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PFAFF UPDATE

19 March 2012 by

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 Yes, I consider that vintage, and if you think I’m naive for that then I think you’re outdated and delusional.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.

173 Responses to PFAFF UPDATE

  1. Scott

    My family has had our 1222E since purchased by our grandmother in the 70’s. But I have a problem with it consistently seizing up. I take it to our local repair place here in Seattle, called Quality Sewing, and it lasts a little while, and then gets tight and seizes again. It’s seized right now. Any advice on either fixing the seizing, or recommending a skilled repair shop?

    • Jane

      Did you find a solution? My machine is doing the same. I paid over $200 to fix it last year and now it’s even worse. Please follow up if you have any tips.

      • Jane

        I wound up oiling the machine like crazy, which I know is bad, but better than throwing it away! It’s working great now. I also tightened the large screw head behind the bobbin casing which was buzzing and rattling. I somehow did this just by pressing on it with a finger while slowly running the machine. It was amazing how much that improved performance.

        I hope I didn’t wreck it, but it already felt wrecked…

        • Bob

          I have a collection of PFAFF 1222 ‘s as well as some 230 260 and 262’s I also have parts and lots of free advise… here comes some now!

          The problem of seizing up is common in these 1222’s after long periods of storage. The other very common issue is the camstack cracking on these. This is an easy fix however make sure to check for any loose camstack parts before reassembly. Any loose parts, broken camstacks or even a broken needle in the hook assembly can make these seize up. After long periods of time old oil can build up in a thick and sticky goo and if oiled extensively will affect wiring, moving parts and even the motor. This goo can act as glue making parts move slowly and even leading to broken presser levers and reverse levers.
          Conversely no oil over extended periods of time can cause some shaft points to begin to seize from lack of oil and reaction of bare metal to humid environments. So in short, there are a few things to check to determine which of these fits your scenario. The most common of these is just old sticky oil. It sounds from the initial post here that the machine was probably oiled to get the goo loosened up without actually proper disassembly and cleaning. This can lead to frequent seizing even after recent periods of use. If it’s bad enough you have to disassemble do yourself a huge favor and change out the motor brushes and clean the commutator and bearings while you’re in there!

          • Donna Lorrig

            Hi Bob, Are you interested in selling any of the Pfaff 1222 machines from your collection?

        • Milee L

          I have the 1222E also. I bought it new in 1976. Quite fancy back then! My machine is currently sized up also. It sat a long time unused. I did some reading and found two possible causes.
          1). The lubrication used originally is a “white grease” or lithium based lubricant. It can harden over time and cause slowing and sizing.
          2) The camshaft may be cracked. I suspect this to be the case in my machine. It was working prior to my move. It may have been mishandled by my movers who did not see it as fragile.
          I am taking it in to a Pfaff qualified repair center to get it repaired. I read about it first so I could fully communicate my thoughts and concerns to the shop.
          When a machine sizes, there can be many hours to truly diagnose, obtain parts, and do repairs. Especially a machine as old as my girl! I don’t recommend trying to do repairs yourself unless it’s your livligood.

          Good luck. I love my machine and feel it’s worth the cost of repair.

      • Bob

        Jane, 200 is a little excessive unless you needed a lot of OEM parts. For that you should at least get a 1 year guarantee on work performed to ensure the correct diagnosis and repair was make initially. If you remove the top cover take a look at the camstack while rotating 1 revolution. If you find a crack in it this could also be binding. Take a close look at the counterweight as you turn by hand. If you see a small patch of dried up sticky oil your machine may just need a good cleaning.

        • Jane

          No kidding $200 is excessive! The cam stack was replaced about 5 years ago by a guy in Utah. About two years later it started seizing up so I took it to a different repairman (I had since moved) and they told me that it needed a deep cleaning which would be $180. I gritted my teeth and paid it. I dug up the receipt and this was a year and a half ago. The machine was pretty idle for about 6 months and when I wrote my first comment it was way worse than before. Since it’s been more than a year, and I don’t trust that repairman, I’m not taking it back.

          I guarantee there are no tangled threads, no broken needles, no cracked cam stack. I tightened the piece behind the bobbin casing and oiled most of the moving parts and it’s working great now. I don’t have the knowledge to take it entirely apart and I don’t think I have a trustworthy repairman in my area. So I think that’s where it’s going to be until someone posts a series of detailed YouTube videos on disassembling and reassembling a machine (hint hint :).

