Saturday, 5 September 2015

Top of the must-have list

Just after my first Pfaff (260PE) I could see how fantastic these late 1950s models are. When reading the manual for it the free arm version was mentioned, and I decided to keep an eye out for one. Another 260 late last year, which I sold a few months ago and I then knew how rare the free arm versions were. Apparently the higher the number the better the machine, option-wide.
There was also a logic to Pfaff's model numbers, unlike Singers. Under 100 is a straight stitch, 100 to 200 is the same as the other but add zig-zag. 200-300 add pattern cams, and 300-400 machines are free arms. The highest number I've seen is 362 but I can't imagine it being any better than a 360 (maybe an extra pattern?).

I saw one for sale a week or so ago and here it is:
It's a 260 with a free arm. The free arm is the easiest one ever. Spring loaded so you pull the table out to the left, lift it a bit, line it up and let go. Everything clicks into place and stays there. Oh you clever Germans! This is way ahead of Singer's efforts of the time. The only free arms they made were the 222K, which is straight stitch only, and the 320K2 which has a much larger arm and is simply not as good a machine as this. Additionally the latter was made in very small numbers because Singer couldn't mass produce them.
Feature #2: The stitch length indicator goes from 4 to 0, but at 1 it goes down very slowly. This isn't a gimmick, it will reliably feed fabric in the tiniest increment. Very useful indeed when using the embroidery patterns, which work superbly.
Feature #3: Look at the spool in the photo. Most thread spools were wound so they had to come off by spinning but some were stack wound, as for industrial machines and have to come off from one end or they twist. Pfaff catered for this by including a transverse spool holder. This clips easily to one of the vertical spool pins and allows you to use stack wound thread.

There are other nice things like needle threader (yes it still works) but they had to compromise a little with this design. The lack of space in the bed meant they had to use a smaller motor. It only has 2/3 of the power of the 260. Considering the 260 was incredibly fast, I have to say the 360s motor is still more than adequate.

Today I noticed two little problems, one caused by me. The first wasn't: The zig-zag set to maximum was skewed to one side. Solution was simple: There is a screw that is accessed at the rear of the left side of the machine which is a simple adjuster. Thanks again Pfaff! The second was because I insisted on cleaning and oiling when I got it. It really needed nothing at all. The previous owner had taken extraordinarily good care of it and it's really like a showroom one. When I put the bed back together, I just screwed the three screws down. Well, it seems there's a bit of play in the screws and I should have aligned them. The needle plate was right against the needle and deflecting it just a little. When I set it to zig-zag, it kept catching the hook during its left swing and I broke two needles before realising what was wrong. At least they're ordinary domestic needles and I learned something about my new favourite.

Won't mention how much it was, but it wasn't much. Luckily the lady was just happy it went to a good home.

Layette for newborn

I've bought a couple of patterns over the years for these and thought they'd come in handy. Of the three I had,  one was missing the instructions, another was missing the pattern and the third was complete.

I felt pretty good when finding out about an ex I'm still great friends with was due to give birth late September (or so I thought. She actually gave birth on the 3rd). I looked closely at the pattern: Kids clothes in the '50s were pretty impractical, and really, unless you're going to a traditional church service to baptise your newborn, I wouldn't.
So gritted my teeth and went to the local sewing shop. $17.50 later I had Butterick B5585.
Mine also has a warning sticker
The warning sticker says to disregard the suggested fabrics on the pattern and avoid chenille molleton and flanelette made with 100% cotton and acrylic. I chose jersey, which is probably polycotton but I doubt it's less prone to burning. The pattern says you must only choose jersey. I dislike this fabric: It's hard to put through the hemmer foot because it insists on curling the wrong way and generally misbehaving.
It also says "very easy", which it was. Here are the results:
Have to make the cute bonnet to go with it

Horrible t-shirt fabric. Pain to place

Dress. The embroidery is iron-on
They could both have been made in the same day, they're that simple. Another bonus is that each garment uses only 1/3 of a yard! Good thing, since the pattern cost so much.
I'd recommend this pattern if you want to whip up some clothes for a newborn, but if you can get it secondhand, even better!
Made both on my new Pfaff 360.