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Message Board > Sewing Machines > Pfaff Hobby 1142 or Bernina Activa 210/220?? ( Moderated by Sharon1952, EleanorSews)

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Pfaff Hobby 1142 or Bernina Activa 210/220??
Selecting a quality sewing machine
thebeta99
thebeta99
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MD USA
Member since 8/7/10
Posts: 2
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Date: 8/8/10 5:07 PM

Please help me decide which sewing machine to buy - I'm overwhelmed! My mother had (still has) an indestructible Pfaff 130, and I learned to sew by doing costuming in college on a Bernina (mechanical - just before electronic machines hit the market), so I'm biased toward the European manufacturers. Nevertheless, after college I bought a wonderful used Kenmore that could have doubled as a boat anchor. About 10 years later I was seduced by a traveling salesman in Joanne's to buy a White "heavy duty" with 6 stitches (four more than my Kenmore.) It worked well for a while but I wore it out hemming jeans. I've mostly just done home alterations in the past several years, but I think that's because I don't like my machine - I waste too much time fiddling with the tension and it has a terrible knock. I want my next machine to be something that'll still work, and I'll be proud of, in 25 years.

I don't see myself getting into quilting or embroidering, just back to serious construction. I'm willing to pay for quality, but I'm having trouble distinguishing between "higher price = quality" versus "higher price = more stitches". After visiting a few shop, and spending hours reading reviews on this wonderful site, I think it's between the Pfaff Hobby 1142 and the Bernina activa 210 or 220.

The Hobby seems to have everything I need, but I'm concerned about quality since learning that Singer, Viking and Pfaff are now under the same umbrella. I was disappointed to see plastic bobbins - that used to be the sign of a low end machine - but maybe that view is outdated. I'm also concerned because, while the Hobby seems to rate well everywhere, the Select and Expression lines do not - what's that say about Pfaff? I also tried the Viking Emerald and thought the Pfaff sewed and felt better. The saleswoman (who sold both) told me I was imagining it because they were essentially the same machine.

The Bernina Dealer told me the bernette line is outsourced so I need to buy at least the activa 210 to get Bernina quality (Swiss engineering via Thailand, go figure.) I really liked the machine, but without an objective opinion about Pfaff quality I don't know if the Bernina is worth the extra $$. The activa 210 actually has fewer stitches than the Hobby, which makes me feel like if I go Bernina I ought to get the 220 so I'm not limiting myself completely. The Bernina does have metal bobbins, and no drop-in bobbin (which is better or worse depending on who you ask. The Pfaff/Viking lady said that drop-in bobbins help the needle penetrate the fabric better - does that make any sense?)

So you see I have myself twisted like a pretzel because I'm looking at this as an investment and don't want to have regrets. I see you all have strong opinions, which I appreciate (even if I run the risk of getting conflicting answers, at least they'll be passionate.)

I know someone is going to tell me to buy a good used machine, which I'm totally amenable to, but I've found only two trade-ins within a 50-mile radius of my home. If I buy a used machine, I'd rather get it from a place that rehabs their own, rather than from Craigslist or Ebay (sight unseen).

So, I want the quality of an old workhorse, with modern conveniences like a needle threader, 1-step buttonholer, functional stitches like stretch stitch and blind hemstitch, and maybe a few more stitches I don't know I want yet. Pfaff Hobby or Bernina activa? Or, God forbid, something else?

Lil Flo
Lil Flo
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LA USA
Member since 4/17/09
Posts: 1678
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In reply to thebeta99


Date: 8/8/10 6:06 PM

If I were you I'd head to the reviews and read them all. Most people love their Activas. While I'm not a big Bernina fan, it's the best choice of the ones you chose. The downside to the Activas is they do not have adjustable presser foot pressure. Most garment sewers demand this function. I mostly do quilting, but I have an older pfaff and a Baby Lock. Have you looked into the BabyLock machines. They are very nice and you get alot for your money besides a quality machine.

