The Owner's Manual
The manual that comes with the machine is not overly detailed particularly when it comes to FMQ however in fairness my experience most manuals are just bare bones information. The Juki manual is available online if you are interested in having a look; you will find it here. Given that the machine is sold as a quilting machine it would have been helpful if it contained more detailed FMQ information and in particular thread selection (more on this in a bit) and trouble shooting FMQ problems.
Juki Customer Service
Before I started to FMQ I wanted to lubricate the Jukster. The instructions very clear except for the bobbin case. I emailed Juki America and asked for photographs showing exactly how to oil the the bobbin case. I received an email from Elbert the technician and he sent me the requested photographs along with detailed instructions. He also offered to speak to me on the telephone if I needed help. Great customer service!
I love to use Superior's The Bottom Line in the bobbin but also on top, especially if I am outlining appliques. My test quilt is my Mom's Lazy Punk #2.
I threaded the Jukster with The Bottom Line on top and in the bobbin and I was off to the races. I stitched for a bit and then the thread shred, usually when sewing from left to right but not always. I made all the usual adjustments including rethreading the machine, adjusting the presser foot pressure, upper thread tension, needle size, needle type and so on but there was no improvement. I emailed Elbert the technician and he emailed me back with suggestions and he attached a document with detailed instructions on machine set up for FMQ. One of the things he told me is that Juki recommends not using a thread any lighter than 50 wt. This is one area where there is a deficiency; if the machine performs best with thread of a minimum weight it would be helpful to include the information in the manual. I changed the upper thread to Superior So Fine and the problem was resolved! The woman who sold me the Juki is a sewer but not a quilter so she has limited experience and knowledge when it comes to FMQ so it is a real bonus to be able to email or call a Juki technician for assistance.
I did test invisible thread when I tried out the machine and had no problem. I've not tried it on a quilt but will do so in the future and I'll publish my findings.
Gorgeous! I am beyond thrilled with the quality of the stitches. They are perfect and even and beautiful. I have the speed set at just below the midpoint and it is fast but not so fast that I can't control the quilt. To me the stitches very much resemble the quality of stitch one would see on a long arm machine. On the Janome I find my stitches are much smaller and since I like a lot of quilting the dense quilting and small stitches combined make for a stiff quilt.
Harp Space and Visibility
The harp space on my Janome 7700 is 11" wide and the Jukester's is 9". I thought this might be a bit of a shortfall but the needle shaft area is so narrow and the space so open that there is great visibility in front of and behind the needle, much better than on the Janome. And the Jukster's harp is taller! In this picture I have half of the quilt rolled up and through the harp. There is oodles of space for my hands!
A Word of Caution
- Unlike my Janome, the Jukster will sew even if the presser foot is up. When I stop sewing I take my foot right off the foot pedal to avoid an accident.
- When I stop sewing the machine stops immediately unlike my computerized machines which seems to take a second to stop.
- When I turn it on it is on unlike computerized machines which take a few seconds.
- The Jukster is mechanical. I grew up before the age of computerized machines and learned to sew on a Singer treadle machine. When my Mom finally got an electric sewing machine it was mechanical of course. The sound and feel of a mechanical sewing machine is very familiar and comfortable and the fact that it isn't computerized is so much less intimidating.
- The metal bobbin fills FAST. I can fill a bobbin with The Bottom Line (60wt polyester thread) in 40 seconds flat!
- When the bobbin gets low on thread I don't have problems unlike the Janome (when the thread gets low or runs out the bobbin gets noisy and I can experience problems such as nesting). When the Jukster's bobbin runs out there are no problems aside from having to put in another bobbin of thread!
- I don't like using extension tables; I prefer to sit my machine in the table so that it is flush with the table top however as extension tables go the Juki is well designed and easy to use. It comes completely assembled (unlike the Janome) and the legs just flip down for use like a card table.
- The Juki has a telescoping thread carrier built in whereas it was a separate purchase for my Janome machines.
- The Juki has a huge foot control pedal (4.5" x 7") so it makes sewing very comfortable. I find my Janome pedal tends to slide away from me and as my foot stretches out to reach it I'm sprawling in the chair. I just know that has happened to you! The Juki pedal seems to stay put, no sliding around! There is also a built in thread trimmer in the pedal; when finished sewing press your heel down to clip the threads (this is in addition to the thread trimmer on the control panel on the machine)
- I wish that the extra feet and tools had a case so they can be safely stored together. I'll pick up a little case for the tools and that problem will be solved.
- It would be nice to have one more LED light in the harp area of the machine however the light that it does have is large and bright.
- The Juki does not come with an open toe FMQ foot or a clear FMQ foot. While not absolute necessities they would be helpful tools to have in the kit.
Bearing in mind that I've only had the machine one week, I have pieced one quilt top and partially quilted that top. At this point I can say that as things stand I am in love with it! The Juki TL2010Q is a great machine and a real work horse. It sews through the layers of the quilt sandwich effortlessly, quickly and it produces beautiful stitches. I've long said I wanted a bare bones machine that was made for piecing and for quilting and the Juki fills the bill perfectly.
My Janome 7700 is at Janome for servicing so when it comes home I will try it out again. I think it has it's place, especially for tiny detail work like I did in my Lazy Girl quilt although I'm sure that with time and some practice I will be comfortable doing this type of quilting on the Juki.
Detail of filler quilting in Lazy Girl quilt
At this moment the Juki might just be the preferred machine! We'll see how the Janome performs when it comes home. I'll keep you updated on these two machines and the Juki in particular over the next few months!
Until I post again, happy sewing!