I had the chance to review the Pfaff Ambition Essential which Pfaff has recently introduced as an affordable basic computerized sewing machine with IDT.

The Ambition Essential is a not only the answer for people who long for Pfaff’s exclusive IDT technology on a smaller, less costly sewing machine, it is also loaded with lots of the same features that are available on all of the other sewing machines in the Pfaff Ambition line.

At A Glance

A glance at the Pfaff Ambition Essential is very deceiving. To look at it, the Essential looks like any other sewing machine, but this one is equipped with IDT, Pfaff’s exclusive Integrated Dual Feed system which makes it possible to sew thick layers of fabric with ease.

Pfaff Ambition Essential

Pfaff Ambition Essential

A cursory look at the Pfaff Ambition Essential also reveals on board sewing essentials like an automatic needle threader, digital keypad, and two bright LED lights as well as an easy to read and use monochromatic LCD display and an extra large workspace – approximately eight inches from needle to column.

monochromatic LCD and digital keypad

Monochromatic LCD and digital keypad


While the list of features included on the Pfaff Ambition Essential is not as extensive as those features found on other models in the Pfaff Ambition line, the Essential is loaded with features that are ‘essential’ for any home sewer.

  • 110 utility and decorative stitch options including:
    • 2 alphanumeric fonts – block and Cyrillic
    • 7 One step buttonholes
    • 24 quilting stitches
    • 12 needle art stitches
  • IDT – Pfaff’s exclusive Integrated Dual Feed System
  • 7mm stitching
  • Free motion sewing
  • Adjustable presser foot pressure
  • Needle up/down
  • External feed dog drop
  • Horizontal mirror image
  • 29 needle positions
  • Sequencing – save up to 30 stitches or letters in memory
  • Automatic needle threader
  • Seam guide markings on both sides of the needle plate
  • Electronic needle piercing
  • On board accessory tray

Working on the Pfaff Ambition Essential

The top winding bobbin and see through bobbin cover, coupled with the easy to follow threading guide make it so easy to get started that even a beginner would be comfortable with this computerized sewing machine.

Selecting decorative and utility stitch options is as easy as dialing up the number that corresponds with the stitch shown on the on-board stitch selection guide conveniently located on the underside of the lid.

on-board stitch selection guide

On-board stitch selection guide

There are a few stitches that are not compatible with the IDT. Those stitches are identified because the stitch numbers are shown in circles. All of the other stitches are fully IDT compatible.

As with all of the other reviews on this site, I tested several different stitch options. I am delighted to report that the stitch selection process is uncomplicated and easy enough for a beginner to master with just a few brief lessons.

Several different stitch options tested

Several different stitch options tested

The seam guides etched on the needle plate appear on both sides of the needle, making it easier for anyone to determine precise seam placement.

See through bobbin cover

See through bobbin cover

Sequential stitching was equally easy to accomplish. The process involves a simple matter of dialing in the desired stitch numbers.

The button with the heart shape is depressed first to signal the machine to switch to decorative stitch mode. When the sequence is finished, simply depress the ‘C’ button to clear the memory.

Whether sewing decorative or utility stitches, sewing sequential decorative stitches or simply sewing a straight seam, all of the stitches executed during this review were clear, crisp and well defined.


  • Natural fibers/cotton-linen-wool
  • Fine fabrics/silk-satin-taffeta/velvet
  • Knits
  • Synthetic fabrics/blends-rayon-polyester
  • Upholstery
  • Leather/suede
  • Fur
  • Reptile skin
  • Canvas/Twill
  • Plastic/Rubber
  • Extra thick fabrics or multiple layers


The list of standard accessories available with the Pfaff Ambition Essential includes:

Pfaff Ambition Essential's accessories

Pfaff Ambition Essential’s accessories

  • 5 presser feet
    • Standard foot
    • 2 Fancy stitch feet
    • Blindhem foot
    • Zipper foot
    • Buttonhole foot
    • Button foot
  • Seam ripper/lint brush
  • Screwdriver
  • 4 extra bobbins
  • Extra needles
  • Lint brush
  • Two spool caps
  • Oil dispenser
  • Extra spool pad
  • Two spool pins
  • Hard cover

In addition to these accessories, many of the accessories included as part of the standard accessories packages on other machines in the Pfaff Ambition line are compatible with the Pfaff Ambition Essential.

The catalog of available Pfaff Ambition accessories is available online at e-magin.se.


