Hello New Juki

You know you really love a sewing machine when you buy it twice! And that's what I did just recently - I've been sewing on a used Juki TL98Q for over the last year, and after a completely-my-fault-mishap with it in which I broke the presser foot lever, I decided it was a sign that I ought to buy the new model, the TL2010Q. So that's exactly what I did from my local Juki dealer Gigi's Fabrics, and oh my goodness, it's true love :)


I loved my TL98Q, which I bought used via Craig's List last year, and didn't know it was possible for it to get any better...and yet, with the 2010, Juki really hit a home run. They took a fantastic machine, and somehow made it more fantastic! Here's a few of the upgrades that I've noticed that I've really appreciated thus far...


The telescoping thread stand is another great addition. There's also a nice stand (hidden by my giant cone of Aurifil) to really secure your cones to keep them from teetering when the thread is spooling off super fast, as is so often the case with this machine! 


The speed limiter is possibly my favorite upgrade on the 2010. Unlike the 98, you can now control the maximum speed of the machine, so if you have a lead foot, like I do, and maybe don't want to be stitching at lightning speed, you can control that. I never FMQ on this machine at full speed, so this is a feature that I expect to be using pretty often!


I also think there's better lighting on the 2010, which is especially nice since all of my sewing these days seems to be at night!


All in all, I'm super happy with the new machine. I've done a good bit of free-motioning on it so far, plus some paper piecing and some binding-making, so I feel like I've put it through its paces, and I cannot recommend this machine enough. The level of durability and sturdiness it provides and the quality of the stitches is just fantastic. I wouldn't trade it for any other machine out there! 

Sewing with the munchkin for Mother's Day

Life's been busy lately. Not in a bad way, just busy...to the point where when my son's kindergarten teacher sent home a note about how her last day of school is approaching quickly before she goes on maternity leave, and it dawned on me that I had not made a baby quilt for her. Eek! It was on my To Do list, I had managed that much, but it just hadn't made it to the top yet, so this weekend I bumped it to the top of the list.

Threading the needle like a champ

I also decided it was high time that I let my little guy do a little bit of sewing. He really wanted to be involved in the baby present for his teacher and when I pitched the idea of making a quilt together, he was totally into it. We picked out a pattern he liked, my

Xs and Os quilt pattern

, and got to work, picking out fabrics. He's always liked to play with fabric, from arranging form scraps on my design wall to helping me pick out fabrics in fabric stores, so it was a lot of fun to dig through fabric with him and talk about it. In digging through my novelty prints, we found a boatload of boy prints from Children at Play, Sarah Jane's first collection for Michael Miller a while ago, and a print from Castle Peeps that played nicely with it. Then we picked out some nice solids to balance things out, Kona Leprechaun and Moda Bella Sunshine, and I got to cutting. I did all the pressing and cutting, because he's only six, so I'm thinking a lesson on rotary cutting is a bit of a ways off just yet.

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We got started sewing Saturday afternoon, and worked on O blocks. Because my sewing table is so tall, I used some scrap boxes to raise up my foot pedal so he could reach it easily. We talked about right sides together, and keeping the fabrics lined up nicely, and even chain piecing. He had a great time and was super proud of himself. I couldn't stop smiling as I watched him progress...

First block done!

Not surprisingly, after a few blocks, he wanted a break, and if I'd managed to plan this gift far enough in advance, I would've set the blocks aside and picked them up at a later date, but since his teacher's last day is this Friday and he promised that he'd bring her the quilt on Monday, I kept working, just doing the stitching and flipping on his behalf. 

Having fun with block layout

I saved the straight seams for the kiddo, and let him go to town on them. He really liked the sound my Juki makes when it goes fast, but the super fast speed was a little much for him, so he kept his pressure on the foot pedal pretty light...until he was ready to clip the threads. He'd scoot his foot over to the big red button on my foot pedal and slam his heel on it, which he thoroughly enjoyed doing. 

Soon some tiny toes will be hiding under this quilt

We sewed the top together in record time, quilted it up and bound it, and brought it into school with us yesterday morning. His teacher was so thrilled, and I could tell the kiddo felt mighty proud of the gift we were giving. I'm so proud of this little quilt and what it represents. It was positively the perfect way to spend Mother's Day weekend! I hope you had a wonderful weekend as well!

