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Sewing machines – high end vs mid range and a review of the Juki 2000qi

Hey quilty peeps!

I’ve had my newest sewing machine for over a month now and I thought it was time for a proper review + a little bit more.  Liiiiiiiike….how I feel about spending A LOT of money on a sewing machine.

a little history

From 2008 – 2012ish I sewed and quilted on just a basic machine.  This was my second machine.  It was a great machine.  No bells or whistles, but it got the job done.  It just couldn’t handle the amount of sewing I performed over time (I sew 50 hours a week to support my family).  I also started FMQing and I thought I’d be better off with a machine that was made for a quilter.

Enter my Bernina 550QE.

That machine (which is incredible) cost more than I’ve ever spent on anything accept tuition, vacations, car or house.  Let me be very clear that I looooove that machine.  I was sold on it at the stitch regulator.  I learned how to free motion quilt on it.  It’s fancy.  It’s pretty.  They hand polish the feet when they make it.  And it’s tough to boot.  I have nothing bad to say about Bernina.  I consider them the dream machines.  And it really was a dream when I purchased it.

But that price…..

I told myself I am running a business, I should have the best.  I told myself that anyone who uses their sewing machine as much as I do deserves that machine.  That machine could make my life so much easier and less stressful (and it did).  But it kinda embarrassed me to have spent so much money.  I hate when my husband reminds me of what I spent on it.  And he does, every time he wants a new golf club.

To be clear, I’ve never once regretted the purchase.  It was just this thorn in my side.  People who grew up where I grew up do not purchase sewing machines with those kind of price tags.  Even the lady at the dealership told me,  “I could get there in a Camry, but it sure is nice to drive a Mercedes.” (her very words)

the trouble

So back in January, my Bernina (my BFF), had to go in for some maintenance.  My dealer is 45 minutes away, so it’s a hassle and to top it off he told me it would take 4 weeks.

I dropped the machine off and came home and started working on my Janome (which is a nice machine, but not capable of keeping up with me).  It also refused to FMQ.  This is a feature I require of a sewing machine (I like the look of straight line quilting, but I’m not a fan of the actual doing it), plus the Janome didn’t have a walking foot to do the straight line quilting.

I was at that place again.  That place where I want to go buy a back up machine, but do I want to spend the money.  But I sew a whole bunch.  I sew to support my family.  I need a good back up machine.  And my dealer had told me that I needed to start bringing the Bernina in every 6 months if I wanted to keep from spending money on repairs since I’m using it as much as I am.  These were the thoughts that ran through my head.  Over and over again, until I convinced myself.

I decided I needed a good back up.  One that could do the job I needed for the least amount of money I had to spend.

I put together a plan.  What if I bought a machine that could one day be on a longarm?  Then that wouldn’t be spending money unwisely.  Then this purchase could be more validated.

So I saw this.

This is the Juki 2000qi + a long arm frame.  Can I buy just the Juki now and the frame later?

Yep.

I did some research, read some reviews.  I was impressed with the reviews.  I was impressed with the size of that table!  The speed.  And look how sleek and beautiful it is!  Is this not the prettiest sewing machine you ever did see?

It’s made for a quilter.  It comes with all the things a quilter needs.

Let’s dive into what I think of it.

a review of Juki 2000qi

I squealed with delight after pulling it from the box.  It’s just so pretty!

But let’s get to the important features:

  • it can sew 1500 stitches per minute
  • that extension table is a whopping 12×18″
  • the throat space is about 9″ (wow!)
  • it has a knee lever (more on this in a min)
  • it has an automatic thread trimmer (more on this)
  • separate thread and bobbin
  • it’s heavy and doesn’t bounce or vibrate
  • comes with 1/4″ foot, walking foot, quilting foot and a compensating presser foot

 So lets talk about the knee lever.  I’ve only had one other machine with a knee lever and it was always at the edge of the machine, so it made it hard to use with my chair.  It seemed either get a new chair or don’t use the knee lever.

The knee lever on the Juki is in the middle of the machine, right where my knees are.  It’s a great design for it.  I don’t have to compromise.  I just nudge my knee and the presser foot lifts.

This comes in handy for me everyday, but major handy when I’m say sewing dresden plates down onto a square and I’m having to lift my presser foot constantly.

It has a separate needle and bobbin thread so I don’t have to pull my thread from my needle every time I need to wind a bobbin.

Besides the big table and the speed and the prettiness, my favorite part is the automatic thread cutter.

First, if you have always had an automatic thread cutter you are spoiled (JK!), but seriously life is not as easy breezy when you have to depend on that manual cutter on the sides of most machines or worse when you have to use your scissors because your machine doesn’t have a manual cutter each and every time you need to cut your thread.

Now you are probably thinking that I press that button every time I’m done stitching to cut my thread.

Nope.  Think again.

I press down on the foot control and voila, thread cut.

Let that sink in for a minute…..

I’m sewing, sewing, sewing, and I stop.  I put my foot down on the foot control and cut my thread and then I lift my presser foot with my knee.

I AM COMPLETELY HANDS FREE HERE.

(If you don’t get that you are not quilting enough!  Now go make more quilts until you do get it!)

One more thing about the automatic thread cutter:  I used to sew two pieces of fabric together and then have to cut the thread where I started at it because it would be a strand of about 2-3″.  With the automatic thread cutter, it cuts it where you can completely skip that step.  It leaves just enough room to keep it from popping out of the needle.  And there is nothing to cut at all.

