Insightful sewing machine reviews

Pfaff Performance 5.0 Review

Pfaff Performance 5.0 Review
Pfaff Performance 5.0 Review
  • Stitch quality
  • Speed
  • Ease of use
  • Maintenance

When I reviewed the Pfaff Performance 5.0, I was really impressed with what I found. The Performance 5.0 is Pfaff’s latest offering in their line of mid priced sewing and quilting machines.

Pfaff Performance 5.0

Pfaff Performance 5.0

At A Glance

Looks can be deceiving and this understated machine certainly doesn’t look as though it is capable of handling all the tasks all that it is actually able to perform.

The black and blue motif on a brilliant white body is sleek and inviting. There is a stylus mounted on the right side and a bright LCD color touchscreen on front.

Seam guides on needle plate

Seam guides on needle plate

The needle plate has seam guides etched on both sides of the needle and there’s a switch on the back that when engaged allows the feed dogs to drop down to allow users to darn, attach buttons, and do freehand sewing.


In spite of its looks, the Pfaff Performance 5.0 has lots of features designed to make the sewing experience fun yet still produce professional looking results.

  • More than 300 utility and decorative stitch options
  • 4 alphanumeric fonts
  • Monogram stitches up to 48mm wide
  • Tapering
  • LED lighting
  • 3 free motion modes
  • Pfaff exclusive IDT [Integrated Dual Feed system]
  • Needle up and down
  • Start/stop button
  • Mirror imaging
  • Sensormatic buttonhole
  • Bobbin thread sensor
  • Variable speed control slider
  • Immediate tie off
  • Straight stitch needle plate sensor
  • On board stitch selection guide

Working on the Pfaff Performance 5.0

The Pfaff Performance 5.0 is extremely user friendly. All that’s necessary to wind the bobbin and thread this sewing and quilting machine is to follow the on board graphic diagrams.

On board graphic diagrams

On board graphic diagrams

The stitch selection guide is conveniently situated inside the top lid. Selecting the right stitch is as simple as touching the menu button icon on the touchscreen with the stylus and then selecting the desired stitch.

Adjusting stitch length, width and density is just as easy. All that you need to do is use the stylus and the on-screen diagrams to adjust your settings until you get the desired results.

Menu button icon on the touchscreen

Menu button icon on the touchscreen

During this review, I sampled several different utility and decorative stitches. The stitch quality is excellent. What more would anyone expect from a Pfaff?

You can lift the presser foot on the Pfaff Performance 5.0 two ways… the knee lift or function buttons that raise and lower the presser foot.

Stitch quality

Stitch quality

I like the idea of using the knee lift, leaving your hands free to hold your sewing project steady and manipulate it as needed without worrying about it slipping or shifting.


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


  • 10 snap on presser feet
  • Quilting bar
  • Lint brush
  • Seam ripper
  • Sensormatic buttonhole foot
  • Spool pins
  • Spool pads
  • Detachable accessories case
  • Extra needles
  • Bobbins
  • Screwdriver
  • Hard cover
  • Extension table [optional]



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

When it’s all said and done, the new Pfaff Performance 5.0 is a great sewing and quilting machine, possibly one of the very best in its price range.

It’s not for children who are learning to sew, but the adult sewing student who is interested in learning about machine quilting might be very happy with it.

The Pfaff Performance 5.0 is also a wonderful machine for the intermediate or advanced home sewer who is in the market for a computerized quilting machine with on board tutorials and updatable software.

The only challenge I encountered while working on the Pfaff Performance 5.0 was the fact that the stylus holder is mounted on the right side and I’m left handed.

The placement of the holder makes it necessary for me to either reach across myself to grab the stylus with my left hand or to grab it with my right hand and then switch hands to use it. Older models, with the stylus holder under the lid near the bobbin winder, were far more functional for us lefties.

