Why I Sold My Juki and Bought a Bernina

This post is one I’ve been working on in my head for a year and a half. I have had reservations of how to word things, how to post about it, how to not make it seem like you need to sell your sewing machine if you like it, etc etc etc.

I jumped on the Juki bandwagon after being ready to upgrade from my beginner-level Husqvarna Viking sewing machine. I couldn’t get a decent 1/4″ seam, things pulled to the left when I sewed long seams, I didn’t have a walking foot. These were all growing concerns as I participated in bees and things that required a consistent seam. I like to quilt a lot of my quilts on my home machine and it was not possible without a walking foot.

At that point in time, I believe 2016, Juki was all the rage among home sewists. They were relatively inexpensive, seemingly indestructible, and fast. They were rumored to be a workhorse with very little issues beyond needing to maintain them by oiling frequently.

I purchased one and I remember it arrived on Easter Sunday. I got it out of the box and worked on figuring out how to thread it. It was a doozie. Eventually I mastered that and was on my way sewing.

A few months later was when I had my first issue with tension. It was always a guessing game. I’d go through the same checklist and sometimes the problem fixed itself, sometimes it didn’t. I could never understand why the issue righted itself and why sometimes it persisted. New needle, new bobbin, re-threaded, cleaned and oiled it, turned it off and on again. It grew to be incredibly frustrating.

I took my Juki in to be serviced at a Juki dealer and 1 day after their 30-day guarantee, it broke. I spent a few hours on the phone with Juki headquarters and they told me to mail it to them and their guy would fix it. He did and it worked well for a few months. Then the tension issues creeped back in.

Sensing my ever-growing frustration, my husband suggested that I look into a new sewing machine. His grandma had a Bernina that his sister still used. Was it too good to be true? I went in to my local Bernina dealer and tested out the Bernina B 475QE. It felt smooth like buttah. I compare sewing on the Juki like a pick-up truck. It has its job and it does its job well, until it doesnt. A Bernina is like a luxury car. It is a JOY to sew with and a really amazing machine.

I have now had my Bernina for almost 2 years and I have never had even 1 tension issue. My stitches are perfect every single time I turn it on. I do miss the large throat space that I had on the Juki, but I miss literally nothing else. I gladly trade that for a machine that does exactly what I ask it to do every. single. time.

I love that I can purchase feet for a specific job (like making piping for my vintage chair reupholstery). I love that I can buy a straight stitch plate to help me not need leaders/enders. I love that I can use a blanket stitch around applique on the rare occasion I applique. I love the beautiful stitches I get even without the Bernina Stitch Regulator upgrade. I love that I have a built-in zigzag stitch for making frankenbatting. I love everything about my Bernina and I know that will continue as I use it more.

Vintage Chair Reupholstery

My paternal grandfather was a bit of a pack rat, in the best way. He had multiples of most tools, etc. When he passed away 12 years ago, we all knew it would be a process to clean up his property. My grandmother passed away 16+ years previously and his second wife was planning on moving back into her old house. My husband and I went up to my grandpa’s property with a bunch of my cousins and other family to help clean up and sort through was was going to the dump, to metal recycling, and to be sold at the auction. Enter this chair:

I was SMITTEN by the lines, the sparkly aqua vinyl, everything about it. I just couldn’t let it get thrown away. I had very little sewing skills at the time, but my husband and I kept it and moved it from place to place since it was very sentimental to me.

This chair was made by Douglas Furniture. They had their heyday in the 1960’s, which is when I imagine this chair was purchased. It was in my father’s house growing up. Can you imagine the conversations that happened while someone was sitting on this chair? I’d love to hear them.

Fast forward to a few months ago and my husband and I started plotting what we could do to save this chair. I looked at a few tutorials and dove in. These tutorials were particularly helpful to me to wrap my head around making piping, sewing piping on, what in the heck piping was, which Bernina foot to buy to make piping. You get the jist.

Sewing Bench Piping

How to Reupholster a Chair

Piping: How to Make and Insert Covered Cord

After doing what I considered enough internet research, I purchased my canvas fabric, 1/16″ piping (I wanted a delicate look), Bernina #12 foot, and went for it. My first step was making a template of the seat bottom, making piping, and sewing the piping onto the cushion cover.

There can not be enough pins in existence for a piping project, in my opinion. I am not a pinner, at all, but please use pins! I also find it imperative to cut the piping fabric on the bias. You really do need the stretch to make it around corners.

This is what the Bernina #12 foot looks like. It has a groove built in it to make it a breeze to make piping. Moving the needle position made this a lot easier to manage as well.

This is what my unstuffed cushion cover looked like. I was pretty pleased with myself for making it this far and not completely ruining the project. I ordered 2″ high density foam, cut the foam to the shape I needed, covered it in 2 layers of batting, and then stapled and stapled and stapled the batting down before I did the same thing with my cushion cover.

My husband cleaned up the chrome legs using water and aluminum foil and then he screwed the cushion onto the chair.

We used my grandma’s screwdriver and my heart had all of the feelings.

In order to make the chair back, it was a lot of trial and error. I didn’t take any photos because it was honestly a bit terrifying to McGyver this project. I made a sleeve of 2 layers of batting, then stapled it down before I put on the chair back fabric. I needed to box the corners on the front and back before I added the piping. There was seam ripping and a lot of fear, but eventually it turned out amazingly well.

Is this chair perfect? Absolutely not! It has imperfections galore, but I am so pleased with how well it turned out. I love, love, love having a piece of my grandparents in my home and the beautiful pop of Rifle Paper Co. Canvas doesn’t hurt a bit either!