a pressing matter.....

I have a habit of checking craigslist a few times a day.  Mostly between classes, morning and evening.  Soothing somehow I suppose I use it as a quick break from my day.  I do multiple searches: sewing, pfaff, bernina, necchi, elna, and serger.  Every so often I might throw in embroidery but usually not.  Craigslist will automatically expand your search area if there are only a few results and I've picked up some good stuff from outside my regular search area.
In my search for Elna I came across a listing for an elnapress for only $25!  I've wanted one of these since Nancy2001 in Alabama got one.  She used it for fusing interfacing and I was always very impressed and envious knowing I could find tons of uses for an ironing press as well.  I'm especially looking forward to using it to press flat fell seams in jeans.  In my quick tests I have discovered that it sounds a very alarming buzzer and automatically shuts off if you leave it closed for too long.  I have yet to discover if this is based on temperature or just a simple timing circuit.  I also appreciate that it's vintage enough to simply have synthetics listed as Nylon.  I'll report more as I learn it's limitations and abilities.  If anyone has any great used for a clamshell press like this please do email me or leave a comment!

Another purchase (from over six months ago) I've been very tight lipped about publicly is my Pfaff 2030.  I feel a little embarrassed about this purchase although I know that's ridiculous.  I've been a vintage machine advocate since the beginning and to suddenly switch to computerized machines, well, I just don't want anyone to feel let down.  Anyway, when I saw the Pfaff 2030 I knew immediately I had to own it.  It's so masculine and cold looking, strictly functional and beautiful, for plastic that is.  Other Pfaff models like the 2027 use some lady like colors that I find very unpleasing.

The machine is from 2002 and still made in Germany.  The seller had used it a bit but not much and ended up getting a Janome shortly after she said she liked better.  I paid $375 which was a good price although 4 times more than any other machine I've ever owned.  It has IDT or duel feed which is nice to have but still no substitute for proper seaming techniques and often I find it gets in the way and I have to deactivate it.
The machine uses the same M class bobbin my industrial Pfaff 138 uses which is very handy.  I have a few issues with the machine:  I wish it sewed faster, buttonholes are problematic on thick fabric, and it doesn't remember your stitch settings when switching from one stitch back to another.  As a side note the cheap ($110) computerized Brother machines we use at the school have a more sophisticated computer than this Pfaff.  The Pfaff will most certainly outlive the Brother machines but it's interesting to see how technology has become so much cheaper than just 10 years ago.  It's using the computerized machines at the school that changed my opinion.  Vintage machines are really awesome and strong, but there is something to be said for easily changing from stitch to stitch with ease.  Having the needle stop up or down, multiple needle positions that are easy to duplicate, and the same needle punching power no matter what sewing speed is awesome.  I wouldn't sew jeans on this machine, it's just not cut out for that type of work, but what it does do it does very well.

So there you have it!  I'm now searching for a computerized Bernina and Elna.  I wouldn't mind trying a Babylock serger as well but I highly doubt I'd spend the money those can fetch.  I'm most interested in high end computerized machines that have already depreciated at the first owner's expense.  Any suggestions?

15 comments :: a pressing matter.....

  1. I don't have any suggestions, but I'm glad you shared your thoughts on computerized machines. It's interesting to hear an opinion by someone who knows vintage machines so well.

    I personally cannot stand my Brother computerized machine (probably similar to the ones you have at the school). It sews very nicely, but it drives me batty when it resets itself every time I turn it off & on (which is something I do a lot, out of habit.) And I think I'm just more of a "dials" person than a "buttons" person when it comes to operating sewing machines.

    Having said that, I do love the modern electronic functions on my plastic Kenmore sewing machine. And I think they are great for beginners.

    I'm curious about the high-end sergers as well. I currently have a basic model. I don't particularly enjoy serging, but I'm wondering if I would enjoy it any more if I had a better machine?

  2. Oh, you will love this press. I find it's useful for pressing lengths of laundered fabric as well. Mine is a Singer and I think the cut off signal is time related rather than temperature. Mine takes a while to heat up, so I often cut a whole bunch of stuff out and fuse it all at once. I have a new lower range computerised Janome that I paid about $400 Australian for last year that seems a little more sophisticated, but the Pfaff is probably a better made machine. I'm sure one day I will graduate to an expensive computerised machine, but for the moment I'm happy. I recently bought a coverstitch but haven't spent the time to get used to it yet. Life keeps getting in the way of my sewing!

  3. You're right, it does take some time to heat up, I noticed it's only 1200 watts for the large heating surface. My regular iron is 1600 watts....

    Pressing lengths of pre-washed fabric! I hadn't even thought of that yet.... Thanks!

  4. Jealous! I would love to have an ElnaPress despite what my sewing machine guru says. And speaking of sewing machines, I just got a Juki F600 you'd probably like, It's plenty tough, fast and electronic. I was considering an industrial but I still need to make buttonholes.

    Regarding surgers, my guru also recommends Juki in that department as well, cheaper and stronger than Baby Lock.

