Fancy stitch problems · Fancy stitches · Pfaff

Pfaff 230 not stitching patterns

Help! She’s doing straight stitch and zig-zag like a good girl but is not doing any patterns! 😥

This is the Pfaff pattern disk showing you all the patterns that your Pfaff 230 Automatic can sew fully automatically. You pick a stitch of interest, set up the knobs as shown, set knob E to the shortest pattern, and nothing happens – the machine stitches plain straight stitch or plain zig-zag. What’s wrong? 😫

Don’t panic.

This happened with my Pfaff 230 even though there was nothing wrong with it. Almost nothing. It needed a drink, that’s all.

This is the needle position and zig-zag width control. It has three layers: the back plate with the schematic of the three needle positions, the middle plate that is moved with the metal lever to change the needle position, and the zig-zag width knob that rotates left and right between 0 and 4. The small plastic knob on the right with the metal strip attached to it is used to block zig-zag width at half width for making buttonholes. Make sure it’s disengaged as in the photo, with the letter N showing on the strip.

Now if you select a pattern where both the needle position and the zig-zag width is controlled by cams, such as pattern 6-2 for example, you will notice that both the needle position control plate and the zig-zag knob are moving as you are stitching.

Or rather, they should be moving! They weren’t moving in my machine because they were stuck! A gentle nudge to both of them released them and prompted me to oil between the plates! Who would have thought of that…

9 thoughts on “Pfaff 230 not stitching patterns

  1. Help, I recently got one of these. It will not straight stitch. It’s so slightly zig zag. Oiled it inside and out. Seems like none of the decorative stitches are working weather. I don’t really need them, but the straight stitch of course is a must. Any ideas?


    1. I too, am facing the same problem. Just got my Pfaff 230 yesterday and it has been blessing me with a lot of zigzag stitches, no straight stitch, and even the stitches that are somewhat straight have a little zigzag thing going on. What to do?
      Also, I discovered that mine is just Pfaff 230,it’s not automatic and most of the materials online that would aid my acquaintance with the machine are for Pfaff 230 automatic.


  2. The problems Sarah mentions, are typical for Pfaff 200-300 series machines. Pfaff used a strange mix of Vaseline and Petroleum to lubricate and rust protect the machines for overseas transport. That mix will turn into something resembling epoxy glue over time. The procedure to make the gears work again, is to let some WD-40 penetrate the mechanism for a couple of days, and then use more WD-40 and hot air from a hair-drier, while wiggling the control arms carefully. May need several repetitions before you notice an improvement. The WD-40 will dissolve old, stale lubricants, but it is NOT a lubricant by itself, it will evaporate. The WD-40 may be removed by using a spraycan with auto Carburetor Cleaner or Brake Cleaner, before the gears are lubricated with SM oil again. Be careful not to use any of these products on the drive belts inside the machine, they must not be oiled either. Also remove the motor to prevent damage. You’ll find most english Pfaff 2-300 series user- and service manuals, for personal use only, on


    1. I was able to repair this and it may be helpful how I did it. I loosed the stitch knob from the screw UNDER it. The knob was TOO far to the right. I repositioned it slightly until it straight stitched when in the far right position when tightened. It ended up being much simpler than expected. Hope this helps others with this issue!


  3. On your second pic of the knob that controls the “Straight” on 0 (zero) and Zig Zag (4) As Olaf Larsen said it, the PFAFF are famous for getting “REALLY” stuck due to the stuff that they put on them that over time became like crazy glue on all parts, I have TWO Pfaff 332, (exact same mechanism on 230 and 332) I bought the second one cheap because it was stuck, so I figure I will use for parts. Well it happens that my donor machine was easier to free up (up to a point) My Only issue still is that BOTH machines do not do Stitching patterns due to the fact that the inside of the know on your second picture are so stuck that I am going to have to take them apart to really free them up and see if they can do the stitching patterns.
    The knob in question does move on both machines, but something still stuck because still will not do the patterns.
    Warning, in trying to disassemble my donor machine, I broke two knobs the on in the picture and the button hole. Once I take them apart, my plan is to submerge them on WD-40 for a few days to see the result.


    1. hi, do you have the broken knob, Im looking for one of the zig zag knobs, if you look inside and follow the front cam lever mine was frozen to the shaft the shaft has the right knob rotate inside it, with this lever frozen the width can not move I freed mine soaking in wd40 and light tapps


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