This doesn’t sound like much when I say it, but when I’m not stopping to cut my starting thread each and every time mountains of time gets saved, which ends up adding up to leave me even more time to make quilts.  Little things, people!

Here is the feet the machine comes with. (left to right).

1/4″ foot – my piecing improved astronomically when I got the 1/4″ foot (it came standard with my Bernina as well).  Using those lines on the needle plate is not easy.  Using the 1/4″ foot is.  After you use it you will wonder how you ever made 1/4″ seams without it.

Compensating foot – I’ve never used this foot before, but its supposed to make sewing the edge of things easy.  Your fabric will flush with the inner side of the foot and the other side will be on the fabric.  Makes for perfect top stitching.  See it in action here.  I think I might try it the next time I applique or sew down dresdens.

Quilting foot – also known as a mending foot.  It’s used for free motion quilting.

Walking foot – this foot is for even feeding.  “But Melanie, you don’t like to straight line quilt.”  No, I don’t, but I put the binding on my quilt with this foot.  If you don’t use a walking foot, you will get pinches.  If you are straight line quilting, you know those tiny pinches when the fabric bunches and you end up with this little pinch making your quilting look not quite perfect.  That’s because your multiple fabric layers are not feeding together.  If you were using a walking foot, those pinches would never happen.  And the same thing goes for binding.  No pinches.

Let’s talk about free motion quilting.  It’s like butter.  BUTTER!  You do not need to spend $1000 on  a stitch regulator.  The Juki makes this as smooth as it can be.

Since I have FMQed on several different kinds of machines, I can tell you exactly why the Juki does this step better than any other machine I have ever done it on.  It’s simply the speed.

Let me reference the Bernina (it is also like butter).  It uses a stitch regulator.  You plug it in, you FMQ, if you go too fast it beeps at you to slow down.  It does this because if you go too fast and the machine cannot keep up with you, your stitches will be uneven (some tighter, some looser).  I move faster than my Bernina does.

The Juki however, moves faster than me.  That means if I push my foot down as much as I can, it is booking it across that quilt.  My hands can’t keep up.  This adds up to my stitches being even.  Look at them in the above pic.  You can see them best on the greenish fabric.  Even stitches.

So now that we know all the oooh’s and aaah’s of the Juki 2000, I should tell you the things that could be better.

The cons list.
  1. The bobbin compartment – it’s not terrible.  Once you get used to it, it’s okay.  But when you are FMQing and you run out of bobbin.  I have to get up under my quilt to get to that bobbin.

I’m used to front loading bobbins.  It’s just a change.  All changes are hard.  This one is a little pesky.

2. the needle – this is just another change that I’m not used to.  This machine does not use Schmetz.  It requires Organ needles.

Sorry about the cat paws.  He’s needy sometimes.  I found the needles on Amazon here.

Also, the needle is turned sideways instead of front to back.  Just a little thing. It’s not any heavy trouble.

3.  The bobbin doesn’t seem to hold much.  It’s either that or that it is just faster so it feels like it doesn’t hold much thread.

4.  The walking foot is narrow.  It also doesn’t come with guides for me to grid quilt with ease.  I would have to actually mark the quilt to be able to quilt a straight line every 1″.  The Bernina did come with several guides, plus the foot was wide.

It may be that I’m just new to using this machine, but my walking foot keeps slipping off the edge of my binding when I get to close to it.  Hopefully, I will get used to and stop stitching as close to the edge.

5.  I can’t wind my bobbin and sew.  When you put it into bobbin gear, the needle ceases to move up and down.

6.  The Juki only straight line stitches.  Anytime, you are working with a straight line stitch only machine, that machine will be faster and it will straight line stitch very well.  You know that place on your needle plate that you needle goes down into.  On most machines that place is something like a small rectangle.  Have you ever got your fabric buried in there?  I certainly have.  On a straight line machine there is just a tiny hole there, no rectangle, so your fabric never gets buried.  One plus.  But when you have a straight line machine you HAVE to have another machine.

7.  The Juki likes both polyester and cotton thread for sewing, but for FMQing it will only accept cotton thread.

Conclusion

You have to find a good machine that works for your needs.  If you are a quilter, I would advise you to get a quilter’s machine.  It usually means it comes with all the presser feet that a quilter needs.  It also usually means a bigger throat space.  Bigger throat space = easier time FMQing.

If you are just learning to sew, I’d get something cheaper, maybe around $200-300.  Make sure you like sewing.  Make sure you are going to stick with it.

If sewing and quilting is your passion / job / super major hobby invest in a better machine.  I consider the Juki to be a good mid-range machine.  I think my Bernina is a high-end machine.  I feel like the Bernina was an extravagance.

So what am I going to be quilting on?  The Juki.  I like quilting on it better than my Bernina.  Just because I get even stitches.

What machine am I going to be piecing on?  The Juki.  It’s faster.  I like having all my pieces on that table top in easy reach.  I like the hands free, the automatic cutter and the placement of the knee lift.  All make for faster piecing and less headache.

Also, after purchasing the Juki and snapping a pic of it to put on Instagram, I found out that all my quilting friends have the very same Juki.  How did I not know this?  Apparently, this machine is very popular with quilters.  And now I know why.

Helpful Links

The Juki 2000qi on Amazon

The Juki 2000qi at Sewing Machines Plus

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One Comment

  1. Want to add, especially considering your 550 is in the shop, the Juki needs far less maintenance. Every thing on it is industrial in a home use shell. Anyone that can pin down why these two machines stich the way they do, and why the bsr is limiting, knows her stuff.. I do not quilt, I fix both brands, you are correct on all points, nice review.

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