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on May 11, 2011
I purchased the Juki HZL-27Z as a gold box deal for $159.99 and am totally pleased with my purchase. I had been thinking about getting a compact machine that would be a nice backup machine as well as function as a portable while RVing. I currently use a Brother Quattro and Brother SE270D and primarily do crafts, machine embroidery, and quilting with them. When this deal came up, I couldn't pass it up!

Although I have never tried using other portable machines like a Singer featherweight or a Janome Jem, I thought I would give the Juki a try. Juki has a good reputation for its commercial and higher end machines. I also wanted something that was not computerized as my backup since I would be moving it quite a bit.

Lightweight - weighs 12 pounds reportedly; I weighed it at 12.8

Easy to use out of the box - it has similar bobbin winding, top loading bobbin, and threading as my other Brother machines; you do have to thread through the top hole of the bobbin prior to winding, however. I think that anyone who has any sewing experience would find it very easy to use. For beginners, it would also be easy to understand with its manual or perhaps even without, since it has nice diagrams right on the machine. The manual is easy to understand.

Manual automatic needle threader is easy to use

Adjustable length and width of stitches

Nice even straight stitching with ability to adjust tension

I think the thing that I am most impressed with is the feed dogs. It sewed through 3 layers of denim, no problem. With 5 layers, it needed help feeding it through. It also has a jig-type button on the presser foot for thicker fabrics. It seemed to work well.

The vertical spool pin is short. You cannot put a spool cap on it unless the spool is really short or you could just use the provided felt. You would have to use a thread stand if you want to use the vertical spool pin with larger spools.

The horizontal spool pin is angled toward the machine so if you are used to using larger spools it might be difficult. Standard size ones work fine.

The handle is located at the back of the machine. When you carry it, the front of the machine angles forward.

The flatbed has no handle at the bottom to remove it when you switch to free arm. I found that I would have to open the compartment door to get a grip to get it off the machine.

It has a 4 step buttonhole instead of 1 step. Since I rarely make buttonholes, this wasn't an issue for me. If you are in to garment sewing, it might.

It is noiser than I'm used to but I think it is similar to other Singers that I have used at a similar price point. It is by no means super noisy. You need a sturdy table too. I had it on my dining room table and it shook a bit but on a very sturdy surface, it was rock solid. You would also probably benefit from additional lighting. The LED light was a bit dim for me.

I think that for this price, as well as the typical list price of $250, it is a very worthwhile portable machine. I am very happy!

Edit 11/26/11: I am still really enjoying this machine but had another thought as I have been teaching my 6 year-old to sew on it. I love the fact that this machine is not computerized as a backup, but it lacks a speed control that you can find on computerized machines. If I were teaching a child to sew, I would consider this feature since it is really handy. This machine does not have the super slow speeds that can be achieved with a computerized one. My daughter is still able to use this machine with ease but I find it much easier to have her use my computerized one on the lowest speed and the start/stop button instead of the foot pedal. She finds it more fun to use the pedal though, so she loves using this machine!
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on January 16, 2013
I love, love, love, this machine. I see that the price has risen from the $114 that I paid weeks ago, but it is still a bargain. Its performance rivals machines at 4 or 5 times the price.

I've been sewing for more years than I care to remember on everything from a treadle, to mechanical, and top-of-the line electronic and computerized machines. Yet, lately, I've been wanting a relatively inexpensive, reliable, lightweight, portable, 3/4 mechanical machine to take with me places. I've been looking at this Juki model as well as others for months. I couldn't make up my mind until a huge price drop convinced me to give it a try.

I am not disappointed. This is a solid machine. The first thing that I noticed was the power of the motor. It is fast, goes through multiple layers of fabric and yet is soooo quiet. The footprint is small yet it feels solid and stays put even at the fastest speeds, which is amazing considering it weighs only 13 pounds.

It has box feed on seven feed dogs which makes for very comfortable sewing. There are more than enough speciality and decorative stitches and while their quality is acceptable, they are not outstanding. This machine is for utility not beauty. Straight stitches are fine. The built-in needle threader is one of the simplest I've ever used.

There is a 4-step buttonhole which leaves a lot to be desired. There's a way to fiddle with it to get an excellent buttonhole but beginners would not be able to suss this as easily as I was. Neither the manual or the accompanying video would show you either.

I have this thing about "perfect" stitches. It bothers me when they don't form perfectly in the center of the fabric. I did need to fiddle with the tension (including the bobbin case tension screw) which was annoying but once completed, the straight stitch quality was quite good. I compared it to my Janome 6600P and they were identical. This kind of fix would be out of the question for a beginner.

There is a manual in three languages (English, Spanish and Russian). It's okay but relies on pictograms rather than extensive descriptions or photographs. The video is basic but useful. It is clearly meant for absolute beginners but it does show and explain the bobbin winder and threading path in excellent detail.

This machine is a good choice for a beginner, in a dorm room, for someone who does utitlity sewing, or for someone like me who just needs a portable machine to take places.

It comes standard with only just two presser feet: standard and buttonhole foot so I purchased a set of generic low-shank presser feet for under $10, all of which fit perfectly and gave me a blind hem, rolled hem and zipper foot among others. At minimum, every gament sewer needs a zipper foot. The feed dogs do not drop but you can buy a cover plate if you want to try free motion quilting. The quality of stitching is okay but nothing special. The straight stitches are fine. Stitch tension can be adjusted but unless you are familiar with how to coordinate the stitch tension with the bobbin screw tension, it can drive you nuts. The dust cover is kind of a joke. You can either make your own or buy a cover or carrying case.

