Under the Maple Canopy

Singing Union Songs Since 2009

In which I inadvertently become a collector…


…of sorts.

I’ve been sewing for awhile on a Brother Innovis-40 – mostly practical sorts of sewing projects. A purse. A bag. Some pot holders. Simple stuff. I’ve fixed more than a few items of clothing. Snow pants. My son’s winter jacket because, dear reader, he’s a growing boy and it’s almost the end of the season. Please, child of mine, be more careful when taking your coat out of your locker!

If it doesn’t require a great deal of accuracy my Brother works just fine. For quilting, though, one requires some accuracy at least some of the time. The alternative, your standard (and bulky) walking foot, didn’t really appeal to me. Not to mention there’s only 40 stitches and no low bobbin warning. I’ve made it to the end of a row of quilting only to discover that I was out of bobbin thread for most of it more than a time or two.

That wasn’t what did it, though. I bought my machine from a local dealer and wanted to take it in for your average tune-up/cleaning sort of thing. When I called I was told that I would have to leave it with them for five weeks. I might get it back sooner than that, but it’s really hard to say. When I balked at the length of time (I may have said that it was “unacceptable”), the lady on the other end of the phone laughed and said, “I know.”

Reader, this is not something I took into account when buying my machine. You buy it, they service it. It can’t be all that different from a car, right? I mean, I can make an appointment with my dealership, sometimes you might have to wait for a part, but generally speaking they can plan for this sort of thing. Not so with this particular place and the nearest Brother dealer is 40-ish minutes or more away.

Rule number one when shopping for a sewing machine? Ask the store about their turnaround time on repairs.

I decided to go with a different machine after a bit of coaxing from the husband (I believe he threatened to buy one on his own if I didn’t). I went with a different local sewing machine dealer with a very reasonable repair time frame. My mom took her Pfaff (1475 CD) there to have them give it a once over and had a very positive experience. She loves her Pfaff. I love her Pfaff. Perhaps it’s time to get a Pfaff of my own?

Enter Herbert Pfaff.

Why call the machine Herbert? Because the machine reminds me a crotchety old man. Temperamental. Fussy. Easily confused. Touchy. Whereas my Brother had no personality (and no name), Herbert Pfaff reminds me of my grandmother. He’s got personality oozing out of every gear.

It’s bittersweet, really. There’s so much I like about the machine (IDT, automatic tie-off, plenty of stitches, more than one light, bigger harp space, a free arm) and a few things I’m not too thrilled with, but can accept (the bobbin winder, the bobbin thread path, pushing reverse does not automatically reverse like my Brother did, tie off button requires that you actively be sewing while pushing the button which means forecasting where the machine will end up in time). The other things I’m hoping are just user error.

For instance, why ,when I ask him to always end needle down, does he sometimes end with the needle up even though the light is lit on the button? If I push the button again the light stays lit and the needle goes down. I’ve been using this to my advantage, but it’s puzzling to me. Is this a feature or a flaw?

Why is he prone to getting all tangled up on the bottom of the fabric? I have re-threaded both ends, switched bobbins, tried longer tails and shorter tails, used a startie/stopie and yet he still persists. He does so less often than he did at first, but why does he keep doing this?

How come when I ask him to automatically tie off at the end of a seam, he can never figure out where that is? End of seam, no tie off. Hit the button. No tie off. Sometimes I get the feeling that he interprets this like I’m asking him to rub his belly and pat his head at the same time.

Why is the cover so darn difficult to get on the machine?

Still, he’s accurate and the IDT is pretty freaking fantastic. I’m hopeful that a lesson or two with the dealer might help us work together better, but please Herbert, don’t make me regret buying you. The last machine that I regretted buying, Selma Singer (and I was a great deal more fond of her at first), found a second life as an end table, but you’re far too pricey for that sort of thing.

Not to mention completely the wrong shape.


Thank goodness for Petunia Decker. She’s the recent purchase that I don’t regret in the slightest. I’ve been using a Panasonic iron my other grandmother gave me when I graduated from high school. It works great for clothing and most sewing projects, but not so much for quilting – it didn’t get near as hot as my mom’s Rowenta, there was no steam pulse, and you could never really shut the steam off all the way. I had been eyeing up this iron for several months. It’s reasonably priced, well rated on Amazon, and then the Snarky Quilter wrote about hers awhile back. It seemed like the best value for the cost. The husband’s been working more overtime than I care to really think about so why not?

Petunia made her way home yesterday afternoon. After opening the box, I immediately put her through her paces. In short? She’s perfect – ample heat, ginormous water reservoir, auto shut-off, self-cleaning, steam pulse, water spray, and steam that shuts off completely. Simply lovely.

*sigh* I guess you can’t win them all.

5 thoughts on “In which I inadvertently become a collector…

  1. If I were you I would pay a visit to the merchant that sold you your machine. The issues you have mentioned are unacceptable. Take your machine with and ask them to investigate/explain why these things are happening. If possible call ahead and make sure a qualified employee will be present. You’ve paid far too much to be so frustrated.

  2. Oh, and by the way, cool picture graphics.

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