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Unboxing PFAFF’s Performance 5.2

by Sarah Vanderburgh

I couldn’t wait to unpack PFAFF’s new Performance 5.2 sewing machine and I wasn’t disappointed! This is the first of a week of posts revealing some of the superb features that make quilting with PFAFF a creative pleasure. It was all I could do to write these posts – I wanted to quilt instead! Take a look at the new Performance 5.2 fresh out of the box.

performance 5.2 headshot

PFAFF Performance 5.2

The Performance 5.2 is a sturdy machine with a modern look. Can you see the stitching design on the front by its name? I really like this look and the dark navy background is a dark, but neutral color in a quilting space.

inside the lid of PFAFF Performance 5.2

Stitch categories inside the lid

Next I flipped up the lid to see all those stitches! I have to admit, it’s the first time in a machine I’ve really looked at the stitches on the lid. I think the reason I looked is the dark background that makes the stitches easier to see. The stitches are organized into numbered categories which will make them easy to locate inside the machine’s menu too.

styrofoam warning

Remove styrofoam before using the machine.

It was clear that I would need to do some additional unpacking once I had the machine out and on my table. There was a printed paper with a diagram of the machine and a red warning locked under the sewing needle. It was obvious I needed to deal with the warning now or when I turned on the machine! There was an additional piece of styrofoam inside the base of the accessory tray to remove – easy peasy. It also reassured me that the machine had been well secured in transit!

accessories inside the box of Performance 5.2 by PFAFf

Accessories and manual for Performance 5.2

Unpacking includes checking to make sure all the accessories listed in the manual match what’s in the box. I have to admit that I do love the knee-lift, not that I use it all the time. It’s a great accessory when doing certain patchwork sewing and you can easily remove it when it gets in the way; I remove it when I’m quilting a quilt.

presser feet included with PFAFF Performance 5.2

Presser feet and straight stitch needle plate

My favorite accessories for doing patchwork are the straight needle plate and the ¼” quilting foot, both of which are included with the Performance 5.2. Put these two on the machine and see how precise your piecing becomes!

There are a lot of other presser feet including two for buttons (one you plug into the machine and isn’t shown in the photo above), a zipper foot, and feet for doing the fancy stitches. It’s easy to change the feet too – you simply pull down to remove a foot and push up to attach a different one.

buttons and touchscreen on Performance 5.2

Front controls on Performance 5.2

After checking out the accessories it’s time to sit down in front of the Performance 5.2. I still love turning on a PFAFF machine and how bright it gets when the LED lights come on. And all that space!

I like having both the touch buttons on the left and the PFAFF creative Color Touch Screen on the right, directly in front of me. Having the touch screen at eye level makes it easy to make changes while I’m stitching. The icons on the dark border around the screen are also touch sensitive.

stitches menu PFAFF Performance 5.2 Color Touch Screen

Stitches menu

Inside the stitches menu you can go through the different categories of stitches to select the one you want to use. From the right sidebar you can select one of 4 fonts inside the “A” tab, or go into a folder of saved stitches – so you can find favorite stitches quickly! The bottom icon lets you access stitches saved on a USB key – the port is on the right side of the machine by the power button.

stitch categories inside menu Color Touch Screen Performance 5.2

Stitch categories inside menu

Click on the Essential Stitches button to open up a more detailed menu. From here you quickly find the stitch you’re looking for by clicking on a specific category. Remember the categories are on the lid too!

Machine settings menu Color Touch Screen Performance 5.2

Machine settings menu

The machine settings menu includes the lock screen option and the calibrate touch screen option. The lock screen option is useful when quilting; using it means that accidentally pushing a button or on the touch screen won’t change your current settings – which has happened to me when I’m quilting!

I tried out calibrating the touch screen. I think this will be useful when creating your own stitches – yes you can do that on this machine too – to maintain the accuracy of the stitching out of designs. I used the stylus included to calibrate the screen and followed the onscreen directions.

Sewing settings menu Color Touch Screen Performance 5.2

Sewing settings menu

These are the default sewing settings when you turn on the Performance 5.2. To change a setting you touch it to either check or uncheck the box or to open the setting for further options.

standard plate and foot Performance 5.2

Needle plate and standard presser foot

The Performance 5.2 comes ready to sew with the standard presser foot attached. I’m eager to start doing some patchwork piecing so I decided to change to the straight stitch needle plate right now!

removing the needle plate

Removing the needle plate.