Regardless, I'm hoping they drop the price again because I'm going to buy another as soon as they do.
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on December 18, 2013
Growing up around factory workers in the garment districts, and the slaving that NYC garment factories put my parents through, I watched my parents sew out of necessity. I did not want to sew for the life of me. Currently I would pay a seamstress or a tailor in laundry shops to do menial sewing jobs. Sometimes more than the garment was worth to replace. This machine was worth every penny, so far. I purchased it for what it would cost me to have four simple jobs done at the local laundry shop. It was easy to follow instructions and smooth operating that saved me in a day enough money to have the machine pay for itself. It is made in China, which is a disappointment. I may not have purchased it, and hope the parts are not necessarily made there. Let's hope for the best. The machine feels sturdy, the correct weight for being mostly made of hard plastic, and smooth. It has more patterns than I think I would use, but it has the important ones for me. I like the machine and recommend it to any beginner. It is not the cast iron steel horse that Singer used to make, but it will do the household jobs we need most.
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on November 28, 2014
When I received this sewing machine, it didn't work. When plugged in the sounds would make but something was either stuck or tightened too much or something and the gears wouldn't move the needle up and down. But I didn't have the time to send it back to get a new one because I had a sewing project I had to do. So I had a local sewing shop fix it up for me for fairly cheap.

Other than that little problem the machine works great and I haven't had any problems with it. It sews through some bulkier fabrics and doesn't seem to have too much trouble handling whatever I put into it.
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on October 6, 2014
Not that you, the reader, will care, but I don't review any products. Without checking I think this might be the first. I am reviewing it to let you know that the machine I received worked long enough to beautifully hem one pair of jeans for my girlfriend. I tried to start a sewing project with it but about one third the way through there was a cracking sound and then it would never pick up the bobbin thread again. I read the manual front to back, did all the maintenance and troubleshooting it had listed. No joy :-(...call the help line, I am loathe to call a help line on a good day, much less when my 200 dollar sewing machine goes belly up, the Juki help line in Miami FL did not call back. DID NOT CALL BACK. 5 phone calls, 2 messages, an email. Nothing. I didn't get the warranty so it looks like I own a 200 dollar brick. Other minor complaints are that that it feels plastic and cheaply made. I suppose you could argue that it is portable and in a certain price range, but still. Your experience my vary.
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on May 9, 2013
I picked up this sewing machine as a gold box deal on Valentine's Day and have now owned it for about 15 months. I didn't really sew before I purchased the machine and didn't want to spend too much money on a fancy machine in case I decided I didn't like sewing.

At first, it was pretty frustrating. This machine doesn't do absolutely everything for you like the fancy computerized machines. I had to learn a lot about thread tension and basic troubleshooting and, of course, ripped out a whole lot of stitches along the way. If I hadn't been so stubborn when it came to admitting defeat, I might've quit sewing altogether in the first week of using this machine. But, then things got better.

After I learned the basic concepts of how a sewing machine works, I was able to sew everything I wanted with no trouble. I've used this to sew several layers of thick fleece, stretchy knits, sheer curtains, and more. It handled all the materials easily and consistently produced stitches that look good.

Now, the bad. I have since upgraded to one of those fancy computerized machines that I was hesitant to invest in because I feel I outgrew this machine. I'm keeping it because it still works perfectly and is a good backup, but I don't use it much anymore. The biggest problem was a lack of available accessories. This machine comes with a standard foot and a buttonhole foot. I ordered a zipper foot on Amazon that said it would fit "most" Juki machines but it didn't work for me. I didn't order more because I didn't want to waste more money. If you want to do anything other than basic stitching, I'd do some looking for the additional stuff you'll need and figure that cost into the price of the machine. It quickly becomes pretty expensive if you plan on doing anything requiring more specialized feet.

Next, the size of the machine got very frustrating for me. In addition to garment construction, I started quilting. It is so, so hard to quilt a large quilt on this little machine. My quilting, quite frankly, looked like crap because fighting to feed the quilt through the throat (the tiny space to the right of the needle, if you're new to sewing terms) frequently made my lines crooked and imperfect. The feed dogs also seemed to need a little more help than usual and, as such, the stitch length isn't perfect, either.

Finally, this machine is LOUD. I've found that I'm able to get the most sewing done after my young daughter goes to bed but, unfortunately, this machine was so loud that it sometimes woke her up.

I'm glad that I started out with this little machine. It was great for learning what I'm doing instead of just starting out with a computerized machine that does pretty much everything for me. I would recommend it to anyone just starting to sew as long as you're paying the gold box price. The $175 regular price tag is probably a little too much considering the machine's limitations. Since my purchase, I've seen the machine as a gold box deal several times, usually on gift giving holidays like Valentine's Day, Black Friday, and Mother's Day.
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on November 20, 2013
I was excited to receive my first sewing machine. It arrived and I start it up, it didn't start, the motor ran, but the needle didn't move. I would have loved for it to function. It's a neat lil thing. I got my full refund and I'm going to try and purchase another one.
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on August 10, 2014
Thought it was gonna be as robust as their more industrial such, but wasn't quite there. Is way above the durability of the average home machine from chain stores, and have been pleasantly surprised at what it is capable of punching through. Primarily the double folded webbing of Chaco sandals. I sew primarily in outdoor gear using tougher materials than typical machines are made for, this doesn't disappoint.
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on January 2, 2014
Nice machine for a back up machine, or the occasional user. I got it to take to classes and I feel it will be fine for that. Reasonable priced, the stitches are even, and not too noisy. I like that it is mechanical not digital, so I can do most maintenance by myself.
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on April 23, 2013
I purchased this Juki to take with me when flying on vacation. It is light weight and fit into my rolling carry on luggage. I have only taken this on a test drive and have not used it very much. BUT from what I did see of this I loved it! I would purchase this again.
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