          • Drikusniet

            No need to disassemble the machine, and in case you would need youtube for it, be sure you will not get it back together again.
            Seizing up is usually caused by not oiling the sewing hook. Put one drop of oil every 20 hours in the front-bottom, and it should never seize up. This spot is also the ONLY point you need to oil on this machine. The bearings are sinter-bearings, who have a life-time oil inside (yes even +40 years. Don’t ever oil these, as the normal sewing-oil is too thin, and will not get into the bearings. An if it is the wrong oil, you can get even the whole machine glued up, or if it is too much at the wrong place, you can ruin the motor.
            If this does not help, check for threads in the sewing hook area (especially at the back of the sewing hook) and remove them.
            If this all doesn’t help, get a good repair-main that knows these machines, or download the repair-manual. (If you can understand German, there is also a good one online in the ‘Drachenwiki’)

  2. Ann Foutch

    I have used a sewing tech at Seams So easy In Fairfield OH (near Cincinnati OH) His name is Michael. Maybe you could call him and see what he knows? You could ship it to him. He is a wizard on Pfaff’s and has a personal collection of them as well!

  3. June Scott

    I have had my machine for many years and it has been good but yesterday the thread started going very loopy on the bottom and the top thread keeps breaking. Is there a pressure dial to tighten or loosing the bottom thread? In all these years I have never had this problem. I am in the middle of sewing the ribbon around the blanket.
    Hope you can help me.
    Thanks.

    • Karen

      You can adjust the bobbin tension by tightening or loosening the tiny screw on the removable bobbin case (I do it with my thumb, no tool required). The manual gives instructions on how to adjust & determine when it’s the proper tension. Hope that helps.

  4. kathy zajac

    I have a mint 1222. Great machine but I can no longer get service. Does anyone know how to set the timing? When the needle goes down it hits the bobbin and it breaks. I’m sure there are some alignment marks that I just haven’t found. If anyone can help me with a service manual I would really appreciate it. jeff and kathy

    • Natalie

      Did you figure this out? I’ve been having the same problem with my 1222e, the needle hits the bobbin case when it goes down. Now in my case I had recently unscrewed things and cleaned all the dust out so I knew it was because I put something back wrong. I couldn’t find anything in the repair manual. After fiddling and then googling pictures trying to get a look at the bobbin area I believe that I simply needed to align the notch in the piece where the bobbin goes with the tab in the black piece that is under the feed dogs (not super technical terms, sorry I’m not a sewing machine repairperson). Every picture seems to have that notch at the top and it aligns perfectly, you can just see the tab in the notch in this picture (click to zoom)
      https://i.ytimg.com/vi/67Qt7f3mXm0/maxresdefault.jpg

      I hope someone else can confirm that this is how that works, I watched half a dozen youtube videos trying to see if I am correct and none of them mentioned it – perhaps its too rookie a question? I am new to this.

      • Drikusniet

        Download the repair manual as mentioned here above and go to chapter 36 (and/or 38.) 36 is a rather simple adjustment with taking loose 2 screws (in the black part on your picture, turn to the correct position and tighten these screws again.

  5. Sally Taylor

    Hi,
    Can anyone help me out on a good quality needle. I always bought Schmetz but they’re now doing out of the needle holder. My husband said there is definitely a difference in circumference. Thanks for any help Sally.

    • Julianne Post author

      I was having a similar problem, which seemed to spread to almost any needle! I replaced the needle holder and it helped for a bit, but then started up again! I took the needle holder over to the hardware store and bought a slightly longer screw to fit into the needle holder and I haven’t lost a needle since! I believe it was a #8 metric screw, 1/2″ long. Good luck!

    • Drikusniet

      Do they also have the same shape? There are different shafts, of which some are smaller, but then the shape usually is also different.
      Does the box say 130/705? If not then you got the wrong shaft.

  6. Brenda

    re: falling out needles. I had this problem. My sewing machine repair guy said that the screw was slightly bent, and indeed, my needles have stayed in since he replaced it. However, I found a very interesting youtube video that explains that it is more likely a problem with the “needle clamp”. He did not mention the solution (replacement? are these available?). The needle clamp is mentioned starting at approximately the 6:30 mark. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTkCAcCMb1Y

    • Julianne Post author

      I replaced the whole needle clamp and haven’t had problems since, and of course it was easy as pie to do and the part only cost about $10-15 (but I don’t see a part number on it!).

  7. CC

    Hi I’m looking for a zipper foot with needle hole on the left side of the foot AND a slot to engage the walking foot…have found plenty of these feet online but not compatible with the walking foot. Ie. no slot…i hate the zipper foot supplied with the machine (right side hole)

  8. Olive Humes

    The white dot on the stitch selector knob keeps shifting to the right and is no longer at the 12 o’clock positions! How do I fix this?