Xs and Os quilt - his first quilt

Quilt Stats

name

: Miss Seymour's Xs and Os

size

: 36" x 48"

pattern

:

Xs and Os quilt pattern

by yours truly - newly

refreshed and updated

!

fabrics

: Children at Play prints by Sarah Jane for Michael Miller Fabrics and Kona Leprechaun and Moda Bella Sunshine

quilting

: simple meandering stipple in white (#2024) Aurifil 50 wt thread

Xs and Os quilt for the teacher - all finished!

Just a little FMQ action...

It's been such a fun couple of days in my sewing room, because I've suddenly found myself with an abundance of quilt tops to finish, so that means a whole lotta FMQ going on! I'm not entirely sure how that happened, but it's been one of those happy accidents. I remember at one point when I was working on my book that I consciously decided to save up the quilt tops and quilt them all successively, because the free-motion quilting was my favorite part of the quilting process, and I wanted to get to do a ton of it at once. This time, I didn't really choose to do that, not consciously at least!

The line-up - Aurifil (all 50 wts) from L-R -  navy (#2735), orange (#2214), green (#5017), fuchsia (#2588), yellow (#2105), and red (#2250)

Free-motion quilting is still one of my favorite parts of the quilting process. I love the freedom I feel just stitching away, freehanding different shapes and designs in thread. While I'm a perfectionist about a lot of things, somehow I am able to check my perfectionist tendencies at the door when I'm free motioning and I just enjoy the process.

Rainbow Dance Party - quilting sneak peek

One of the other things that I love about free-motioning all of my own quilts on my home machine is working in sync with my Juki. I'm not kidding when I tell you how much I adore this machine. It may be nearly frill-less, with little to no bells or whistles, but let me tell you, this Juki knows how to get the job done. And ultimately, isn't that what we want from our sewing machines? It's such a joyful experience to get in a good groove with the Juki and just stitch away, with some good tunes and some fab thread, my favorite - Aurifil.

Sometimes the back is almost prettier than the front

I'm excited to tell you that I have some pretty big news that I'll get to share coming up later this month that has to do with free-motion quilting...and it might just rhyme with daftsy, if that were an actual word..so make sure to stay tuned for more on that!

Some spring flowers

Question for you...do you free motion your quilts on your home machine? Let's do a little giveaway today - you tell me about your experience with free-motioning, love it or hate it, and I'll choose a random winner to win a nice, fat spool of my favorite thread from my personal stash, Aurifil 50 wt in one of my favorite  shade of white, trusty color #2024. Ready, set, go!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Scale can totally change the look of a stitch - the micro mod clamshell

Welcome home, Juki!

Last Thursday morning, I got the call I'd been waiting two weeks for - my Juki was ready to come home from the repair shop! Yay!! I hustled over to the shop in loads of holiday shopping traffic, not even minding the traffic a bit for once, knowing that I was on a very important errand.

I brought her home, promptly set her back up in her table, and then set about to hunt through my photo collection to try to figure out where I went wrong with her. My Juki went to the shop right before Thanksgiving after I finished up a deadline project where I felt like I had to fight for every inch I finished of the project. I knew something was wrong, but I also knew I had a deadline I had to meet, so I tried to put on my best Tim Gunn to just make it work. I assumed I had a timing issue or maybe something had been knocked loose somewhere because it seemed awfully noisy. Don't get me wrong, this is a semi-industrial machine and it's pretty noisy on a good day, but something sounded different. And I was right - the needle plate was pretty badly damaged - dented and dinged as if the needle had been hitting it over and over.

This is not what a needle plate should look like - the repairman marked it up with the nail polish to draw attention to the needle hole, where the damage is
The damage is at the needle hole itself - you can see that portion of the plate is dented and the hole has clearly been struck many times! Yikes! The repairman added the red nail polish (NOT blood!) to draw my attention to where the damage was.

As soon as they told me that, I started to wonder if this was something I did to my poor machine or if perhaps I didn't notice that kind of damage when I bought it secondhand. When I first bought it, I fully intended to bring it in for service, just to give a good once-over before I put it to use, but I couldn't help myself - I started using it, and then I couldn't stop!

New needle plate all loaded up and ready to sew with!
Brand new needle plate all ready to sew with!

