Me & My Juki

sewing elastic!

I’ve been giving my sewing machine a pretty good workout the last week so I thought I’d introduce you! I know machines are personal things–whether it’s a brand or a vintage or whatever, the important thing is that you have to love sewing on it. And I really love sewing on mine!

No machine is perfect. I’ve been known to yell some not-so-choice words at all my machines. I had the same ole mega-cheap Brother machine for 15 years. I can’t really say it did anything well, but it went with me everywhere, from college to my first midwest apartment, to Europe, back to Texas. And finally about ten years ago, after the bobbin winder cracked off and then part of the machine bed went missing, Derek finally talked me into buying a new one and adding a serger into the mix. Well, not that he had to talk me into either! I didn’t do any research and the extent of my machine knowledge went something like: “Singer=good brand” and “Bernina=better brand but expensive”. So I bought a low-end basic Singer.

Since then I’ve gotten a little smarter. Or the internet got smarter, and overwhelmed me with machine options. I read about vintage machines and cried a little when I realized my mom no longer owned the very machine on which I’d learned to sew, an all-metal Singer in a solid wood cabinet that these days would probably drive an $800 price tag on ebay. After a couple of years of sewing on my new Singer, something went haywire. The zig-zag stopped working. I’m sort of a wannabe gearhead so I took apart the entire machine in search of the problem. Trouble is, I’m usually clueless about how to put things back together once I get them apart. Here was my excuse at last to get a machine that I’d fully researched.

My biggest beef with machines so far had been buttonholes and their feed. There’s nothing more frustrating than sewing two layers together, and watching the top layer creep longer and longer. I like sewing without pins so I didn’t want to use pins to ease everything together all the time.

my Juki F600

Those features are how I landed on the Juki F600. It was either that or an industrial machine–if only I had the space for one! There’s a mechanism in the Juki feed that makes it turn in a box rather than back and forward. I wasn’t sure exactly how this would improve sewing, but it does seem to feed fabrics much better than my previous machines. I can also loosen the foot pressure, another feature I never had on my others. This has become an almost essential adjustment in sewing slippery lycra or just about any stretchy lingerie fabric. The heavier the foot pressure, the more the foot pushes and stretches the top layer.

And the buttonholes are to die for. This machine does every type, both boxed and keyhole buttonholes. Light-stitched buttonholes for shirts, and heavy-weight buttonholes for coats. I haven’t sworn once at a buttonhole in progress since I got this puppy three years ago.

A coincidental bonus was the bright lighting. There are two led lights, which make the bed very bright. I have poor vision even with correction, and tend to turn on as many lights as possible when I’m sewing. The Juki has a lot of features which I’ve never touched and probably won’t, like all the fancy lettering stitches. But it’s my first machine that stops needle down, unless I tell it not to. It’s quiet. And the automatic thread-trimmer makes life a little easier. None of these are deal-breakers but I have to say, this is the first machine that I have loved and look forward to sewing on. Sometimes emotional attachments are hard to measure.

All my sticky notes, reminding me stitch lengths and widths for lingerie…

machine sticky notes

I gave up trying to be neat about my elastic. This is a little cotton bralette I was working on over the weekend…

elastic-sewing

57 comments

  1. Mariann says:

    Can a sewist ever have too many sewing machines. I’d like to add this to my collection as I’ve had another rave review of a Yuki. Random question – can you recommend a book for pattern alterations. I’d like to take a class but the boonies doesn’t offer much.

    • Amy says:

      Haha, I don’t think so. I just had to downsize due to space. I was shocked someone actually bought the Brother for parts! I still have an old Bernina I’d love to pull out now and then.

      For pattern-fitting, I like these two books: Complete Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting by Sarah Veblen, and Pattern Fitting and Alteration by Elizabeth G. Leichty, etc. The latter is like a tome and doesn’t always tell you “why” but it has a lot of alteration ideas.