    • Drikusniet

      Bring it to a (preferably older) Pfaff repair-man. The bearing is loose, and needs to be fixated with a pin. This is not an easy fix to do yourself, unless you know how to handle metal very well. Also if you disassemble too much it is almost impossible to get together again.

  9. Suzy Y

    Hi y’all! I find this post to be very informative, thank you! I’m currently looking to buy a Pfaff 1222 or 1222E and I can’t decide which one. (I guess it really depends on which model I find on ebay or craigslist)

    The ability to use industrial feet is a HUGE plus for me. Does anyone know if the 1222 can also take the same feet?
    I am a professional seamstress and have been using a Bernina 830 Record (for travel) and my Juki DDL at home. I love them both but am sooooo curious about the IDT/built in walking foot.

    Also if anyone has any tidbits on which they prefer 1222 or 1222E, I’d appreciate that as well. I don’t need to do embroidery, so the # of designs isn’t important to me, just which ever is the better, more reliable machine.

    • Suzy Y

      I guess my concern was if the extra stitches and electric foot pedal on the 1222E were just more things to potentially go wrong?

    • Drikusniet

      Bring it to a (preferably older) Pfaff repair-man. The bearing is loose, and needs to be fixated with a pin. This is not an easy fix to do yourself, unless you know how to handle metal very well. Also if you disassemble too much it is almost impossible to get together again.

      BTW, the ability to use industrial feet is for all the executions exactly the same.

      • Drikusniet

        Bring it to a (preferably older) Pfaff repair-man. The bearing is loose, and needs to be fixated with a pin. This is not an easy fix to do yourself, unless you know how to handle metal very well. Also if you disassemble too much it is almost impossible to get together again.

  10. Drikusniet

    This model had several iterations, which are not at all bound to the designation 1222 and 1222E or even de 1222SE (the last version).
    All have electronics, the older ones SEL-electronics, the newer ones the Pfaff electronics. But this is not determined with the E or not in the type-name.

    When you want to buy:
    Get one with the Pfaff electronics. You can recognize this by the foot-pedal. You should not have the metal small pedal (beige color), but the plastic ones (white/black or complete black).

    For the rest check on the camstack or the gears in the bottom don’t have a crack. The camstack is in the top, and is easy to see when you remove the topcover. Turn it around and you can check. The gears in the bottom you notice when you sew by irregularity every few turns. These cracks can be repaired by replacing the parts. The camstack is the most easy and most common, gears less common, and these gears can only be done by a good repair-man.
    Last thing to check is if the straight stitch is really straight and doesn’t have a slight ZZ. Also this can be repaired, but this should be done by someone who knows what he does, and has the right tools.

    In principal the newer models don’t have these problems. You can recognize this most easy by looking inside the top-cover. Here you can see a date-stamp (from ~68 till ~85). But which date is which change, is not known, and you never know if a repair already has been done by the previous owner.

    • Drikusniet

      If it has this sligth ZZ when put on straigth stitch between 0-4 it means the bearing of the stitch-selector is loose and needs a repair. (btw between 4 and 5 on this dail, there should be a sligth ZZ)

  11. Tim Hickman

    We have a Pfaff 1222 – It has sit for about 5 years. My wife wants to start sewing again .. turned it on and the motor starts to hum .. then it ever so slowly starts to move and then jerks and starts again but never completely goes full revolutions .. hope you understand my description. I have the side off and both belts look good. As the motor starts to turn it looks like its sticking and I can see grease on the armature of the motor. Not sure if this is good or bad. I can turn the black wheel by hand and the machine will rotate through its positions but its very tight. Seems the motor is trying to move but struggles.

    Can you give me any help on what I can/should do. I can send photos if needed. We live several hours from a large city and have no repair business in our community. Thanks you in advance, I’m Tim Hickman Southern Arizona

    • Drikusniet

      Put a drop of oil in the bottom front of the bobbin. No oil at any other point. (see also the manual)
      Than check if it turns better.
      The machine is self lubricating, but it needs regular running or heating up. You can put it on a heating, or use a hair-dryer. Than let it run for some time. It should start running faster. Off course only let the motor run if it turns freely and not too long in the beginning.

  12. Gail

    I need help with the needle position on my 1222e. The needle remains in the right side position despite moving the knob. Is there a simple fix? Thank you in advance.

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