The history of PFAFF sewing machines

Posted by Willim Kotze on

For 160 years, PFAFF has developed premium sewing machines distinguished by their sophisticated appearance, superior performance and exhibiting ultimate design freedom.

A close watch on industry needs and trends has become increasingly important as sewing has evolved from a necessity to a form of creative expression. And this evolution is something we take very seriously. It has inspired our product development to be driven by insight, not just demand. And as a result, our products embody the innovative technology and best-in-class craftsmanship required by today’s most passionate creators — required by those who wish to stand out in a crowd.

We believe the search for individuality will always be in style.  Perfection starts here.

Pfaff's history all started with Georg Michael Pfaff. He was a craftsmen who made musical instruments. He lived in Kaiserslautern, Germany at the start of the industrial revolution.

In 1862, Mr G M Pfaff, whilst experimenting, made his first sewing machine. And that very machine can still be seen today at the Munich Museum of Science and Technology.

But he did of course realize the great prospects of his product which paved the way for a company that would set the standard for some of the most advanced sewing engineering the world had ever seen. A company, still today, internationally recognized as the household name for quality and technical progress in sewing.

Georg Michael Pfaff’s second son discovered that the German sewing machine industry got its machine equipment from the USA. Georg Pfaff Senior decided that his son (also named Georg) should pay a visit to America, which he did on July 12th 1876 arriving in New York and then Philadelphia on July 15th, where he went on to visit the World Industrial Exhibition.

During his sons two year stay in the US, Georg Pfaff studied manufacturing plants, tool factories and ordered tools, drilling machines and universal lathes for the PFAFF factory in Germany and it did not take long before Georg Michael Pfaff completely abandoned individual manual production for steam-driven drilling, milling and planing machines.

Georg Michael Pfaff opened a sewing machine shop in London in 1885 and from there the PFAFF factory continued to modernise and extend itself producing one of the world’s most aspirational brands of sewing machine.

A huge story condensed here into a few milestones have been passed along the way. Sewing today is a true hobby for people of all ages and skill levels, just ask any quilter, embroiderer, or dressmaker how much it means to him or her. Over the years PFAFF has transformed sewing from a chore to a creative hobby.

1872: Lightning the way

Ten years after the company was founded, a thousand sewing machines had been manufactured. After PFAFF opened a new factory in Kaiserslautern, Germany in 1902, the production rate increased significantly.

Over the years, Pfaff introduced many innovative employee support initiatives: a company sickness benefits scheme, a fund for the surviving dependants of deceased workers and a housing estate for workers that provided low cost accommodation. All these features made for contented, hard–working and loyal employees, and the efficient production of high quality reliable sewing machines. 

Over the years, the Pfaff Sewing Machine Company expanded, absorbed other companies, improved its factories, and designed and developed unique sewing systems still in use today.

1908: 50th Year of production

The Pfaff factory was continually extended and modernised and, by 1890, 400 workers were employed on a regular basis. From 1898, Pfaff was producing household, artisan and light industrial machines driven by electric motors. In 1902, the 50th year of production, Pfaff was exporting to 64 different countries and, by 1908, specialized industrial machines were being made.

1910: Machines for the masses

PFAFF proudly released their one millionth PFAFF sewing machine to the public.

1920: Torpedo type spool

 An early example of the year 1920, a few years before Pfaff introduced their first rotary hook mechanism, this boat shuttle type machine had a model number of 11, it was made from cast Iron and was heavy. It was known as the Pfaff 11. 

1922: First zig-zag PFAFF

In 1922 Pfaff launched their first Rotary Hook sewing machines. The year 1932 saw yet another milestone, launching the famous Pfaff 130, a high-performance zigzag machine to meet the ever-increasing demands on the market. After the Second World War the company continued to expand taking over the Gritzner-Kayser brand in 1957. In 1926 Pfaff became a Limited Company with over 2500 workers.

