Thursday, June 2, 2016

Which Quilting Machine?


Out of desperation for a dependable machine for quilting at home, I've begun to research my options. I'm looking only at quilting machines - not machines that quilt and a have regular sewing machine features like decorative stitches, nor sit-down mid-arm machines with 16" to 20" harps. Those don't allow walking foot quilting, and most often have a built-in stitch regulator that I wouldn't use.

Last week found me visiting two dealers:
Bernina Sewing Centre in Lake Mary selling Bernina and Janome
 and
Sew Mini Things in Mount Dora selling Juki, Babylock, Elna, and Singer

These dealerships are in Florida.

The two machines I am considering look and behave very much like my Pfaff Grand Quilter.

The two machines I quilted on that day were a Janome 1600 QC at Bernina Sewing Centre, and Juki TL-2010Q at Sew-Mini Things. I tested each machine using my own quilt sandwich of double batting (Quilter's Dream poly request and QD wool), and my Aurifil 50-weight thread.

Features that are the same on both machines
  • Lovely stitches - without/don't have a stitch regulator
  • Industrial, all metal, high speed:
    • Janome 1,600 stitches per minute
    • Juki 1,500 stitches per minute
  • Speed control: "turtle" to "running rabbit"
  • Straight stitch only (no zig-zag)
  • Needle up/needle down by pushing a button
  • 9" throat (harp)
  • Separate bobbin winding (while upper threads and bobbin are threaded)
  • Knee lift to lower/raise the presser foot
  • Reverse (backstitch) bar, meant to be pressed by one's right forearm
  • Left-to-right needle threading
  • Automatic needle threader (I never use it)
  • Automatic thread cutter (I never use it because a long tweezer/hemostat is needed to capture the bobbin thread and pull it back up)
  • Extended sewing machine bed with adjustable surface surround table
The Differences

Different Janome features
  • Uses HL-X5 machine needles
  • Thread-cutting by pressing a button
  • Feed dogs covered by a separate single-hole throat plate
  • Price includes only a straight stitch foot. Priced separately: a walking foot, darning foot, and ruler work foot.

Different Juki features
  • Uses standard sewing machine needles
  • Thread cutting by heel-tapping the foot control
  • Feed dogs lowered or raised by moving a switch
  • LED lighting
  • Price includes a straight stitch foot, two darning (quilting) feet, and a walking foot
What I personally noted:
  • Comparing the sound of each machine, as I was quilting... the Janome runs quieter. Since Dan accompanied me to each shop, he's the one who noticed! Having worked in manufacturing for John Deere for more than 30 years, I value his opinion that the Janome is quieter because it may go through a more fitted, tighter manufacturing process.
  • The Juki seemed to require more "push" to get the quilt sandwich moving under the needle in spite of the pressure on the presser foot raised to the high position.
I'm reluctant to quote prices because those will change. But I'll say that the two machines are within about $100 of each other even though:
  • A Janome purchase means buying three extra feet - walking foot, darning foot, ruler work foot.
  • A Juki purchase means buying a ruler work foot.
In either case, I'd want to have the quilting foot "toe" cut out, so it's like the one on my Pfaff, on the left. The foot on the right is the Pfaff ruler work, quarter-inch heel foot. Interestingly, it's possible that both of these feet may fit the Janome! I need to check on that. 

By the way, I'm not considering a Babylock Jane purchase because the price for that machine is considerably higher, though she includes eight sewing machine feet.

Whether I buy a Janome or a Juki may come down to the warranty, and convenience/distance to the dealership. But if you have any input about either machine, I'd love to hear what you have to say. Thanks! Linda

20 comments:

  1. I am awaiting your decision! It's so tempting....

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  2. I cannot really offer a preference, even though I have a Juki- it is a different model all together. However, I am very impressed with the extent of your research. I hope you are able to come to a decision and love what you buy!

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  3. I'm afraid I can't help you with your comparison but I will tell you I have the Juki and I absolutely love it. I use it to machine quilt but I also use it as my go to for machine piecing. It does an excellent job. I occasionally use the walking foot but often I find that the feed is strong enough to not even use it. My guess is they are both great machines and unless someone else has some great feedback, I would go with whichever store you are most comfortable with and is the closest to your home. I think you'll be pleased with either choice so it comes down to the dealer. Good luck. I'll be following to see what you decide.

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  4. I have a Janome (8200) and I just love it, for what it's worth. Good luck deciding!

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  5. The Janome sounds like my Viking Megaquilter, uses the same needles. When I'm having trouble with my Juki F600, I go to the Viking and don't have any breakage issues. But I think you'd be happy with either, you just may be happier with one over another. Good luck.

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  6. They both sound awesome and I am anxious for your chosen one to come home with you!

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  7. Good for you for doing your homework properly before buying. I can't help you, I'm afraid, as I have no experience with either machine. But reading about the pros and cons of both machines there seems not to be much of a difference, except for the noise level and the "less of a push" of the Janome. And I must say I wouldn't want any other light than LED on my machine anymore! Good luck!

