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MASKED BURNER!

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The latest edition of the Burning Man newsletter JackRabbit Speaks features a link to the Black Rock City Yearbook, and the first picture I happened to open is of a lady wearing one my masks!

It’s good to know that at least one of them is being used for its intended purpose.

I actually made costume pieces for some Yearbook members, and also spotted a few familiar faces in the 1,000 photos (out of 50,000 attendees!).

There are lots more Yearbook photos to see, and who knows what you’ll recognize!

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PFAFF UPDATE

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Pfaff 1222e

For more information about the Pfaff 1222E, check out my initial review as well as my tips on threading with industrial cones. Also you can replace the pedal if you have a “runaway” vintage sewing machine.

As many of you know, especially if you follow me on Facebook, I love my Pfaff. Since I’ve been getting a fair amount of site visitors looking for information on the machine, I’ve decided to do an update, now that I’ve been using the machine for about 6 weeks. To recap (and get those search results, cha ching) it’s a 1982 Pfaff 1222E.

This post will probably not be too interesting to most readers, but hopefully I can share some insight with people thinking about getting one of these machines. From what I can tell, the normal price range is $300-400, depending on the machine’s condition and accessories.

My machine came with a CD manual, which I’ve taken the instructional images from.

Pfaff 1222e

This is my first intentionally vintage machine. I learned to sew on a Singer that was probably made at the same time, but it didn’t seem vintage at the time. There have been plenty of older people (mostly women, although plenty of men have asked about that new sewing machine I constantly talk about on Facebook) who laugh at me when I tell them my vintage machine is from 1982, basically thinking I’m so young and naive to consider the early 80s vintage. If I were using a 30-year-old nail clipper, a tool that hasn’t really evolved much over its lifetime, I wouldn’t call it vintage. But a sewing machine that’s older than I am, in an industry that has seen lots of development and digital revolution, for which parts are no longer manufactured, in a throw-away culture? Yes, I consider that vintage, and if you think I’m naive for that then I think you’re outdated and delusional. So there.

Pfaff 1222e free arm

I honestly haven’t used the table extension a single time. I do mostly apparel sewing, and the free arm actually works best for me. It’s smaller than on my last machine, and the perfect size for sleeves or legging hems, coming in at just over 9″. So while I’m definitely glad to have it, I’m glad I didn’t pay $50 for an acrylic table.

Pfaff 1222e stitch dial I’ve grown pretty fond of the setting dials. They are simple but very efficient! The outer ring adjusts stitch width and length, which makes sense if you look at the diagrams on it. The inner knob is for the needle position, which is essential in some of the decorative stitches, which are set through buttons on the top of the machine.

It took me a little while to figure out my favorite stitch settings, which I’ve marked with rhinestones. They’re removable if I ever change my preferences, and also delightful.

This dial also has a knob to adjust the needle position from left to right, which is essential for some of the decorative stitches.

Because you manually set the stitch settings (with dials), the machine doesn’t reset when you turn it off or move to a different stitch. This may be obvious, but it’s an extra step for those who are used to modern digitized machines.

One feature of the machine that may be worth noting is the automatic needle position: there is none. Whereas my last Singer would automatically pull the needle up to its highest position when I took my foot off the presser pedal (making it easy to pull the fabric out from the machine), and the industrial Juki I use at work puts the needle at its lowest position (so that I can pivot the fabric without losing my place), the Pfaff leaves the needle wherever in the stitch it is when I remove my foot. Despite the power and speed of the machine though, it’s pretty easy to take my foot off exactly where in the stitch I want the Pfaff to stop. I can stop the needle at its highest point to remove the fabric, or have it all the way down to hold the fabric in place. Of course I could always turn the wheel the reposition the needle, but who would want to do that?

Pfaff 1222e needle threader

I have never been able to use an automatic threader on any machine I’ve ever used. I simply can’t understand them, and I have no problem threading a needle the old-fashioned way. Vintage all the way baby!

pfaff 1222e matchmaker Pfaff 1222e walking foot

One neat little feature is this lever that can hook onto the presser foot. This takes the pressure off the foot, allowing you to match stripes and plaids easier. The Pfaff has a built-in walking foot! It’s called the Matchmaker foot. Occasionally fabric gets caught on the plastic piece, but it’s not really an issue. My biggest caution about the lever is to not leave it engaged all the time: because it reduces the pressure from the foot, the feed dogs don’t get a proper grip on the fabric, so stitches might come out wonky.