  2. Kelly says:

    That sounds like a fantastic machine! I have a cheap Brother that has served me surprisingly well, but I’m starting to think it’s about time for an upgrade. I would love to not stress about buttonholes!

  3. Heather Lou says:

    I am pining for a Bernina these days… I’m starting a fund. I’m so sick of my machine not doing what I want it to do, and it got borderline rage inducing when I was making all my swimsuit samples. I’ve herd good things about Pfaff, Jukis and Vikings, but I think I really want the Rolls Royce. So fund it is!

    • beth says:

      I so hope you never buy a viking or pfaff. I’m teady to set my viking on fire! Pfaffs and Viking are owned (along with Singer) by SVP, they all have ongoing tension issues. Just do a little research on Viking complaints…stay away!!! I’m getting a juki…I quilt…I’d get a Janome but it’s out if my price range. πŸ™

  4. Kelly says:

    I have this same machine and I love it so much!! I had my mind set on a Bernina, but after more research I found that this Juki had so many more features than a Bernina in a similar price range. I have only had it for a month, so I am glad to hear you are still happy with yours after a few years!

  5. Maddie says:

    I have a Juki industrial machine but before that, I had a home machine and it was fantastic. It had an extension table that I was in love with (I go haywire over little details like that).

    How funny that you have your notes stuck to the top of your machine. I do the same thing but with needles – I tape and label all of them!

    • Amy says:

      Ya know, I don’t know why I don’t use my extension table more. This machine came with a big one. It would probably help with some things. I grew up sewing on a drop-in machine and it was nice having all that flat space to work on.

  6. CGCouture says:

    I originally wanted a Juki when I was looking to buy a new machine, but I was seriously turned off by the owners of the (only) semi-local Juki dealer. So I bought a mid-level Pfaff that I’m not terribly happy with…but, it’s paid for, so there it is. Would be interesting to see how the Juki’s box-feed compares to Pfaff’s IDT (the only feature it has that I love). Can it be enabled all the time, or just during buttonholes?

    • Amy says:

      Sorry to hear about your bad experience. I had some really nice dealers and that helps! I don’t know what IDT is? As far as I know, you don’t turn the box feed off, it’s just how it feeds, but there’s so much I haven’t yet learned about this machine!

  7. Megan says:

    That’s really interesting about the pressure adjustment on the foot. I have a Bernina 1130 that I love to bits and usually I don’t have trouble with the fabric feed, especially when I use the walking foot. However, I just yesterday finished making faux leather jackets for my two boys (the things we do!) and I definitely could have used a bit more adjustment in the fabric feed department at times. I love it when I learn a new tidbit of sewing info – thank you!

    • Amy says:

      Oh leather (or faux) is a beast to feed sometimes, isn’t it? At least what I notice is that it the layers grab each other and don’t feed well without additional help. Sometimes (and I do this with silk and lycra, too) I like to keep the layers separate until they hit the foot. It seems to help them feed evenly.

  8. Great to hear such a positive review on a Juki. I now live in Italy and Jukis are sold like hot-cakes…especially their serger. I read it’s the same company that makes Berninas…but they are cheaper. Though I am not on the market for any machine right now…it’s always good to know what’s out there.

    • Amy says:

      Thanks! As far as I know, Juki was mostly a manufacturer of industrial machines until the last decade or so. They got in the home machine business and it seems like they’ve figured out a few things! The sewing machine market has definitely changed a lot in the last 10 years. I own a vintage Bernina and love it and can see why it was hot cakes in the 80s.

  9. poppykettle says:

    Fabulous to know… those are the exact two things that p*** me off about my current machine. I bought a bottom end digitial machine figuring I’d end up buying something schmick someday, and the first thing I noticed was the lack of ability to adjust pressure on the foot. It’s at the top of my must-have list for a new machine. So I’ll have to check out the Juki’s when I finally get around to buying a newbie. PS – Juki’s actually have the same innards mechanically as Bernina – they’re made in the same factory.

