Village News

What a Pfaff!

31 May 2024

Bayswater resident Steve Cruse with his Pfaff sewing machine

It’s a great thing that curiosity got the better of Bayswater resident, Steve Cruse, as he watched a builder tip what looked like an old cupboard into a skip bin destined for landfill.

It turned out the ‘old cupboard’ was a vintage German ‘Pfaff’ sewing machine built in 1912. Having been badly burned in a house fire 22 years earlier, it was easy to see why Steve didn’t immediately recognise it.

“I was just walking by with my dog, and when the builder told me what it was, I thought I’d take it off his hands and see what we could do with it at the Men’s Shed here at Bayswater,” says Steve.

An aircraft engineer by trade, Steve spent his career working around the globe for several international airlines, but admits he’s “no expert” in building and restoring wooden products. Luckily though, there were other villagers at the ready to help him bring this nostalgic old beauty back to life.

“A friend Mike Gerrard and I managed to rebuild the old sewing machine cupboard using bleached birch wood which we then stained and varnished. The sewing machine obviously wasn’t working, so we took it to a place in Tauranga to see what they could do with it.

“After searching high and low for the right part they managed to convert it from a treadle-operated machine to an electric one, and got it working. Then we refitted it into its cupboard, which was a very tedious process!”

Recently, fellow resident and experienced seamstress Dorothy Harvey installed the bobbins and fixed the tension; and, following a successful sewing session, she has given the Pfaff a big thumbs up. Steve now hopes this iconic vintage machine will have a new lease of life at Bayswater.

“Apart from the hard work and a lot of hours, it probably owes me around $350, so I don’t want to give it away, but it would be great to see it get used more often,” he adds.

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