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Home » PFAFF » Pfaff Quilt Expression 4.2 » Getting The Quilt Expression 4.2 Ready For The Test Drive

Getting The Quilt Expression 4.2 Ready For The Test Drive

by Jennifer Houlden

Whenever an avid sewer or quilter gets a new machine, the first thing they think about is taking it for a test drive but getting the Pfaff Quilt Expression 4.2 ready for the test drive is of utmost importance before actually taking the test drive. It’s critical to read the manual first before driving the Pfaff Quilt Expressions 4.2, it’s a fine tuned machine just like a Porshe or Jaguar and requires certain things to be set just so.

Yesterday I took the Quilt Expression 4.2 out of the box and set it up in the studio. I checked out many of its external features and was very impressed with what it has to offer.

I know that most of you do not actually take the time to read the manual as we are too excited to just jump in and start sewing but to learn about a machine and what it can do does require a bit of reading and watching.

So I read the manual to find out all about the machine. You too can read the user manual for the Quilt Expression 4.2 online if you wish, and learn all about its features and functions.

There are also some fantastic videos on You Tube that go through the machine from top to bottom.

As the rain continues to pour down outside, I’m happy as a clam to have a studio day to test drive this machine.

User manual

User manual

Threading the Machine

Every machine is different in how it’s threaded but they still all have to have a spool holder somewhere. This machine has both a horizontal and vertical holder for the thread. I’m very happy about this because I do prefer my thread to be in the vertical position and there are many machines that do not accommodate this but the Quilt Expression 4.2 does – yahoo!

Horizontal Holder

The holder is under the top plate that opens up to reveal the spool holders as well as the bobbin winding gear.

Thread area under the top lid

Thread area under the top lid

Spool Caps

It’s recommended to use the spool caps that came in the accessory bag. To be honest I have never used these with my other machines but I’m going to use this one and see if it makes a difference. I suspect the thread will wind off the spool more evenly. There are 2 large ones, a medium and small one as well as a felt pad.

Various sized spool caps

Various sized spool caps

The horizontal spool holder requires a cap on both ends of the spool. Make sure the pointy end of the cap is away from the spool.

Spool on horizontal holder

Spool on horizontal holder

Note the thread caps at each end of the spool.

Vertical Spool Holder

The horizontal holder is raised into an upright position to become the vertical spool holder. This holder requires a cap at the bottom of the spool with the felt pad between the cap and spool. This allows the spool to sit upright and straight as the cap is concave. If a cap is at the top of the spool it will not spin around properly and then there will be thread issues.

Spool on vertical holder

Spool on vertical holder

Close up of felt pad between spool and cap

Close up of felt pad between spool and cap

Threading the Needle

To thread the machine the first time I followed the diagrams in the manual to guide the thread through the machine down to the needle and it was easy peasy.

Once at the needle I used the in line needle threader to thread the needle. Perfect for those of us with again eyes who have difficulty seeing that little hole where the thread is suppose to go through. There have been times when I have had to get my husband to thread the needle for me and then I never hear the end of it. One day he will be this old too I tell him.

The needle threader is really slick but I do recommend putting the presser foot in the down position to give the threader just a bit more room to do its magic. Just follow the instructions in the manual and threading will be a cinch every time.

Needle threader

Needle threader

The Needle

The needle used will depend on the type of fabric and thread being used. There are so many different types of needles with different uses. Some of the more common ones used in quilting are universal, topstitch, quilting, microtex and metafil. The Schmetz needle guide is a valuable PDF with information regarding needles and thread and how each differ and what they should be used for.

And one of the most commonly asked questions when I’m teaching is, ‘How often should I change my needle?’ The answer to that is after 8 – 10 hours of sewing. Because I do a lot of sewing I end up changing my needle with every major project – you may not be changing quite as frequently. A sharp needle makes for a much nicer stitch and leaves a smaller hole as it pierces the fabric.

The Bobbin

As with threading a machine, winding a bobbin is different for every machine as well. This time I really did have to follow the instructions and diagram in the manual to get it right. The way I thought the thread should go was not the way it went.

The bobbin winder is just to the right of the spool holder. And to make it more convenient to wind the bobbin there is a second vertical spool holder to hold the bobbin thread so that you don’t have to unthread the machine unless of course that’s the thread you’re using in the bobbin.

The second vertical spool holder can also be used for a second spool of thread if you’re sewing with a double needle – but that’s a whole other blog post.

Bobbin winder with bobbin in place

Bobbin winder with bobbin in place

Bobbin Case

The bobbin case is found under the presser foot at the needle plate. I should mention at this time that you can get a single hole plate for this machine as well as the large hole one that accommodates wide stitches. To be honest I hardly ever change out my needle plates to the single hole on my other machines because if I did, I know I would break a needle the first time I went to do a zigzag stitch.

I digressed there a bit and now back to the bobbin case. The bobbin drops in from the top and the writing on the bobbin needs to be face up. Once the bobbin is in place follow the arrows to thread and pull thread up to the top or follow the instructions in the manual.

Once threaded properly place the plastic cover back over the bobbin and it’s ready to go.

Bobbin in bobbin case

Bobbin in bobbin case

I do like that there is a clear viewing of the bobbin and can see when the thread is going to run out. There’s also an alarm to let you know this little fact and give you some warning that you need to wind another bobbin just in case you’re not paying attention to the actual bobbin. I know that I’ve been known to sew on for quite some inches before I realize the bobbin has run out of thread. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has done this.

The bobbin case area can get quite linty especially depending on the type of thread being used. Some threads leave more than others. I have a rule to clean the area with a small brush after every 3 bobbins. It’s not good to let the lint build up as it can interfere with your stitch quality and tension.

The Presser Foot

This is where all of the sewing action occurs with a multitude of different feet and stitches.


One of the best features of the Quilt Expression 4.2 sewing machine is the IDT system. IDT stands for integrated dual feed. This allows the machine to feed the fabrics evenly from the top and bottom under the feet – this helps to eliminate gathering, puckering and to keep everything aligned especially with light weight fabrics and layers of fabrics such as a quilt sandwich.

I love this feature and use it all the time. When I’m looking for a machine this is a must have for me.

Some of the feet are made to work with the IDT system while others don’t. To know if a foot is an IDT foot there will be a cut out in the back of it where the system clicks in and engages.

IDT foot

IDT foot

Note the cut out area at the top end of the foot between the 1 and A. This is where the IDT fits in and engages the system.

IDT not Engaged

IDT not engaged

IDT not engaged

IDT Engaged

To engage the system pull the black piece behind the presser foot down and forward to click into the back of the foot.

IDT engaged

IDT engaged

How to Engage IDT Dual Feed Mechanism on PFAFF Quilt Expression 4.2 – YouTube

Jen Houlden from Quilts by Jen shows you how to engage the IDT dual feed mechanism on the PFAFF Quilt Expression 4.2 sewing machine. For more tips, tricks, i…

Yes, I know I said that we would be test driving the machine today but as you can see there are many important points to take care of when getting ready for the test drive. With those points all taken care of now we will be happily driving down the road tomorrow.

Until then, Happy Quilting



Margee' January 27, 2017 - 9:32 pm

Just bought mine this week and took it out of box.
I feel a little intimidated after using Pfaff Hibbymatic 809 since 1981.
Hoping I can figure it out soon.

Anne-Marie June 9, 2016 - 5:13 pm

I am the proud owner of a 4.2 Pfaff .Great BD present from my husband!!!!
I watched your online test drive and will continue tomorrow.I did read the manual and agree that it is important to do so,thanks for the pictures as well.


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