For the last four years I have been using a Janome Horizon sewing machine. It’s been a great piece of kit and I love it dearly, but late last year I made the decision to invest in a new sewing machine - the Juki TL-2200 QVP mini. There were a few reasons for this. I love to make quilts and enjoy free motion quilting, but the Janome sometimes struggled with this, especially in the bobbin area. I had even misaligned the needle shaft with the constant pushing and pulling of bulky quilts across the needle plate and this was causing constant bleeping and knotting. I was a little frustrated and started to do some research. I had seen lots of buzz about this Juki on Instagram and sewing blogs where it was constantly labelled the ‘work horse’ of the quilter. At the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham I went along to have a look at one and then I understood why….. It is an industrial weight machine with a fixed needle position and this is its simplicity and its strength. There is absolutely nothing fancy about this machine, but it is a solid piece of engineering meant for heavy duty straight stitching and that is all. The fact that it doesn’t even do a zig zag stitch means that the needle cannot move and this makes free motion quilting a dream. This model is actually a variant of the one used for the big long arm set ups, so you get the feeling it’s the real deal.
Not only is it physically heavy, it is fast too - the speed can be a little alarming at first, but it hums and purrs with all the satisfaction of a well made and well oiled piece of machinery and this brings me to one of the things that is different. You have to oil it - according to the lovely gentleman who delivered it for me from Arcade Sewing Machines in Huddersfield, just a tiny drop every day - she is a thirsty girl. There are six points for oiling and it comes with a little bottle of oil. I had quite a bit of trouble with this as the oil seemed to flood when I tipped the bottle, so I contacted the shop and was absolutely delighted, a week later, to receive an oil bottle with an extra long pointed nozzle that works brilliantly, releasing just a tiny drop at a time.
The sewing table that comes with it is solid too and perfect for dealing with heavier weight quilts to stop the dragging. The whole machine has a very clean efficient feel and look to it.
What else do I like about it…well, threads from left to right and this is a bit awkward to do by hand, but the needle threader is excellent and very simple to operate. The scissor cutting function means that you don’t have threads all over the sewing room and yourself and gives a neat finish to your work. The standard sewing foot is a scant quarter inch so I haven’t bothered to use the quarter inch for piecing, I just tuck the fabric underneath with a tiny margin and it lines up with the quarter inch line on the needle plate just perfectly. It has a larger, higher space for feeding fabric through and this is great for large quilts.
Other than that it has no fancy gizmo’s or technology, it just stitches perfect, even stitches on just about any fabric weight or thickness. When I was making my weekender bag, which you can read about in an earlier post, it stitched effortlessly through all the layers and stiffners and piping. It does come with a bunch of accessories, but I confess I haven’t explored these much yet as I don’t really feel I need to. I have just finished my first big quilting project and it absolutely mashed the free motion quilting. Not a single broken thread or knot on either side and all done in super quick time.
There is only one thing I don’t like about it and that is the side loading bobbin case. I do like the metal bobbins - they remind me of my Mum’s old singer sewing machine, but I find it a bit annoying that you cannot see how much thread is left. It is a bit fiddly to fit - I am getting used to it, but find this to be the only downside to the whole machine.
In summary I would say that this is excellent value for money if you do a lot of quilting. I am lucky enough to have a wonderful sewing space with room to have my Janome set up as well and the two machines compliment each other perfectly. For dressmaking, embroidery stitches, monograming etc, I can use my Janome with all it’s wonderful features and for free motion quilting and straight patchwork piecing and bulky bag making, I have a more solid alternative in the Juki. They are sisters that live harmoniously together in the sewing room.