Pfaff is known for its engineering and workmanship, and the Performance 5.0 continues that tradition of excellence. I like this machine and strongly recommend that anyone in the market for a new sewing and quilting machine take a long hard look at it before making a final decision to make a purchase.


  1. This is about the Performance 5.0. This is a terrible awful machine. Do not waste your money on it. I purchased this machine in May of this year (2013) and it has been used for only light sewing and suddenly it just jammed and all the gears are stripped out! I live in a city of 300,000 people and the distributor has closed and per Pfaff they are not actively searching for anyone to take their place. There is no one close to me and Pfaff is not helpful in the least in getting this repaired. Since the distributor I bought it from is no longer here, I have been advised I must pay all labor charges for all warranty work. Pfaff will only cover the cost of the parts. So now I have to travel 400 miles there and back to take the machine to the closet authorized person and pay several hundred dollars for the labor. So my recommendation is to stay far, far away from Pfaff. If Pfaff is known for their fine workmanship they must have farmed this model out to someone else. I bought this based on the reviews I had read that Pfaff made good quality machines that worked well and were well-made and lasted a long time in trouble-free service. Well, the joke is on me I guess because this is not a quality machine. If there was a lower rating than 1 x that is the rating I would give this worthless machine. Buy a Bernina instead. That was my other choice and how I wish I had bought the Bernina.

    • What did you pay for this, if I could ask?

      • Several thousand dollars. And as it was a gift, I also purchased almost all of the extra feet and accessories they make for this which was an additional $2500.
        My folly obviously. I will be updating this sad tale shortly. It has not ended well. Still no working machine months and months later. I am sorry to just now be replying but I only now saw your message.

  2. Jane –

    Thank you for visiting Sewing Insight and sharing your experience.

    Unfortunately, Pfaff, like so many other sewing machine companies, is no longer owned by the people who originally founded the company. The exception is Bernina, which, I believe is still family owned.

    Pfaff is now part of the SVP corporation. [Singer/Viking/Pfaff]. As I stated on numerous occasions… nearly all sewing machines work perfectly right out of the box. It’s only after they’ve been in use for several years – or months as in this case – that we are able to judge how well they will stand the test of time.

    I wish I had a solution for your servicing problem. Please visit Sewing Insight again and let us know how you make out.

  3. Thank you. I will be taking this within the next 2 weeks to the authorized service center 200 miles away and leaving it. I will keep you posted on how this comes out and I appreciate your reply.

  4. So Here Is the Latest. The dealer we were required to take it to never once returned any of our calls. We had to call and call and call until we caught her there answering the phone. This is over a period of months. We were told various tales – the machine could not be fixed; then we were told that was someone else’s machine and they were having trouble getting ours to hold tension. Then they said it was destroyed in shipping. Which I have no idea what they meant by that as we hand-delivered the machine and we understood her repairman was in the same town as she is in. We don’t know what happened to our machine. We had to get Pfaff involved to even get the woman to speak to us. Finally Pfaff told us they had sent a brand new machine to the dealer and we needed to go pick it up. Which we did about 10 days ago. This shop is a 3 hour drive away from where we live so we had a 6 hour trip. We have been so upset about this that we didn’t try it out at the store. When we got there they laughed when we said our name and we were here to pick up the machine. Anyway, it was not in a box and did not have the accessories or the presser foot or the electrical connections and cord and control and we had to demand she give us that. She has ours after all. When we got it home, it was dirty and missing parts and would not work. It does not look like a new machine at all. This is the WORST customer service I have ever dealt with in all my life. And I am not young. I cannot give this even a 1 rating. It is a ZERO rating. Thank you for listening. We are still waiting for a reply from Pfaff and/or the dealer. I am out thousands of dollars and I will NEVER buy another Pfaff anything.