Barbara3
Barbara3  Friend of PR
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USA
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In reply to thebeta99


Date: 8/8/10 6:35 PM

I can't speak for the Pfaff Hobby, but Bernina makes a very nice line of machines in the Activa. I bought my 240 originally as a travel machine, and I don't notice significant quality differences between that Bernina and my Berninas made in Switzerland. They each hum along with that wonderful soft Bernina sound. Some will say that the absence of adjustable presser foot pressure is very limiting, but I haven't found this to be a problem. (I'm a garment sewer, who doesn't quilt or embroider.) However, if you think that is a feature you will want, this is something to consider.

If you decide you do like the Activa, it will be good for you to know that this line of 4 models has just been replaced by a line of 3 models in what is now called the 300 series. These are basically a repackaging of the same machines, with very, very minor differences. One difference I was surprised to see was between the two top models (the 240 and 380), where the regular Bernina shank feet have been replaced with clip-on feet (a downgrade in my opinion).

Since the Activa line is being phased out, you should be able to negotiate a great price - and perhaps even move up to the 230 or 240 for close to the same price as the 210 or 220. I would buy my 240 again in a heartbeat, and I actually prefer the appearance if it over the new replacement models.

For any brand of machine you're considering, remember that you can usually negotiate a much better price with your dealer than you'll see listed or that s/he will initially quote you.

You mentioned that you want your machine to be something you'll be proud of in 25 years. I bought my first Bernina (930) 26 years ago and it is still my favorite!


-- Edited on 8/8/10 6:52 PM --

Betakin
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Betakin
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AZ USA
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In reply to thebeta99


Date: 8/8/10 7:04 PM

It is my understanding that the Pfaff Hobby models were made by another company for Pfaff.

As for the Pfaff Select machines, I think you will find that the older Select models in the 1500 group (1530, 1540) that were made in the Czech Republic before SVP took over Pfaff have better reviews than the newer Select models ..3.0 and 4.0. The earlier 1500 model Selects are known to be great work horses with all metal in the bobbin area. The newer Selects are nice looking machines but I think the newer models might have a plastic hook.

I own several machines and my only mechanical machine is my Pfaff 1530 and it is the one that I ask to do the heaviest tasks and it has never let me down but if I was to choose between a Pfaff "Hobby" machine and a Bernina Activa..I would choose the Bernina Activa for sure.
I hope you have the chance to try each machine and sit and sew on them before you buy. It should tell you which machine you prefer and the quality of each.
-- Edited on 8/8/10 7:09 PM --

sewfrequent

sewfrequent
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TX USA
Member since 6/27/03
Posts: 3154
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Date: 8/8/10 7:13 PM

Well, i bought an 1142 (used) to keep in another state. It isn't really a Pfaff and i don't know who makes the machine for Pfaff. I just happen to really LIKE the machine. I am also familiar with the Activas and feel you do pay quite a premium for the few (compared) features you get-- esp for the 210, i'm not sure you're gaining much for the extra couple hundred you will spend. But, the Activa will definitely hold its value for longer. Feet on the bernina are very expensive esp the walking foot and without adj pressure, you will need that foot ($120 last i checked). Maybe dealer will include it with your initial purchase if you go the Bernina route.

Karen31
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Karen31
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Date: 8/8/10 7:31 PM

First, I agree with betakin on the Select models.
Disclaimer, I am a former Activa owner (two of them, upgraded because I loved the basic one so much) and was lucky to work for several years for my Pfaff dealer.

First question - is it a multiline dealer where both brands are available? I'm thinking if you got the less pricey one and decided you wish you had the other you could exchange/trade up.

First note - IMO you're comparing apples to oranges. One's computerized, one mechanical, different price points both for the machine and add on accessories/feet.

Ok. I LOVE the Activa! Mine sewed through anything beautifully (both of them) even without presser foot pressure adjustment. I love Bernina feet. The 210 comes with an ankle that uses snap on feet (not sure about the 220), the wonderful well loved Bernina feet fit, but are not part of the basic package. I love Bernina feet. I didn't love the specific incremental adjustments for length/width (i.e. 2.0, 2.5, 3.0 etc. vs. an "infinitely adjustable" dial found on higher end Berninas). But I've had that on TOL computerized machines so it's not a dealbreaker. I just like knobs I guess. The Activa has a smaller machine bed. Not that the 1142 is huge, but it's standard vs. 3/4 size.... so you might want to consider what you're going to be sewing (i.e. quilt? Big fat heavy coat?) and if it will fit in that open area. Did I mention I loved my Activa?

