Jun 18, 2013 at 4:06 am #1304326
For my MYOG projects thus far (stuffsacks, tarp, synthetic quilt) I've been fine using a Singer Featherweight all-metal machine my wife got from her grandmother. But as I explore pack construction, I'd like to have the ability to do zigzags and bartacks, which the Singer, as a forward/backward straight-stitcher, doesn't do.
I came across someone selling their old Pfaff 360 for what seems like a reasonable price and was wondering if anyone here has experience with that machine, its reliability, quirks, ease of maintenance/repair, etc. Anything I should specifically be on the lookout for with this machine since it is used (e.g. wear on belts)?
Thanks in advance for your thoughts and help.Jun 19, 2013 at 9:14 pm #1998258
Amy LauterbachBPL Member
@drongobirdLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
Yes, I've been using a Pfaff 360 to make quilts.
I got it used from my Aunt Phyllis in 1976; she was a high school Home Ec teacher (sewing, cooking, etc) and this was her personal machine. I had never had it serviced or cleaned until last year. Before making my first quilt I took it to a very high quality sewing machine shop, and he said it was absolutely better to spend $100 to have it cleaned and tuned rather than buying a new machine. He said it's a "great workhorse of a machine". Nothing was broken and he didn't have to replace any parts.
Perhaps before you buy it you can take it to a good shop to have them assess it.
AmyJun 19, 2013 at 9:26 pm #1998260
@jbmcsr1Locale: Rocky Mountains
I would purchase a zigzag attachment on eBay for your singer.Jun 20, 2013 at 3:23 am #1998278
Thanks Amy and Jason; your thoughts are helpful in considering my options.
Amy, I appreciate your direct experience with the machine. Good to know it's so solid. Also, your quilt is stunning!
Jason, do you know if a buttonhole attachment works to do regular zigzag stitching as well? I ask because there's one in my local thrift shop and from the illustrations it looks like the buttonhole stitching is zigzag, but I don't know if you can go "off road."
Thanks so much.Jun 20, 2013 at 6:15 am #1998302
The button hole attachment works by blocking the feed dogs, and moving the fabric itself. It follows the profile of a cam that defines the shape and size of the button hole. It can't be used as a general purpose zig-zager. You could, with some annoyance, use one to make bar tacks, by sewing only one side of the buttonhole. The cams are interchangable, you need to make sure you get ones to do the buttonholes you need to make. (Early, early models don't have interchangable cams, but have screws to set the size, width, and density of the stitching.)
There were standalone zig zag attachments made. They work much the same way, minus the cam part. I've never used one, though. They're much rarer, and more expensive.Sep 21, 2015 at 5:57 pm #2228035
Currently looking at the Expression 3.5 if we go new, and a number of its predecessors on Craigslist. After perusing a number of threads here, I gather that it's unlikely I'll use more than straight and zigzag stitch, and possibly button hole. A couple features that appear to be nice to have, according to my sub-novice eye: *Longish Arm *Automatic Tension Control *Automatic Walking Foot *Bragging rights among sewing machine snobs (or maybe not) My daughter has become very interested in making clothing and costumes, and my wife has been on again of again over the years making quilts, so this machine will see a lot of use by them as well. Thanks in advance.Sep 21, 2015 at 7:39 pm #2228052
Backpack JackBPL Member
@jumpbackjackLocale: Armpit of California
Hey Ian, kiss your Backpacking budget goodbye. lol I wouldn't hesitate to buy the Phaff 360 I like that it has the arm, it makes it easier for doing stuff sacks and clothing, should come in handy for doing packs also. Right now I own 2 of the same model Singer 401A, 1 Brother 7200c-403 commercial machine and an old,old Wheeler and Wilson made in 1869, treadle type, no reverse or zigzag, but it has one of the most beautiful stitches out of all my machines. The Brother and the Singer were the machines I used to sew the tarps for Borahgear, so I think the Pfaff will do just fine.Sep 21, 2015 at 9:30 pm #2228075
Thanks Jack. As far as the budget goes, yeah, it has a heart stopping price tag. Fortunately they showed me a few >$4000 models for some perspective before we made our way to this one.Sep 22, 2015 at 3:59 am #2228100
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
> After perusing a number of threads here, I gather that it's unlikely I'll use more > than straight and zigzag stitch, and possibly button hole. I never use the button hole feature, but I do use the 3-stitch zigzag a LOT. There's also a sinewave stitch which is simply a modified 3-step zigzag, but it to is useful. CheersSep 22, 2015 at 4:18 am #2228101
Hey Ian, Looking forward to seeing pictures of your handiwork soon!Sep 22, 2015 at 6:20 am #2228107
"I never use the button hole feature, but I do use the 3-stitch zigzag a LOT." Thanks Roger. Good to know. "Looking forward to seeing pictures of your handiwork soon!" As do I but all this is assuming that I'll ever get it away from my daughter long enough to use it myself. She's pretty fired up to start making her own clothes and costumes for Cosplay, and I'll likely have to try and jump on the machine between her projects. The sewing I've done up to this point has been pretty minimal. I've had "professionally" manufactured rucks fall apart on me under load so I've been a little timid about making my own until I learned more about thread tension and other aspects of the manufacturing process. It's likely that I've made a bigger deal about some of this in my mind than it is in reality. What I do like is that we get a lesson on how to operate the machine (I believe this is necessary for warranty purposes), and the store offers other lessons as well. I normally do okay figuring stuff out on YouTube, but this is one craft where I'd prefer to have a human to interact with as I'm learning. I'll probably start out with some tarps and stuff sacks, and then go from there.Sep 23, 2015 at 7:40 pm #2228430
Nick SmolinskeBPL Member
@smoLocale: Rogue Panda Designs
I have a Pfaff 260 that I use for all of my lighter-weight projects, and it's a great machine. If I were to spend a lot on a new machine, personally I would get a needle-feed industrial machine – but I'm committed to this job/hobby and wouldn't bulk too much at another industrial. The 360 looks like they just took the 260 and modified it to make it a free-arm machine, so it should be rock solid. The Pfaff CEO from the time (1960's) called the 260 "the machine that almost broke the company". They sold it with a 10-year warranty – imagine finding that in a machine these days! The primary concern I would have is finding parts if it happens to break down. So far I haven't had to worry about that but it concerns me a bit.
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