An archive of sewing tutorials and inspiration


Nothing Like a New Sewing Machine!

If you have been following my blog for a while you may know that I have had some sewing machine drama. The first machine I ever purchased myself was a little Huskystar E20 from Joann's.

I only used the machine a few times once to sew my wedding vail and then it sat in my closet for 5 years. This past December after a trip to Pottery Barn Kids, I got this crazy idea I could make a quilt. I loved the Pottery Barn quilts, but the price tag whoa! I purchased a TON of cheapy fabric (bad move) went home and dug out my Huskystar and went to work.

Puff the Lion Quilt

The very first quilt I made was a Puff Quilt for my son who I was pregnant with at the time.

Half-way through the quilt I started to experience serious tension issues with my machine. Being a novice I had no clue how to fix the issue so I of course Googled it! I tried replacing my bobbin thread, re-threading my machine, new needles, the list goes on all to no avail! I was super bummed here I was trying to make my very first quilt, with a basically brand new machine and I couldn't even finish it.

Despite my sewing machine woes, I had immediately fallen in love with quilting. So I had to make a decision, just give up, stop, and maybe borrow someone else's machine some day or spend money, buy a new machine, and make this a new hobby. So to my husband I wen't, and asked for a new sewing machine for Christmas. I started to do my research about sewing machines and immediately got a headache. So many different brands and features, being a new quilter I had NO clue what I was looking for, so I read review after review, but in the end my options were all narrowed to price. I could not spend more than $160.

I ended up ordering a Brother CS-6000i from Amazon, I chose it because it had 4.5 stars based on 1,048 reviews, and it came with quilting features! When I first got my machine I was overjoyed. This thing had all the bells and whistles. I finished my first quilt and not even a day went by before I started my second! I was hooked!

Summer Sunrise Baby Quilt

Color in Motion Baby Quilt

Black and White Memories Quilt

I moved on to my 3rd quilt, 4th quilt. And 3 months later when I was working on my Black and White Memories Quilt, SM Drama hit again! I was trying SO hard to finish that quilt in time for my husband to fly to Oregon and give it as a gift, and the day he was going to leave I was sewing the binding on and my machine BROKE! I was seriously bummed, again it was tension issues that could not be resolved.

I took the machine into my LQS and they said that there was an issue with the bobbin tension that could be a manufactured defect. So I contacted Amazon and despite the 3 months I used it they sent me a replacement, next day. Thank You Amazon. Well my new machine came and this one only lasted 2 weeks before it broke and it had the same exact problem. This time I returned my machine for a complete refund. Through that process and doing a lot of research I decided to change my tactics.

I still only had about $160 to spend on a machine so I decided it was a wiser choice to purchase a higher quality, older, used machine than the cheaper built new machines with all the bells and whistles. I ended up finding an Elna 3007 on craigslist that didn't have all the same features, but back in the day was a wonderful little machine. The owner of the machine could no longer sew because of her age and health, she was very excited to see it going to a new home. She had also just serviced the machine a few weeks before and had proof which was a huge plus.

I used my Elna from then till now. She is a good machine, but doesn't handle quilting well. As soon as I put a FMQ darning foot or walking foot on my Elna I start to run into tension issues, bird nests, and skipped stitches. I felt like the quality of my quilting would never be good enough to sell my quilts, so It was definitely my goal to save up for a machine that could handle quilting like a work horse. So my research continued.

I have been researching machines for a few months and have asked so many people which machine they use. I had posted a poll on The Modern Quilt Guild Facebook Page asking which brand machines everyone uses. 244 people entered the poll and here were the results.

  • Bernina - 79 votes 
  • Janome - 73 votes
  • Pfaff - 23 votes
  • Brother - 21 votes
  • Husqvarna - 20 votes
  • Baby Lock - 12 votes
  • Singer - 6 votes
  • Juki - 5 votes
  • Elna - 4 votes
  • Kenmore - 1 vote

One of the hardest decisions to make was which brand I would choose. Every brand seemed to have machines with similar features, so that made it very difficult.

