” somehow). In the end, I went with the Performance Icon, the Ambition 620, and the Coverlock 4.0. I was tempted by the Creative Icon which has a full embroidery suite, but I worried we wouldn’t take advantage of it and it felt like maybe too much machine for what we do day to day.
The Performance Icon is on the higher end of their range and is basically a self-driving car, but in a good way that doesn’t accidentally hit pedestrians. After years of using pretty simple machines, it felt like witchcraft that I could push a button and have it automatically tie off and cut my threads for me. It has a HUGE surface area (I wish I made more quilts) and about a million decorative stitches. Most exciting were all the truly gorgeous buttonholes in a variety of styles, from keyhole to vintage style. It also has what is essentially an ipad built in to control everything, which admittedly took some getting used to. After years of our basic machines, the amount of customization this baby can do kinda broke my brain. I was very grateful for all the tutorials and videos built into the screen, so every time I struggled to figure something out I could just go to the Help icon and learn whatever I needed without having to go online. It’s been a few weeks and I feel super comfortable sewing on it now, and am excited about all the new things I’ll learn it can do as we go. That said, it’s not hard to use for basic sewing. My 65-year-old Luddite mother who’s used to sewing on an ancient vintage machine got the hang of it immediately and happily sewed up a Charlie Caftan on it while visiting last week. Btw, the black thing on the top left in the picture below isn’t part of the machine… it’s for the GoPro we mounted to film a course.
We also needed another regular sewing machine for days when there are multiple people sewing at the same time. Rather than get another Performance Icon, I choose a more mid-range Ambition 6.0. I’ve used these before in classes (they are a great teaching machine!) and figured it would be better for filming our classes since not everyone is sewing on something as advanced as an Icon. The sad thing is it didn’t arrive in time for us to film our upcoming beginner-focused sewing workshop, but the Icon did well in her stead.
This is a great machine. It obviously doesn’t have all the bells and whistles as the Icon, but it does have the IDT (and an auto thread cutter!) and all the feet are totally interchangeable. Pfaff basically sent us every foot they have so it’s been super fun experimenting with them.
Finally, we switched out our janky Juki serger (I have slowly grown to dislike this machine because it has trouble keeping seams aligned) for a Coverlock 4.0, a dual serger/coverstitch machine. Another bit of a learning curve with this baby, since most of the controls are digital, but it makes LOVELY stitches. We haven’t tried it for coverstitching yet, but the functionality of it is pretty exciting. It also came with this massive table extension that you can move out of the way when you don’t need it. I labelled the threads with my beloved label maker so we all know what’s what when we need to adjust the tension.
We have been pretty thrilled with our new babies. We had to sew eighteen samples for our upcoming capsule collection (two more weeks till that launches!!!!) and everything sewed like buttah, especially impressive given we were learning how to use them at the same time. It was a bit of a sweatshop vibe in here during those few weeks of production, except we just blared Oprah’s podcast and talked about spirituality and our feelings until one day Amy started crying spontaneously (granted, this happens frequently) to declare “I LOVE MY JOB!” It’s so nice when a machine without a soul brings a group together, doncha think?
So, our studio is now officially sponsored by Pfaff. What does that mean? Essentially, we will be sewing on our Pfaff machines exclusively from now on (although there are still applications where our old, beat-up industrial comes in handy). We are not being paid to talk about the machines we’re using, and are under no obligation whatsoever to talk about Pfaff day to do. When we do, it’s because we want to and it’s relevant to the content we’re creating every day. As I said, this has been the easiest brand collab I could imagine, and I’m excited to share our work with you using these wonderful machines.
Any questions for me? Any other Pfaff users out there wanna share some hot tips?