  10. Virginie says:

    I do have the Juki F600 and I just love this machine! I ended up buying it when looking for a machine that does great buttonholes – but it does not only do that but so much more. The feeding system is amazing and you can handle any type of fabric with it. Did I say I love this machine?

  11. Jen says:

    Ha, I love that someone else plasters post-its all over their sewing equipment as well! One of my favorite features of my Bernina is the ability to adjust the foot pressure – it’s a must for lightweight fabrics, and of course anything stretchy or on the bias, for me. I’d love love love an industrial Juki, someday when I have endless space. On a completely random note, your sewing chair is awesome.

    • Amy says:

      Thanks Jen–the chair was one of those lucky-day vintage finds! It goes with me everywhere I go.

  12. Sallie says:

    This sounds like my dream machine! I have no REAL reason to be looking at a new machine, mine has been working pretty hiccup free for me since I bought it – but I have a few pet peeves – one being that weird fabric creeping thing you described (didn’t even know there was a solution for that!) and the other is my wish for more buttonhole options! Thanks for sharing your machine with us. And it looks like you’re up to some beautiful makes, as always.

  13. Carolyn says:

    I’ve never even heard of a Juki; how fascinating!! I sew on a really old Janome, that I’ve had for 25 years. It’s brilliant, and I don’t know what I would do without it! However I don’t love my newer Janome overlocker *quite* so much πŸ˜‰

  14. mary says:

    Really? the buttonholes? Have you tried buttonholes on say pant waistbands? something with lots of lapping? Do you have to do it in steps or will it make nice ones with the automatic option? I am desperately searching for a machine that will make nice automatic buttonholes on thicker lapping fabric.

  15. Karla says:

    I have my mom’s older Singer in the wooden cabinet. πŸ™‚ She used it to sew matching clothes for her and five kiddos when we were young! I don’t have anything else to compare it to (never even heard of a Juki!), but every so often it does some wonky things – like the zigzag going haywire. *sigh* I have no idea what I would get if I ever got a brand new machine.

  16. Becky says:

    I have this same Juki and it is just AWESOME! I also have the Juki TL98Q and it was the best machine I ever owned, I am a machine collector- at least I was until Juki, so I just had to have the 600 cause of all the bells and whistles.

    • Amy says:

      I’m glad to hear you like it, too! I thought about the tl98q–it might be in the cards if I can’t get an industrial lockstitch machine. That’s one of my dreams…

  17. Lindsey says:

    I purchased a Juki F-300 New Year’s Eve and I have given “Juju” a workout! I quilt, make purses, sew with leather and faux leather, denim, etc and Juju hasn’t hesitated once. This past weekend I practiced FMQ, something that has always given me grief, and every single stitch was even and perfect..top and bottom! I am sooooo thrilled this machine! I put my 3 yo Viking Ruby back in the box as she is absolutely no comparison to Juju. I’m in love with the Juki. Over the years I have tested or owned just about every machine out there . I will stick with Jukis from now on.

  18. Shelley says:

    I just received my new Juki Exceed F600 today (2-21-14). You appear to sew with Lycra which is what I am trying to sew. My Juki doesn’t like the Lycra at all. It seems to be sticking to the feed dogs. It isn’t going down the throat plate but sticks and bunches up behind the pressure foot.

    Here are my settings and such that I have tried;
    Pressure Foot Tension set at one
    Regular and Walking Foot used with no difference
    Stretch #11 needle
    Stitch length 3mm
    Solvy used between the fabric and the throat plate, didn’t help

    Would you be willing to share your settings for sewing with Lycra? It would be greatly appreciated.

    I want to love my new Juki F600 but at this point I am disappointed.

    Thank for any help that you can offer.

