Tag Archives: Pfaff 360


Machine mended 3-corner tear

Have you ever done darning on a sewing machine?

I have a feeling the White can do this too, but as I was perusing the manual that came with my spanky “new” Pfaff 360 (yay, manual!) I happened on the page about machine darning.

And, well, I was feeling sewing-deprived after a week visiting home. Generally speaking, I enjoy mending about as much as alteration. Which is to say, not at all.

So on the Pfaff, at least, you don’t need to clamp your mending in an embroidery hoop. This makes it much easier to darn stuff like, say, pant legs. The darning foot is this cute little round nub, the presser-foot equivalent of a peg-leg. It isn’t as long as a regular foot, and doesn’t reach all the way to the needle plate when the foot is down. Well, it does sometimes, but it hops up and down as the needle does, pogo-sticking across the fabric.

You darn with the feed-dogs dropped, so you control speed, length, and direction of stitching by moving the fabric by hand. This means you can go back and forward and side-to-side without needing to rotate the fabric. Also a big win for fixing, say, pant-legs.

After a bit of experimenting, I dove in: loaded up the blue jeans-sewing-thread I picked up on a whim ages ago but never actually used, and pulled out some of my failing pairs of jeans.

To start, something simple: the three-corner tear my computer desk inflicted on my most recent pair of jeans a few weeks before Christmas. I threaded the  jeans over the free arm, started on the back-and-forth part of the tear, and stitched up and down the length, back and forth, and then side-to-side on the vertical part of the tear.

It was startlingly easy. I don’t think these jeans will be back on the A-list, but they’re no longer stuck in bumming-around-the-house land. Win.


Guess Jeans (taken last year, pre-tearing)

These skinny jeans are two years old, originally from Guess. The left knee is gone (typical) but a little more troublesome was the state of the rear yoke just below the belt-loops. This is a high-stress area, and holes had pulled where the bottom of the belt-loop attached.

Stitchy-stitchy magic! Back and forth, side to side.

Guess jeans mending

I still need to topstitch down the loops themselves again, but the holes are closed—my underwears will no longer be poking out! Yay!

Darning white jeans

My final masterpiece was a frayed side-seam on a pair of white jeans Osiris scored at a thrift store back in the summer—everything about them was absolutely perfect (and unworn) except for this one strange flaw. He’s been wearing them (as you can see by the grubbiness in the photos) as is, but a repair was pretty welcome.

It’s not exactly pretty, but it’ll do, and it’s not a hole!

Just yesterday I did a bunch of darns on another of Osiris’ pants, a goth/industrial pair of black cargoes that came complete with patches and a veritable forest of studs. I didn’t photograph (black, people) but repairs included the edge of one patch where it had ripped out, several worn spots in the seat and on the front, and that weird thing on the waistband with a zipper that isn’t actually a pocket. Even bought at Winners these are some of the most expensive pants he owns (not to mention his favourite) so WIN. I find myself eyeing my children’s wardrobes to see if they need any prophylactic darning…

… yeah, I’m probably in sewing withdrawal. I should have a bit of real time later today to work on my Bird on a Wire tee



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My mother is many things…

Not least of which is an enabler.

"New" Pfaff 360

Thank you, Mom. Merry Christmas.

This is a Pfaff 360. Some time in the 60s, it was a top of the line embroidery machine—that little colourful wheel thingy gives you the settings for the various stitches. My mom bought hers in the early 70s, second-hand, for about $250; this is still what a lot of them go for, from some quick googling. It’s the machine I learned on,  and measure every other machine against.

When I saw the case with the ribbon tied to the handle, I nearly had a heart attack, and had to open it up right away and check the attachments to make sure it wasn’t her machine. Fortunately, no. This is the machine a friend of my mom’s has been sitting on, but not actually using, for a while now.

This one has had a bit of a rougher life than my mom’s, I think. It’s a bit dinged up and the automatic threader is missing (not that I even knew it had one before Mom mentioned it.) The tension is giving me a bit of grief, although I think it’s just a little sticky and probably needs cleaning. I already messed around with some free motion satin-stitch embroidery and it sucked considerably less than I thought it would.

Every sewing machine feels a little different to “drive”, y’know? Some are zippy and light, some are sluggish, some are powerful. The Pfaff 360 isn’t as fast as my new Janome (or, for that matter, the old Army Machine, which when it’s going, goes like crazy), but it’s solid, powerful, and can chew through anything you can fit under the presser foot. And most importantly, it feels right.

The accessory box isn’t as extensive as my mom’s, (and in fact is missing some key pieces, like a zipper foot) but it does have a few that were missing from my collection—there’s a funny little keel that fits over the regular zigzag foot to work as a stitch-in-the-ditch foot and a buttonhole-measuring foot that had me thoroughly puzzled until Mom told me what it was. And it’s another low-shank machine, so the bits should be interchangeable with everyone else except the Army Machine.

Merry Christmas, everyone! I’m thoroughly overflowing with turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce, so I’m off to bed. Have a great night!


