Put a quarter in the Juki-Box!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

My Juki, Brienne <3

As I mentioned in my previous post, I recently started to find myself getting disillusioned with my sewing machine. I've had Broseph, my Brother CE5500PRW since fall of 2011, and it was the first machine I chose/purchased for myself. I had been cranking out My Little Pony hats for my etsy shop at the time and used a little bit of my profits to buy him as a factory refurbished model for $100-ish. It was a bargain and Broseph has definitely served me well...

But sometimes your Mr. Right turns out to be more of a Mr. Right Now. I first started having my doubts about Broseph when I started quilting in January. Somehow I felt unsure that he'd be able to handle lots of quilting. He's a very lightweight machine and I started wondering, "Bro! Do you even lift quilt?!" Nearly six months after I started quilting, he's quilted all of my quilts without too much trouble. However, little things started to get on my nerves. Like always having to change the needle position for a straight stitch (why this machine doesn't default to center position is beyond me). Mysteriously tangling top-thread in the components, watching him struggle to get through a few thick seams, and a few thread-nests too many. 

I started researching more high-end quilting machines back in March, mostly just out of curiosity. My knowledge of sewing machines was limited to a few blips from past conversations with Patty. My limited understanding of the situation was that Berninas were the Rolls Royce of sewing machines, Janomes are the BMWs, and the Singers/Brothers line mine are more like the Toyota Camry of the the sewing universe. My Bernina/Janome research resulted in a severe case of sticker shock that quickly shut down any ideas of upgrading... until I saw a photo of a Juki on Instagram. 

I can't even remember who posted the photo or which model Juki the photo was, but I recall the poster saying they were naming their machine Megumi, befitting of a Japanese machine. I had never heard of Juki, but the name was so cute and simple that it became an earworm. I researched, read specs and reviews, and fell in love with the Juki HZL-F600. It had all the features I wanted at a fraction of the price of a Bernina or Janome. Despite the obvious level of want, I somehow couldn't rationalize spending $1K on a machine. Broseph worked fine and I still consider myself to be a quilt noob. 

As time wore on, I couldn't forget about Juki. Then the struggle of quilting my Obsession Quilt on Broseph pushed me over the edge. Before I finished that spiral, I had committed myself to seriously looking into a Juki. The next day I called three Houston-area Juki dealers. All three said they had them in stock. The first quoted me $1700 and got very huffy and rude when I said I had seen them priced at $1K. Okay, cross them off the list. The next quoted me $1050, getting warmer, but still having a hard time swallowing the price. The third said they had no new ones in stock, but could order me a new one for $999. Since I wanted to try out the machine the following day, I was about to hang up when the woman added, "Or we can sell you the floor model for $879. We just took it out of the box a few days ago for the local quilt show." Bam. Done. 

Saturday morning, hubby and I drove down to Alvin Sewing and Vacuum to check it out. After test driving it for a short bit, I was jumping out of my skin with excitement. The store owners, Mark and Shelly Tacquard were super nice and helpful. Within the hour my Juki was all packed up and on the way home with us!

On the drive home, hubby and I discussed what I should name my Juki. I decided on Brienne after Brienne of Tarth from Game of Thrones. Why? She's big and she's badass! Since I brought her home on Saturday, I've already sewn up two projects on her, and it's been a dream. I can't wait to see how she quilts!


  1. I'm late to this post, but I'm wondering what you like at the $1k price point that you didn't have before? I had that same Brother machine until it broke, at which point I replaced it with another Brother in the ~$400 range. Honestly I don't see a difference between the two and I'm wondering what I'd gain if I went more expensive...

    1. Believe me, I had the exact same mindset for a long time, but I really do feel the difference with my Juki. One of the main things that I knew I wanted was automatic tension. It makes free motion quilting exponentially easier for me since I could never seem to get consistent results before. I've been using my Juki daily since I got it and the only time I ever have to manually adjust tension is for gathering.

      I'm also starting to understand why a lot of quilting books start off with the author stating they use a machine that $2K+, but that you don't *need* a fancy machine to have good results. It's true. What you gain is a smoother, more enjoyable sewing experience. My Juki also saves me lots of time (not having to mess with tension, automatic thread trimming, etc.) which is huge for me. I used to get frustrated with my Brother all the time. It wasn't a bad machine by any means, but it can't hold a candle to my Juki.

      The way I look at it, it's all about the experience. A basic model economy car will get you from point A to point B just as well as a luxury car, but for some people the fancy GPS, seat warmers, and rear-view camera make driving a more enjoyable prospect. And if you drive a ton, which would you prefer to be in? Like a car, you won't know what you're missing until you test drive the high-end model...then you may be doomed!