    • Amy says:

      Hi Shelley, I’m so sorry to hear about your sewing troubles–it sounds really frustrating! Is it happening only on lycra or have you tested other fabrics as well? My best guesses are… 1. there may be something wrong with the feed dogs if fabric keeps getting stuck? Could be a manufacturing defect. Or 2. something is going on with the bobbin. When it just stitches and fabric bunches underneath the foot like that, it often means the bobbin thread or bobbin twister is getting stuck. So you may want to take out the bobbin and rethread. Sometimes, I get bobbin thread stuck inside the machine and it does a funny thing where it starts sucking fabric into the needle plate. When that happens, the bobbin casing gets out of alignment and I need to pull it out and settle it back in. I think this happens when I have been using the automatic thread cutter a lot, which causes either lint or a runaway thread. You may want to pull out the bobbin case and look in there for any threads or lint, just in case. Hope these ideas help!

      • Shelley says:

        Hi Amy,

        Thank you for your reply, you were right it was the feed dogs. I did get a phone call from my dealer and he said it was the new sharp feed dogs grabbing the fabric. He said as I use the machine the feed dogs will get a little wear on them and won’t be so sharp. I had my settings correct for Lycra; stretch needle, 05 stretch stitch, -1.5 thread tension, 1 presser foot pressure and I used the standard presser foot.What I really needed to do was to pull the threads from the back to keep it from sticking to the feed dogs. It just didn’t like that fabric.

        Then I sewed a cotton/polyester knit top and it did fine not snagging or catching on the feed dogs. So I feel with time it will be better on Lycra. The next few sewing projects are on cotton/polyester knit. (I sew mostly knits, learned that back when I worked for Stretch & Sew in the early 80’s.)

        I am loving my machine now but it was a rough start and I was almost in tears!

  19. I am having sewing machine angst. I’ve been working on a brand new Bernina 710 and am not happy. This Juki f600 looks great! But, I sew a lot the thick stuff, am currently making corsets using coutil. That and the bone tape seem to be too much for the Bernina 710 to handle. My old mechanical Berninas could sew through ANYTHING. So my question is … is the Juki f600 a strong machine?

    Thanks

    • Amy says:

      I’m sorry to hear you’re not happy… you gotta fall in love with a machine! I don’t have any experience sewing coutil, but I do regularly sew underwire channeling, leather, and jeans. Now and then the bobbin makes a thread nest if I am going over thick seams. Sometimes I need to use the handwheel, but I had to do that with my old mechanical Bernina 830, too.

      If you’re used to the old mechanicals, this feels different. I recently bought a Juki TL-2010, which is a straight stitch machine, all mechanical and metal, and runs faster than most home machines. I really love it! It’s probably as strong as you can get without buying an industrial.

  20. Lori says:

    Hi, I just bought a Juki HZL 600. I have not sewn for a few years, now, as I’ve been ill. I do want to start again, since I still have strength for something like sewing.
    I just started to play with the machine, today. I wound a bobbin and it was winding in a cone shape, and maybe that’s normal. I didn’t let it fill the bobbin, as I just wanted to play around a bit. Is that normal? My last machine was a heavy-duty Kenmore and I never liked it. I did have a Necchi I loved, but wore it down when the kids were young.
    I hate to bother you, but can’t seem to find much info on the web for this machine. I think I will like it once I get used to it.

    • Amy says:

      Hi Lori, I don’t know if that is normal as I usually let the thread fill the bobbin. With this Juki you pull the thread thru the top hole, lock the bobbin against the winder pin, and then twist it about 5 times before starting the winding. If I am having trouble with bobbin winding on any of my machines, I usually check the tension and re-thread just in case. But if you keep having trouble, you may want to ask your question at patternreview.com forums–lots of Juki owners. Perhaps someone can help you there? My dealer was also helpful when I needed to troubleshoot.

      • Lori says:

        Thank you so much for your reply. My son came home and I asked his opinion.
        He figured it out, think I was running my thread through the little catch for the auxiliary bobbin winder….does that make sense? Anyway, he got it to wind just fine.
        My dealer had just gotten the Juki in, and really had no clue about them. In fact the display model wasn’t even threaded. I knew more about them from my research than they did. I really like them, though, and wanted a place close to take it to if I had repair issues.
        I am sorry to have bothered you, but really appreciate your help. Having been sick for a couple of years, I haven’t sewn at all, and feel like I’m starting all over sometimes. πŸ™‚
        Thanks again! I am enjoying your site.

