Thursday 12 November 2015

Pfaff Quilt Expression 4.2: Tapering

Finally getting around to write about tapering on the Pfaff Quilt Expression 4.2

Tapering lets you decrease or increase the width of a stitch at a particular angle to create symmetrical or asymmetrical tapers. This is a fun program that I also had on my previous machine...
see the little bag that I made some years ago.

It is a fun thing to play with but takes some time to get used to and get the hang of it.

For my next pillow for the 2015 FMQ challenge over at Quiltshopgal I decided to use my Heather Feather Accuquilt die (design by Sarah Vedeler) that I purchased a good year ago. As Sarah Vedeler is this months' expert this seemed like the perfect opportunity. When I made the bag above, I had instructions from the Pfaff site...must admit that I have not used this function since then as I hardly do any applique work.

So out came the manual...
This is what the screen looks like when you hit the F1 button and then long press on one of the angles which brings up the whole program
Now I remembered that I had some difficulty last time with working out the different directions of the angles and this time was no different. I decided to spent some time on this to get my head around it once and for all. The way this made sense to me is as follows
- the top row provides for asymmetrical angles to the right
- the middle line is for symmetrical tapers at various degree, i.e. your sewing comes to a point
- the bottom row provides for asymmetrical angles to the left
If you look at my sample (top left) and take the first taper at 45degrees that is marked 'top' for the top row, you would go into the program and press 45 degrees once only for the taper at the end. As you can see you would be stitching along and then press the reverse button to activate the taper and the machine will taper the stitch at a 45 degree angle. If you then set your beginning taper at 45 degrees and turn your piece at a 45 degree angle and start again you will get a perfectly aligned corner to the right. Very neat!

You can see I then did a 60degree symmetrical taper, another 45degree taper to the left and so on...also tried the 30 degree taper on the right side of my sample but that takes some practice to align properly. The other thing I wanted to show you is the versatility of the can be used on many of the decorative stitches and create quite spectacular designs, i.e. the Greek Key stitch that also featured on the bag above (now some of those tapers do not line up because of pure sloppiness on my part).

Some people have commented on the net re the tapering and how hard it is to judge distances, i.e. when you should start your taper.  Agree with certainly takes some practice and knowing how this works. For example, the Greek Key design in the middle. I started with the beginning taper at 45 degrees, then the machine moves on to the next stitch and that is when you have to press the reverse button, i.e. you need to be clear about when you are on the stitch before the taper. For some of the stitches this will be easy to see however like for the Honeycomb or the stippling stitch it will not be as obvious.

Just discovered that I can get the machine to help me with that by using the Sequence function. If you look at the far right side I stitched out the Honeycomb stitch with tapers at each side. I went into the Sequence program and decided that my stitch would consist out of 6 units of honey comb. I then put a Stop behind each of the six units (I had 3 of them). When stitching this sequence, I started with the beginning taper and when the stitch reached my 6 units, it stopped. Then did the next 6 units and activated the taper, as I was in the stitch before the taper, stopped again and did the last tapered down version of the Honeycomb...while a bit labour intensive, this certainly helped in working out exactly where I was and when I had to press the button...will play a bit more with this.

Anyway after all this, I managed to stitch down my plume shape with the 60 degree symmetrical taper
Not totally lined up but it worked very well, just needs a bit of practice. With the satin stitch you do get a feel for when you need to start activating the taper.

And here is what I am working on

Hope this helps



  1. Thanks for sharing all your experiences with Pfaff 4.2 I have learned a few things from you to help me. I own a 4.0 for the past 6 years and love it but it can be tempermental for sure.

  2. It most certainly does Karin. I learnt tapering, well showed the rudiments, when I went on my training course on the Pfaff 4.2 as a new purchaser. But I had never appreciated it could be used in the way you have for appliqué. It just never occurred to me. I don't do much appliqué but when I have the points have been decidedly ropey. Now I know how, in theory, to do it better!! Pfaff should really recognise you for your posts. I find their manual useful but sparse....

    1. Hi are a no reply blogger again. Thanks for your comment. I am glad you found this helpful...agree, the manual is a bit sparse. Initially I could not get my head around the different angles. This little exercise helped me to work this out once and for all...i like to use the different functions of the machine as much as I can and am always impressed by some of its capabilities.

  3. That is a very useful satin stitch function. I never have had any computerized machine and wondering what and how actually useful they are. Thanks.

  4. Thank you for sharing your experience. I read all of your posts on the 4.2, since I just bought one. I learned more from your posts than at the lesson we got today at the shop. It was supposed to be an in depth Pfaff intro. However the teacher was a Bernina representative. She didn't know anything about the tapering possibilities, nor about free motion quilting.

    1. Thanks Jasmine...yes, you do need to know the machine inside out when teaching, I reckon. Even with the FMQ there are so many little things that one needs to observe. Glad you find this useful.
      by the are a no reply blogger, hence my response here.


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