Thursday, July 12, 2012

Quilting at the speed of light

Is there anything more fantastic than a sewing machine that goes so fast it has a brake on the foot pedal? Would owning one allow me to piece an entire quilt in 45 minutes? Would it at least allow me to beat out my friend Angie for the title of Most Prolific Retreat Go-er? These are the questions that have burned in my mind every time I encounter and salivate over a Juki 98E or Q.

For many years now, I have polled everyone I know has or find out has a Juki 98E or Q to see if they love it to pieces or want to throw it across the room half the time, because in doing some simple research the first thing I found out is that they can be really temperamental when it comes to tension, and I have enough bad temperament in my home with two preteen girls. All of my research was completely useless to me as a potential buyer, since the "I love it so much that it pains me that my husband will not let it sleep at the end of our bed so I can stay always close to its" were dead even with the "It makes me want to leap out of my sewing room window with my hair on fires". So that did not help my decision.

Earlier this week, I decided the only way to know for sure was to finally give one a test drive. Newsflash - I'm not one to make a quick decision on big purchases.

So Tuesday I borrowed my friend Michelle's Juki, and yesterday I spent 5 hours fighting with it because it desperately wanted me to be in the hair on fire group, and then once I was done with the 25% grade learning curve, another one hour to completely quilt a twin sized quilt.

Michelle's Juki is very much at home on my dining room table. 

Note that I did not say "one hour to completely quilt a twin sized quilt with award winning stitchery". But still. Holy love at 1500 stitches per minute. I'm now officially in the market and hoping Santa is kind to me.

Even given all the love, I can totally see why my polling of Juki owners was so split down the middle. Because even if I am already making a pallet at the end of the bed for one, the pros are still even with the cons:


1. The tension is, as advertised, a beeyotch. Both needle and bobbin tensions have to be adjusted, and adjusted, and adjusted.
2. The bobbin runs out very quickly due to the high number of stitches per minute.
3. The old fashioned bobbin case is not only awkward to insert, but it quite literally gave me an infection under my thumbnail because it was so hard to get out that I jammed the flap under my nail when taking it out and woke up at 3am with it throbbing.
4. It seemed that every time I had to change out the bobbin, the top tension would get screwed up too, so I had to rethread the entire thing. Again.

Caveat to 1 and 4 - I was using Sulky thread, which I have always had terrible luck using and once again it was very difficult. It is up to all of you to please, if you see me even glancing at Sulky displays anywhere at any time to slap me. I am sure they are a lovely company and I love the look of their thread, but we just don't get along.


1. It is utterly and completely astounding to me how much difference a mid-arm makes when quilting as opposed to a domestic.
2. For a machine that is going faster than a race car, it is surprisingly quiet, so I would not be in danger of missing the call when someone loses their shoes/backpack/screwdriver/sunglasses and I am obligated to whip out my womanly finding powers.
3. One hour to quilt a whole quilt? Wowza.
4. Nice even stitches, and did I mention the brake pedal? You have to love that, truly.

I feel fairly confident that Cons 1 and 4 might work themselves out as I got to know my machine. Con 2 might be solved by using really thin thread (metrolene) and Con 3 might entail I wear a thumb condom of some sort, but it could be done.

My simple, but finished and decent, quilting.

Every now and then you find the perfect backing.

Anyone know of a good Juki deal?


Angie said...

If I win Lucky For Life tonight, you can HAVE mine! Angie

Renae said...

I vowed when Hoodlum #2 was out of preschool/Pre-K, I would finally get myself a Juki. No more tuition payments!...Jukis for everyone! Still hasn't happened yet. But somehow, I don't seem to have a problem writing out checks to dance studios, karate studios, soccer programs, swim lessons, etc, etc!

bernie said...

Love it. When I first purchased it I too had trouble adjusting the tension, but good thread makes a huge WORLD of difference. I have never had a problem with tension since switching over to YLI or Superior threads. It is set up full time now for FMQ and it does a fantastic job with a walking foot for straight stitch quilting too. Bernie

A.G. Lindsay said...

Hope you get it. I want to live vicariously through you! Personally, I don't trust any machine newer than 25 years old, though (or maybe I just tell myself that because I can't AFFORD a machine newer than 25 years old...)

Barbara Chojnacki said...

Beth- I bought a Brother 1500S last summer- cheaper, but similar machine to the Juki 98 and Pfaff Hobby Grand Quilter and Janome 1600 and I think one of the Baby Locks. I joined the Pfaff Hobby Grand Quilter Yahoo group (members have all of the above brand machines) a year or so before I bought my machine. I love it to pieces (except for the bobbins, of course), and as you said, it's amazing what a difference those few inches make. I have only had problems once with Sulky threads (I used Sulky almost exclusively on quilts I quilted on my domestic machines)- on the last quilt I did, so I'm wondering if it was just a bad batch or something with that color thread. I've successfully used Superior, King Tut, and even cones of unnamed cotton thread I bought at a thrift shop I have a second-hand Grace frame I bought several years ago, and one of these years I'm going to put the machine on the frame (when I get the Black Hole of Calcutta cleared out so I have room to sew up there). I was at a show where apparently a guild member had one of those machines on a frame, as many of the quilts were quilted with narrower pantos and some came pretty close to rivaliing longarm results.

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