My husband (a man of great learning, wit and possessed of an appreciation for good tools) thinks that “Pfaff” sounds like the German onomatopoeia for a sneeze. This has somehow stuck in my mind and I kept having to refrain from saying “bless you” around the dealer whenever she used the P-word. Thanks, dear.

I spent some time yesterday test-driving Pfaffs. After cruising around with a 1523 and a 2023, I have to say that I am impressed. Now I’m a Bernina aficionado and have sewn happily with my machine for ten years. We have a relationship. I don’t make new friends easily and a new partner seemed an impossible accomplishment. Bernina has let me down a bit lately, though, as all service must be through a dealer and, if your dealer is problematic, Bernina won’t help and won’t intervene and won’t find another dealer for you near you. In fact, Bernina won’t even communicate with you.

Though the Pfaff 1523 wasn’t quite love at first sight, (because I’m not that kind of girl) it is clearly speaking to me. It has the IDT (dual feed) system, which is rather nice and does indeed keep fabrics moving at an even rate. The most important features for me, though, were how powerful the machine felt, the smoothness of the stitch, the speed possible for free-motion quilting without snags or problems and the sensitivity of the pressure foot; I need the machine to stop and start instantly and to stitch half-stitches in response to my control.

The other qualities that have become intrinsic to my work include the availability of some sort of extension table and additional free motion feet.

The 1523 did all of that easily and powerfully. It free-motioned extraordinarily well, felt comfortable and easy-to-use and gave the air of intense practicality and competence that I need to feel my machine has. The foot pedal was amazingly sensitive and someone who has a feel for sewing can control the needle incredibly precisely.

To boot, and most people probably don’t know this, the Quilter’s Toolbox (containing feet, a free-motion plate and an extension table, among other things) that is available for the 2000 series machines also fits the profile of the 1523 arm. There’s a 1/8 inch gap at the end, where the table should touch the machine, but apart from that, it’s a perfect fit.

What the 1523 doesn’t have (and the 2023 does) is a needle up-down function and a bunch of other stitches. But you know what? I’ve been sewing without those for 10 years now and haven’t really felt the lack. If I didn’t know about them, I wouldn’t want them, which is reason enough in my mind to take a pass. Also, the 2023 (which has that feature) is $400 more (50% again the cost of the other machine) and I’d rather have a machine with the extension table and whatnot that can do well what I need it to accomplish than one with more bells and whistles that will cause neck and shoulder pain because I don’t have money to spend on the table.

So here’s the current sale (apparently Christmas is good like that):

1523 – $799+tax = $910 (MSRP $949+tx)

Quilter’s Accessory Kit $300+tax =$314

Total = $1224

2023 – $1199+tax = $1366 (with no table and extra feet still to buy) (MSRP $1449+tx)

It seems to me to be a no-brainer. Today’s project includes more machine research and testing and finding out a bit about other sources for Plexiglas extension tables. The one for my Bernina was made by Dream World and is a Sew Steady Portable Table (prices seem reasonable). Off now to find out what turn-around times for one of those would be for a Pfaff….


10 Comments Add yours

  1. r.e.wolf says:

    This morning, I passed a collection of shops I have driven past at least a thousand times. I looked up at the collection of signs out front, spotted one that said “Bernina” in large letters, and shouted “Hey! I know what that is!”

    Thankfully, (or perhaps, disturbingly,) I was alone in the car.

  2. vickyth says:

    Unfortunately, Ryan, there is no twelve-step program for this condition.

    You should have seen John’s face when I told him that Husqvarna makes sewing machines. His question? “Do they use the same motor as the chainsaws, but in a different casing? It’s like a his and hers company, right?”

  3. Bless you.

    (interpretation of the rest of the post: beedledeedeedledeebeedledeedeedledeebeedledeedeedledeedeedle)

    I should post a detailed report of my VB.NET class next week.

  4. r.e.wolf says:

    Vicky, tell John that makes perfect sense to me! Those things can probably quilt sheet metal…

  5. VickyTH says:

    Two layers, using a leather needle (not kidding).

    Also three layers of leather together with plastic.

    Very scary machine.

  6. r.e.wolf says:

    Colour me stunned. (And mildly terrified.)

  7. parnella says:

    Hi. It was a while back when you posted this article. Did you purchase the machine and which one did you pick? If you picked Pfaff, how do you like it so far? I have my eyes on Pfaff 1523 as my first pick, and another Hobby 1142.

    Thank you.

  8. VickyTH says:

    Hi parnella,
    I ended up buying the 2027, after testing the 1523 and 1524. The deciding factor for me wasn’t anything to do with how the machine handled (they all sew with more or less the same proficiency), but the interface. I was so used to an electronic/computerised interface that using dials and knobs was giving me brain ache.

    Here’s the follow-up post:

    Any particular questions you have, just ask!

  9. sara says:

    I have the 1523 with the free gold scissors form Pfaffmachines.co.uk, its a great machine

  10. Mrs A says:

    Do not buy a Pfaff 1523. More bobbin knots in one night than I ever had with my trusty Bernina Record.

    I thought I would give Pfaff a try, but I should have stuck with either Bernina or needle and thread. Pfaff seems to be a huge
    waste of money. Give me my 30 year or 3 year old Berninas!

    (or maybe the free gold scissors make it all worth while, but somehow I doubt it.
    Mrs A

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