  5. Also, FYI, Pfaff tells us that the serial number of the “new” one they sent matches the one we got that is missing parts and is dirty and won’t work. We are still waiting for Pfaff to resolve this…

  6. Just saw this. I know the US Pfaff president’s assistant and just sent this to her. Hope it helps.

    • Thank you so much for doing that! I had marked my calendar to update this in September as I was trying to allow the same amount of time on the new machine to see if it did the same thing that the first machine did. After many phone calls, etc., to Pfaff, Pfaff did come through and make this right. We did not want to ever go back to the dealer where we left our original machine and got this 2nd machine from and wanted to mail it back to Pfaff and have them mail us the new one, but Pfaff said they would only fix this if we went back to that dealer. So we drove back there another 3 hours there and 3 hours back and picked up the new machine that was really a new machine. Pfaff had told us that it would be in a box brand new so we could see for ourselves that it was new. After the other episode we didn’t know what to think. But this way we felt we would actually get the machine that Pfaff sent to the dealer. So we made yet another trip and returned the dirty, used machine to the dealer in exchange for the new one Pfaff had sent to her. When we got there, the new machine sitting on a table, no box in sight. My daughter tried it out while she was there with the dealer leaning over her shoulder making her very nervous. As soon as she could tell it was going to sew, she told the woman she wanted the box so she could pack it up and take it home. I do not understand what is so sacred about Pfaff’s boxes but that woman pitched a fit and said under no circumstances could we have the box. My daughter was ready to be done with that place so she carried it to the car and left. She has sewed with it several times now and it appears to be doing great. If it does like the other one in a couple of months, I will post another review. We are thankful that Pfaff made this right, but it was such an ordeal to resolve it! Should we have any trouble with this new one (and so far it is sewing so well!), we will contact an authorized repair center in Dallas and deal with them. We will never go back to the dealer Pfaff sent us to. The final result as of today, though, is that Pfaff did make this right and the new machine is sewing as advertised.
      Our thanks to all who helped us with this!

  7. The Performance 5.0 is the third Pfaff I have purchased. After reading the previous review I felt compelled to offer mine. I have had my machine for a little over a year and absolutely love it. I still have my old workhorse, the Pfaff 1475, and fortunately the specialty feet purchased for that machine fits my new one. The main reason I continue with Pfaff is because of the built-in walking foot. I have been extremely pleased with the ease of use, the variety of stitches and stitch consistency. It quilts like a dream. I have not been disappointed at all with my purchase. I’m also fortunate to live in an area that has a wonderful dealer.

    • I felt compelled to comment so sad to hear of such a problem as I to have an old 25 year old one & my mums is 40 years old & adore my new Phaff performance 5 would entertain any other machine they are so advanced ide ct ( walking foot is 40 years old!!)
      I do think dealers can let a brand down I did not have the best of customer service here in uk ! But was my off put as I
      I’ve the brand

  8. More in our continuing saga of this machine: it has been used approx. 5-6 hours since we got it. Tonight my daughter sewed one seam about 12″ long and it stopped and this message showed up on the screen: “Machine needs to rest. Wait a moment and touch OK Icon when it is enabled”. What on earth does that mean? The icon came back up and she pressed it repeatedly with no change. After awhile she came back to it and touched it again and it released the machine to sew. However, on the back, the machine had sewed a horrible rats nest and that had to be cleared before it would sew again. Obviously the tension was suddenly off. I was told this machine automatically sets the tension but I was not able to confirm this. Do you know if it does? What a terrible disappointment this whole experience has been. Have you ever seen this error message before? Thank you again for all your help on this and for allowing me to tell our story. We don’t really know what to do now. I’d rather throw it in the dumpster than have to go through their dealer again. I had hoped I could change my rating but I’d still give it a “ZERO”.
    Best Regards,

    • Several months ago, I purchased Pfaff Quilt Ambition 2.0. It’s OK. It sews. It’s computerized but has manual tension & no thread cutter. Like Jane, I’ve been having problems with bunching thread, birdnesting & my fabric being jammed into the needle plate with wads of thread.

