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
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?
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
About the 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.
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 🙂