SEW I SEE!

quilts, treadle sewing machines, crochet, watercolor, dogs, & other fun stuff

Welcoming the Juki into the Fold

There’s a new sewing machine in the house!  And this time it’s an actual new machine, not a “new” vintage machine.  
I bought my “old” computerized sewing machine– a Brother Designio DZ2400– during a Black Friday sale in 2014.  It’s been a good machine, and it’s still going pretty strong.  So much so that I’m keeping it as a back-up machine– especially because it has some features that, while I don’t use them often, are occasionally very useful.  (Zig-zag and decorative stitches, mainly.)
However, it does sometimes make some squeaky noises, and… well, it just felt like a good time for an upgrade to a better machine for piecing.  That upgrade, bought in another sale around Black Friday, is a Juki TL-2000Qi. 

Be Advised: This is a long, rambling post about the features of the new sewing machine, comparisons between the new and the old, and so on.  It’s probably not interesting to anyone who isn’t considering buying the same sewing machine, so if you just want to skim through and look at the photos, I’ll understand. 😉 Better yet, I won’t even know about it, so skim (or just plain leave) at will! 😆 
Let the rambling commence! 

The Juki TL-2000Qi is a semi-industrial mechanical sewing machine– something that straddles the line between a typical domestic machine (like my old Brother) and a fully-fledged industrial sewing machine, which would be overkill for someone like me (not to mention less convenient and much more expensive).  It’s very solidly built, powerful (can sew through thick fabrics or multiple layers with ease), and capable of 1,500 stitches per minute, which is useful if you’re a speed demon or interested in sit-down FMQ.  

It can only stitch a straight line– no zig-zags or other stitches– but as someone who really only ever makes quilts, that’s fine.  It’s very good at making that straight line, and it’s less likely to eat the corners of your triangles than a machine with zig-zag and other stitch options.  I’ll keep the Brother for any times I actually need a zig-zag or decorative stitch.
One thing I appreciate about the Brother is the drop-in bobbin with the clear cover, so you can easily monitor how much thread is left on the bobbin.  (So very handy!)  However, I’m familiar with this type of bobbin system (side-loaded, with the bobbin standing vertically); it’s not a problem.  I’ll just have to get used to paying attention to avoid “sewing” long seams with no bobbin thread.  Or I’ll just sigh, change the bobbin, and sew it again!  
Another feature the Brother has that this machine lacks is a built-in speed control.  Basically, you can set that machine to low, medium, or high speed, and it won’t allow you to go over the speed you’ve selected.  This feature is good for those who are new to sewing machines or anyone who may have trouble controlling how hard they press the pedal.  
I was a little apprehensive about going without the speed control, because the top speed of this machine is rather intimidating!  However, I preferred not to go up a level to the Juki TL-2010Q.  It’s almost the same machine as the TL-2000Qi, but costs a bit more for only a few upgrades (as far as I understood).  I figured I should be able to control the speed well enough, and so far it’s been absolutely fine– though I do get a bit nervous when the dogs try to go under the table while the machine is on!  I’m doing my best to avoid them stepping on the pedal and doing some accidental sewing!

As a non-computerized machine, the Juki doesn’t have a stop/start button– that button that allows you to begin and stop sewing without engaging the foot pedal.  The Brother does have that, but it only works if the pedal is unplugged, and I’ve probably only ever used it once or twice, so I don’t expect to miss it.

The Juki has the needle up/down setting, which I loved in the Brother, but also an automatic thread cutter.  Not only can you cut the thread with a button on the machine, but you can also conveniently cut the thread by tapping your heel down on the pedal, without having to stop and look for the button. 

From what I’ve read, some people have trouble accidentally cutting the thread with this heel-tap feature.  If that’s a problem, there’s an accessory you can buy to put on the under-side of the pedal and prevent the heel-tap function from engaging.  (It probably ought to have come with the machine, but I can’t say I’m surprised it doesn’t!)  Other people get around it by turning the pedal 180° so that the heel is where the toe would usually be.  (Seems like you’d need some time to get used to that, but maybe it’s not a difficult adjustment to make.)  So far, I haven’t had an issue with the pedal as it is.  

