Sewing Machine Review: Pfaff Quilt Ambition 630 and How I Went About Selecting/ Upgrading My Sewing Machine

Pfaff Quilt Ambition 630

Hey Everyone,

There is so much that I want to say in this blog post…it’s going to be a long read and perhaps with some controversy thrown in! But here is a completely unbiased review of the Pfaff Quilt Ambition 630 with some comparisons between it and my previous machine, the Janome Memory Craft 4900 QC, and a Bernina 435. My wonderful husband bought me the Pfaff Quilt Ambition 630 as an early birthday present a couple of months ago, and I wanted to wait until I had really got to grips with the machine before writing a review. Ready? Let’s go!

About my Janome Memory Craft 4900 QC

Janome Memory Craft 4900 QC

Right from the outset I want to say that I loved my Janome machine. It was purchased in around 2010/ 2011 so I used it for approximately 8 years or so, and everything that you can see on this blog up until a couple of months ago was made using the Janome. For a starter machine it had some pretty advanced features (for it’s time) and I would not hesitate to recommend Janome to anyone. So why did I want to change the machine?

  1. After 8 years of heavy duty sewing, and almost continuous (read daily!) use, it was showing signs of wear. I was told by my repair guy that the nylon cam was showing signs of wear and it would probably need replacing in a couple of years. It’s not the cost of the nylon cam that would make that an expensive repair, but the labour costs to do the job.
  2. Much as I loved the Janome, the thing that I disliked the most about it was it’s capacity to sew very heavy/ thick fabrics and also the quality of it’s buttonholes.

I have not gotten rid of the Janome, by the way. It’s still in my sewing room and I think I will keep it, at least for now, as a back up machine. So that should tell you that I don’t hate it at all.

Why not a Bernina?

So, in my opinion, Bernina is considered the rolls royce of the sewing world. It has a reputation built on years of solid use by sewists world wide and is loved by many, and rightly so. Before selecting the Pfaff Quilt Ambition 630 I test drove a Bernina 435. Here are my honest reasons why I didn’t buy the Bernina:

  1. No automatic buttonhole sizing. I estimate I sew somewhere in the region of 100 buttonholes a year. The Bernina 435 did not offer automatic buttonhole sizing. I would have had to input button measurements in to the machine each time. For me, having been used to the Janome, this was a major deal breaker.
  2. I couldn’t see any difference in the quality of buttonholes made by the Bernina and the Pfaff. When I was test driving machines I took samples of fabrics of varying weights with me to try them out. I took a heavy boiled wool, a denim, a silk and a cotton. Neither machine was able to make a buttonhole on the boiled wool. But there did not seem to be any difference in buttonhole quality between the Bernina and the Pfaff on the samples I took. In fact, I ran a poll on Instagram to see which buttonholes people preferred, and the voting was overwhelmingly in favour of the Pfaff buttonholes (see images below).
  3. Price. Leading on from points one and two above, I concluded I couldn’t justify spending the extra money on the Bernina, which was out of my budget anyway. If I had been super impressed with the Bernina buttonhole function I would have spent the extra cash. But I honestly couldn’t justify spending the extra money.
  4. Cost of additional accessories for the Bernina 435. Coming from the Janome machine as I did, which had some great features on it and came with a variety of feet, I would have had to spend probably a couple of hundred pounds on top of the already more expensive Bernina price to get a Bernina machine with equivalent features. For example, I am one of those people who perpetually had a walking foot attached to the Janome machine. A walking foot was not included with the Bernina machine. Neither was an invisible zipper foot, a darning foot, or a button sewing foot etc. Bernina accessories are a lot more expensive in general, so it’s something to bear in mind if you are in the market to buy a new machine.
Buttonholes made on denim fabric using the Pfaff Quilt Ambition 630 (red) and a Bernina 435 (cream) (fronts of buttonholes)
Buttonholes made on silk fabric using the Pfaff Quilt Ambition 630 (red) and a Bernina 435 (cream)

About the Pfaff Quilt Ambition 630

Pfaff Quilt Ambition 630

Quite honestly, it took me a few weeks to get the Janome out of my system and get used to the Pfaff. It’s hard when you operate a piece of machinery almost on auto-pilot for years, and then you have to learn a new system! But who says an old dog can’t learn new tricks? Lol.

