Friday, July 27, 2012

My sewing machine - family Pfaff 130


I love my sewing machine.

It is a Pfaff 130, sews wonderfully, straight stitch and zig-zag, and forward and backward!  I can lower the feed dogs to do free-motion machine quilting, which it does with no thread tension problems or anything.

Basically, this machine does everything I really need it to do, and does it really well. And it came with tons of original accessories (as you'll see in dome follow up posts!)

But another reason I love my machine is because it was purchased new in 1953 by my Great-Grandfather Dean (my dad's dad's dad), for my Great-Grandmother Nina to use.  I never met this Great-Grandmother.  I'm not sure when she died, but it was definitely before I was born. I do remember my Great-grandpa Dean, but not very well and my only memories are of him as a very old man.

They must have thought hard about what machine to buy.  Here's a picture of a couple pages of the advertising/informational booklet about the machines:


Later in the book, there are pictures of all the types of machines/cabinets and my great-grandpa (my grandpa thought probably his dad would have done this) wrote in the price by each machine in pencil.  Here's the one they ended up buying:


$ 314 dollars in 1953 equates to roughly $ 2500 in today's money (according to here). I have no idea what their finances were like, but I remember my Great-grandpa's house in Alton, IL and it was pretty tiny, so I'm guessing they weren't millionaires or anything!
And here's the machine today (in my sewing room with some boxes - not sewing supplies! - yet to be unpacked nine months after our move):

The machine also hides completely in the desk and the extended tables fold over it, so it ends up looking just like the picture in the advertisement book.  I forgot to take a picture of the actual machine like that, but I bet you can imagine it.

I love family history and the machine works great, so it makes me very happy when I use it!  I don't think I'll ever get another sewing machine... (well, except maybe a small, lightweight cheaper one that my girls could first learn on - the knee pedal on this is too high for them to use easily, and also I could take it with me to a class or something - this thing is super-heavy!!) 

So maybe I should say that I don't think I'll ever use another sewing machine regularly! I don't need bells and whistles and I think this machine will last perfectly to probably be used by my great-grandchildren someday!

I have a million pictures of accessories and everything else that goes with it.  If anyone reads this blog and is interested in this, leave a comment about what you're most interested in seeing (feet, old thread/accessories, random stuff I can't identify, instruction booklet and other papers, or questions about it too) and I'll do posts on that.  If no one reads this or cares about old sewing machines, I'll just keep randomly posting stuff I feel like!


  1. It is so special to have a family heirloom still in use, and being loved and cared for all over again; how wonderful!

  2. I'm clearly behind on reading this blog, because I just saw this entry. But that is awesome! Great story!

  3. I would like to know what foot you use while free motion quilting. A friend of mine has one of these machines and I would like to introduce her to free motion quilting on it. Thanks!

  4. Hi LaRue,
    I use a foot that I think is called the darning foot. I will try to take a picture of it and maybe put a blog post together about all the feet I have. But basically it looks like a small circle and has a little metal hook that goes over a screw on the machine. I'm explaining this poorly, but hopefully that gives you the idea! I put down the feed dogs and adjust tension and go! It works great! Hope that helps some!

  5. Hi, My name is Debbie and I live in N.J. I just started sewing and adopted my Mother's 130 Phaff vintage sewing machine in a cabinet. My mother is 90 years old and still uses it from time to time for mending and altering. I started to just surge bandannas for dogs because I groom. It was in the basement in an awkward spot, it kept getting stuck until it just wouldnt work anymore. I found a place to come and take it out of the cabinet and fix it. My Mother told me I should put it upstairs in my apartment if I enjoy it so much, so it is in my bedroom now and I am addicted. It is like a new toy. I am more interested in sewing things like bags and fabric bowls. Now I am trying to do free motion quilting and I am not sure what I am doing wrong but I keep breaking needles. If anyone knows anything about the quilting attatchment and the porper way to use it please let me know. The quilting attatchment just hovers over the fabric not holding it down at all. I drop the feed dogs also. Maybe I am using the wrong needle or pulling the fabric to fast. I don't know but I can't seem to find anyone that knows about this machine. please let me know if you can help me, I would appreciate it.

    1. Hi Debbie, Do you use the foot I described above with the little circle? It definitely doesn't hold the fabric down and it moves up and down as the machine goes. I do break needles occasionally. (I wear clear hard plastic eye protection I got at the hardware store, just to keep my eyes safe!) I think the needles tend to break when I pull/push the quilt too fast and the needle is going up and down too slowly. You really have to be careful to match those speeds. This post basically says the same thing: I don't think it's a problem with our machines (still love mine!) but more of a general problem that can happen with free motion quilting. It's possible that our needle-plates have slightly smaller holes or something and that would contribute to the needles breaking, too. Good luck!