I love this machine. I took it to a 5 day sewing retreat and used it for the first time! It performed expertly! It was very easy to set up and use. I love how it sews through bulky seams with no hesitation! I sewed on sheer to heavy weight fabrics with expert results! Regarding the model identification, my reference to the “HZL-F600” is based on Juki marketing publications, the instruction manual, and the printed designation on the machine itself. From this point, I’ll refer to the “Juki F600” or just “F600.”
F600 Main Features
- Needle Threader
- Needle Up/Down Setting
- One step buttonhole
- Drop-In bobbin
- Free Arm
- Adjustable Stitch Length and Width
- Adjustable Presser Foot Pressure
- Adjustable Needle Position
- Auto Threading
- Automatic Needle Threader
- Start/Stop Button
- Direct Select Stitch Panel
- 7-Pt Feed Dog
- 12mm Extra High Foot Lift
- 10 Memory Slots holding up to 70 patterns each
Presser Feet Included
- Walking Foot
- Patchwork Foot
- Free Motion Foot
- Zipper Foot
- Overcasting Foot
- Blindhem Foot
- Manual Button Hole Foot
- Electronic Button Hole Foot
- Open Toe Foot
- Edge Sewing Foot
- Teflon Foot
Included Accessories (Not including feet)
- Hard Case
- Knee Lift Lever
- Wide Extension Table
- 4 Bobbins
- Eyelet Punch
- Quilt Guide
- Small, Medium, Large Spool Caps
- Special Screw Driver
- Auxiliary Spool Pin
- Seam Ripper
- Twin Needles
The only other accessory you might consider purchasing for this machine is a straight stitch plate, which is in the $100.00 range. I haven’t purchased it yet but since I’m getting into quilting, I’m considering it. I haven’t had any problems piecing fabric with the regular plate so I’m debating if it’s worth it.
- 225 built in stitches
- 10 Direct Select Patterns
- 23 Practical Patterns
- 16 Buttonhole Patterns
- 67 Decorative Quilt Patterns
- Including 17 Juki Exclusive Random Stitch Patterns
- 72 Decorative Patterns
- 38 One Point Patterns
- Elongation of Satin Patterns 1-5X
- 4 Alphabets including
- upper & lower case,
- numbers, punctuation and European characters
With 225 stitches, I haven’t been able to try them all and it wasn’t the reason I chose this machine. I’m pleased with the straight stitch and other utility stitches I’ve used such as zig-zag and blind hem. I stitched out my name and wasn’t impressed but neither was I impressed with the Sapphire, that’s why I have a stand alone embroidery machine. I do plan to use decorative stitches on some of my husband’s shirts and perhaps quilting. Some have complained that the basting stitch isn’t big enough but I don’t have a problem with it.
- Sewing Speed: Max. 900SPMMin. 80SPM
- Stitch Length: Max. 5mm
- Stitch Width: Max. 7mm
- Presser Foot Lift: 2-step lifter Max. 12mm (.47″)
- Needle: HAx1 #9~#16
- Dimensions (mm): 445(W)x290(H)x210(D)
- Weight (machine): 9.8kg (21.6 lb)
Upon unpacking the Juki F600, I was really pleased to discover a hard case, which seems to be an increasingly rare accessory for even TOL models of some brands. The case is an attractive white-and-blue plastic, with front-end compartments sized to fit the foot controller and knee lifter. The manual clearly identifies each included accessory and its location; on the machine and pull-out tray (basics included for all three Exceed models), and clear plastic pouch for the quilting and other accessories (included for the F400 and F600). The F600 comes with a variety of 12 presser feet for sewers and quilters, including a walking foot.
The F600 also includes an extension table which has fold-out legs, making the table quick and simple to install.
The F600 itself isn’t an attractive machine, but intelligently designed for sewing with a user-friendly layout. Icons on buttons are easy to learn by spending a few minutes with the manual. Dual lighting, available exclusively on the F600 in the Exceed series, provides very adequate illumination. The monochrome LCD is large enough and has the right contrast to clearly display a variety of useful information, such as the selected stitch, recommended presser feet for the stitch, length/width settings, and any selected functions, such as needle down. Knobs provide the stitch width and length adjustments on the F600, which are set to increments of 0.2mm.