  21. Vicky says:

    Hi Amy! I’m awaiting delivery of my new Juki F600 as we speak! Im so excited! I havent sewn in years but at 55 years old am ready to get back with it. I want to learn to machine quilt and think this machine will be great for it. What do you think?

  22. Carol Blair says:

    I’ve sewn on most all the brands over the years, and still have four at home including a DesignerSE and a Brother Quattro 6000. Nice machines for embroidery but not for heavy duty sewing such as thick fabrics or jean hems. I never considered a Juki before, but all the reviews are great and there were no really bad ones. I am considering selling the Designer SE and buying the Juki 600 ….. I want to get back into lots of sewing again with some heavy stuff thrown in…..do you still recommend the 600? Blessings!!!

  23. Heather says:

    Hi, Amy!
    I bought the Juki 600 last November and had many issues with the stitch not being straight. I tried adjusting tension, changing needles, re-threading, and everything else you usually do for stitch issues. I sent it for service, only to get it back and still have issues. Ken’s just sent me a new one and a UPS pick-up tag for the old one. But my top line of stitching is STILL wavy on the new one. For the life of me, it’s driving me nuts! I borrowed a friend’s straight-stitch-only Juki before making my purchase and I loved hers! I really, really want to love mine; however, I sew a lot of wallets and purses that incorporate top-stitching. I HAVE to have a pretty stitch. Any thoughts?

    Also, does your Juki like a certain type of thread better than others? I use 100% cotton, quilt-weight fabric. I would love any help you can give me so I can fall in love with my machine!

    • Amy says:

      Hi Heather, I have sewn every type of fabric on my machine, including leather and fur. I don’t have problems with wavy stitches so I don’t know if I can help. Sounds like it might be a mechanical issue. Unless it’s about the stitch you are used to… Are you used to using industrial machines?

      You may have already done this but have you checked to make sure you’re threading the bobbin correctly?

      And this is an old thread on Pattern Review, but it may help: http://sewing.patternreview.com/cgi-bin/sewingclasses/board.pl?t=28121
      See the tip for stitching on paper to check for actual machine issues.

      • Heather says:

        Amy,
        Thank you so much for the link to the blog post about slanted stitches. It was very helpful! I still don’t have stitches that look straight enough to my liking, but now I know they are in fact stitching straight (the holes punched through the fabric are in a straight line). I’m going to play around with threads and see if I can achieve s straighter look. Again, thank you for taking the time to post. πŸ™‚
        Heather

  24. Jypsea Rose says:

    Amy-
    Just found you & quite by happenstance followed a link to your post from couple of years ago.

    The Juki F600 was my 1st machine. I researched for a long time & finally settled on it. It was expensive for me, a raw newbie, at the time ($1100), and also, I had barely just started quilting but this machine was such an incredible, wonderful machine that it inspired me to get into garments. I’m so glad that I spent the money & bought the expensive Juki because if I had bought a modest priced machine….I would have given up…..after I threw the machine out the window.

    The price was my justification to keep at it–“You have toooo much $$ tied up in this! You can’t afford to quit!!!”

    8 years later, I’m happy with my skills, abilities & knowledge, I passed that machine onto a young family member & now sewing on a Bernina 530, a Singer 222K Fearherweight & a vintage Singer 403A-depending on where I am & what I’m sewing.

    Great post on the F600. Brought back some happy, funny memories & made me smile!

    • Amy says:

      thanks for sharing your experience! I’m sure it was hard spending so much as a newbie, but it’s true that this is a machine you can easily grow with. I’m curious about the Bernina 530 but I’m so covered on sewing machines! (I have an older 830 Record from 1981 which still sews like a dream.)

