Monday, February 9, 2015

New Sewing Machine for 2015

Due to the Bernina buttonhole debacle, I decided to take it in for service at another repair place (not my local Bernina dealer). This is when I found out there was nothing wrong with the electrical board, and that the buttonhole issue is most likely in the sensor foot. It was supposedly repaired by my local Bernina he said. I called another Bernina dealer and asked about a replacement foot. This was over a week ago, and I heard nothing from them. So much for customer service. I did find that it was available on Bernina's main website, and the cost was about $200. Wow.

The real question I faced was, how happy am I with my Bernina these days? Not very I guess... After sewing with my Juki for the past few years, I have become to rely on my Bernina less and less. I know it's 25+ years old...but I never expected to be disappointed with its sewing quality. Maybe I just sewed that machine to the ground...or did I just outgrow it? Maybe more of the later. I will tell you one thing though, had the other Bernina dealer called me back with ANY information whatsoever, I would have hightailed it down to their store, and probably would have bought a new Bernina. The idea of owning a new machine was burning a hole in my pocket. But they lost that sale.

I decided it was time...but I had a few questions. Did I need to spend a lot to get all the features I wanted? Do I really need a machine to last another 25 years? It might have been true back then when Swiss machines were made in Switzerland, but most of the quality machines are no longer made at their headquartered countries. I found out that Pfaff is made in Shanghai, Bernina's are made in Thailand, and Viking and Singer are both owned by the same "holding" company as Pfaff. Janome bought Elna, which is probably a good thing for Elna. Juki home machines are mainly made in China. If this is the case for sewing machines, then does it really matter if I'm paying $6,000 or $1,000 for a machine with similar features? I think not. I know I would feel a lot better about being disappointed in a less expensive machine than one that cost as much as a car.

Enter...the new addition to my sewing room...the Juki Exceed F600, and also made in China. For $1100 out-the-door, it was a fair price, and money spent at a local dealer. I will admit that if I actually liked my local Bernina dealer, the final outcome might have been different and $2,000 more out of my pocket.  Several machines could have fit the bill here...Babylock, Janome, Pfaff, and Bernina all had models that had more or less of everything I wanted. After narrowing down features, I just went for the best price. BTW, Bernina was the most expensive for the least amount of features. But it doesn't mean I won't ever get another Bernina. Just not right now.

Since opening this machine and setting it up (where my Bernina used to be), I have played with the computerized stitch functions, made some buttonholes, and learned to use the auto thread, and wind a bobbin. I've also ordered a rolled hem and invisible feet, which I was surprised did not come with the machine. But a smooth foot (similar to teflon presser foot) did. I also ordered a set of 50 additional bobbins, to add to the measly four that came standard.

Everything about this machine feels a bit flimsy. Everything is plastic. But the big plastic case looks sturdy, and I do love the gigantic extension table as a standard accessory. Basically, this machine is well thought out, and has everything on my wishlist. The only thing missing is a bobbin sensor...a feature I liked on the Pfaff machines. But I'm not a quilter, and rarely run out of thread with a full bobbin for garment sewing. It helps that the door to the drop in bobbin is clear plastic. But I also don't like that the door is plastic and breakable? I basically can't drop or step on anything without risk.

The built-in embroidery stitches are not bad for machine stitched. Because there are a couple hundred stitches, it takes time to learn how to set them. But it's not impossible. Whew! I found a video tutorial on Youtube put out by Juki with some specific features and stitching options. It was helpful as an introduction, but I really want some good examples on how to apply some of the unique stitches to clothing construction. Most of the examples were designed for quilting. But if anyone is thinking of purchasing a Juki F600, viewing the video in advance might be helpful. You can view it HERE.  

Unfortunately, my local Juki dealer does not offer any training or support. They don't have anyone in-house to help. But they matched the cheapest online price I could find. I wouldn't have gotten support if I had bought the machine online either. At least they'll take it back for repair if needed. I want to encourage other sewists in my area to support this shop. I think they could have a real market for Juki machines for quilters if they updated their marketing. This is the shop website HERE.

Besides a new sewing machine, my 15+ year-old Rowenta iron finally died. I was surprised to find an upgraded Professional line still made in Germany. The new model is just like mine except this new one has a lot more steam and heats up faster. It's on sale at for $74.99, and more expensive at the actual Target store. I showed the cashier, and received a price adjustment and took it home for immediate use. Score! Happy Sewing!