Choosing a New Sewing Machine
Well, I'm a bit ashamed to admit that I waited a few days before I even opened the sewing machine box!! My husband took the kids out of town this weekend, so I saved it for some uninterrupted time.
Hello Juki!!! I'm the proud new owner of Juki 2010Q from SewVacDirect.com. Yup, I ordered a machine online having never tested it before....
I'll probably end up having a few posts about it in order to really sift through a good, developed review of this machine. I've used my old machine (that model, at least) for 20 years, so this is definitely a very different experience for me!! Now, I've sewn on other machines - home ec class and such - but not seriously. So this post will be dedicated to choosing the machine, and after I've had more time to use it, I'll write a/some review post(s) about the actual machine performance.
The reason I got a new machine was mainly for free motion quilting. My current machine, a Bernina Record 830, is a collector's item "vintage" (1970s) machine and works wonderfully. Even though machine quilting was barely around when it came out, the tension is so perfect on this machine, and you can drop the feed dogs, that it works well even though it wasn't really designed for quilting. Buuuuut, I've been very limited by three things:
1) crappy peddle which burns out after 20-40 minutes of quilting (it overheats and then turns off to keep itself from bursting into flames. There is no great fix for this, even though I've searched! Apparently, it turning off "is" the fix. I mean, I'm all about fire safety, but I can't stop every 20 minutes!)
2) small throat space
3) acceptable, though not entirely fast, stitch speed (1100 stitchers per minute)
My husband ended up finding a fix for the peddle with a makeshift fan system to cool the peddle. It's jankety, but it works. However, 2 and 3 still remained, and we've recently had room in our budget for this purchase. Excellent news for me :).
I was initially looking at the Janome Horizon 7700, with a whopping 11" of throat space (the biggest I could find without going with something more mid/long-arm-y), but uh...let's just say thousands and thousands of dollars above my budget, now, shall we?
I also was leary of the computerized aspect of the machine - I really prefer non-computerized machines. Fewer points of possible failure and all that....I won't get into it and start a debate, but I was really after the throat space. So I set out to look for a non-computerized, large throated quilting machine and narrowed it down to the Juki 2010Q and the Janome 1600P-QC. How did I settle on these two? Quite simply, I managed to do a search on SewVacDirect.com with these two search filters/requirements: "high speed machines" and "non-computerized machines". That was quite awhile ago and I can't see how to do that kind of search anymore, but when I did, these were the only two machines that came up. So I decided to pick between the two of them.
The specs of these machines were so comparable, I was having a really hard time deciding. The throat space was differently shaped, but comparably sized. The Juki stitched 1500 stitches per min, and the Janome could hit 1600. They both had needle up/down settings, automatic thread cutters, vertical/fixed spool stands, and promised to be quiet. The Janome also offered a 25 year mechanical warranty, which sounded lovely! The Juki came with more extras included. Both are the same price ($999 (American) on SewVacDirect). My husband encouraged me to buy based on the machine not the warranty or the extras, since buying the add on warranty for the Juki or the add on extras for the Janome made it a bit of a wash - but I thought it was worth noting.
I ended up getting a free trial membership at PatternReview.com so I could look at reviews of both machines. I found this site awhile ago, and they offer a GREAT resource for reviews on tons of machines - so I highly recommend using that as a resource if you're shopping! There was an entire conversation thread dedicated to the topic of the Juki 2010 v. the Janome 1600. I scoured this thread and read every review on the site of both machines.
It came down to a few deciding factors (and they are going to sound really silly)
1) I could use "normal" needles in the Juki. At least according to the discussion thread, the Janome didn't run nearly as well without these fancy imported needles, and I didn't want to deal with the hassle. One girl used regular needles (I'm assuming they just mean Schmetz and other needles available at JoAnn's) in her Janome with no problems, but she was the only one. Now watch my Juki only want fancy needles. You know, to spite me :)
2) The Juki free motion quilting foot "hops" - at least, according to the reviews. I've only tried regular stitching on it so far and will address this in my later reviews on actual performance. I wasn't sure if I actually wanted this feature, but with my Bernina, I have lots of troubles when I come to bulky seam allowances when quilting and thought it might be helpful.
3) I found more in-depth reviews from people I trusted (like Rachel) on the Juki than on the Janome. This simply gave me more confidence in that decision.
4) Something felt more right about the Juki reviews to me than the Janome reviews. I can't put my finger on it, but for whatever reason, I was leaning toward the Juki the whole time. Reasons 1-3 are a little silly, but just pushed me in the direction I was already leaning.
Really, I think the best way to choose between two such similar seeming machines would be to test-drive them, but I would have had to take an overnight out of town trip to find a city where I could test both of them. I wasn't sure this would be worth it, considering I wouldn't even be able to compare them in close proximity (ie, I'd have to drive an hour between stores - would I really be able to remember well enough to decide if one was better? Ugh, it sounded like the stress of wedding dress shopping all over again!) and I didn't really have a weekend to spare. I think the ideal place to test something like this out would be a sewing expo or quilt festival....or steal some from two friends, one who has each, to do a side by side :).
Either way, I knew there was not a bad choice between the two of them and would hopefully be very happy with whatever I got (and if I wasn't, I was pretty happy with SewVacDirect's return policy). I can still look at the lists and see things I would have liked about the Janome, but I know that would have happened either way, so I think these two make pretty good contestants!