My Pfaff Grand Quilter

I get questions about my machine quilting  and what machine I have all the time so I thought I would answer a few of the questions.

I have a Pfaff Grand Quilter along with a Next Generation Quilt Frame.


For the most part, I like it.   For the first year, I hated it.  It was like everything else….getting used to something new is hard.  I had to read the directions every time I put a quilt in the frame.

The next two years…I loved and used it like a workhorse.

This last year…I’ve been back to not liking it so much.  I have had problems with the frame….the ratchets have broken and all but one have been replaced.   I’ve been plagued with issues regarding thread breakage and shredding.  These were all SUPER frustrating.

Since my last issue with Kelli’s quilt, things are all better.  I have replaced the thread plate, the feed dog covers on the machine and now I have all new track on the frame.  Cheap…no.  Expensive.  I’ve invested about $200 to get it working properly again.   Keep in mind, I personally have done about 60 projects using it, my girlfriends 6 projects and my daughters, 15 projects.  Totaling about 81 projects in the four years I’ve had it.  Most of this was in the last 2.5 years…I didn’t use it much at first.

I paid about $3200 for it.  With the repair costs and the original price it has cost about $42 per item quilted, some of these have been baby quilts and some king size quilts…that cost doesn’t include thread.  Thread can be expensive.

Here’s a little picture of my daughter Kelli and the machine it in action…


That gives you a little idea of what it’s like if you are thinking of purchasing a machine of your own.

Here’s a few other things to think about if you are considering purchasing something like this….When I purchased mine, I thought I would be able to do pantograph designs.  I can’t.  The machine comes with beautiful pattern for them but they really don’t work.  As the finished area of the quilt rolls on the take up bar, it uses available area.  As I quilt along and get to the end of the quilt, the area is less and less.  The designs no longer fit in the allotted area.  I am told this is something that has improved with the newer models…but with that comes a larger cost.

I have gotten email and suggestions from people to take the quilt out and work from the opposite end…not me.  I don’t care for that.

I have gotten email and offers from others to send me their personally designed pantograph designs that are narrower…I appreciate the offers, but that isn’t for me either.  I just like “winging it”.  I free hand or free motion everything.  I like that.  I like watching the thread go into the fabric, not a laser going along the paper.

I don’t have a stitch regulator and I don’t have a Q-bot.  These make your stitches more uniform and can even make it stitch a design on it’s own.

This machine is not for everyone.  Some want bigger and more beautiful…some don’t want to touch anything to do with machine quilting.  I like it and now that I figured out why the thread is shredding I like it ever better.

The shredding thread issue was resolved by bypassing the thread guide.
Here’s a photo of the thread guide I am bypassing.


Since I started bypassing that thread guide I have had ZERO problems with shredded thread.  If you own a machine like this and are having trouble with shredding thread, try it.  It might work for you too.

I’ve thought about getting a bigger better machine but I asked about trade in value…I was told they wouldn’t take my frame and the machine was worth about $800.  Well, that means I’ll be keeping mine.  There is one on ebay with an updated frame, $2200.  That’s a great deal.

I am not a professional quilter and have no want or need to quilt for others so this is what works for me.  Hopefully it will hold together for another 80 quilts.

P.S.  If you missed my giveaway, you can check it out here.

20 thoughts on “My Pfaff Grand Quilter”

  1. I have the exact same machine as you Jo minus the frame – I quilt with it table top. Lately I have been considering the Imperial frame to go with it. I quilt all of my own quilts and I enjoy machine quilting but I think that a frame might just make it a bit easier for me. I don’t usually have trouble with thread shredding on this machine but if I do my first step will be to bypass that thread guide.

  2. Very informative! Thanks so much for sharing! I figure that it is cheaper for me to have my quilts done by a professional. I’m not at the stage of completing enough projects to make it affordable. Have a wonderful Sunday!

  3. Got an email today about the Handi Quilter Sweet 16 about $5000 and you get a table and a free Baby Go Cutter with several dyes. Very tempting. I’ve been using a DSM with pretty good results so far. Funny but my thread keeps coming out of the similar thread guide so I finally just left it out. I am researching quilt machines so thanks for this info.