      My dealer is local & said he’d check out my machine at next sewing class. I said that would be OK too but this sudden tension problem occurs at any time. I could be sewing fine for an hour and then suddenly in the middle of stitching, the machine just jams up.

      Usually, I hear a clunk sound as the needle goes down. Then I have to try and free the clump of thread in my fabric and get the needle free of the whole mess. I’ve become quite proficient with a small screwdriver & removing the needleplate (the screwdriver that comes with the machine is useless.) It’s a problem.

      This problem started when I first got the machine. At first, I thought it was me. I must be threading wrong or with the presser foot down or need a new needle – and that’s what most websites suggest is the problem.

      Yet, how does a new Pfaff Quilt Ambition 2.0 machine sew problem free for an hour or so and then literally, in the middle of stitching, goes out of wack & jams the thread? Do I really have to re-thread my machine EACH TIME I sew another seam with the same thread? Even in my novice experience, I never heard of that happening.

      Jane – I DO feel for your dilemma. My dealer is nearby & very reputable. I came to this review thinking maybe I have to upgrade to an auto-tension model to eliminate the problems that I’m having. But reading your saga, I wouldn’t do it.

      My dealer offers a full-price trade-in toward another machine within the first 9 months. He has Babylocks & Huskys. Perhaps that’s the change I should make.

      When the Pfaff sews, it’s straight & stitch quality is perfect. When it loses tension or jams, it really sucks.

      Good luck to you. I’ll continue reading as you go. This is better than a blog!!


    • Sorry to hear about your awful service, I work at a Pfaff dealer and sell the machines. When you get a rats nest in the bobbin it is usually because the thread is out of the take up lever. The take up lever is hard to see on this machine so I teach everyone to make sure the thread is in it. As soon as you hear the noise of it jamming up STOP and re thread. The message you got is so when it is jammed or hits something , like a pin or the throat plate it puts up the machine needs to rest message so it doesn’t keep trying to sew and damaging the motor. Turn the machine off and wait a couple of min. If you get the message “clear thread jam” remove the plate and clear any thread, if you continue to get the message remove the thread from the needle and press the scissor button, sometimes thread is caught in there and the scissor has not gone back to the resting position. The thread jamming is the most common problem we get with all the machines we service. How it jam happens is if the thread is not in the take up lever when your needle goes down and the hook grabs the thread it swoops around the bobbin case to form the stitch, as the needle goes back up the take up lever goes up pulling the slack loop tight to form the stitch. If it’s not in the take up lever it just. Keeps making loops and finally jams and if you keep going it can damage the machine. This is with any machine , everyone thinks it’s the bobbin thread but it’s your top thread that is the problem. My boss has sold sewing machins for 30 yrs and I have worked for him foe 15 yrs. we would never treat our customers like that. The stores are independently owned so it very much depends on the owner whatt kind of service you get. I wish you could come to our store we give individual lessons on whatever machine you buy and we extend the warranty to 3 yrs, that is something my boss does in our store. You can also come back with questions and get as many lessons on the machine as you need. Really wish I was there to help you.

      • Thank you so much for this explanation. I wish you had been the dealer for our machine! Where are you? We are in the Texas Panhandle area. Since we got the UPS we have had no problems with the machine but we will check this to be sure we are threading it correctly. This is good information to know and things to watch for. We have a lot of projects we intend to do this summer and I will write another report to let all know if we had success with them. Thanks again.

        • I’m in Regina , Saskatchewan Canada. A bit of a way to go for service, but feel free to message me with questions. You can reply through the post I think I have set it to get notifications. Glad I was helpful.