So, after hunting through my photos to see if perhaps I had a photo that showed me what the needle plate looked like when I first bought it, and finding photos where that needle hole is just out of focus, I've decided I needed to stop worrying about who caused the problem. What I do need to do is pay attention. If something sounds wrong, stop sewing. Take it in for service if I can't discern the problem on my own. Thankfully, I seem to have found a good repair shop, they were a pleasure to work with, but I'm hoping I won't have to see them again until it's time for a little yearly service.

A stack for a Lucky Stars mini for the foundation paper piecing class I'll be teaching at the Minnesota Quilt Show this summer!

Now that the Juki is back, I've got a laundry list of projects, from Christmas presents to class samples and other deadlines that I've got to get cracking on. And I'm just three squares away from finishing my Christmas cross-stitch project, so I'm hoping that there will be some finishes, or at least some fun progress, to share over the next few weeks! Happy Monday to you all!

Another stack I made while the machine was in the shop

Absence makes the heart grow fonder

Last week before Thanksgiving, I decided to take my Juki into the shop. Couple the lack of sew-jo I've been feeling lately with the spring that mysteriously popped out whilst FMQ'ing recently, I figured she was due for a nice tune-up. I just got the call that it's going to another week before I see her again, thanks to a badly damaged needle plate. No idea what I did to the needle plate - or if it was even from me, maybe it was from the previous owner and I just didn't notice? - but it needs to be replaced, stat. Yikes. I sure hope the part comes quickly.

Something's missing from my sewing room :(

It's true what they say about absence making the heart grow fonder. This whole week that I've been without my machine, I've been missing it terribly. I even got out my old Husqvarna Viking in an attempt to sew something, only to get frustrated with how slow the darned thing is and give up. I think my sew-jo is trying to come back, bit by bit.

Christmas Cross Stitch Progress!

I've been spending my evenings on the couch, enjoying the light of the Christmas tree, and working on my Christmas cross-stitch sampler from last year that I never finished. I'm making good progress this year. It's really nice to unwind with a little cross-stitch at the end of the day. I'd forgotten how enjoyable it can be. With just another 20 and a 1/2 days until Christmas, it's entirely possible I might just finish this sampler before Santa makes an appearance! Happy Wednesday to you :)

Meet My Juki TL98Q

Today I'm participating in a fun week-long blog hop, hosted by Sew at Home Mummy and The Tilted Quilt, called Meet My Machine. If you're thinking about buying a new sewing machine, this blog hop is a perfect way for you to get up close and personal with many, many different kinds of machines and find a good fit for you.

My Juki TL98Q

I'm excited to finally sit down and write about my new-to-me Juki TL98Q. I found this machine on Craig's List back in December, after reading for the last several years about the awesomeness that is this semi-industrial sewing machine. I bought it from the previous owner after doing a thorough test drive and falling in love with it.

Juki TL98Q Pros:

This machine is fast. No doubt about it. Faster than any other machine I've owned or test drove. And because of that speed, it sounds a bit noisy, perhaps a bit industrial. Very much like the machines you see on Project Runway, actually, which I don't mind a bit. The thread cutter, which is located on the foot pedal, is also a bit noisy, but I actually like that - so that I notice if I accidentally tap that part of the foot pedal! By the way, having the thread cutter on the foot pedal is positively genius. All sewing machines should have this feature!

Love this foot pedal

The Juki is also super sturdy. The body and exterior is die-cast aluminum, as opposed to the plastic bodied machines that we're all so used to, so it feels like it could last forever. It's a mechanical straight-stitch machine, so no fancy computerized stitches or computer to deal with. As a result, this machine does an amazing straight stitch. Even the sewing feet are metal, including the compensating 1/4" foot. Because of all of that metal, it is hefty to lug around, but it's do-able.

This machine did come with a knee lift, so far, I haven't really used it. I do know that lots of Juki owners love the knee lift, it's just something I haven't tried out yet. I keep meaning to when I free-motion, and just keep forgetting to attach it.

Oiling the Juki is definitely necessary, and I try to do it every day that I sew on it. Fortunately, the oil is clear and I haven't had any leakage, but I make sure to sew on a test scrap for at least a few minutes after oiling the machine, just in case.

Oiling

While the machine is semi-industrial, it does take standard sewing machine needles. So far, I've used mostly 90/20 Sharps and 100/16 topstitch needles (for my FMQ journey on this machine, see my post here) on it without any problems. The previous owner of the machine said that I needed to use Organ needles, but I have not found that to be true. I've used Schmetz and Klasse needles, without any trouble, and one Organ needle, which caused a great deal of thread breakage. I've also found that the machine isn't particularly picky about thread, as I've used Aurifil and Gutermann on it without issue. I prefer to piece with the Aurifil, and the machine has a shelf on the back to set large cones, so that works great for my huge Aurifil cones.

