Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Magical Mystery Sewing Machine Tour!

I got bit by the quilting bug, badly apparently as this just came home with me on Friday.

tldr; Hey!  I shopped around & got a new sewing machine!

It all began because of the quilt I am making for Lil' Miss (isn't it easier to blame our foibles on someone else?) I looked at the meager machines available for sale at my JoAnn's while I was there buying fabric to back her quilt.  They were Singer's and none too fancy, a whole lot more expensive than my current Singer but just didn't seem to have the extra harp space I was interested in.  So I went home, thinking about how maybe it was time to upgrade my machine.  I looked online, I perused various blogs and discussions about which manufacturer was best and tried to compare as best I could.  Which sounds great, but have you ever tried to find the price of a sewing machine online?  It's like they're a national secret or something!  I finally realized I just need to make a trip to my local sewing machine dealer.

Happily my closest dealer is in the same shopping center as my JoAnn's and since I needed to get some batting anyway...  So I went in and told the nice salesguy what I was looking for, a machine good for a novice quilter.  He starts showing me this lovely machine, demonstrating what it does and all the cool bells and whistles on it as I am coming to the realization that this machine is way out of my league.  So I ask how much it is and almost loose my bladder right there on the floor, $2399 plus tax!  This is so beyond the budget I had in mind of $500 that it is just sad.  I explained there was a monetary constraint to this purchase and did they have anything more in my price range.

He showed me a perfectly serviceable used machine (who knew a 20 year old machine would sell for $500!) and their limited selection of lower priced machines, yes, $500 is lower priced in the world of sewing machines.  As he was getting call away to assist another customer he mentioned the machines up by the front window that were their best-sellers, Pfaff Amitions, and that the store did offer financing.  I looked at them but was feeling so overwhelmed that I needed to go home and resume my internet searching for these specific models now that I had narrowed the field somewhat.

Have I mentioned that shopping for a sewing machine has a lot in common with shopping for a car?  Trade-in's, financing, servicing plans, oh my!  Anyway I came home and resumed my search, looking specifically at the Pfaff Ambition line, because with the 0% interest financing I could definitely swing it.  The reviews overall for these machines were glowingly positive and everyone seemed to love the built in walking foot.  Although the used machine was perfectly nice, I will admit I wanted something new, I like me some bells and whistles.

meet Pfrannie Pfaff... I think we are going to be good friends, she and I

I was able to pick the brains of my friends in regards to my sewing machine quest and their advice was to test drive any machine before I purchsed it.  Their preferred brands were Viking and Bernina, but since Bernina is so far beyond my means I didn't even consider it.  As for the Viking I found that the Sapphire line seemed comparable to the Pfaff Ambition line, and after further research I focused in on the Sapphire 835.  I located my local dealer for their machines and planned to go test driving the next day with my 2 selections in mind, the Viking Sapphire 835 vs the Pfaff Ambition 1.5/

I charged up my ipod to entertain the monkeys while I was doing my test drives and got an early start the very next day to compare one right after the other.  The very nice sales lady at the Viking dealer went over the machine with me, not pushy at all and answered all my questions.  What I particularly liked about it was that there was more harp space than the Pfaff, about 1.5", and when you take your foot off the pedal the presser foot automatically lifts, a nice feature for doing straight line quilting.  I did not like that there was not a bobbin sensor for the model I was looking at (every damn time I sew I run out of bobbin thread and don't notice until at least a foot of fabric has gone under the needle, so this was a priority feature for me), and even on sale this machine was $100 more than the Pfaff with less stitches available and no integrated walking foot, a separate one would have to be purchased for another $100.  Additionaly, this dealer did not offer any financing or trade-in rebate.

At our second visit to the Pfaff dealer I homed right in on the machine I was interested in and the sales guy there went through a whole demonstration of all the features of the Ambition 1.5 for me, again he answered every question I asked kindly and with respect.  After sewing on it a bit, I was pretty happy with it and was ready to ask about pricing.  Turns out it was on sale, plus they offered trade in credit, and financing with a minimum $1000 purchase.  I really liked the integrated walking foot, the huge selection of 196 stitches including 4 alphabets, and the specialty buttonhole foot on the Pfaff.  The financing deal was the final trigger though, both machines were great but the ability to stretch those payments out over a year at no interest was what got me to pick the Pfaff, plus the offer of free classes on how to use the machine, a free service at one year, and the ability to trade up in one year while being cresited for the full value of the machine I just purchased (not that I will actually take advantage of this, but nice to know it's possible!).

check out all those stitches!

So yea, I am the proud owner of Pfrannie Pfaff, an Ambition 1.5.  I have barely started to play with her but I already know I will definitely need that free 'Get to know your Pfaff' class!  As typical for me though, this was partly triggered because I know to do free motion quilting you need to lower the feed dogs or cover them...guess what I found while packing up the Singer to take for the trade in?  Yup, that's right I found a cover for my feed dogs right there in the accessories storage area.  Oh well, still not sorry in the least that I upgraded, now I just have to learn how to use this fancy machine!


  1. In my little town in Iowa, we have two dealers. One sells Viking, and the other sells Janome. I have a Viking that I bought new in 1985 (yes, I am that old), that I love, so I upgraded with another Viking. They only offered me $25 for my old machine, so I decided to keep it. I got a little miffed---they had a few old machines very similar to mine in the store, and they wanted over $200 apiece for them. Mine is like brand new---I still have all the feet, the case, and the manual for it. I just wanted to upgrade to something fancier. It did remind me of dealing with a car salesman. I just took it to my mom's a few weeks ago so we could sew some liners for her living room drapes. Anyhoo, have fun with your new machine.

    Thanks for your crochet hook case tutorial---I want to change it up just a little to keep my sock needles in. I have a KnitPicks set, and while I love the needles, that cheap plastic case they came is has gotta go.


    1. Thanks for your kind comments Brenda! I just signed up for the get to know your new machine class today. For some reason it kind of reminded me of signing up for the new baby class when I was preggers with Lil' Miss!

      You are welcome for the crochet hook case tutorial, glad someone is getting some good use out of it!

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