Here’s what I love about the Pfaff Quilt Ambition 630:

  • Touch screen makes finding stitches and customising your sewing easy. The menus are easy to navigate and follow.
  • A bigger sewing bed space of almost 8 inches in width, compared to approximately 6.5 inches on the Janome. Makes manoeuvring bulky projects easier.
  • More storage for accessories: storage compartments in the front and back of the machine bed.
  • Threading the machine is easier than threading the Janome. Honestly, all my sewing life I have lowered the needle down into the bobbin area to bring the bobbin loop up and it doesn’t always seem to work. With the Pfaff you don’t do that. You simply thread the bobbin thread into the needle plate thread guide (which, by the way has an in-built thread cutter) and that’s it! Mind. Blown. And I have not had a mis-threaded machine with the Pfaff yet.
  • You can wind the bobbin directly from the needle. So no need to re-thread the machine completely to fill a bobbin mid sewing project.
  • The Pfaff has the in-built IDT system which means no need for a separate walking foot. As mentioned above I had my walking foot permanently attached to the Janome, and it would have to be frequently tightened and cleaned. With the IDT system there is no need for a walking foot, and it is so easy to disengage the system, should you want too (and you do need to for some operations/ feet).
  • No oil machine. Easier to maintain.
  • Thread snips: life. changing. Such a great feature to cut threads at the press of a button.
  • Multi-purpose tool included (see images below) which is genuinely great as a hump jumper when sewing over thick seams, but can also be used to hold the needle when changing needles and to create thread shanks when sewing on buttons.
  • Thread cutting tool at bobbin winder.
  • Options to save personal stitches, sequences and mirroring stitches.
  • Continuous back stitch option. Can’t think when I would need to use this, but it’s there if I want it. Lol.
Pfaff Quilt Ambition 630 touch screen
Pfaff Quilt Ambition 630 seam gauges and bobbin thread guide with in built thread cutter
Pfaff Quilt Ambition 630 in-built IDT system
Pfaff Quilt Ambition 630 bobbin winder and thread cutter
Pfaff Quilt Ambition 630 multi-purpose tool

Here’s what I don’t love about the Quilt Ambition 630:

  • I don’t like the imperial seam allowance marker positions. They feel like they are set too far back from the needle position. So I have now marked my preferred seam allowance positions using washi tape.
  • Can’t sew buttonholes back to back. This was something I did infrequently on the Janome, but it was there just in case I wanted too. When making buttonholes on the Janome, the needle would return to the starting position so you could sew a second buttohole directly on top of the first, should you want too. With the Pfaff, the needle stops at the far end of the buttonhole and I can’t see that you can repeat a second buttonhole on top of the first.

Overall conclusions on the Pfaff Quilt Ambition 630

Just look back over the blog posts (and my Instagram account) that I have published in the last couple of months to see some of the fabrics I have already sewn using the Pfaff Quilt Ambition 630. They include denim, leather, wool, satin, sweatshirt fabric, viscose crepe and tencel. My new machine has handled everything with ease. I have made buttonholes on denim and lightweight fabric with no issues. I have topstitched leather and installed zippers. I have had no regrets about upgrading my machine. Again, I will say that there was nothing wrong with the Janome machine, and I am very privileged to be able to afford a lovely new machine. Upgrading has just made the sewing experience more pleasurable for me.

Any questions or comments please leave them down below. All the thoughts expressed in this post are my own and I can completely appreciate you may not agree with me. Be kind though 🙂

Until soon!

