Review written in 2013
It’s here!! My new toy; The Pfaff Ambition 1.5. I brought it from GUR Sewing Machines, and look at all the free goodies! Because of annoying work getting in the way I only managed to steal a few minutes here are there before toddling off in the evenings (I’ve been on nights).
Now I have to say I do love it now…. but there were a few moments it nearly found itself flying through the window and I was seriously regretting spending £660 on a make I had never used before.
You would expect even the cheapest of sewing machines to be able to sew a straight line so I went straight to trying out the fancy decorative stitches. And all I got was a knotted mess on the back of the fabric.
I could not work out why it was doing this!! It couldn’t even manage a straight stitch without creating uneven stitches and screwing the fabric up. The obvious issue seemed to be the tension but no matter what I tried I couldn’t crack it. The manual troubleshooting pages recommended re-threading the machine which I swear I must have tried a hundred times which made no difference. I have heard that newer machines can be a bit picky with the quality of thread used. Admittedly, the back thread was a cheapy I brought of eBay but never have had a problem with before (and having just brought my second spool of 1000m was really hoping this was not the issue) so changed to some white cotton I may have ‘borrowed’ from mum. It made a small difference but certainly wasn’t a cure. I then tried re-threading the bobbin as the ones I was using were wound by the Elna. Again this made a small difference but nothing spectacular…
Then I got really annoyed with it and asked the engineer to look at it (Scott that is!). Now here comes a bit of role reversal…. He had never used/fixed a sewing machine before so, very unlike a man, he read the instructions…. Although I had flicked through them I hadn’t read in depth because I thought I knew what I was doing (HAHA). Turns out it was the threading after all… I had put the thread through the machine fine but had not put the spool cap on… I never needed to with the Elna and the fact that the thread bounced about didn’t make a difference… apparently on this one it DOES!
So hurrah! I can now sew a straight line… Excellent. But…
Going back to the decorative stitches, they were now sewing well but the thread kept randomly snapping, even sewing really slowly didn’t help. The only thing I didn’t change was the fabrics; basically the only fabrics I use are cottons or polycottons so if it wasn’t going to like them it may as well have gone in the bin.
- The automatic needle threader takes a bit of getting used to. It’s not as accurate as the Elna (but that might just be me) and it’s not spring loaded. With the Elna you could just pull it down, put the thread in place then just let go and it would thread it for you. The Pfaff is a little more tricky as you are meant to twist the thread slightly differently which I find tricky. Again something I will get used to!
- Automatic tie-off function… JUST FAB! It really is. The Elna had a tie off button but is a little bit unpredictable I would press the button at the beginning of a seam but it wouldn’t repeat stitch until an inch into the seam. The Pfaff it so efficient at it. It automatically ties off at the beginning and (once i found the correct button) at the end of the too!
- Start/Stop button – so you don’t have to use the pedal if you don’t want to. I never even knew this was an option with many machines but it appears to be very useful! Specially when sewing intricate stitches that take a long time (and your leg goes numb from being in the same position). I quess it’s main use is for people who do a lot of machine embroidery.
- IDT (Integrated Dual Feed) is very good for even feeding of fabric, particularly when layers slip off each other easily (like with the bag).
- The bobbin alarm is VERY useful! I read one some reviews that it was annoying because once it alarmed it didn’t let you continue (e.g. if you only ave a short distance left) but mine does so maybe there’s been a software update? I hate it when you get to the end of a seam and realise you have only sewn half of it.Very useful feature!
- The choice of stitches is vast. Many I will probably never use but at least I have the option!
- To add to the versatility of the machine, you can pick a stitch and change it’s width and height to fit exactly what you want from it… and does it well too! Looking at the inside picture of the bag I made, I used stitch 140 but made it thinner so it worked for sewing the pocket on. It’s lovely!
- Having a touch screen worried me too as I want the machine to last a LONG time and thought this may be a weakness of the machine. It’s actually really well made, not like the cheap screens you see in most phones. You are meant to use a stylus but I also find it picks up fine using the nail on my little finger. The only thing is it’s quite compact so it’s easy to hit the wrong thing but you quickly get used to it!
- Another HUGE benefit of having a big screen is it tells you absolutely everything. This isn’t the best picture as it only shows a few things. On complicated stitches it tells you which foot to use, whether the IDT needs to be engaged, type of needle to use (only for really specialised stitches though), recommended tension setting and if the fabric needs stabilising.
- You can also sequence different stitches and letters to make a combination of whatever you want.
- The is a large work area towards the right of the needle which is really useful for bigger projects.
- Not that I have tried it yet, but it is meant to be VERY good for free motion sewing. This is one of the main reasons I brought it. I am sure I will be blogging about my attempts!
- Finally, it lights up like a christmas tree!! It’s super bright and a really clear light rather than being quite yellowy which the Elna is (in comparison anyway – not sure I noticed before getting the Pfaff)