      • just found this comment section and maybe I can get some help. I just bought Performance 5.0 last week and spent time reading manual first ..last night tried for first time; I did straight stitch, no issues! but when I try to change to any other stitches, a message pops up that says machine set to straight stitch and to go into settings and check or un check stitch width? when I go to that setting, it is checked and I can’t uncheck it. I tried again this morning, after watching a tutorial and still unable to use and other stitch besides straight. any thoughts? thank you

        • This may be a solution to this problem. The Per 5 comes with a straight St plate , if that plat is in place it will not let you change stitches. This saves you from accidentally changing to a St that you can break your needle. Remove the plate and replace it with the all purpose plate. The machine knows you have that plate on there is a sensor. We have had this question a couple of times at the store. Took us a while to figure it out. Let me know if that solved your problem

  9. I use this machine for 6 months now. I quilt, also free motion, make clothes and bags. Every material is like butter. It sew nicely through. All the features are very handy. I use more than I expected because it is easy to find out how it works. I Use the straight stich plate not only for patchwork and quilting but for thin materials and small projects. The stichters are great and the material never gets stuck at the edges of the project. I Use the big stichtes for my quilts and stich them across each other. It looks stunning as if i can do free motion meandering. The alfabet for monogrammen is awesome for personalized gifts.The light is clear and enough. I LOVE this machine.

  10. I also have had issues with the jamming up and birdnesting. Right in the middle of the seam it suddenly sews very tiny stitches and won’t move forward. So I patiently clear up the mess. This afternoon I could not get the sensormatic buttonhole to work. I followed the instructions step by step only to have the machine sew backwards only. I finally gave up. I have also had the error message machine needs to rest and I agree the screwdriver that came with the machine is useless. I also don’t like the quarter inch foot, it misses the feeder dogs on the right hand side and doesn’t feed the fabric thru nicely. My machine is a Performance 5.0. I purchased it a year ago, then was diagnosed with cancer so I didn’t use it until April 2014 after I finished chemo. I would not recommend this machine to anyone. It has some great features – if only they would work.

    • I had this problem the first time we tried the button hole at the store. I don’t think you have the little plug pushed in all the way, make sure it is pushed in as far as it will go or you only get half a button hole

  11. I thought I reseached this machine in depth. Performance 5.0. Ordered this machine and it took three months to come in. It was worth it in my mind because of the ITD and the tensions will set itself with the stitch and the keyhole is big and its cuts automatically. It was worth every penny of the approx $3,000 I spent on it. Which is a lot of money to me. I uncovered it one day to find the screen broken. Probably a child in my home did something stupid. Took it in for service my bill was discounted at $250.00. I took it in in July and just got it back one week ago. The service tech swears it ws waiting for parts the whole time. The shop I bought it from had given me a loaner so it was not a huge deal to wait. I started to have trouble with the tension on the loaner and had asked for the tension to be looked at on mine when I turned it in for the screen. When I started to sew on my newly fixed machine I found my new screen was bad and the tension was still weird. The tension goes fine then just haywire. I am starting to worry my warranty will run out and I will have a non functioning machine. I was ready to trade it in but that was a very expensive proposition. I took it back in and the service guy is ordering new parts and resetthe tension which worked for about 10 actual sewing minutes and the tension is way off again. I want this machine to work. I thought it was my dream machine. I don’t like to embroider. I replaced a 25 year old $200 bernette with this machine and the bernette is more useful by far. Help with possible solutions if can. Maybe I can give the tech guy some additional places to look on the tension problem and I will just wait for another new screen. Btw all the trips I make to the sewing shop are 2hours each way. Closest pfaff dealer that had the “well researched” performance 5.0.

  12. Hello, everyone…

    First of all, thank you for visiting Sewing Insight.

    I seldom participate in conversations between site visitors, but rest assured, I do read them. After following this thread for several months, I have decided to take all of your concerns to Cynthia – owner of Cynthia’s Fine Fabrics where I go to do reviews of all new Pfaffs that appear on this website.

    I am not certain that she will be able to provide any solutions to your concerns, but I will share with you whatever thoughts or comments she may have.

    In the meantime…

    Happy stitching.