Rocking a full cone of Aurifil

Free motion quilting on this machine is beautiful. I use a Sew Steady extension table and a Topstitch 100/16 Needle and just go to town with it. The large throat space makes quilting large projects a breeze, and it's got a needle up/down feature as well so I can make sure that every time I let up on the foot pedal, the needle stops in the down position.

Needle up/down button - so necessary!

Being a mechanical machine, the Juki is also the kind of machine that you can open and see every inch of. It even came with a repair manual! I feel confident after I clean out the lint from my Juki because I can see and get to all of the places the lint could pile up, unlike on my Husqvarna Viking Sapphire.

Yay, a service and repair manual!

Juki TL98Q Cons:

The only real con that comes to mind with this machine is the lack of light - I do wish there was more light on the machine, but that's easily fixed by adding something like Mighty Bright Sewing Machine Light, which is quite inexpensive and easy to install. I also use my OttLite Desk Lamp to add some extra light to my workspace.

I'm still getting used to using a side loading bobbin, and I often have to dig out the manual to make sure I thread the bobbin properly and load it correctly. This isn't really a con, more that it's a challenge for me, since this is the first side-loading bobbin machine I've owned. It's getting easier, and I'm sure it will become old hat soon enough.

Side loading bobbin

For those of you who are familiar with my other machine, the Husvqvarna Viking Sapphire 835, I do still own it. And I do still use it, from time to time, but the Juki has become my primary machine. All in all, I love my Juki. Piecing on her is easy and accurate, and if I had to do it all over again, I would definitely buy it again! I use it nearly every day, and more than that, I thoroughly enjoy sewing with it.

The Tilted Quilt meet My Machine Linky Party


Not only can you link up your own machine post right here as a part of this blog hop, but you can read more machine feedback throughout this blog hop at the following blogs:

SUNDAY, MARCH 17

MONDAY, MARCH 18

TUESDAY, MARCH 19

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 20

THURSDAY, MARCH 21

FRIDAY, MARCH 22

Now my Juki is fully dressed...

I'm happy to report that my Juki is now fully dressed, and fully dust-proof! I finally turned my three 6" Lucky Stars blocks into a cover for my Juki yesterday, using some Architextures crosshatch in black for my background fabric, with a few pops from Sweetwater's Noteworthy on the side pockets. I'm really happy with how this little cover came together, and it fits my machine perfectly, so I'm a happy camper.

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I adapted a tutorial I found here to fit my machine and made a few small cosmetic changes to it, like adding three Lucky Stars blocks (L-R: February, March, and Practice blocks), but it's a great tutorial, I highly recommend it if you're wanting to make a machine cover that fully covers your machine like this one.

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Speaking of Lucky Stars, today is the first of March, so emails are heading out left and right to all of you Lucky Stars BOM subscribers, with the March Ninja Star block pattern. If you do not receive it this morning, please first check your Spam or Junk folder, as it may be hiding out there. If you don't see it there, by all means, send me a quick email so I can help you get the pattern in hand.

March Lucky Star block - the Ninja Star

Have a wonderful Friday and a fabulous weekend!

Friday Fun: With a little help from my friends...

Last star for the Juki cover (December Lucky Stars block)

I'm pleased to tell you that I managed to finish up my third block for my new Juki cover yesterday, and it might be my favorite of the three. All three of these blocks come from the Lucky Stars BOM club, and the one in the center is next month's block, which just happens to be one of my favorites in the whole series.

Three Lucky Stars block for my new Juki cover

The problem is that now I have to commit to a background fabric for my cover. I'm postively torn, I just can't seem to decide...so would you please tell me which background is your favorite? Maybe some advice will help me make a choice! Please tell me which letter is your fave :)

Help! Which one of these background fabrics should I use for my Juki cover???

Have a wonderful weekend, and thanks for your help!

A few skipped stitches...