I haven’t actually been using the thread-cutter as much as I thought I might, though that may change.  I’m usually chain-piecing, and will generally just use snips when it’s time to cut the thread at the end of a chain (with a scrap to hold my place under the needle).  It might be more useful with other types of sewing.  Maybe it’s good for things like foundation paper piecing.
Both the Brother and the Juki allow you to raise or lower the feed dogs, which is useful for FMQ (and probably other things, but don’t ask me what they are!).  The Juki makes this easier, though, because the switch is right there on the front of the machine.  It has the ability to back tack, adjustable stitch length (up to 6mm), and adjustable presser foot pressure, as well.  (I think those are all pretty standard features for modern domestic machines.)
Both machines also have an extension table, which is a great accessory that makes sewing much easier.  The Juki’s is quite a bit bigger than the Brother’s.  I’m mostly used to it, now, but when I first set it up, it felt huge.
The Juki is the first machine I’ve sewn on that has a knee lever for lifting the presser foot.  It took me a few sewing sessions to really get the hang of it, but after a little practice, it became clear why people like that feature.  It’s certainly useful!  I hardly ever use the traditional presser foot lifter, now.
There’s also an automatic threader, but I’ve yet to try to figure that out.  I like the one on the Brother, and I’m sure I’ll be able to learn how to use this one, but it has a reputation for being a bit tricky to get the hang of (and you can even break/bend it if you don’t do it correctly), so I’ve put it off.  One of these days, I’ll sit down and repeat the process a few times until I have it down pat, but so far, I’ve only had to thread the machine a few times, and I’ve just done it the old-fashioned way.  
One big difference between this machine and the Brother is oiling.  The Brother didn’t even come with a bottle or phial of oil, and the manual specifically stated that it didn’t require oiling.  You’re supposed to take it in to be serviced, so maybe the person servicing the machine would replenish any internal oiling stations then.  …I’ve never taken it to the shop… So… Whatever!  (What?!  It wasn’t broken!)  
…Maybe that’s why the poor thing gets a little squeaky at times.  (Now I feel a tiny bit guilty… Does anyone else get those horrible nightmares where you realize you’ve left a baby or a helpless animal in a closet for days, weeks, months?  The poor thing is always alive and okay, though feeble, but the guilt is still tremendous!  Fortunately, those bad dreams aren’t as common, these days!)  
Well, anyway, the Brother actively tells you NOT to oil it, but the Juki is apparently thirsty.  It demands frequent oiling, even as often as daily, depending on use.  I’m familiar with oiling, at this point, thanks to the quilting machine and the vintage machines, all of which require oil.  
I followed a tip I saw on a YouTube review:  Mark the holes that need oil with tiny bits of washi tape.  The tape can easily be removed, if needed, but it helps you quickly find the places that need oil, because there are also holes in the machine that don’t need oil, which can be tricky if you don’t want to constantly consult the manual.  
Ok, that’s probably enough rambling about the machine itself (for now!), but there’s one more thing to mention before I end this blog entry.  A lot of people are less than impressed by the amount of light provided by this sewing machine.  I haven’t used a ton of modern, lighted sewing machines, so I can’t really compare, but yes, it’s not a lot of light.  I noticed multiple reviewers had added an LED strip to the harp area of their sewing machine– not just for this sewing machine, but any that could use a bit more light (and most can).  
I ordered one from Amazon.  There are a variety of similar options available, so I chose one that had good reviews, watched a couple of videos of people installing them, and gave it a go.  I pretty much agree with what most reviewers had to say about these LED strips:
  • They do provide a good bit of extra light.  
  • It’s a bit on the blue side, which I wasn’t sure I’d love, because I generally prefer a warmer tone of light– but they all seem to be that way.  I haven’t found the slightly blue-ish light distracting or unpleasant, so that’s good!
  • The sticky strip attaching it to the machine may eventually give out, but if it does, you can add new double-sided tape.  I’m not too worried about it.  
  • Most of the light falls in the harp area, to the right of the sewing machine needle, which isn’t perfect, but it’s probably about as good as it can be, with an LED strip attached to the machine itself.  
A few more observations/points:

  • The strip I bought is dimmable, but I don’t think I’ll ever care to dim it.  
  • I wouldn’t want this to be my only light source, so I’ll continue to use the extra lamps on my table, in addition to the ceiling-mounted light in that room.  Yes, you sacrifice some table surface with lamps of this sort, but good lighting is worth losing a little space.  (And I’m lucky to have a large table, to begin with.  If table space is in short supply, maybe a floor lamp would work better, or you could possibly hang an LED task lamp from the ceiling.)
  • After watching those videos of how others had placed their lights, I decided to position my LED strip a bit further back, rather than right down the center of the harp/throat area.  I didn’t want bright LEDs glaring into my line of sight.  This seems to work for me, lighting the bed of the machine without burning into my eyes.  
  • Another positioning tidbit:  Rather than putting the whole strip inside the harp area, I put the very end of the strip right along the back edge of the needle area, then went up into the harp.  It’s a little difficult to explain (photo below), but I stuck the end of the strip in the area just behind the needle, under the presser foot lever.  Whether or not this positioning is possible will vary by machine.  I’m sure some have plenty of space for this, while it will be impossible with others.  On this machine, it’s a tight fit.  At the moment, part of the sticky side is kind of exposed, hanging off the edge, so we’ll see what happens in the long run.  For now, it’s working, and I thought this would help extend the lighted area a little further to the left, where it would be closer to the needle.  
Overall, I’m happy with it!  It definitely lights up an area that would otherwise be in shadow, and the more light the better, as far as I’m concerned!

I took several photos to try to capture the degree of difference it makes.  I’m not sure they really show much, now that I look at them, but here they are!

This is with just the light that came on the sewing machine (and maybe no lamps?):

This is with the sewing machine’s light and the LED strip:

And with the sewing machine light, the LED strip, and at least one of the lamps on:

Another angle with the LED strip turned on…

And one where I tried to show how the LED strip is positioned (behind the needle, under the presser foot lever):

I believe I’ve finally run out of things to say about it!  😉
Next post will be more about crafty stuff and less rambling about sewing machines.  

Welcome!

I’m Michael (a female Michael, to remove any doubt).  I live on the Alabama Gulf Coast with my husband, Donald, and our crazy American Eskimo Dogs. 

I love to fill my spare time with various crafts and other hobbies, and this blog is where I share photos, record my progress, and ramble endlessly.

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