    • Hello, again. I wanted to give you an update on our machine. Apparently, these machines are very, very sensitive to any kind of power fluctuation, no matter how minor. We weren’t getting any power errors but someone suggested this so we tried it. We bought an UPS so that it would always get the correct amount of power and that seems to have helped a lot. But we had to buy the expensive one ($200 – and VERY heavy!) to get the power boost if there was any kind of drop in the voltage. So far, so good. Anyone that is getting that message about the machine needing to rest, might try the UPS that conditions the power and see if that resolves that problem for them. We so wanted this to do all the things it advertises and to be a good machine. But every time we use it, we hold our breath, hoping that nothing else goes wrong with it. My daughter’s mother-in-law has offered her an older Bernina and I think when she gets it, she will probably put the Pfaff away and never use it again. I am looking forward to your dealer’s suggestions. I want to thank you again for allowing us to have a place to rate these.
      Best Regards,

  13. Omigosh! I am in the market for a new machine and have crossed Pfaff off my list based on this information.

    Will look at Bernina and Brother now.

  14. I bought this machine in November and I’m loving it. I have made a full size quilt, two wall hangings and one table runner. I have never had any problems with it. The stitches are nice and precise. I am baffled by all the negative reviews. The first thing a did right out of the box was to install the update that came out in August. This update states that it fixes alot of the problem that are stated in the negative reviews. Very pleased with this machine.

    • Dear Stacey Hensrude,
      I read your review and am very glad for you that your machine is sewing well. That is what we hoped ours would do. But it didn’t.


  15. I have been using quilt expression 4.0 for 5 years. it was a powerful machine and was used often. Easily 30 quilts and numerous projects. I upgraded to creative sensation pro and today was hit with the “machine needs a rest” icon. hit ok, turned it off for couple hours after cleaning and dusting and after first stitch it reappears. HELP…very sad face if I have to take to dealer.

  16. I bought the creative performance sewing with the updated software 6D..this winter has not been nice to the machine..first there was 3 trips for service to repair “take a rest problem” and now it’s been another 2 trips to repair a screen problem that gets so blury you can’t read it….been all hardware faults and the winter is coming to an end and not much use out of the machine. Money not well spent..

    • I had my performance 5.0 serviced last week, now the tie off won’t work. Continuing problem with the machine needs to rest msg. Service assured me everything looks good and the machine is working fine. I am shopping for a new machine. would be a wonderful machine if it did everything they say it can do. It does me no good sitting in the repair shop.

    • Dear Liz,
      I know exactly what you mean!
      We have so far had success with no more error messages and no more rats nests after we got an UPS and plugged it into that. The brand we got is APC. The electrician that came out and checked all the wiring in our house, could not find any kind of problem. He told us power companies do have fluctuations all the time and we might try this and see if that would work. It is not just a surge protector but one that will boost the power if there is a drop in voltage. He told us voltage drops do more damage than the surges in power – in his experience -. He said large drops are known as brownouts but if we had had a large drop, every electrical appliance and machine we have plugged in would have gone haywire. This made him think it is very tiny drops in voltage that might be causing our problems. And so far, this has worked. We have not sewn for hours or days at a time and not sewn any heavy materials and no quilting yet. So we haven’t really put any kind of stress on the machine yet. We will be sewing a lot this summer and I guess we’ll see if this still holds true for us then.
      Hoping for better sewing experiences,

  17. I am looking into buying a PFAFF 4.2 and came across this review. I recently owned a lesser priced Long Arm. It would do all kinds of weird stuff by itself. We called it possessed. After much research, we realized that it had to do with the power and the fact that the electronics on that machine were not top quality. I sold that machine and bought a high end long arm and have not had any of the Possessed problems. I have spoken to people who have two long arms plugged into the same wall and one would act up and one would not. I do think Like Jane said , to get a surge protector, plus also the electronics on the Pfaff is not top quality?

  18. I am looking for a new machine and my local dealer and several internet sites have the Pfaff 5.0 on special offer – £300 less than the Pfaff Expression 4.2. I was going to go for it, but after reading this I think I will look at another brand!

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