SELECTING OPTIONS AND SETTINGS
Setup of eight options, such as display language and twin needle sewing, and an online Help guide are available by pressing a function button. The manual lists which settings are saved permanently, and which reset to the default after powering off.
The steps to threading the F600 are printed on the machine, so the path is simple to follow.
The auto needle threader works consistently. Here’s a tip that I received long ago from a dealer: You don’t have to pull out the thread from the needle, but can start sewing with the thread tail looped. You’ll have fewer instances of needle thread pull-outs if you can train yourself to leave that thread tail alone.
The top-loading bobbin is easy to insert and thread. The bobbin thread path is also numbered.
I recommend referring to the manual to correctly set up bobbin winding for the first time. I was less than successful until I checked the manual, and of course, the problems were caused by incorrect threading. The automatic bobbin winder does a good job of evenly winding bobbins, packing on quite a bit of thread, and stopping when full. After you push the lever into the bobbin, the winder starts on its own, so you don’t have to “power” the winder via the foot controller. BTW, the F600 takes Class 15 bobbins, which are easy to find and cheap.
You can run the F600 either by start-stop button or by foot controller. I haven’t tried the start-stop button as I never sew on autopilot. Chances are that I’ll never know if the start-stop button works.
The large foot controller is heavenly. I’ve sewn on a lot of machines, but the F600’s foot controller is the best I’ve used. This foot controller offers ultra-smooth acceleration/deceleration, and excellent control. While sewing with the foot controller, I find that the F600 takes one stitch after I stop. I’ve successfully worked the heel function (thread cutter) first-time, every time.
The motor is powerful. My tests included eight layers of denim–no hesitation, good stitch quality. The F600 runs quietly, without the electronic whine that plagues other computerized machines (especially Pfaffs).
The F600 includes a speed limiter, but I find the foot controller is so responsive that I parked the lever at high, and limit speed exclusively through the foot controller.
Top speed is about what you expect from a current machine — I think it’s listed at 900 spm.
Piercing power is exceptional. This machine really can work through multiple layers, and so far, I haven’t needed to use shims to run over thick seams. One added plus is that the F600 includes a “smooth foot,” aka teflon foot, so I’ll have the right foot when I’m ready to stitch vinyl accessories.
The box feed works surprisingly well. I quickly found that I needed to avoid manipulating the fabric while feeding. Stretching and pulling fabric distorts the stitches and can even adversely affect tension. The F600 prefers to feed itself, and does a commendable job. So far, I find box feed compares well to dual feed on other machines; this observation is not based on comprehensive use, but primarily on the lack of fabric “shrinkage” when seaming and from matching seams while lining a tote bag of some thickness.
Stitch quality is very good, both straight stitch and decorative stitch patterns. Juki advertises the F600 as having 225 stitch patterns. I added up stitch patterns listed in the manual, and that 225 count refers to straight, quilting, and decorative stitches. Alphabets are not included in the count. The F600 comes with four alphabet styles. Each font includes numbers, punctuation symbols, and foreign characters.
Decorative stitches are attractive and, at 7mm width, large enough to be noticeable. The F600 also provides two special types of stitches: random (quilting) and elongated (satin). Random sizing is detectable with some patterns more than others. You can set the elongation from five options via the Setup function button.
The bartack is the first I’ve come across with a usable length. Typically, I get frustrated with preset bartacks and just satin stitch bartacks as reinforcements for tote bag straps. The F600’s bartack functions like a manual buttonhole where you let the first leg stitch to the desired length, then press the reverse button to complete. The manual indicates that the max length is 20 stitches, which was more than adequate. Once you set the length on the first bartack, the F600 automatically stitches others to the same length.