Posted by

By day I work in the exciting world of pharmaceutical regulatory affairs, registering medicines (!), but by night I turn in to a sewing diva, making all manner of clothes in my beautiful sewing space (which you can tour using the link at the top of this blog). I love how sewing and sewing clothes that fit my curvy body continually challenges me. I enjoy working with all different types of fabric, and whilst I don't like to put restrictions on myself and say I won't buy RTW, the truth is that I probably rarely do buy it, preferring the fit of my own me-made clothes. I love to use natural fibres where ever possible and colourful coats are an obsession of mine! Sewing is both my addiction and my therapy. You can contact me at sewmanju@yahoo.co.uk

56 thoughts on “Sewing Machine Review: Pfaff Quilt Ambition 630 and How I Went About Selecting/ Upgrading My Sewing Machine

  1. I hope you thoroughly enjoy your new machine. You absolutely did your research. I would love to have the IDT or a Bernina 700 series with the built in even feed. I would have to give up a lot of my presser feet to go to the D system so I am still stitching on my 10 year old Bernina 730 e. I completely agree with your assessment of the Janome and thick fabric. After my 9000 I swore I would never get another one!

    1. Congradulation lady, lve owned a Pfaff for 30 years and had it serviced one time. I love it.Iam very happy for you and your new toy,you are in for a treat.sgr.

  2. Thanks for the thorough review! I’m wondering what you thought of the stitch quality between the Pfaff and Bernina?

  3. I’m in the market for a new machine too so I leapt on this review! I love the sound of the Pfaff and I was leaning in that direction. I was a bit disappointed to read that you can’t sew two buttonholes directly on top of each other – I always do this – but then I do that because my machine hates making buttonholes with topstitching thread and they look ‘weak’ otherwise. your buttonholes look good! Was this with regular or topstitching thread? I think the way you roadtested it in the shop with different fabrics was ideal and I’ll be sure to do the same. Thanks for the review Manju x

    1. Hi Sarah, I never make buttonholes in topstitching thread…only in regular thread. And when I make jeans I buy a matching regular Gutermann thread to go with the topstitching one so that I can make buttonholes with it. I think overall the Pfaff buttonholes are good. I am happy with them…so far! So far I can’t see that you can do two buttonholes on top of each other, but if I find out differently I will let you know. Hope you get something you love.

  4. I have Pfaff Ambition Essential (no longer made) and I’m really happy with it. You should be able to sew buttonholes back to back – I can with mine. I have to keep sewing until the machine stops automatically, it does a few slow stitches on the stop before stopping. Once it’s done that you can go straight to the next one.

  5. I really appreciate a review where the reviewer spent their own money, it cannot help but more honest. So many reviews are “company sent me a top of the line thing for free and it’s amazing” – I’m sure they’re not intentionally biased but it has to impact your experience.

  6. Great review and comparison! I recently upgraded (from a mechanical Janome) and when testing between Bernina and Pfaff I chose the Bernina 435. For me, it just felt a bit more solid – but like you mentioned it does hurt to have to fork out the dollars for the extra feet (the walking foot was the first one I ordered). Still, I’ve no regrets and it’s sewed everything beautifully for me so far!
    The other day I was reading a book about the current day couture house of Chanel – and they were sewing on a Janome! It was a little reminder to me that there are so many great machines out there (and not just one “good” brand) and at the end of the day they are simply the tools we use to make our creative pursuits come to life.

    1. Great point Rebecca…we don’t all drive the same car, so why would we all sew on the same machine? You have to find the one that suits your needs/ budget and likes.

  7. Love your blog, being following for a while now (going to give Newlook 6000 a chance based on your blog post of your version, I’m similarly shaped ☺️).

    As much as I love my Bernina 380 (now discontinued), it needs an extra step (threading the bobbin thread through the hole on the shuttle) in order to give a decent button hole; while my very cheap Brother makes beautiful button hole straight out of the box. Why the 435 doesn’t come with a walking foot beats me, because my 380 did and it was almost £400 cheaper than the 435!