...is apparently enough to turn me into a cursing sailor. I spit out quite the slew of expletives yesterday, as I attempted to use my Sapphire for some simple piecing. It was as though the top thread tension would get weird and off every 5" or 6", although the bobbin thread tension was completely unaffected. New needles, new thread, new bobbins, re-threading, de-linting, I tried a bunch of things to fix it, to no avail. Thankfully, my dealer was very supportive and has taken it in for servicing free of charge, since it just came back from a service with a clean bill of health. Hopefully it will come back to me, in one piece and functioning, shortly.

Wtf, sapphire??? I've changed the needle, the thread, the bobbin, even the fabric I'm sewing with, and every six our seven inches of stitching i do, i get one our two of these poor stitches. Thoughts??

In the meantime, I've been pressing and cutting like a machine, getting a couple of new projects started. One of them is a new Hip to Be Square quilt, for the pattern that I'll be releasing later this year. This quilt pattern was originally in an issue of Quiltmaker back in the beginning of 2012, and makes for a fun repeat as you put blocks together. This new Hip to Be Square quilt will be featuring one of my current favorite fabric lines, Patty Young's Textured Basics. These prints are so darned vibrant and perfect for stash building!




I also cut into a fun mish-mash stack of Art Gallery prints this week, whilst watching this weekend's episode of Downton Abbey. I ultimately had to put the iron and rotary cutter down and get a box of tissues. Talk about heart-wrenching! Fortunately, I had these lovely fabrics to cheer me up afterward.


I've still got one more stack of fabric to cut into, but first, I need to work on oodles of Art Gallery HSTs. I've promised myself I can press and cut more fabric after I finish all 320 HSTs for this quilt I'm working on. I'm finding that more and more, I'm actually enjoying pressing and cutting, which is funny, because I used to hate that part. I wanted to just hurry up and get to the piecing, but these days, I'm enjoying having some quality time with my fabric and my iron before I cut it all up.


Stay tuned on Friday - I was planning on sharing an FMQ tutorial, but after my Sapphire drama, we'll have to see whether or not I can get the hang of FMQ on the Juki today and tomorrow first. Wish me luck :)

My new friend

I never really thought I'd be the kind of person who owned a bunch of different sewing machines, but I'm apparently now on that path. I bought my second sewing machine over the weekend, a fully mechanical industrial Juki TL-98. I've been half-heartedly looking for a backup machine that I could really trust, for when my Husqvarna Viking Sapphire is in the shop or for carting to guild meetings, and when I saw this Juki pop on Craig's List recently, it was hard to resist.

Hello new friend

First of all, I know of a ton of people who have this machine, or the newer edition of it, and absolutely adore it. Secondly, it's not computerized, and is easy to take apart to clean and maintain at home rather than through a dealer. Thirdly, this bad boy is fast. 1500 stitches per minute, which didn't seem super crazy on paper, but in person, holy cow, it's like having one of those industrial machines on Project Runway! The speed difference was especially noticeable yesterday, as I moved back and forth between the Sapphire and the Juki, and the Sapphire is no slowpoke either.

FMQ is a breeze!

Now that I've got the Juki home, my Sapphire is on the way to the dealer next weekend for a thorough cleaning. It's only been a year since the last cleaning, which I know isn't a long time, but I can tell that there's some linty gunk that needs to get taken care of by someone who can get to every nook and cranny in the machine. Normally, I'd just take the darned thing in and live without my machine for the few days or week it takes to come back to me, but I seem to have stacked my January and February calendar with deadline after deadline, so I really can't be without a machine. Thankfully, my dealer is typically quite swift with cleanings. If you're in the Tampa area,  I highly recommend them - they are the Tampa Bay Sewing Center Citrus Park office.

Beautiful stitches, without any muss or fuss

So far, I've managed to do a bit of sewing on the Juki, but admittedly not very much. First impressions? Piecing was very easy, as was finding the sweet spot for the perfect scant 1/4" seam. I need to do a bit of homework on the feet available for the Juki, to see if there's a 1/4" foot with a metal guide, like I have for my Sapphire, but the piecing foot that I have so far worked quite well. I did a little bit of FMQ, which was super smooth and required exactly zero adjusting. Not a single bit of tension adjusting, which really surprised me. Now, this machine is a straight-stitch machine only, it cannot do zigzags or anything like that, but honestly, I so rarely use that, I don't think it will be a problem for me. Today's task is going to be figure out how to thread the darned thing, wind some bobbins, and figure out how to load them, as the bobbin mechanism is super different from anything I've used before. I will definitely write more about this machine as I use it more! Wish me luck!

Threading the needle looks a bit intimidating