Now the Pfaff. I LOVE the 1142! When they first came into the store I was working at and we tested it out I was HUGELY impressed. We'd demo on a variety of fabric, not just crisp starched cotton. We could put sheer stretch tricot through that, go onto denim, fold it over to 5 layers thick and go over the bump like a jeans seam, then travel onto a men's leather belt then onto the standard cotton and it purred through it all, no straining, no groaning, no adjustment to tension, no big stitches trying to get over the hump. I think that 1100 series (now I don't know but two other brands from working at the store in this category) is the best mechanical value around. (I sold 1142s vs. 32 or 22 whenever I could because it had a one step buttonhole and - oh darn, can't remember what the other thing - think there were a couple - that could get me to talk someone into that one - oh the needle threader was one!). It has adjustable foot pressure but I never used it. All those fabrics/tests I just mentioned -- we never adjusted the pressure. When I moved to our main store we had kids' classes, they seemed to be age 10-16. They weren't careless but they were fearless. The instructor used the 1100 models for class and that's what many of the kids ended up buying. They reminded me of me at that age, never occured to them there was something they couldn't sew. They did quilts, clothing, refashioned jeans into bags, knits, you name it and we never had one breakdown. Matter of fact the only time I saw them come in for repair was for loopy underthread - user had threaded with presser foot down instead of up. I just can't say enough about them. They are Janome made, Janome makes great machines.

But they're different animals. So I'd say test both on whatever YOU want to sew, not only the fabric types but take a project that's big (sizewise) and make sure you're ok with the Activa opening. Despite what some may say, I personally believe size matters......

Oh, did I mention I LOVE both these machines?

------
Karen

Lil Flo
Lil Flo
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LA USA
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In reply to Karen31


Date: 8/8/10 7:47 PM

OH shucks Karen, you make me want to go out and buy a pfaff 1142. HEHEHE You definitely sold me and I don't need another machine .

tgm and Kittys
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tgm and  Kittys  Friend of PR
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In reply to Karen31


Date: 8/8/10 7:58 PM

Karen; Would you buy a used Bernina Activia from a dealer? It was traded in on an higher end embroidery sm. He said he has gone through it with a fine tooth comb. It has the extension table, But only 2 feet are with it & the dealer did say the feet are pricey??
Thanks for the input. ....
>^^<

------
Finally a whole week above zero! Whoo hoo! ~smile~
2 shots in DH eye down, 1 more to go. We hope the tumor is shrinking.
God is with us no matter what ...+


sew2006
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sew2006
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In reply to thebeta99


Date: 8/8/10 9:59 PM

Check into the Janome 625E, it has a pressure adjustment, needle/up down and speed control. The stitch selection is the same as the Pfaff 1142.

The Bernina machines are nice and like someone else explained you're comapring a mechanical machine to a computer machine.

Metal bobbins don't indicate that a machine is more expensive or better quality. Bernina uses metal bobbins in their machines because of their CB hook. Other brands use plastic bobbins in their machines because the computer machines with a magnetic hook or low bobbin indicator won't work properly with metal bobbins. A machine with a full rotary drop n bobbin is less likely to jam than a lower end oselating hook.

Test drive to see which machine feels comfortable.

------
Janome10001, Babylock ESG3, Brother ULT 2001, White 634D serger, Pfaff 1472, Singer featherweight, Singer 14T957Dc, Bernina FunLock 009DCC coverlock, Brother PQ1500S, Janome CP900.

Betakin
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Betakin
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Date: 8/8/10 10:23 PM

I don't know about the different features but I think that the Pfaff 1142 head "looks" a lot like the Viking Emerald 116 and 118 but in a different color.

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