The buttonholer is a sensor foot, similar to buttonholers provided by Viking, Bernina, and probably other brands. Two features make the foot easier to use than others I’ve tried: side-mounting connection and the sliding plate that uses a button itself to size the buttonholes. All three models in the Exceed series provide sixteen–count ’em, 16–buttonhole styles, and Juki doesn’t cheat by counting eyelets as buttonholes. I ran a number of tests on two sizes of buttons, and had no problems with jamming, balance, or “forgetting” how long each leg should be. Adjustments are available for bead width, cutting width, and density. Are the F600’s buttonholes the holy grail of perfection? No, Bernina still gets my vote there, but the buttonholes I tried are serviceable, and I especially liked the rounded-end styles.
The knee lifter, a standard accessory for both the F400 and F600, works well. Unlike Bernina’s FHS, the knee lifter only lifts the presser foot. The feed dogs stay in place. However, I find that using the knee lifter is sufficient for pivoting and for those waffling moments when you want to see under the foot.
You can combine lettering and decorative stitches. The F600 has a 10-folder memory capability for saving combinations. It’s easy to set up and save a combo, although I thought the manual’s presentation made the operation appear harder than it was.
What I Hate about the F600
Tension is fiddly. I’ve never had to adjust tension so much for average fabrics to get a good straight stitch. I’m not overly picky except on topstitching, but the default setting is sometimes b-a-d. By bad, I mean stitches that loop on the bottom, or bottom tension tight enough that you can literally pop stitches with a seam ripper. On the F600, the AUTO setting is a starting point. However, I’ve had no problem adjusting to get a perfect tension setting, and to date, once I adjust the tension, the F600 holds the setting. The main inconvenience is that I now always run a test, regardless of the fabric or project.
The F600 has no basting stitch. I can get a usable substitute by setting the straight stitch to the maximum 5mm, but a true basting stitch of 10mm would be better.
The default cutting width of buttonholes is none too generous. The Exceed series has a function to adjust the cutting width of buttonholes (narrow/medium/wide), but the narrow setting is useless on my F600 unless I want a double-wide bartack. Also, one of the keyhole buttonholes (#8) fails to cover cord at the keyhole (round) end.
The manual is another amusing example of failed English. Even the layout defies publishing conventions, such as the correct layout of odd and even page numbering. For the most part, users should be able to interpret the intent, but in some instances, I wonder if a novice sewer might be thrown off. For example, the manual refers to using “interlining” for buttonholes, when a more commonly understood reference would be to either interfacing or stabilizer.
The snap-on presser feet are average in design. The zipper foot is too wide for my taste. Although the quarter-inch foot has the toe design that provides an eighth-inch width for topstitching, the foot also feels large and somewhat cumbersome. There are small notches, but no markings across the quarter-incher’s toes to provide front-end measurements for pivoting. I would’ve liked the button-sewing foot to be included as a standard accessory instead of an option.
Accessories are outrageously expensive. This came as a surprise as the few accessories available for my Juki-made Singer Quantums were reasonable in cost. I’ve only bought two extras for the F600: the straight-stitch plate, which runs $80, and a cool presser foot with 2mm guide, which retails at $45. At these prices, I really hope that my old Singer Quantum button-sewing foot can do double-duty with the Juki.
Some reviewers have lamented the lack of a low-bobbin sensor. While the F600 indeed doesn’t have a low-bobbin sensor, my experience with them on other models has been variable. Sometimes, low-bobbin sensors start the alarms while there’s a considerable amount of thread left on the bobbin, so the warnings can be more annoying than helpful. I don’t see the lack as a deal-breaker, especially with the many other high-end features that the F600 boasts.
Despite a few issues, such as the tension and buttonhole cutting width, I am deeply infatuated. Not surprising, since the F600 sews like the old Singer Quantums on steroids, and I love the simplicity of push buttons to directly access the stitches I use most frequently. Sometimes, less really is more. The Exceed F600 covers the basics, provides a few luxuries, and performs beautifully. This is a sewer’s sewing machine.
This machine gives you a lot of bang for your buck, I don’t think there are any other machines on the market that give you this much — walking foot, wide extension table, knee lift, automatic thread cutter AND a separate motor to wind bobbins, for the same price.
I don’t know if the Juki HZL F600 is for everyone but it’s the bee’s knees for me! I’m thrilled with all it can do as well as all the extras it came with not to mention the price tag. This machine has made sewing effortless for me.