  25. beth says:

    Hi there! I just found this and am getting ready to purchase this machine for quilting (and other forays)
    Fortunately for me the price is lower now. I kept thinking that more is better. Seems not to be the case. I have a Viking Sapphire that cost me nearly 3K 2 yrs ago and it is a piece of junk. Truly a piece of junk. I fell in love with a Janome but the price is a bit high. For less I can get 2 Juki’s!!
    I’m happy to read great reviews. I don’t have a local dealer, nearest one is hours away so I’m buying “blind”. This is encouraging to read good experiences!

  26. Michelle says:

    Hi. I am lusting after one of these machines. Can you tell me, does it have a needle up/down feature? I want a machine that has needle up/down, decorative stitches, knee control and most of all a thread cutter. Thank you in advance.
    Michelle

    • Amy says:

      Hi Michelle, yes it does have needle up/down. It has all of the features you mention. The thread cutter is great and is controlled either by pressing backward on the foot pedal or with a button on the machine. I don’t have a lot of experience with its decorative stitches as my stitch needs are fairly simple but I love its buttonholes.

  27. Paula says:

    This Juki is the one with a “3-STEP ZIG-ZAG” function? (The one you talked about on https://clothhabit.com/sewing-machines-for-lingerie/) I can’t find it on the stitches list on the Juki web.
    Do you think this one : http://www.jukihome.com/products/k85.html is good enough for lingerie? The only thing in this machine that I can’t find of your list is the triple zig zag. ‘
    What about swimwear? Someone at a fashion school told me I really need a Industrial Coverstitch for swimwear, it’s that true?
    Thank you from Uruguay-

    • Amy says:

      Hi Paula, I haven’t tried that model so I can’t make a recommendation. You’d be surprised at how much you can do with the most basic sewing machines, though. (You just have to like sewing on it, which is really personal!) From the photo of the stitch chart it looks like it does have a triple zig-zag (stitch 07).

      I sew swimwear on my serger (overlock). You can also sew swimsuits with a regular machine using a zig-zag. In manufacturing, swimsuits are made with both sergers and coverstitch machines. Coverstitch machines are used to apply the elastic but not for sewing the body of the garment/swimsuit. I own a home coverstitch machine but rarely break it out for swimsuits because a serger does most everything I need. As to whether or not you need an industrial, that depends on your goals. If you plan on starting a business and want to make the same thing over and over, you might want to consider an industrial but you certainly don’t *need* one to sew lingerie or swimwear. Fashion students usually learn to sew on industrial machines so maybe the person you talked to wasn’t familiar with the world of home machines? They’re quite versatile!

  28. Renate Lepore says:

    I had been using a Babylock Ellure and hated it, but didn’t know what to replace it with. I have an older Bernina and sort of had my heart set on one of the 500 series. But it didn’t have a thread cutter or even an automatic threader…and that machine was around $4000! I saw a YouTube video on the Juki machine by the Crafty Gemini and that did it!
    The only dealer close to me was far away and had some kind of really weird hours so I found one online and got the Exceed 300 series. I love it! It is easy to use, sews a great stitch and does what it says it will. Maybe I will upgrade to the 600 someday!

  29. Brenda says:

    Hi.. Just wondering what is your thread of choice for the Juki. I had brother and could not use Coats/Clark or was told by lady at sewing store which she was correct πŸ™‚ I am looking at the Juki manual regarding thread but I haven’t been able to find anything but quilting thread using the Thread No. They provide.

    • Amy says:

      Hi Brenda, I use all kinds of thread in my sewing machine. Domestic sewing machines don’t usually recommend one kind of thread so I don’t think you’ll find a recommendation in the manual. I don’t know why you can’t use Coats and Clark all-purpose thread? It’s the most popular thread in the U.S. and most people use it in their machine. I do! My favorite brand of thread is Gutermann, and I use a few different weights of polyester thread for different projects. I buy mine in bulk from a tailor but you can usually find the all-purpose Gutermann at craft stores. Threads come in different brands, weights and fibers, and even quilters like to use different types…. you aren’t limited :).

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