My current machine is getting old. Is as reliable as a workhorse. I've had it serviced once in 14 years (bad mummy). It is the very bottom, entry level machine that was available from Pfaff at the time. It doesn't even have IDT (more about that later). However, it's built like a tank and it has always sewn everything I've asked. Except jeans' hems, hence the one service - 'cause I broke it.
I considered two models of Pfaff, eventually deciding to get the more expensive one (as you do). It had some features that I just loved and knew I'd use all the time. I bought a Quilt Expression 4.0 and here's some of the things that I love about it. (All the photos are from the Pfaff website; be sure to check out all the details there (http://www.pfaffusa.com/Expression_4.htm).
It has IDT. I don't remember what that stands for. It's Pfaff's version of a walking foot. For non-sewers, it's like having feed-dogs on the top as well as the bottom. Still too technical? See in the photo the 'teeth' under the presser foot - they're called 'feed dogs'. They 'feed' the fabric through the machine. The black thing that looks like a lever, behind the presser foot, is the IDT unit. It helps feed the fabric from the top. When sewing fabric of two different weights, or slinky/slippery fabrics, the layers often feed through at different rates. The IDT helps prevent that.
Needle down and thread snips. The machine doesn't have a lever at the back to raise the presser foot, which takes a little bit of getting used to. Top button on the left - needle down (I call it the 'appliqué feature'). In appliqué you often need to stop sewing and turn the fabric a little, to account for curves or corners.
The old fashion way - stop sewing, tap the foot pedal to try and get the needle into the fabric, overshoot, stop sewing, turn the wheel to put the needle in the fabric, lift the presser foot, turn the fabric, lower the presser foot, continue sewing. Repeat until finished, which sometimes every three or four stitches.
The new way - press the needle down button, start sewing, stop sewing, adjust fabric, start sewing. When you stop sewing, the machine puts the needle in the fabric, raises the presser foot. When you start sewing, the machine lowers the presser foot. Brilliant.
The top right hand button is the tie off button. When you finished a seam, press, the machine sews a couple of back stitches to secure the work and snips the threads. If you don't want to tie off, just press the bottom button to cut the threads. Brilliant.
|Needle down and thread snips|
Automatic, one-step buttonholes. Oh, bliss. I hate button holes. I often try to redesign clothes to avoid buttonholes. But this is so easy. Attach the buttonhole foot. Pick one of the eight options - square ends, round ends, pointy ends, fancy stitching. Set the button length. Start sewing. That's it. So easy.
The screen on the machine shows me - what stitch I've chosen and the set features (length, width, needle position), what it looks like, what foot I should be using, if the stitch should have interfacing, whether to use the IDT, what the tension is set at. So clear. My old machine had physical dials. I often had bits of scrap paper with hieroglyphics of settings I was using for a project, such as "two notches past 3", "top of stretch". I know I can also save stitch settings on this machine - haven't explored that too much just yet.
|Clear panel with information|
The machine is big. So big, in fact, that I will have to get a bigger sewing cabinet (oh, such hardship ;-) I'm looking forward to not having to tug big projects through the machine
|Big sewing area|
There's a heap of features I haven't yet explored - like mirroring. You can pick a stitch and then set up mirror images of it. Sounds like a cool feature for top stitching.