  5. And here I've been thinking that I was the sad sister for not having a serger. Sounds like I can save my money and spend it on fabric instead. Thanks!

    Glad you're posting again. Your blog is always most interesting.

  6. Presses are pretty much the same, some have steam, others don't. My Brother press is about 20 years old, still works great (little messy on the press side but with a press cloth.....) and the shut off on mine is timed, not temp. You can usually look up owners mans. online so that can tell you.
    And any day, I will take my computerized Pfaff and Brother over a mechancical machne, I'm sorry!! Still have my moms old Singer (the one with the buttonhole attachment and the zig-zag attachment) and prefer to program my stiches like I do heating my dinner!

  7. I just found your blog - love it. Looking forward to following you now.
    I have a computer bernina serger that is suppose to be the balls but I've never used it. I also have a bernina embroidery machine that is also collection dust on the shelves. Need to purge my industrials as well! Machine addict, yes! I run a sewing school for kids too, just south of Boston! If I had a heat press (which is on my purchase list) I would use it to make t-shirt transfers and appliques with the kids. They'd love that! I have a laser rhinestone machine in storage I should drag out for them to use. Machines are sooo much fun, you just need the space for them!

  8. I bought an elnapress just like yours a couple of months ago and use it only to press interfacing with. A task I hated before since you have to press and hold the press for some time.
    The signal is after time and I just raise it and press it again for a total of two for my interfacings.
    Mine came with a "steamer" that was a really lousy seperate thing that I removed at once. a spray bottle does the work so much better.
    Mine was a bargain at something like craiglist.
    I block press interfacings using tissue paper to protect the surface.
    Good luck with it! I love mine!

  9. Hi Brian,
    I collect vintage sewing machines. They sew lovely precise straight and zig-zag stitches. This makes them excellent machines for piecing and free-motion quilting.

    Besides vintage & mechanical machines I own three high end computerized machines:

    Husqvarna (Viking) computer 500 - purchased new in 1997. This is an awesome machine and still my favourite go-to one when I just want to sew something up quickly with no hassles.

    Pfaff QE4- purchased new in 2009. A gorgeous machine with a large harp, beautiful decorative stitches and excellent lighting. I paid $2500 CAD for it. It sews awesome button holes and bartacks.

    Pfaff 7510 - purchased used in 2009. This is the only sewing machine I own with instructions on how to embroider on a leather belt.

    And one serger - A White Superlock 2000 that was purchased new in 1997. It is a fantastic serger that is easy to thread, has a scrap catcher, differential feed and built in thread cutter.

    I highly recommend a White Superlock 2000 or White 1934D serger.


    Good luck with all your sewing projects and sewing machine adventures.

  10. I have an Elna press and they are great for block fusing. (fusing a large piece of fabric before cutting), as the fabric gets heat shrunk before cutting, it means there's no shrinkage after and your pattern pieces match up better.
    Also great for doing a whole lot of things at once, like if making a pair of pants, you can fuse e waistband, fly, fly guard, all together.

  11. I bought a refurbished Janome serger. It still carries the factory warranty. Being "used" and on sale, I got it for a song. That may be a way to get a Baby Lock (yes, I am thinking about that bad boy, too.)

  12. I just discovered your blog! I'm hooked! I am new to sewing but feel as though I am progressing along at a perfectly respectable clip. I have a necchi my father bought me when I was in college--I LOVE it! And I just bought a bernina serger off craigslist for wicked cheap and I am hooked on making my own clothes and bags and reupholstering things etc. Now I am quite jealous of your presser. I wish there were local classes here for sewing that weren't quilting based. For now the internet (thanks to all you wonderful bloggers) will suffice.

  13. Hi Brian! I love your website. I just wanted to share a wonderful site that changed my life. It's list-alert.com. You create an account and it automatically alerts you when your item becomes available. Amazing! I hope this helps with you CL searches :D

  14. This is amazing, I'm so pumped that I found it. We're going to need some winnipeg moving companies, maybe in a list format? Because we're on the hunt for the best one for our money.

  15. Hey everyone. Brian, I just bought an Elnapress similar to yours but perhaps two model cycles newer. It has never been used and was still in the original packaging. It was $30 with everything except the manual (though it does have a kind of quick start guide). It's called 'Pinkstar' for some reason. I bought it to press laundered fabric that I intend to sew with. I've read it's great for t-shirts, jeans, and other items that don't have much seaming detail (corners, collars, etc.). I have yet to really use it.

    I'm a vintage sewing machine addict too but I bought a Janome 6500P and appreciate the features you've described re. your Pfaff. I also bought a Juki serger (MO-734DE) 4-thread with diff. feed, auto-cutter, everything. As for Baby Lock, be careful: Baby Lock doesn't make any of their machines; they contract other companies to make them based upon the manufacturing company's designs, so many of Baby Lock's machines are rebadged Brother machines. Don't get suckered into paying more for something that is no better than Brother (a company whose products I've found to be average at best, downright terrible at worst).

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