  8. Great review. I started out on my mother’s PFAFF and bought one of my own. I loved it for years. Several years ago when I needed to replace the PFAFF because there are three parts they don’t make any more (so sad), I had a difficult decision. I absolutely LOVE the IDT. However, where I live, the people I would depend upon to service the machine were not reliable and now they are not even in business. And they really only wanted to work on Brother machines, not PFAFFs. So I reluctantly switched to BabyLock because of the great service I get from the locals. PFAFFs are excellent. And mine ploughed through any fabric I gave it. I think you will be happy. And, the IDT system will spoil you rotten! I like the BabyLock and it has some nice features but I miss my PFAFF! 🙂 Happy sewing and thank you for the review.

    1. Thanks for the comment Deb. Yes, I bought my machine local to me and I do think ease of servicing is something you should take into account when buying a sewing machine. I should have mentioned that above.

  9. Thanks for this comprehensive review it is extremely helpful. My basic machine is mechanical, also with my walking foot attachment. The upgrade possibilities have always seemed uncertain and expensive. I am happy to have your review to refer to. I enjoy your blog and following your creative sewing journey.

  10. Interesting review. I bought a basic Bernina 330 a couple of years ago, though it was still pretty expensive. It’s a very solid machine but I didn’t realise when I bought it that I cannot adjust the foot pressure so it’s a bit rubbish at sewing knits. (I still have to get my late mother’s 40 year old Frister Rossmann out for T-shirts.) Generic feet do not fit Berinas so I forked out for an expensive invisible-zip foot. I’ve never used a walking foot. Worth the money? I have mild regrets about the Bernina and may part-exchange it at some point. That said, it is in constant use and withstands it. I think it will last for decades. Interesting that your Janome is showing wear and tear after only 8 years. I will check out Pfaff.

  11. What a great review! I have been mostly happy with my Janome but now I want a Pfaff….. lol!!! Off to research them!

  12. Interesting review. I have had Janome for years and about 18 months ago I bought a 2nd hand 215 Bernina which was like new. I do like it but I haven’t made a button hole on it because it looks a little trickier than the Janome. I also note the bobbin threader and cutter on the Pfaff is the same as a Brother I had NS30 (which I found on the street nearly new with a tin full of cheap thread… know how that story ends – I gave that one to my niece). There is a lot of snobbery about Bernina and although I got it for a steal and sew on it at the moment, I do not think it is any better than an equivalent Janome. The Brother also sewed very nicely. I have bought and sold lots of machines but I think the best stitch I have seen have been on the older Elnas. Beautiful stitching. I just got two old Elnas given to me but they’ll have to wait till after a trip in a little while.

    1. Thanks for your comment. I have not tried an Elna but have heard good things. I think it’s important to buy a brand that you know you can get serviced/ repaired etc close to you. That’s why Elna/ Juki weren’t options for me.

  13. A great , honest review. These are very informative for all of us. I happen to have 2 vintage Berninas-a 1230 (recently purchased) and a 1630 ( which I bought new 23 years ago) ; as well as a 710 which I have had for about 3 years. I do not do embroidery, the vintage machines are work horses. There are things I do not live about my 710; I don’t think the straight stitch is a beautiful as in the other 2 machines but the task lighting is great as well as the automatic foot drop when you start sewing. I bought my 1630 because I wanted the knee lift feature and it was the only machine that had it at that time. Machines are very personal and my advise is to try to buy a machine you can get serviced near you!! Love your blog and Instagram.

  14. Machines are such a personal decision and it must feel amazing to really invest in this one. I’ve had little choice in my last few machines (donated or given to me) and the day I go shopping, I think I’ll be in for sticker shock! There are so many good options out there, thank you for walking us through why you picked yours.

  15. Love my Berninas…gifted by husband after beating cancer. That said, I still have my older Pfaff, European made, which has been discontinued. Nothing today has as beautiful a straight stitch for top stitching.