  4. I think we all have love/hate relationships with our quilters no matter what size they are! I started with a Juki on the Little Gracie II frame, once I figured out the right thread / tension combination, I was in love. Sold that system and moved ‘up’ to a Tin Lizzy that is also on a Grace Co. frame. Still a love/hate relationship but I do really enjoy the extra space I have to quilt in. I don’t do pantos, have tried the laser – it’s okay- but I do prefer just ‘going for it’ on my own.
    I’m glad you found the ‘fix’ for your shredding thread.

  5. THANK YOU… this post was great, very informative. I would love to be able to do my own quilts. I can not afford or justify a longarm. You mentioned getting another machine. Would you go with Pfaff again or do you have your eye on something else?

  6. I had the same machine/frame for 2 yrs. I thought the machine was a workhorse, but the frame could be better designed. Had to replace the plastic wheels and tracks with aluminum. The saggy bars were also one of my picky points. I was able to do about 20 quilts on mine, but I was able to replace it with a used HQ16 on the Pro Portable frame. I really like the space, but still working thru tension issues. I have done 15 small quilts and 2 queens on it since Sept. 1

  7. Thanks for sharing the info. I have been wondering about your machine. Unfortunately, I don’t have the money or space for the quilt frame right now. I also don’t have enough time to quilt to make the machine pay for itself.

  8. I have the same quilting table. But the ratchet need replacing. Where can I order those? I just got the machine and set up. I can’t wait to get started.

  9. had my pfaff grand quilter in for its yearly cleaning. since I got if back I have NOT been able to quilt not one top. skipped stitches. we have the manual and the schematic. can’t figure out what the tech. did to my perfectly functioning machine. everything is the same as when it worked back in Oct. same thread. same needles. always cotton fabric. this is driving us crazy. it worked and now it does not . any suggestions. Help!

  10. I bought the same machine, but I have the Gracie frame. When you begin to practice what speed do I use to begin, and start quilting without breaking thread, do I start fast?

    1. I have moved on and purchased an APQS Millennium. I never did figure out how to get the thread to not break. My best suggestion is to remove the machine and piece with it as it is an AMAZING machine for piecing. It’s not a decent long arm machine.

  11. I am new at trying this, but my problem is sticling and skipping stitches. I have the tension perfect…finally and have replaced the O-rings on the encoders, so could this be related to the rails the encoders ride on, as it does not feel like they are always turning as you move the machine.

  12. 22birdwalk. I am having issues with my pfaff grand 18.8 in it quitting with messages of motor messages. Any suggestions?

  13. WOW…thanks for this review/tips. I definitely need to dial-back my expectations on successful FMQ right out the gate and come to terms with practice, practice, practice (even if it takes a year before I stitch something that doesn’t make me cringe…LOL!!!)

  14. What is the average life of a Pfaff Long Arm Power Quilter? I keep getting motor errors – just stops quilting with needle down – like the arm won’t turn. It was making a very loud noise and the shop took it in and replaced a part; now I am getting motor errors. Bought it new in 2011.

    thanks for any tips

    1. I had a 1200 Grand Quilter. It had no computer to send any message. It was terrible for a long arm. I use mine to piece and for that, it’s fabulous. I went on and bought a APQS. I HIGHLY recommend them.

  15. As thanks for your great review, here are my tips: For that thread that keeps breaking in the guide: I had that situation in a different machine. I finally took the guide apart (had to figure out to use a screw driver on a Swiss army knife that would bend 90 degrees) and found a big wad of thread in there. I couldn’t believe it as I could not see it at all! I cleaned all the metal to make it slippery again, reassembled, and it’s been fine for a couple years.
    If your top thread tension is always set really high or really low, time to adjust that bobbin tension until the top thread can be set for mid tension. The other thing for thread breaks would be needle size, try to go up one size for a little bigger hole and groove.

  16. I have the Pfaff 1200 and the next Generation frame. I have my frame reenforced by using Condet that they use for electical cords. Rods no longer bend. I bought a stitch regulator which does wonders for quilting. Even though it works good I am not confident is quilting large quits. So I have it for sale. It also has new track and new wheeels.

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