There are no screws involved in changing the needle plate on PFAFF machines! Simply use the included screw driver to pop the plate out of position, then the plate will just pull away from the base. There are actually two little slots along the back edge that you put the plate into before pushing it into place. What’s nice about having tried out a few PFAFF machine models is that some of the basic tasks are the same from machine to machine. It makes it easy to feel comfortable exploring the features and getting the machine set up to sew.

I’d like to point out that this photo was *staged* so you can see the screw driver in place – I removed the presser foot before taking off the plate. It’s easy to do that too, just pull down on the foot to remove it. It’s good to have the needle in the “up” position when removing the plate – or you might even be changing it at the same time to suit your next task.

straight stitch needle plate and ¼" quilting foot

Straight stitch needle plate and ¼” quilting foot

The straight stitch needle plate is ideal for piecing as it helps to keep the fabric on the machine bed and not in the needle hole, for example when you are starting to stitch a new piece.

The ¼” quilting foot does what it says – it works as a guide to keep your quilting seam allowance at ¼“, but all the little red marks on the foot are also ¼” guides. These help at corners and when quilting beside other lines of stitching on a project. I’ve used them to help me reverse and get into the right position too.

IDT System engaged.

IDT System engaged.

The ¼” quilting foot also works with the PFAFF Integrated Dual Feed (IDT) system. The  IDT system works with several of the presser feet included with the Performance 5.2 to ensure even feeding of two fabrics through the machine. To engage the system you pull it forward and it clicks into an opening on the back of the presser foot. Not all of the feet work with it – the machine’s touch screen displays when to use it – but those feet are usually doing fancy stitches or ones that require the machine to go in reverse.

Now that the machine is set up for piecing I’m even more eager to get started. But first I’ll have to wind some bobbins!

thread in needle thread guide Performance 5.2

Thread in needle thread guide

You can wind the bobbin on the Performance 5.2 without unthreading the machine! A handy feature to save time and get you back to sewing quickly. I noticed this feature while reading through the preparations section in the manual – there are a lot of detailed explanations and diagrams to help you set up your machine in there!

So, I tried it. In the photo you can see the little thread guide where you bring the thread back up through the machine – you only need to unthread the needle, not the whole machine. The thread guide is for using twin needles which you can do on this machine (twin needles aren’t included in basic accessories though.) The winding worked – it did seem to go slower than the traditional method of winding. It might take a few more tries to make this way feel easy!

Bobbin winding pop up

Bobbin winding pop up

Once you move the bobbin into position for winding a pop up comes up to let you change the speed of the winding – I always slow it down! Then you touch the icon to make it go.

performance 5.2 headshot

PFAFF Performance 5.2

At first glance the PFAFF Performance 5.2 is an easy machine to get to know and use. Now I’ll spend some time reading the manual to see what features to try out first. I can’t wait to start stitching!

This is part 1 of 5 in this series.

Go to part 2: Make quick work of piecing with PFAFF’s Patchwork Program



Sue March 25, 2019 - 3:35 pm

I really do love my new performance 5.2. I have only been sewing for about four years. It helps me with all my sewing needs. The other ladies in my sewing group also love it. There is just one thing, my needle threader doesn’t work all the time. I have taken it in twice to be fixed. They fix it and I only get about ten times of threading it. Then it doesn’t work any more. Help!!!

Christine April 6, 2017 - 11:23 pm

Thank you for this wonderful review! Now that you have had your machine for several months. Do you still like it? Have you had any problems? My LQS has this model on sale and I will likely purchase this week. I test drove one today and was very impressed with the stitch quality. I am considering a breakup with my Bernina as I cant get a consistent 1/4 inch to save my life. I would love to hear how you feel about your mchine now!

Rob February 23, 2017 - 12:53 pm

Great first review. I seriously looked at the 5.2. But got a great deal on a leftover 5.0.

This is the best machine I have ever used

Deb Fox August 29, 2016 - 10:32 pm

Great review Sarah! I’ll be looking forward to the rest of them. I have been looking at this machine so perfect timing:)

Sarah Vanderburgh August 30, 2016 - 4:14 pm

Thanks, Deb! This might be my favorite PFAFF yet. Stay tuned for some fun projects I made using its features;)

Faye August 29, 2016 - 3:33 pm

What a wonderful article on the Pfaff Performance 5.2. Is there any chance that there is one kicking around on the Husqvarna Designer SE Limited edition. I am despirate for some help.

Sarah Vanderburgh August 29, 2016 - 4:20 pm

Hi Faye! You will find reviews on this site of other Husqvarna models by using the search box. I did some extra searching for you and found some locations that may be able to help you with your specific model. I searched The Needlework Pages: here’s a link to my search results. Hope this helps!


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