I found that the important thing to ask yourself when shopping for a sewing machine is what you need your machine to do, not what you would like to have. I asked myself this question a ton of times. I thought to myself, well it would be nice to have this this this and this, but do I really NEED it. The machines that had all the features I would like to have all seemed to cost about $1800+ which was above my budget. So I had to really ask myself which features I would need and thought were essential.

My final decision came down to Bernina, Janome, and Juki. I had played on all three of these machines and really loved them. If I had gone with Bernina, I would have had to purchase a machine with barely any of the features I needed, just for the sake of getting the quality of Bernina. So I crossed it off my list.

When I asked myself what features I really NEEDED here is what I came up with

I needed a machine that…

  • could Free Motion Quilt
  • had 1,000+ SPM
  • had Automatic Needle Down
  • that could easily quilt through multiple layers
  • had a Knee Lift for the presser foot
  • had a larger throat space

I new that my Elna would still work fine for multiple stitches on appliqué, button holes, and such. But, one thing it could not do is machine quilt beautifully, and it took forever to piece a quilt because it was slow.

So what did I end up getting?

The answer you have all been waiting for! I decided to get a Juki TL-2010q from one of my LQS, 35th Avenue and Sew Vac. I liked the idea of having a straight stitch only machine just for precise quilting, and I had heard great things about Juki. When I went to the store to test it out I immediately fell in love. It was zippy and I felt like I could sew over anything, in fact they have a piece of denim folded like 4 times to demo with and it just sews right through it.

Here are the official specs of the Juki TL-2010q

  • Automatic Needle Threader
  • Automatic Thread Trimmer
  • 12mm Extra High Foot Lift
  • Extended Flat Bed
  • Drop Feed Dog
  • Needle Up/Down Button
  • Variable Sewing Speed Control
  • Sewing Speed Max. 1500RPM, Min. 200RPM

The Juki TL-2010q is the predecessor of the Juki TL-98q which has been a much loved machine by many. I have only had my machine for about a week, and I can already tell you I love it! The knee lift and needle down has been absolutely amazing, and it is so fast!

The only odd things about it are the location of the bobbin, and the automatic needle threader. The machine can be used on a quilting frame for long arm quilting, so I think they designed the bobbin, needle position, and threader with that in mind. The bobbin is on the left side of the machine pretty far in. The needle is backwards from what I am used to, normally the hole is facing you, but on the Juki it is left to right.

Despite those odd things it is a pretty amazing machine, and I am seriously so excited! I cannot believe how far I have come in 6 months. If you would have told me a year ago I would be a quilting, blogger, teaching how to quilt, working on my own patterns, trying to sell quilts, I would have thought you were nuts! I could hardly sew a pair of pajama pants, but I have fallen in love and there is no turning back.

My goal at Pile O' Fabric is to connect with you as a fellow quilter and inspire you to continue learning, to step out of your comfort zone, try new techniques, join new events, try new products, and fall even more in love with quilting than you were. If it were not for your support as my readers, and the support of my sponsors I would not be where I am, so I wan't to thank you so much for following along with me on my quilting adventures, and I can't wait to see what the next 6 months, 2 years, 20 years of quilting will bring.

I will give you all a more formal Juki Review once I have sewn on it for a few months, but as of now it is love at first stitch :)


Alyssa Williams

Alyssa Williams

Creator of Pile O' Fabric

Alyssa Lichner is a graphic designer turned avid sewist. She writes modern quilting tutorials and shares techniques and inspiration on her blog, Pile O’ Fabric. Alyssa has a passion for exploring different techniques and applying them to modern designs. She is thankful to have the opportunity to share these techniques, through her tutorials, patterns, and classes with quilters around the world. She always encourages her readers and students to challenge themselves to try new things and to approach quilting with a fearless attitude.