Monday, October 22, 2012

Know Thy Machine - Juki Tl98e / Singer Confidence

This post is a part of the Know Thy Machine blog hop. Check back at Shruti's blog tomorrow, she'll be asking a question related to my post here. Leave her a comment there for a chance at our awesome prizes! 

Today I'm answering our questions in reference to my two latest sewing machines. I have several sewing machines, but these two are the ones I've used the most during my recent years of sewing and quilting. I think you'll notice, I'm pretty in love with my machines! 

Juki Tl98E / Singer Confidence. The Singer is set into the table, but you can tell in this picture
how much difference in harp space there is! 
1. What machine(s) do you have? Brand and Model.
I have a Juki TL98E, and a Singer confidence (and... two more but we won't go into those)

2. When and where did you buy it? What were the reasons for selecting
this(these) particular model(s). What was its approximate cost.
My husband bought me the Singer confidence for Christmas about three years ago - I didn't pick it but it was a huge upgrade from my generic sale rack Singer that I'd been sewing on previously. She cost in the $300 range new.

My Juki came to me by way of my guild friend Robbi. I mentioned at a guild meeting that my singer had such a small harp (the space between the needle and the body of the machine) that I didn't know how I was going to quilt the queen sized quilt top I'd finished. She suggested that I could borrow her "spare" Juki but I knew I wasn't going to want to give it back - so I asked up front what it retailed for - she offered to sell it to me for the price she'd bought it for (she had gotten it from a friend). Are you sitting down? I paid $300 for her! Yowza! I can't believe that I lucked into that, the retail price for the current model (same machine essentially) is in the $900+ range.

3. What do you like about your machine? Have you named it? Have you
made a cover for it?
The Singer is named Nancy - after "Sewing with Nancy" I like that this little machine powered through a lot of quilts. I have pieced and quilted at least 15 quilts on this machine. I like that it is a hard working machine and easily fixable. Nancy is a good machine and I recommend it for a beginner/intermediate. She sews nice stitches and is consistent.

My Juki is named Janice. Janice is FABULOUS! I tell you, if you have the money to upgrade do it! First of all she is FAST. By fast I mean she sews about 1500 stitches per minute (nearly twice as fast as Nancy!). When I said that I really lucked out on this I did, it's everything I would ever want in a machine, speed (speed!!!), large harp space, and she sews and quilts like a dream! The other selling points is that she comes with a knee lift bar (the coolest thing I never knew I needed, but now I couldn't live without!), and a thread cutter. These two things make even basic sewing much much more efficient.

By the way, I name all my machines using "old lady names" ... the other machines are: Betty (White), and Wilma (Singer).

4. Does your machine give you any problems? Could you tell us a few?
Singer Confidence: Yes we've had a few problems. I have knocked the take up lever out of line once or twice (easily fixed) and somehow I wiggled a screw loose not once but twice. Oh yeah, I've also worn out the bobbin winder motor (lol). I've never had a problem with any of the electrical stuff. All the problems I've had were really just from over use. As far as the stitches go, it's pretty consistent. I've had a few issues with tension and stuff but nothing major.

Juki tl98e: I've had no problems to date (I've had the machine for about 7 months). She's thirsty and likes being oiled at least every week (I sew almost every day). That's not a problem, just something I really need to remember sometimes.

5. What do you sew on it mainly? Quilts, Clothes, Bags etc. How much
time do you spend sewing on it? What are the features of the machine
that help you improve your work?
Singer: I sewed quilts mostly. Occasionally I'd sew a zippered pouch or baby dress. The snap on presser feet are cool, it makes switching feet a lot easier. The fancy stitches would be cool for someone who used them, but I rarely did.

Juki tl98e: I sew mostly quilts, but also many many zippered pouches. I sew an average of 1-2 hours a day (sometimes much more, and sometimes less). The speed and durability of the machine has really helped my work - I can get a lot more done in less time, and I don't have to worry about how thick the fabric is etc (when making pouches). The harp space as I said is amazing - free motion quilting is much easier because of the harp space and speed (I once free motion quilted a queen size quilt in 2.5 hours!). The knee lift and thread cutter are very helpful too no nonsense but it really makes chain piecing so much faster!

6. What advice would you give others when deciding about which machine to buy?
I would advise people to keep in mind how much they sew and how they might be sewing in five years. If you're a serious sewer you'll probably benefit greatly by waiting and saving up for a while to get that higher quality machine. If you're just getting started a mid-grade general machine is an excellent start. Buy your machine with the next several years in mind. Also, I'd recommend finding a repairman / educated sewer / dealer who can help you learn the ins and outs of your machine. It's good to have someone to go to if you have questions.

7. Will you share with us a special memory associated with your machine?
My favorite memory about my Singer Confidence is when I was having problems with it acting up / sounding funny so I took it in to my repair guy Jim. Jim is amazing and knows his stuff. He couldn't find anything wrong with it right off, so I had him check it in to work on during the week. I got a call the following week saying that it was ready and that it didn't require and parts so it was the basic maintenance charge ($30)... he went on to explain that he and the shop owner spent more than five hours with it apart trying to figure out exactly what was wrong... the problem? I'd wiggled a screw loose in the take up lever area! He'd never seen that before and I explained that yes - I'd just finished a marathon sewing day and had sewn for hours straight. Haha. Hilarious!

I love my Juki Tl98E!
8. If you had unlimited resources in the world, which machine would
you choose to buy and why?
I would buy the newer version of my Juki. It's essentially the same but has a speed control lever so you can set the max speed to be lower. It'd be a nice backup. Honestly I don't think I want another machine. I like my Juki. :)

I'd love to hear your opinions on your machines! What is your dream machine?? Is your machine holding you back?


  1. I am so envious of your harp space! (to untrained ears that sounds so wrong!!)

  2. Lovely Juki, too :) perfect quilting machine!

  3. I'm so jealous of you and your 4 machines! I have one. A low-price one and although I'm grateful to have it, it drives me mad!

  4. I have a Janome 7700 with the larger harp-love it (I'm day three on the hop, btw). I've heard Juki's are pretty great machines...may have to consider one in the future.

  5. Great post about your machines! I have a friend who has a Juki and she loves it too. I'm up for Know Thy Machine in about two weeks :)

  6. I used to use a Confidence Quilter - it got so loud and even after taking it for maintenance I couldn't Stan the sounds it made! Do you find that yours is much louder than the Juki? I bought a Babylock and it's like a whisper compared to my Singer!

  7. I just purchased a juki. The stitches are smooth but very short. I have tried adjusting the stitch length with very little difference. Can you tell me how to lengthen the stitches? The machine sews very well but has the tightest shortest stitches I have ever seen. Thanks.

  8. I have the Juki 98Q and totally love that machine...about 2 or 3 months ago I got their Exceed it too, but for quilting, the 98Q is the cat's meow. I have had the 98 for probably about 7 years and look forward to every quilt I quilt. I have a Viking #1 and had a Pfaff...both Viking and Pfaff are older. I let one of my daughter take the Pfaff since it sews and sews and sews, too. It just did not have the harp space.

  9. I have the Juki that you have and love it. I'd like to find a serviceman for these in the Middletown, NY area. When I purchased mine in Georgia it came with an adapter that you can adjust for the speed. As I've gotten older I find that the little gadges is really handy. Arthritis does that to you and I certainly can't sew as fast as that machine will go. It is a work horse.

  10. I have a Juki TL98e. I need to know what all you have to do to free motion quilt with it. I drop my feed dogs and keep breaking needles??