7 February 2012 by

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.

29 Responses to THE NEW OLD SCHOOL

  1. mom-ma

    I love reading stories about your sweet little sewing machine. Every day when I sew, the little sewing ‘good luck’ doll you made by hand 20 years ago keeps me company.

  2. Pingback: PFAFF UPDATE - made by julianne

  3. Joyce

    As someone who used to demo this machine (and still love mine), if you’re tightening the tension, you may need to adjust the bobbin tension. Put a loaded bobbin in the case, and cupping the case in your left hand, lift the bobbin and case by the thread. It should not reel out, but if you jerk your right hand up, the bobbin case should drop down the thread. You should be able to adjust the bobbin case tension screw with the flat of your fingertip.

    Once the bottom tension is adjusted, sew the longest widest zigzag. If the bottom thread loops up to the top of the fabric, loosen the top, if the top thread is looping on the bottom, tighten the top.

  4. shirley

    Hello, I am thrilled to hear that I can use any “Industrial” feet on my Pfaff 1222e. I am not sure what you mean by “any industrial feet”? does that mean a particular other manufacturer? I have inherited a machine and am thrilled with it but only have the normal foot.
    thank you, Shirley

    • Julianne Post author

      Hi Shirley,

      As far as I can tell, any high-shank foot would work on this machine, regardless of brand or if it’s marketed for industrial or home machines. My favorite foot is the narrow zipper foot.

  5. Michele

    That plastic piece you reference goes exactly where you put it and holds your foot pedal (front) and your extension table the machine came with in the back slot – this is to hold these items when you put on the cover, and keeps them from rattling around in there. 🙂

    Your 1222E HAS needle up. Your just lift the presser foot lever all the way up and release when done with your seam, and the needle bar raises all the way up and you get out your fabric. The pages in the manual about the foot lever and all the positions is fascinating! 🙂 Enjoy your machine!

  6. Scott H

    I love the Pfaff “1200 series” machines, too, and have brought many back to life with a complete overhaul. Were you aware that your Pfaff has a problem that needs attention? In the photo of your front dial, the white mark on your indicator ring is at 10 o’clock, not where it should be at 12 o’clock. This shows that the glue holding the front dial bushing has loosened and the bushing has rotated. As long as the bushing just rotates, then you won’t notice any change in sewing function. Eventually, however, the bushing will move outward a few millimeters toward the operator and so will the buttonhole cam, causing the buttonhole cam feelers to slide out of position. At that point your needle position and buttonhole functions will be lost. This is a common problem with the Pfaff 1200 series after years of use, but can be repaired by the knowledgeable technician. Don’t believe a tech that says it is not a problem or that it can’t be repaired.

    • Julianne Post author

      I remember you posting about that on the other page, so now I’m joining the group. The bushing rotates all over now, but luckily it hasn’t started pushing out yet. Thanks so much for the advice!

  7. Krista L

    Hi! I LOVED reading your review on your machine! I also have a Pfaff 1222e but I believe it is from somewhere around 1974. It was given to me by my mother whom received it from her father brand new. I am a VERY amateur seamstress and am self-teaching myself as I go along. So my question to you is this… I am trying to sew on knit fabric for the first time and I’m wondering what settings you use for sewing on knit? I do not have a serger. Thank you for your help! 🙂 And now I just wish I could find someone to give me lessons on MY machine! 🙂

    • Julianne Post author

      Hello Krista,

      When I’m hemming knits, I use the zig zag stitch #8, set about 1/4″ from the left edge (like the 3rd point down from the left). Different fabrics require different stitch lengths and tensions, so plan on testing out settings on scrap fabric. Eventually you’ll get a pretty good sense of what dials need to be turned for different fabric weights, and until then it’s mostly trial and error. Good luck with your machine!

  8. Pamela

    I need to find a used 12000SE foot pedal?
    Im sure not the machine even works.
    Any ideas none on Ebay or amazon

    Whats the difference in a S and SE?
    Thank you so much for any information

    • Dawn

      I believe the only difference between the S and the SE is that the SE has the snap on presser feet. Well the color is different too!

  9. tin


    My husband just found the Pfaff 1222 E at a stoop sale. The lady who was selling it said it was her grandmother’s and that it works but she couldn’t find the power cord and pedal. The machine looks brand new except the red button is moving around without any tension at all and I don’t know if it works without the power cord and pedal.
    I really would love to try this machine after reading all the great reviews about it.

    Any advice? I am pretty new to sewing machine. Look forward to some suggestions.

    Thank you so much!

