Discussion/Review of My Industrial Sewing Machine and My Love for Juki

Today I am going to share some thoughts and photos of my Juki sewing machine. I have a Juki DDL-5550N and I mentioned in my member profile that it is an industrial machine that shakes the house. I have been asked a few times by guild members about sewing on an industrial machine and what the differences are between that and a domestic/home machine. In its most basic sewing form there is not much difference; it sews a straight line in forward and reverse like any machine. The biggest difference is that that is ALL it does.

Industrial sewing machines (or industrials) are mainly produced for the garment industry where each station is doing one task (like seaming, hemming, binding, buttonholing, etc.) so each task requires a different machine. My machine is a straight stitch so it just sews a straight stitch. No zigzag, no decorative anything. Other industrials just do zigzag stitch, or just do blind hem stitch, or are specialized as a walking foot, or chain stitch, or two needle, or whatever. (Variations on the Juki website.) Industrial machines are sold in two parts: the machine itself or 'head' and the motorized table or base that powers it. There is a belt from the motor under the table to the right side of the head that powers the machine, much like the belt drive on old treadle foot-powered machines. This makes the machine by itself useless (they have no power of their own) so these are not portable at all, and in fact, weigh over 100 lbs with the whole assembly.

The shank area and single stitch foot/plate.

So why would anybody want such a boring, beastly machine? Well, industrials are work horses and very powerful. They may only do the one thing, but they do it very well and without complaint.  Mine has been in my family for 22 years and is still capable of 5000 stitches/min at its tuneups. Mine is also self-oiling and has a continuous bobbin winder that winds a fresh bobbin while I sew(which means I buy my thread two spools at a time if it is one I use a lot). A big bonus for quilters is the added throat space industrials have and the fact that they are all flush with their tables and have knee lifters. Most industrials are a 'high-shank' type which means there is more room from the foot to the arm which helps me see what I am doing.  The throat space (the area between your needle and the body of the machine to the right of the needle) on my Juki is 10.5" by 6", which makes it really easy to maneuver quilts around for free-motion quilting. Industrials are also made to sew through and advance thick materials and multiple layers of fabric so I can get away with never using a walking foot. It is a real champ with sewing bags and upholstery items, even leather or billboard vinyl.
The oil pan under the machine. I need to change my oil!

Tilting the 'head' to check the oil level.

My sweet bobbin winder on the right side of the head.

The motor underneath the table. 
Throat spaces on my Juki vs. my Bernina.
There are some drawbacks to owning an industrial. The aforementioned size and weight mean that I need a different, portable machine to participate in classes, retreats, and sew-ins. I also sew garments quite a bit and do need a zigzag stitch and buttonhole stitch from time to time. They are not the type of machine you can set up in the dining room and stow away when company comes; they pretty much demand a sewing space. While the parts are very common as the garment industry is pretty standardized, the bobbins and needles and small bits are not the same sizing system as domestic machines, so I can't run up the street to my LQS or Jo-Ann's if I break a needle. Fortunately for me, South Minneapolis has one of the best industrial sewing machine shops in the Midwest, T.J. Elias , with mechanics that do house calls as far away as Duluth. Another drawback is that my Juki apparently will not accept every type of popular thread on the market, much to my dismay.
The needle system.

Stitch choices are just length. 0 length means no feed dogs. The wide lever is reverse.
There is usually a seam ripper next to those snips (full disclosure). Note the thread stand in the back of the table.

Plenty of space but no options.

That is just a little bit of info on my sewing machine and industrials in general. I love my machine as I hope everyone loves theirs. Juki has recently started making excellent home/domestic models and I believe a few guild members use them. If I won the lotto and were to purchase a brand new domestic machine they would be the first ones I would look at (sorry, Bernina...). Thanks for reading!! --- Rozina D.


  1. I have a Juki DDL-5550N and I mentioned in my member profile that it is an industrial machine that shakes the house. Best Sewing Machines

  2. The number of peoples are looking for the best machines for their use, the number of swing machines are having good or bad reviews. Everyone have own thought and experience. The Singer 7258 these details is good one.

  3. I read some other feedback on the Juki DDL 5550 that you can't slow it down. Can you sew at any speed or is it all or nothing hair straight back?

    1. I sew on this machine at work. (I'm the seamstress for a retail store.) I regulate my speed the same way that I do in my car - lighter pressure on the pedal.

    2. The best thing to do for your 5550 (which is the machine i also own) to get full easy to use speed range is to replace the clutch motor and upgrade to a servo motor! Theyre about $100 and worth every penny and now days just as powerful as any equal sized industrial clutch motor! Good luck

  4. Hi! I have an older Juki straight stitch industrial machine too. I am wondering if you have any pointers for sewing stretchy fabric with it. If I pair a knit fabric with a stretchy one, the stretchy one gets stretched out/they do not feed at the same rate. Should I change the foot? If I do, which one do I change it to? Thanks in advance.

  5. Juki DDL-5550N is undoubtedly one of the best machine. My friend has used it, even i always see it in the sewingmachinereviewspot. Thanks...

  6. he lever above the stitch dial moves from orange to white. If the lever is on orange, top machines for quilting

  7. I found your blog very helpful and interesting,
    thanks for sharing this info with us.
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  8. This post is so informative and makes a very nice image on the topic in my mind. It is the first time I visit your blog, but I was extremely impressed. Keep posting as I am gonna come to read it everyday! Christine

  9. We require all the more such articles that we can read with such excitement.

  10. My wife just got one for "free" from a local auction company who removed it from a garment company that went out of business. I say "free" in quotes, because it's going to take some work to get it tuned and cleaned. It was too big a hassle for the auction company to handle, so they just gave it to her. We are reading up on it now, and super excited to get it going. It's being converted this week to a new servo motor, so she'll actually get to try it out next weekend. Exciting!

  11. Hey Rozina, nicely written reviews on Sewing machine, I am also sharing some my reviews on Serger Sewing Machine, visit my blog for more information, your reviews on that are valuable for me.

  12. This is a very nice post, I just loved it, You can not do quilting without having sewing machine, But if you have it and you will have little bit knowledge about sewing and quilting then you can do anything with that You can visit here and learn so many things that you haven't did before.

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  15. I truly appreciated this gorgeous blog. Make sure you keep up the good work. Best Regards . Suncoast Precision Tools


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