After each useMonthly*Once Each Year**As Needed
Clean race hook and feed dogs
Wipe head with soft dry cloth
Wipe head with soft damp cloth
Service by sewing machine repair professional

* more often if the machine is used for extended periods of time or if used frequently

**more often if the machine is used heavily or if it is not operating properly

Tying Off The Loose Ends

The Pfaff Ambition Essential was designed to fulfill the need for accessibility to IDT technology on an affordable computerized sewing machine.

It has Pfaff’s legendary German technology and all of the essential features and accessories necessary to satisfy the needs of the home sewer at any skill level.

The Essential is good for the beginner because it is easy to learn and operate. It is also a good choice for the intermediate or advanced home sewer who concentrates on clothing construction and home décor sewing.

The IDT and large workspace are ideal for working with very thick layers of fabric in the event the user wants to experiment with machine quilting as well as heavy fabrics like canvas and twill.


Pfaff Ambition Essential’s large workspace

The oversized workspace makes it possible to work on larger sewing projects with ease. The removable accessories case reveals a functional free arm, which makes sewing small objects just as easy.

Removable accessories case

Removable accessories case

With the extra bobbins, needles and presser feet at your fingertips, the Pfaff Ambition Essential is a great time saver as well.

The $799 MSRP makes the Pfaff Ambition Essential an affordable machine for anyone, especially the beginner who is not quite certain they intend to spend a lot of time in the sewing room.

The Pfaff Ambition Essential is a computerized machine, which means that, like all other computerized machines, it must be serviced by a sewing machine repair professional at least once a year.

The Pfaff Ambition Essential is surprisingly lightweight. It can be easily transported to and from sewing class, to the college dorm or even on vacation if you are one of those people who simply cannot go anywhere without having access to a sewing machine.

When it’s not in use, the Essential is easily stowed away in a closet or on a shelf while being protected from dust and environmental debris by a hard molded plastic cover.

Hard molded plastic cover

Hard molded plastic cover

While the Pfaff Ambition Essential is an ideal sewing machine for just about any and every home sewer, I hesitate to recommend the use of any computerized by children younger than 12 year of age. Having said that, however, I think the Essential is an excellent machine for teaching teens and adults the art of sewing.

It is also an ideal choice for the experienced home sewer who wants to upgrade their sewing machine inventory to include Pfaff’s exclusive IDT dual feed technology without investing the large sums of money that it costs to acquire this feature on other sewing machines.

Pfaff Ambition Essential Review
Link To Official Website
Skill Level:
Needs lots of help – able to sew a straight seam but unfamiliar with most sewing techniques; needs assistance and instruction on basic sewing techniques.
Competent – can make different clothing items without assistance or guidance, but not good enough to sew intricate projects or to sew without a pattern.
Expert – can sew anything without instruction or assistance; possesses an expansive knowledge of sewing techniques and terminology.
Stitch quality
Ease of use
  • Pfaff exclusive IDT (Integrated Dual Feed) System
  • Large 8 inches needle to column work space
  • Automatic tie off
  • Manual tension adjustment
  • No automatic upper or bobbin thread sensor
4.8Overall Score
Reader Rating: (150 Votes)

14 Responses

  1. Robert Tanner

    A very detailed review. Retired and taking up sewing as a hobby. I have been looking at the Pfaff Passort 2.0. I like this review and have decided this would suit my needs very well.
    Thank You

  2. tracey

    My Pfaff Quilt Ambition 2.0 is on its way back to the dealer today. Only 2 1/2 months young. Very bad birdnesting & clumping stitches on back. The decorative stitches are pretty. However, don’t do them at high speed or through several layers of fabric. I’ve read everything online about all the reasons why this tension issue is an “Operator Problem.” It’s not.

    Last nite, I finally hit the wall with this machine. I’m making a simple sewing machine cover. I used cotton fabric with interfacing & then I sewed an interlining to that. My Pfaff had difficulty with the several layers. (I changed the needle several times.)

    When seaming the pieces together, the machine jammed when sewing around the corners that were serged.

    I don’t see this machine as a workhorse but rather a princess. If you have the time and energy to frequently change needles and/or rethread at every seam, go for it.

    I’m not happy tho. Taking her in to the shop today. I expect they’ll say it’s my fault as I am a novice sewer. But I don’t think so at this point.