    • Melanie

      I know this is a very late reply but in case anyone else needs this info, the red power button on this model is prone to breaking and is an easy fix. Parts are readily available online and even videos showing you how to repair it yourself if you’re brave enough!

  10. Amy

    Hi there!
    I inherited an old Pfaff 1222. Everything works great but I only have the standard pressor foot. No other feet came with my machine. I saw your post regarding using industrial feet but am a bit of a newbie and am wanting a bit more info.
    I posed the question to a FB sire but am being told I can only use Pfaff 1222 feet and nothing else will work. Right now I see noNE one ebay. Only the grand quilter series parts. So, can you be more specific? Do I just type in high shank industrial pressor feet and am good to go?
    Thank you so much for sharing 🙂

      • Mahalia

        "Gott hat die Welt erschaffen, greift aber seither nicht mehr eio&nunt;uqd der Theist: "Gott hat nicht nur die Welt erschaffen, sondern greift auch immer wieder ins laufende Geschehen ein", dann bin und bleibe ich Theist. Denn ich weiß, daß er, wenn er will, eingreift. Aus eigener Erfahrung, aus einem Erlebnis, dessen Direktheit mich völlig überzeugt hat. Bis zu diesem Tag war ich Atheist gewesen.

  11. Marjon Hoftijzer-Boer

    Thanks for the pdf of the stitch pattern chart. I have sinc 35 years a 1222 se and it is afther so many years still my favorite sewing machine. (I have 3 machines)I’am working as textile artist for the last 15 years.

  12. steve munson

    I bought a 1222E many years ago. Just regained my interest and found the machine takes a lot of effort to run. I don’t want to burn out the motor. Any suggestions? I checked the bobbin area and its clean. I can turn it by hand but very hard. I live outside Madison, WI.

    • Melanie

      Sounds like it needs a service! You can oil it yourself but must do it very carefully so oil doesn’t drop down onto the motor. Open up the top of the machine, just wiggle the top panel off, and have a look inside to see if any of the plastic parts are cracked, or if you can see anything obviously wrong like rust etc.

      My mechanic adjusted the speed on mine by messing with the electronics but it sounds like your problem is mechanical if you can’t turn it easily by hand,

      Hope this is helpful!

      • Carmen

        When your machine does not work with manually turning the wheel, rigidness may be due to varnish, which means the old oil has turned hard from age/lack of use. Take it to maintenance for a thorough cleaning.

        I purchased an old 1222e off Craig’s list. To test the machine I went to auto parts shop and bought carburetor cleaner. Worked well to loosen the machine up for test stitching.

        I now have 3 1222e. My original I purchased in early 80’s. And 2 from Craig’s list. These were purchased as possible spare parts machines.

        When my power button broke my dealer said they could not fix so onto ebay, got 2 switches, for now & later. Installed myself & working great.

        I love the 1222e. Just finished adding 2 layers of dearskin at cuffs of a barn jacket. Made it through all those layers. Yeah!!

        • Melanie

          Wow, wonder what is in carburettor cleaner that works so well? I use kerosene inside my antique machines to loosen them up, but not sure if it’s good for more modern ones.

          My service person replaced the switch on mine, I saw the ones on eBay but luckily he had spares in stock so I didn’t have to wait 🙂

          Love my Pfaff so much

  13. Mshell

    Can any one tell me how to do free motion embroidery on the Pfaff 1222 ( which I have just bought).
    It came with an embroidery foot .

    • Joanne

      You can free motion with Pfaff and guess any machine, 1. Drop feed dogs, 2. Quilting foot ( they do not fall all way to plate, they up some so you can move fabric. Think there are notches try #2. Stitch length “0” you control speed yourself, by how you move fabric. Enjoy, and I wear a very thin pair of garden glove, not heavy and not rubber. Thin soft , I found print garden glove $3.69 and they were very thin , I purchased many pair but so far only on first pair. No rubber gloves but bet the lady dress gloves from many many years back would work, or May thin nylon sock..? Might be worth a try.

  14. Carole

    Hi, I also have a 1222e Pfaff and love it. My question is: can the needle position be used alone or does it only go with the fancy stitched. I just want to move the needle a bit to sew closer. Thanks

  15. Marianne

    When sewing piping on a Pfaff 1222se the zipper foot is what the manual recommends. Would that be #4 98-694-884-00.Thanks for your help. Can you included a photo of the foot as well.

    Thank you

  16. Deb Stanton

    Hey Julianne. Thanks for tip re foot pedal replacement. Want to try this as my 1222e pedal is almost dead. Should any general sewing machine pedal be sufficient?

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