  16. great review with so many good and useful observations. that threading the bobbin feature in the machine would be nice! I’m not one for upgrading my machine, I feel that the sewing machine is less than 25% of making a great garment and as long as I have a reliable straight stitch I’m happy. although I do have the thread cut feature and it is so fun to press that button! Buttonholes are a concern always, and I use my vintage Singer with the attachment to make buttonholes on anything special – as you can change the shape/length and go around multiple times.

  17. Thank you for your thorough review! I am beginning to research new machines – mostly love my Babylock Ellure (original) which also does embroidery, so that will be a factor in a replacement machine.
    LOVE all your reviews and projects!!

  18. A few years ago I tested a few machines and was surprised to find that I wasn’t sold on the expensive, TOL Bernina and much preferred the Pfaff I tested. So it’s been in the back of my mind to upgrade to a Pfaff eventually. 2 years ago, I bought a new Singer (Quantum stylist 9985) and it really is pretty darned good for the price point ~$500 (REALLY good buttonholes!). I do feel like I “need” (haha!), the IDT and boy I’d love a knee lift!

    Congratulations on your new machine!!!

    1. Thanks Kisha. This machine doesn’t actually have the knee lift, but my old Janome does, and do you know what? I never once used that feature, which is why I didn’t bother about it too much on this machine. Each to their own, though eh?

  19. Great review, Manju-—thank you. 🥰 Currently sewing with a used Bernina and happy with it, but I haven’t made any buttonholes in the eleven years I’ve owned it. Perhaps someday … 🤔 This is great info to have, and really changed my thinking about Pfaffs, which don’t seem to be too well known over here. Enjoy your new machine❣️

  20. Thanks for your review Manju – its a great comparison! Bernina’s have been in our family all my life – I sew all my own clothes and do quilting – I have a 36 years old Bernina 900, and a 20 year old Bernina Virtuosa. The buttonholes of the 900 are still the best! I’m currently sewing a quilt for my granddaughter on the Virtuosa and the freehand quilting is rather difficult on a non-quilting machine. Your blog inspired me so much – I am going to check out the Pfaff this coming week. I think its time to change my thinking and invest in a modern affordable machine that allows me to quilt and do normal sewing equally well. Enjoy your Pfaff – your sewing is beautiful!

  21. Hi, thanks for the review and side by side pics. Wondering if you can show how you marked seam allowances with the washi tape. My Brother doesn’t have a 3/8” mark and it drives me nuts. Also, if you don’t want to divulge the prices of these machines, could you give us a ballpark? (I hope I didn’t miss it if you shared that.) Upgrading machines is so daunting, I always shy away. And the prices of the Berninas just about stops my heart!

    1. Hi, if you look at my photographs you will see that all my seam allowances are already marked on my machine. I just laid a piece of tape along side the 5/8ths seam allowance marker so it was longer and easier for me to read. You should measure 3/8ths inch from your needle and mark it. As for prices, it is easy enough for people to just input the names of the machines in to Google and get actual prices.

  22. Hi Manny, I stumbled upon your article. It was very helpful and the comments are great help too. What a sticker shocked when I look at the new sewing machines and sergers. I am in the market for a new serger, my current serger is over 20 years old and can’t handle anything too bulky. I am torn between an air thread serger and a serger that can do cover stitches. Any air thread sergers cost over US$1200!!! I would like to know if you use a serger often and do you have an opinion on sergers.

    1. Hi Sherri. At the same time when I upgraded my machine I also upgraded my overlocker and went for a Babylock Enspire airthreader. I have to say it is absolutely amazing and, although it was not cheap, I would not hesitate to recommend it. Previously I had a Janome one (sorry can’t remember the model number right now) and whilst it was ok, it would struggle to sew through thick fabrics (or even not so thick fabrics) and was quite temperamental. I don’t sew stretch fabrics enough to justify purchasing a cover stitch machine so cannot comment on that. But for me, I do use my overlocker a lot to finish inside seam allowances and so I definitely recommend Babylock. I know that other companies have now launched air threading machines but I have heard they are not as good. Hope that helps.

