Oct 11, 2013

Pfaff Quilt Expression 4.0 review

Kristin of Sew Mama sew asked for sewing machine reviews to update the great list of sewing machines you can find right here and I happily complied because it is such a pain to find the right sewing machine and nobody wrote about my model yet. So here goes:

What brand and model do you have and how long have you had it?
How much does that machine cost (approximately)?
I have a Pfaff Quilt-Expression 4.0 which i bought in 2009 and which costs around 1.300,-€ these days (2013).

What types of things do you sew?
I use this machine mostly for patchwork piecing and quilting. I recently started working with knits which works very well with this machine, too.
My other sewing like laminated pouches, bags and home dec stuff I do mostly on another machine.

How much do you sew? How much wear and tear does the machine get?
I sew several hours per week, sometimes more, sometimes less.

Do you like/love/hate your machine? Are you ambivalent? Passionate? Does she have a name?
I really like my Pfaff machine! It is sturdy and heavy and does wonderful topstiching/quilting lines.
She is a bit of a diva, though, because with too many fabric layers she sometimes gets slightly annoyed and reports an "overwhelmed motor". Poor thing. But after a few seconds she´s good to go again.

What features does your machine have that work well for you?
The knee lift/lever is awesome and really addictive once you get used to it. The very wide throat of this machine is so helpful with quilting bigger quilts! There´s much less wrangling going on.. And I really appreciate the integrated thread cutter as well: it safes a lot of thread, especially when quilting the middle part of big quilt. And of course the built in walking foot is great for quilting, too, but also for very thin fabrics or laminates. The bobbin thread sensor is very helpful, too, as it warns you soon enough when your bobbin case gets empty.

I don´t use the integrated needle threader very much, but that´s a nice feature. As are the over 200 stiches, which I honestly don´t use, too.

And I don´t use the machine for free motion quilting (yet), so there´s something I really can´t vouch for.

Is there anything that drives you nuts about your machine?
There actually are two things I really don´t get:

When you press the backstich button the next stich will still go forward before then going backwards. This annoyed me to no end in the beginning and I still don´t understand why the "German innovative Design"ers (quoted directly from the brochure) invented it like this.
However, you get used to it pretty fast and just learn to press that button soon enough :-)

The manual really is a joke: it does get you going, but just the very basics are covered, it is definitely nothing to live up to the possibilities of this machine. That´s a real pity!

Would you recommend the machine to others? Why?
Yes, I would recommend this machine because the points on the plus side do outweigh the few negative things. I never had any real problems with this machine although I use it often and frequently, it works like clockwork and is very reliable.
For piecing and especially straight line quilting the Quilt Expression is such a wonderful machine!

What factors do you think are important to consider when looking for a new machine?
I don´t believe you can have just one machine for all your sewing needs if you are a very versatile sewist with sometimes kind of difficult materials like silk, laminates, tarp or leather.

You have to decide what you mostly want to use it for. I do have another, much cheaper machine as a "workhorse" for sewing over zippers or through very thick layers of laminates and lining.

Do you have a dream machine?
No, I am quite happy with what I have, it works for me.
From time to time i toy with the idea of getting a serger, too, but then that´s not really necessary or affordable right now so I try to keep my impulses in check..

I am sorry I don´t have any cute or funny story to tell you about my machine (it doesn´t even have a name!): I bought it online after comparing features and prices of different companies for the amount of money I could spend at that time - really boring :-)
But I believe I got a reliable, good quality tool/machine for a reasonable price and until now it totally payed off!

If you have any more questions: please do ask, I am happy to help :-)

And if you want to submit your own machine/story, you should do so right here.


  1. I have the QE 4.0 too that I bought last March.
    Agree with 'DIVA' and the 'Manual'.
    However, I love the built in walking foot (IDA) and straight stitching. I've used some of the decorative stitches and love those as well.
    One of the reasons I bought it was the ability to do a 9mm wide buttonhole - love this machine for buttonholes as well. I will also post my machine review - when I get a freer moment.

    Happy sewing!

    1. Hi Kathy, thanks for commenting! Yes, I think "diva" is appropriate.. :-) Can´t wait to read your review..

  2. I have the same machine and pretty well agree with what you have said. The bobbin sensor thing drives me nuts although you can by pass it, the bobbin still has plenty of thread and would be a waste if you took it as gospel and changed it. My biggest grouch is what I call a design fault - I dislike the sloped front and lip/dip where the bobbin cover is situated. I have overcome the problem by always using the acrylic extension table, otherwise my sewing would constantly slide away from needle. I adore Pfaff machines, but am wondering if they are still as good as the older models, but I'm not going to change it. The manual is short on information and help, very basic. The machine does do lovely stitching and has plenty of stitch variety.

    1. Deb, good point about the bobbin sensor: i do ignore it for some time after it started beeping because i don´t want to waste that much left-over thread, too. It is nice to get an alert though. And I am with you about the bobbin cover situation: that´s not really thought trough.. Sometimes I think those designers just should have had asked a sewist! :-)

  3. I have the same machine as well... and it drives me nuts. I keep running to seller at least once a month because things just don't work right. First is was the thread cutter... and now I started free motion quilting and this is far from convenient sewing. either the foot of the machine just keeps hanging in the air and does not press down to the fabric - which makes sewing impossible and you must pay attention to press the foot down bottom (which is when I wish the machine would have the manual foot down lever)... or the other option is that the foot works great but the machine tells me that the fabric is too thick... even at one layer fabric. Is this also a stupid designer's fault and does your machine do the same or is it just my machine being a "Friday Car"? I would appreciate if you would get back to me about this, I would love to know if your machine does the same!

    1. So sorry to hear that, Carolin! I heard about the thread cutter thing before but this should be fixed easily with a new blade. I remember I read quite some negative reviews before buying this machine but I guessed these would be not representative but just stand out on the web because happy customers usually don´t write nearly as much or "loud" as unhappy customers. And for my machine this was totally true: I don´t have any problems like your do with this machine, so your model might be a "Friday Model"...

      Even my tries to free motion quilting were totally ok by the machine - just not very pretty because I suck at fmq :-)

      Keep bringing it back in to your dealer and let them fix or even exchange it for another model. This is a good machine! Good luck with your machine!!

    2. I returned mine to the dealer again on Saturday... If there is still troubles with it afterwards I will return it. Although it is a good machine, I grew tired of it. I am now eager for the Elna eXcellence 760. I have done fmq with it before, and for me it is essential that this is working properly and I find it more convenient. This machine even comes with a quilting table, which the Pfaff machine did not. We will see what comes next...

    3. Well, good luck with your machine, Caro, seems like I can´t say that enough :-) Sometimes things don´t work out, but I am sure you will find the machine of your dreams! Maybe it´s the refurbished Pfaff..

  4. About the needle going forward a stitch before the reverse- I HATE that! My old machine would do that and it would drive me nuts, when I was looking for a new machine that was one of the top things I wanted to make sure I avoided. I went with a Pfaff Ambition 1.5 and it doesn't, thank goodness.. I wonder why they do that with your machine? Even super expensive Berninas were going forward before going backwards.

    1. thanks for commenting, Michelle, I really don´t get this backwards-thing either. At this day and age one should think this would be an easy thing to do better but apparently it is not if even the pricey Bernina machines have this quirk..

  5. I also have qe4 but this machine has two big problems: the first is a thread tension , the second is that eat the fabric when you start sewing. I have fixed my machine changing the upper tension sistem.


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