My thoughts on the Pfaff Quilt Expression 4.0 after one month
I purchased the Pfaff Quilt Expression 4.0 on 8/12/08 and immediately started using it. I do all my piecing and binding on the machine (quilting on a Mega Quilter) and so far it has done 15 quilts and started piecing #16 (holy cow!). For reference sake, my previous machine was a Pfaff 2134. There was nothing wrong with the 2134 but since I was doing so much quilting, some of the features that the 4.0 had made it very appealing.
– Dual lights. Especially since I do so much of my sewing in the evenings.
– The presser foot can be controlled by the foot pedal.
– IDT (previous machine had it too but is definitely a plus if you’re coming from another brand)
– Needle down/foot up option. Great for chain piecing and appliqué.
– Large foot pedal. Never thought this would be a pro or con, but it’s actually really nice.
– I like the tie-off style of this machine better than the 2134.
– Low bobbin indicator. The 2134 had one but never worked properly.
– It cuts your threads for you!
– Dual tension plates for the needle thread and bobbin thread. If you’ve ever wound a bobbin without taking your needle thread out first, you’ll appreciate this!
– Sewing with the included 1/4″ foot is horrible.
– fabric is ‘eaten’ by the machine at the beginning of every seam
– fabric tends to veer off to the left (leaving you with 1/8″ or 1/16″ crooked seams)
– the machine has a hard time sewing over thick seams (think the middle of a kaleidoscope or while attaching binding strips when you have binding+backing+batting+top with seams). The IDT doesn’t help and you have to tug a bit by the back of the machine to get it over the hump.
– The top fabric tends to bunch and become unaligned with the bottom fabric (even with IDT).
– The bobbin is top loading. That alone isn’t really a problem but they designed the bobbin cover so that it could be removed without removing the free-arm part but in the process of that, they made a dip right before you reach the needle and it will flip all your seams that you have so neatly arranged (hopefully that all makes sense).
– Second thread spool holder is not nearly tall enough (that’s pretty minor but I usually sew with two spools of thread – one going to the needle and the second to wind bobbins so I don’t have to rethread every time.
Ok, so yes, those are some pretty significant cons.
The bobbin cover just downright annoys me. I’m hoping they’ll come out with a table that I could use instead (or perhaps a new free arm?). Honestly, I would have preferred to remove the free arm to change my bobbin than how they did it. When you have you seams set and then they go through this hump/dip they flip. Every time. This is however a deal-withable problem.
The stitching problems are just downright ridiculous BUT THERE IS AN EASY FIX!
Basically, you need to buy a new 1/4″ foot. I’m not sure if the style I bought 2 years ago for the 2134 are still made but I certainly hope so. Sean and I both examined the feet and cannot see anything that would make the foot that comes with the machine stitch so badly. But it does. I pulled the old 1/4″ foot off of my 2134 and all of these problems disappeared. Put the new foot back on and all the problems reappeared.
Some pictures (please pardon my linty cutting mat). You can click on them for larger versions.
The bobbin dip.
The styles are different but none of these changes seem like it would cause these problems.
I oversharpened the next image to make sure the stitches were visible (I should have used black thread!). In the fabric on the left the machine initially ‘ate’ the fabric and then tried to recover and the fabric veered to the left. I never could hold and guide the fabric to prevent this. The fabric on the right when straight in and has even stitches. Both of these were fed in in the needle down/foot up scenario since that’s how I feed almost all of my fabrics for chain piecing.
So that’s that. Why does the foot cause so many problems? Really, I have no idea. I think it’s rather silly to have to buy an additional 1/4″ quilting foot for a quilting machine to stitch properly. But at least it’s fixable right?
Hopefully I got all my pros and cons in. I’m sure there are more so feel free to ask questions if you have any.
UPDATE! January 2009
I’m still having a horrible time with this machine. Fabric is still being eaten, though not as often since I switched feet. It still doesn’t sew straight. Whenever I go over a thick set of seams (not huge, but quilts get like that sometimes, ya know?) it doesn’t go over them and the stitch length regularity is horrible. The thread cutter is horrible. It keeps telling me there are jams when there are no jams at all. I’ve disassembled everything when it does this and there is never actually a jam. You just have to sit there and press the middle button over and over until it finally lets you sew. So frustrated. I wonder who I could sell it to? I truly have buyer’s remorse at this point. I figured it just had some quirks and I would get used to them but this is totally unacceptable for a Pfaff at this price.
RANDOM NOTE: August 2011
I have moved past this machine. I stopped using it, bought something else and am done with the mess of the QE4. I’m happy to leave the comments open to let everyone read and discuss as they please, but I don’t have much interest at all in participating (Hopefully that doesn’t sound grumpy! It’s not intended to be. Promise. )