1950: Lightweight models arrive

During 1950-1951, the first light weight aluminum household sewing machines were introduced. Then, in 1954, the five millionth Pfaff sewing machine was manufactured, it may have been exactly like this model 130.



1950: Five million strong

The five millionth PFAFF sewing machine was created and celebrated.



1960: Automatic stitches

Pfaff were so proud of the 260 model, it had 80 automatic stitches and was super heavy industrial strength, it was advertised with a warranty of 10 years. Belt driven by string.! in fact 10 strands clamped together with over 100 metal cleats. Later it was superseded by the 262, 360 then 368 models.

1968: The famous 1200 series

1968 saw perhaps one of the biggest milestones in Pfaff's history, the launch of the Pfaff 1222, featuring the original IDF for integrated dual feed, as well as electronic needle piercing power controlled by a small black box of electronic trickery. This model also had a seam tie-off function to automatically reverse a few stitches at the press of a lever. It was the very first time Pfaff included the industrial type dual feed.

1983: Computerised embroidery models

In the year 1979 was revolutionary for the Pfaff. The comprehensive development of a totally new sewing machine began and would forever enhance sewers creativity. This machine came to be called Creative 1471 and was introduced to consumers in 1983, later is was superseded by numerous other models based around the chassis, but with even more advanced computer power. This model was fully programmable, i.e. the user can program her own fancy patterns in a very simple way. It was a genuine newcomer in the sewing world, not only in Europe but also in the USA.

1988: Introducing maxi stitches

1988 saw the release of our first machine with 9 mm wide stitches the model was 1475. A feature allowing the sewer to create and copy stitches using a unique add-on unit called the Creative Designer. It was predecessor to an embroidery unit.

The first machine with Maxi Stitches up to 40 mm wide. 

1990: Computerised models excel

With the advert of the newly released 7500 series was Pfaff first hoop-style embroidery machine, it was the 7560, and the more advance 7570 soon after, both had 9 mm stitch plate and multi-directional feed capability. The fabric could be fed not only front to back but also in any of eight directions. This was made possible by the invention of stepping motors that moved the feed dogs in all different directions.

2002: Super modern design

Shortly after the 7500 series of the 1990's came the 2000 series, this Pfaff model 2034 was near the top of the 2000 range. A little more rounded buy still with dual feed, now called IDT (Integrated Dual Transportation) instead of IDF (Integrated Dual Feed) for the 1400 series.

2011: Ingenuity worth celebrating

In 2011 Pfaff launched a super advanced top-of-the-line computerised sewing machine, the Creative Sensation, both for quilting, dressmaking and embroidery. First of the large colour touch screen models. The longer sewing bed was designed for quilt making from the start.

2014: Launch of creative models

Was the year when Pfaff launched many new embroidery models offering the option to even buy a regular sewing machine, then later when the time was right for the user, add an embroidery unit. All the new creative models (2.0, 3.0, 4.5, 5.0) used the latest computerised functions and had longer sewing bed with detachable embroidery unit.

2016: Features you can't live without

Even more Creative embroidery models were added to the range. This model is what dealers have been asking for for some time. The Creative 1.5 was bright in colour, and small in size compared to others. A compact full featured embroidery machine at a budget price, yet it offered over 150 stitches, LCD screen, USB slot and 24 cm embroidery area. Winner of the IF Design Award 2016. What more would you want.

2017: Where Perfection Meets Freedom

2017 marked the launch of the PFAFF creative icon sewing and embroidery machine offering seamless connectivity, unparalleled power and maximum workspace.

Next from PFAFF

Sewing is an art form requiring tools of precision. We will continue to perfect those tools, enabling creators to reach higher levels of artistry and perfection. No matter what’s next, every PFAFF product will continue to be characterized by reliability and unrestricted freedom of design.

The creative icon 2 sewing and embroidery machine marks a revolutionary step for sewists. A world first in the home sewing industry, artificial intelligence and voice control features give you the ultimate connectivity, enabling you to reach new levels of your craft, effortlessly. 

1 comment

  • Best masjien

    Stompie Thesner on

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published