    • Eilocon

      How did you get on? Have been looking at this machine to purchase and am a beginner so a bit wary after seeing your comments. Thanks

    • Jennifer Spafford

      Yes I too am so disappointed with the quilting. Puckers all the time I have gone back to my old German made Pfaff with small throat. No problems at all. I could throw this new pfaff ambition essential out the window. I am not a beginner at quilting having made about 100 with no problem This machine is a lemon, as no one can tell you what tension you should have..

  3. Dee

    I have the PFAff Ambition 1.0, I have had it for over a year now and can not rate this machine highly enough. I had a Janome originally and was reluctant to swap, I am glad I did and would not change back now. I have never had any problems with the machine, i quilt I garment make and find the machine can do massive projects with not effort at all. The stitches are lovely and consistent. I have read bad reviews on PFAff machines before but I can’t relate to any of these. I was so impressed I bought a PFAff overlocker and love that too. MY next machine will also be a PFAff.

    • Jennifer Spafford

      what tension do you use and what length stitch. Any other hints as mine puckers all the time

  4. Helen

    Thank you so much for this thorough review. I’ve been plugging through on a White model 1899. The decision to upgrade to this model was made clear by your review. You’ve answered all my questions. Thank you.

  5. corina c

    Just over a year ago I purchased 8 of the Pfaff Ambition Essential sewing machines to start a free quilting class for immigrants to Canada. These machines are easy to use if you have never sewn before, and have enough features to make sewing a pleasure for more experienced ones. Other than on 2 of the machines the factory tension settings had to be adjusted (the dealer opened up the machine and they were fixed within a few minutes) there have been absolutely no issues. Most of my students are not fluent in English, nor have they ever used a machine before, and with these machines they have acquired enough confidence and skill to become avid sewers. The biggest advantage to these machines is the IDT which makes piecing your quilt sooo much easier, followed closely by the amount of room to the right of the needle.

  6. Nan

    Thanks for your detailed review. Have an old (30+ yrs) hobby, mechanical Pfaff that has seen me through many years. It’s been a great machine but was a bit lacking for larger and/or thicker projects (baby quilts and denim). Learned to sew many decades ago on a treadle machine! So I took this all in stride. I brought my hobby Pfaff in for servicing and looked at the Ambition Essential. Heading back this month to get the sale price and treat myself to an upgrade. Glad to have discovered your site. Corina’s review helps with my decision.

  7. Sharon Lepp

    I received a Pfaff sewing machine 1968. I loved that machine and so when the motor burnt out about 5 yrs. ago, I needed another machine. So I bought a Pfaff Ambition 1.5; I have never spent $1000 so fast and have not been happy with this purchase. The demo was very poorly done and after using it and complaining about the thread nests, jamming etc. I was told it was ME that was the trouble , not the machine. Now I will have to take it in since the thread tension is off. Do you think I want to take it in the the dealership that I bought it from. Also it looks like they are not making this machine. What was the trouble with it! If I buy another machine I want to try the machine as a rental and then make a decision. -Sharon

  8. Ginger Brooks

    I just upgraded to a new Pfaff Ambition Essential, due to getting tired of struggling with my old Brother to quilt Queen size quilts. I got this Pfaff Ambition Essential model mainly for the extra work space to the right of the needle. I LOVE IT !!!!!! Sews marvelously, and so quiet. The fancy stitches, auto needle threader, and extension work table are a extra Bonus. PLUS I get FREE classes and instructional support from the dealer. My dealer also will do cleaning and tune ups on site. PLUS my dealer has a large selection of awesome fabrics, notions, etc available right there. Private owned shop, very supportive, nice people. (Sewing Machine Etc, Goodlettsville, TN). I am Sooo glad I found this place, and got this Pfaff!

  9. Mrs J Clewley

    I am thinking of upgrading my Pfaff 1222E from 1970 which has just stopped working. Its a fabulous machine and I wouldn’t go to any other make. Its never had a problem with it until I tried to install a new on\off switch and I must have damaged something inside. Now only the light comes on but it doesn’t work. Its been in the repair shop but they don’t understand Pfaff and don’t know what is wrong with it. I am thinking of the Ambition 1.5 or Ambition Essential – I need automatic button holes, auto thread cutting and the alphabet for monograms or labels, anything else is a bonus but my old machine did most of what the new ones do now except what I’ve mentioned.

    I would love advice from anyone that could advise please. My 1222E has been perfect with all the stitches except so many embroidery sts they have now. I wish I could get it mended.


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