  23. Congrats on your new machine-how exciting to have a new toy. I started my sewing journey on a singer that had lots of nice features for the time and replaced it with a Viking that I feel I paid way too much for, since I never bonded with it. A few years ago, stuck on the other end of the country, I invested in a higher end Janome (though not TOLj and I loved the new features like autothread cutting, the accu-feed system etc. So far it’s done anything i’ve asked it to, including heavy coating. 🙂 I agree with you that good buttonholes are important and ease in making them. I would also prefer the ability to wind a bobbin in the bobbin case, as I had that feature on my singer. It sounds like you really found a machine you love 🙂

  24. Extraordinary review. It’s so important to feel confident and comfortable with your machine. Has anyone come across a decent machine that is less than $150? I’ve been asked to recommend an inexpensive machine (I while away the hours on my beloved Bernina, even though the buttonholes, as you point out, are not the absolute best.) Anyoen have any suggestions for a non-frustrating lower end machine? Thanks

    1. I have a recommendation for a lower end machine! I was stunned when I took a chance on a Brother XR3340 (I think) at Costco for $179. My 20 year old Kenmore (made by janome) was pitching fits at sewing active wear and I took a chance on the inexpensive Brother because I love my little Brother SE400 for embroidery. I’m sooo glad I did. Even stitches, good to me buttonholes, drop in bobbin with the thread path, cute decorative stitches, just a good basic machine at an amazing price…I’ve seen it as low as $140. I recommended it a friend and she was surprised by how much she liked the machine, as well. Costco has a generous return policy, so if you do not like it, you can simply return it.

  25. Congrats on the new machine!! I had a Pfaff until a couple of years ago, and it was OK until I wanted to make buttonholes, so I’m glad that Pfaff finally got that figured out! LOL! I switched to a Juki, and I like it a lot, even if I haven’t had as much time for sewing lately. I do miss that Pfaff presser foot with the little red marks on it though–I could make perfect topstitching every time with it, the Juki foot, not so much (yet!). I completely understand the Bernina thing, I tried out several, but just didn’t love any of them nearly as much as the dealerships do.

  26. I’ve had a Pfaff quilt expressions 4.2 for about 4 years now and I absolutely love it. I used to have the most basic Brother before that so the upgrade was huge. I could sew on the Brother, but Pfaff makes things so much easier. I love that you can stop with the needle down/presser foot slightly up, perfect for pivoting. Also the slight press of the pedal lifts/lowers the foot. Maybe these are features most machines have, but like I said… Brother 🙂

    Another thing I like is how wide the stitched can be. I like to use the shortest 3 step zig zag as a securiong/bartcak stitch. The feed dogs don;t move that much with that stitch, so things stay in place, i.e. when you need to secure a belt loop. And someone mentioned above the little red lines on the presser foot – perfect for even topstitching!

    Re buttonholes – I never thought of going over one twice (unless with a small zig zag if I accidentaly cut into the threads) but with the Pfaf you can set the stitch density, if that’s why you went over twice?
    I like the Pfaff buttonholes in general, but mine has a problem with making them on heavier garments. A straight buttonholes would work on anything, but the keyhole ones end up looking very crooked on coats/blazers. I think the special foot is not strong enough to evenly feed so much heavy fabric.

    I don’t think mine can wind the bobbin from the needle, I’ll check the manual but I’m pretty sure I would’ve remembered that!

    Does yours snip the threads very close to the fabric? Mine leaves little tails that I need to snip again after, so I don’t normally use that function.

    I think you made a great choice, the IDT alone is great!

  27. Thank you for your review. I went to the Pfaff store yesterday. I looked at the 630 and 2.0 and picked up brochures on both. I read the brochures thoroughly and compared the 2. I am leaning towards the 2.0 and did not find differences between the 2. Could not stay at the store because I had my grandchildren with me. Looking forward to returning this week.

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