Friday, November 21, 2014

Low, Medium, High

It seems most brands make their top-of-the-line products, some in the middle somewhere, and then a low end just so you can say you have their brand. This really shows up in sewing machines with Kenmore and Brother taking advantage of this the most. Of course, this is just my opinion, but I've had high and low with many brands and today you are going to see a low end model for Pfaff. Originally made in Germany, their long history states they are still making their machines in their homeland but...the last two I have obtained conveniently have no labels on them. Here's latest one I brought home:

Pfaff Hobby 4240
This was the lowest of this series which included 4250 and 4260, each with more stitches and features. But this is not a bad sewing machine at all. When I went to look at it the gentleman confessed it had been sitting in the garage for about 15 years! The hand wheel moved some but the presser foot barely moved so I wasn't sure what was going on. I took it anyway, hoping the Pfaff good name wasn't going to be sullied too much with this model.

It's been exceptionally cold here in Minnesota so I hated leaving it in the car but then I remembered it sat out in the cold garage for most of it's life. I finally got it inside and warmed up, cleaned the outside, but the inside was in really good shape so I think it had hardly been used. The bobbin area looked suspicious so I pulled everything out that I could, cleaned, lightly oiled, and put back together. It made the awfullest noise but it was working. Once again, the bobbin area was making the racket so I took it apart again, and again, until I finally gave it quite a bit more sewing machine oil, making sure all parts were lightly lubricated. Bingo! It started to purr. Now let's look at the presser foot:

Doesn't that look too low? It is and it isn't. It works just fine and there is space under the foot to place your fabric so I hate to start adjusting  it but upon closer inspection I see there is a light layer of rust on the top of the rod and the bottom: everywhere it might have been exposed to the elements, like in a garage. I can clean rust off of the metal but the area is so small on top that I have to get inventive but it does come off and moves freely. There aren't too many stitches to choose from and the the zigzag only comes in two widths but for a "hobby" model, that might be just fine:

Selection of stitches
Stitch length dial
I can see it has stretch stitches as shown by the black bars underneath the orange bars with labels E-I. But how do I engage them? I remember another Pfaff I fixed for a friend and how the stitch length dial  had a section for stretch stitches and, sure enough, after 1-4 is a black square for stretch stitches. It doesn't lock in but gives you some freedom to move it to adjust so that is good.

Now to test the stitches. The bobbin casing was missing so I got one from my inventory (doesn't that sound so official? I now have inventory!) and tried out the stitch selections. No big problems but the bobbin case started to act odd and finally would not stay in so I had to try out another one. This one needed adjustment with the tension for the stretch stitches to come out decent but it finally worked. Here's the front and back of the samples I made:

Front: final stitches on left
Back: final stitches on left

Once adjusted they really do look nice. That four step buttonhole? I tried it three times and the final one, with last bobbin casing, looks really, really good. So in the end this is a good, solid sewing machine (with a free manual online) but just doesn't have a lot of features. Although the casing of the machine is plastic, the main part of the body is metal and it's not a lightweight. It has a slip on cover that has no bottom so it's just to protect it from dust. After 15 years in the garage I guess it could have been worse.

So what's the big deal about high and low end on sewing machines? One of the best features that Pfaff has on almost all of its models is the built-in walking foot, the IDT. Nope, she doesn't have one, never did, and the only way to get one is to purchase the typical attachment foot. They are not the same as the IDT so now I see one of the big ways they cut back but since this is a "hobby" model, that's probably okay. Someone will find this a very nice sewing machine with a somewhat modern look (no black metal!) that does sew nicely. See, there's something for every budget in their line up of models. I'm just glad I don't have to sew on low end models on a daily basis.

1 comment:

Gayle Farr said...

This machine was made by Singer for Pfaff in the mid 90's during Pfaffs original relationship with Singer and Mr Teng of Taiwan. The Other low end machines were all made by Janome.