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The Grand Old Dame

The Pfaff 360

Long, long ago, but not so very far away, a young girl sat at her mother’s sewing machine, fiddling with the knobs. This one changed the stitch length—long and short. That one changed the width—straight to zig-zag to wider zig-zag. Another one—but that’s a story for another day.

This is the machine I learnt to sew on, the Pfaff 360. At the time of its

The Case

manufacture, sometime in the 1960s, it was a top-of-the-line embroidery machine. My mother bought it second-hand in the early seventies, complete with manual, carrying case (it’s “portable”), and more feet than you can shake a stick at.

I can’t recall particularly clearly how I learned to sew with this machine. I remember watching her sew on it,

Coming out of her shell...

explaining that you needed to backstitch at the start of a seam. I remember at some point her showing me how to clip seams. She must have showed me how to thread it, too, since I’m quite sure I didn’t figure that out on my own, and I have vague recollections of learning how to wind a bobbin. That was about the end of my sewing instruction.

Then, when I was nine or so, my best friend and I started making doll clothes. I think it began with the paper dolls, but it spread fairly quickly to our Barbies. Our tastes were decidedly mediaeval: we started with

the accessories.

tabards, moved on to T-tunics, eventually experimenting with vests, jackets, and pantaloons and even front-opening shirts. At the height of my doll-sewing I attempted a few fitted dresses and circle-skirts. Everything was closed and cinched in with belts; there were no other fasteners (beyond a few ties), no darts, no real gathering. Seam allowances were 1/4″, seam finishing was nonexistant (except for external, decorative zig-zags), and hems were usually just zig-zagged for a tight, embroidered contrast finish. The fabrics were anything I could salvage from the scrap bag or steal from my mother’s modest stash.

The manual, which is the closest I came to real sewing instruction for well over a decade. Unfortunately, like most manuals, it describes the mechanics without hinting at the myriad little difficulties that crop up...

And I sewed them all on my mother’s Pfaff. My friend’s mother’s machine was a 1980s Kenmore, and I never liked it half as much—the tension just wasn’t as even. Although it didn’t weigh quite as much as Lady Pfaff.

I never did figure out how to make her do the myriad of embroidery stitches illustrated on that round card, which were her specialty. It takes twiddling of a number of dials, as each stitch can be modified for width, length, and “side”, and then there’s another lever that basically engages or disengages all the embroidery settings (which is only mentioned in the last paragraph of the manual talking about them, and not illustrated). Too bad, because I would’ve had a lot of fun.

The Barbie clothes may not have been spectacular, but they left me with one major legacy: the powerful misconception that I could sew.

This misconception has stood me in good stead through the years since. When I took up bellydance in later high-school, it never occurred to me that I might not be able to make my own costumes (and, with the aid of the creative ladies I danced with, it turned out I could). It helped that tribal bellydance costumes, like the barbie-clothes, are often based on traditional, economical patterns (i. e. lots of squares, rectangles, and triangles). I still remember the moment I realized why “real patterns” had such wide seam allowances. (rrrrip! By the way, there have been many such lessons I’ve had to learn the hard way…)

The Ruffler

Which brings me to the ruffler foot.

I love this thing.

One of the major articles of tribal bellydance gear is the tiered skirt. Three or more tiers of gathered rectangles, adding up to at least 10 (but often up to 25 or beyond) linear yards of fabric at the hem. I wanted to make my own, and I didn’t want to gather it all by hand.

Some online research tipped me off to the existence of “ruffler feet”. They were apparently terrifyingly complex, unpredictable creatures, but capable, under the right circumstances, of creating instant ruffling without fuss or fidgetting. I had never seen one (nor a picture), but I set off to see if my mother’s machine had such an attachment. I pawed through the box (I still don’t know what half those feet are for, though my score is improving), and picked out the biggest, most frightening foot I could find—the one above. I had no idea how to even attach it to the machine, nevermind whether it was the one I was looking for.

I poked. I prodded. I figured out that the weird upper prongs fit around the screw that holds the needle in place (wtf?) and… I figured out how to ruffle. And pleat.

Once you’ve conquered the ruffler foot, surely there is little left to terrify you in the world of sewing-machines.

Well, maybe sergers, but anyway.

These photos were all taken in my mother’s upstairs hall because, against all

The crochet lampshade cover

expectations, we made it home for New Years! (and boy did we surprise them good 🙂 ). Tomorrow we drive back and Real Life resumes (/sniffle), but before that I thought I’d share the beginning of my sewing journey with you all—I’m just sad I wasn’t able to set her up and demonstrate some of those nifty stitches (or the crazy feet!)

And, to thank my mom for making her run up and down stairs hunting for the machine yesterday (and because I think it’s super cool), I want to show you her latest crafty creation: a crochet lamp-shade cover. Isn’t it gorgeous? Her own pattern (aka trial and error). Which just proves that she has way more patience than me!

An Antique Button Adventure

Coming soon: the fine line between “vintage” and “antique” and when stash becomes time capsule.


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