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  8. I've been looking at the Juki myself (only online). I certainly do NOT need another machine! I sure wish I could try one out though! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. What did you think about the Juki walking foot?

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  9. Can't help with the decision, but thanks for posting the picture of your table setup. It had never occurred to me to just put the machine on a lower table. That will work better than cutting a hole in a table because the bobbin will be more accessible.

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  10. Hi Fribble! I can't reply to you by email because you're a no-reply commenter, but I wanted to say that I'm happy I could give you a different perspective on how to set up your quilting space. I think it's always helpful to see how other quilters and sewists set up their spaces.

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  11. Great idea to check for authorized dealers near you! I love my juki.

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  12. Linda I am currently sewing on a Janome Memory Craft 8900 and have been for a couple of years. Before that I had a Janome 11000 which was a combination sewing/embroidery machine and before that a Janome 4000. The 4000 I gave to my sister when I bought the 11000. I traded the 11000 for the 8900 because I wasn't using the embroidery features and wanted the quilting features of the 8900. All of these machines ran well, were/are quiet, and have needed no major repairs. One of them once had to have the threader replaced, which was minor. I am good to clean them and to replace needles, two things which I think are critical to any machine running well. I am not a fan of the Janome instruction book though - it's ok, but not very well written in my opinion. If you are familiar with either of those stores I would look at which one is going to give you the best service in the event you need it. I certainly don't quilt as much as you do but I feel comfortable with how well the Janome is made and would buy it again. blessings, marlene

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  13. I have the JUKI TL2010Q and I love it. One more difference that I think is worth mentioning is in the needle up/down function. The Juki has a true needle up/down function where the Janome and the Baby Lock Jane only have a memorized up/down function. This is especially handy for FMQ. If you press the needle down it will go down and take a stitch for you and bring up the bobbin thread. On the other machines you have to do it manually because it only memorizes whether you want the machine to stop with the needle up or down when you stop stitching... but they don't take an actual stitch like the Juki. This to me is a HUGE plus. I also bought mine from Timm at Sew-Mini Things. I have a full video review of the machine where you can see it in action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQsQQ6QhzN8
    Good luck!

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  14. I work parttime at a sewing machine shop. I know there is a new Juki quilting machine--an upgrade to the TL2010Q, but I don't know the model number. My boss told me about it last week. It has more features than the 2010Q, for just a little more money.
    I have the Husqvarna Viking MegaQuilter, which is basically the same machine as your Pfaff Grand Quilter. I love my machine. I bought it used and have had it 10 1/2 years.
    Good luck--can't wait to see what you decide.

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  15. Well I have no input but do look forward to hearing about which machine you decide on and why. One of these days I might be in the market as my Bernina is quite old.

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  16. I am sure you can't go wrong with either and I am curious about the ruler feet. Is it just the open toe or one you use with a ruler? Can't wait to see what you pick!

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  17. I have a Juki TL98Q and I love it! I bought it for quilting only but as my Bernina 1080 is getting older I've been using it for piecing as well.

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  18. I have a Juki 2000 that I love. I use mine on and off a quilt frame. The only issues I've found is that is does not like purchased pre-wound bobbins and that the Juki brand bobbins are expensive, however I have purchase Brother bobbins that were much less expensive and worked perfect with my machine.

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  19. I have the same Pfaff Grand Quilter that you have and I love love love it. I use it for piecing and for quilting. For free motion quilting and I also bought the walking foot for straight line quilting and for putting on binding.
    I love the scissors on it and haven't had any problems with it or need tweezers to bring up bobbin thread.
    I watched a demo at the sewing store on the Juki and didn't care for the foot pedal arrangement. Needs some unusual leg/foot movement to operate it properly.
    Although the Juki and Janome are both good machines, I am partial to the Janome because I have an older model Janome sewing machine that I also love.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Betty. You're a no-reply commenter, so I am unable to send you an email to say thanks for your input. I have loved my Pfaff Grand Quilter and used it for all my FMQ and ruler work! No regrets about buying if off Craigslist six years ago. I'm practically a non-stop quilter, and I have come to the conclusion I've just worn it out! If I knew of something that could be done to fix it, I would. But, this Pfaff has been seen by two techs, and conversed about with two more techs, and even been consulted about with Pfaff headquarters. The machine is all timed and set to "factory standards," and still skips stitches and breaks threads. The tech who worked on it for hours didn't charge me a penny because she couldn't fix it. As for the Juki, I did like quilting on it when I tested it. The foot pedal is okay for me, but perhaps that's because I am accustomed to using the Bernina "heel tap" to raise and lower the needle. Still, I'm leaning toward buying the Janome, but I have to find the right dealer! The one closest to me won't sell me a 1600P unless I buy the frame too, and the other dealer is more than an hour away. Sheesh.

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