Pfaff 1222e industrial feet Pfaff 1222e standard foot shank v. industrial foot shank Pfaff 1222e industrial foot

Which brings me to my biggest breakthrough: the Pfaff 1222E can use standard high-shank industrial feet. I absolutely hated the right-hole zipper foot that came with machine, and Pfaff-specific feet can get pretty pricey even without the widest selection. Meanwhile industrial feet are all over the place, and cost about $5-10 each. And they’re made for industrial use, so no worries about quality. The shape of the shank is a little different between the Pfaff and industrial feet, but the industrial shank fit on my machine perfectly (the third photo has a Pfaff foot on top and an industrial foot below; the important thing is that the knob fits into the same place). No other Pfaff site I saw had this insight, but I think the machine’s compatibility with less-expensive industrial feet is a huge bonus!

There is an adapter that lets you use snap-on feet on the Pfaff, but $70 for a foot?! That’s just nuts.

Pfaff 1222e collecting tray

The slightly rounded plate under the free arm collects stray pins and loose threads from rolling around on my desk. I love this little tray!

If any of y’all have any questions about my Pfaff, let me know and I’ll try to answer.

For more information about the Pfaff 1222E, check out my initial review as well as my tips on threading with industrial cones. You can download the stitch pattern chart PDF here.

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THE NEW OLD SCHOOL

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I gots a Pfaff! For more information about the Pfaff 1222E, check out my follow-up review as well as my tips on threading with industrial cones. Also you can replace the pedal if you have a “runaway” vintage sewing machine.

Pfaff 1222 e Pfaff 1222 e

Jason got me this fantastic 1982 Pfaff 1222E, and it’s better than any engagement ring out there (engagement bobbin?). It came with a bunch of feet, the carrying case (which, oops, I already broke the bracket off, but I don’t think I would ever use the case), and an extension table.

We got it from a friend’s dad who restores machines, so I don’t have any qualms about the quality of this 30 year old German beauty. And let me tell you, it sews beautifully. I’ve been using it for a couple weeks now, sewing knits and wovens. This machine demands having the right settings for each stitch, but the results are worth the slight learning curve.

I find that I get better stitches with a high tension setting (5-7 rather than the recommended 3.5) and 100% poly thread on a spool, which necessitated replacing my random collection of blended serger cone threads with simple Coats & Clarks. For my old machine I would wind the cone threads onto bobbins, but the bobbins didn’t seem to have the right resistance on the Pfaff. Luckily Joann was having a thread sale last week, so I stocked up.

Pfaff 1222 e stitch selector Pfaff 1222 e

Pfaff 1222 e stitch settings Pfaff 1222 e

Also another large plastic piece, that seems to be broken or missing another component. I’m not too concerned about this, because it would get in the way of my free arm. In the interest of simplicity I’m tempted to chuck the strange piece into the recycling bin, but what if I need it in 30 years?! Suggestions?

Pfaff 1222 e Pfaff 1222 e

Conveniently, the 1222E paves the way for the Pfaff Coverlock 4.0 (don’t tell my precious Juki, but yes, I still want the $1700 serger). The 10-year wedding anniversary is traditionally a serger, right?

Pfaff 1222 electronic

We knew we made the right decision when we saw the lithium sign on the machine. A week earlier Jason gave me a necklace with the same symbol, and it’s also on Jason’s jumpsuit.

Meanwhile, I paid $50 to have a brand new motor put in the Singer 7444. This puts me in the luxurious position of having a back-up sewing machine. Maybe I will sew coiled bowls only on the refurbed Singer.

Juggling between three machines on my tiny desk inspired me to rethink how I store my notions. Before, I kept everything in my gorgeous gold sewing box perched on a shelf, but I had to stand up to get notions drawer anything out. So I put an extra tray from another vintage sewing box in my side drawer, and I feel a little dumb for not doing this years ago. The gold box is still in use, but my everyday tidbits are now below eye level.

From there I was inspired to clean out the hall closet, but I have to draw the line on bloggable activities somewhere.

Thank you to Peri, Lark, and of course Jason for helping make this happen!

For more information about the Pfaff 1222E, check out my follow-up review as well as my tips on threading with industrial cones.

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