Author, Designer, Instructor

A review of the Janome Memory Craft 9400

Last autumn, the Janome of American company offered to send me a Memory Craft 9400 sewing machine and asked me to use it and provide honest feedback in a review. Let me begin by saying I’ve sewn on previous Janome machines including the 11000, the 6600, 8900 and more recently the 15000. I look forward to and enjoy teaching at national and regional shows across the country in Janome sponsored classrooms. The machines they provide always perform beautifully in a classroom environment and the customer service they provide to the students by their highly-trained educators is second to none. When they asked me to test this new machine, I was eager to get my hands on it to put it through its paces. And that is just what I’ve been doing for the past seven months. While this is in no way an exhaustive review of its many features, I will highlight the features I find to be the most exciting or important.

I am impressed at how solid the machine feels. It is heavy enough to be completely sturdy when stitching at high speeds (absolutely no shimmy or wobble), yet not so heavy as to make it too cumbersome for most people to lift it.

When I first sat in front of it, I noticed how easy it is to wind the bobbin and thread the machine.

The thread path is clearly marked and it is a very intuitive, continuous movement in preparation to thread the eye of the needle.

I pushed the simple, small lever on the left side of the machine and presto! The needle was quickly and easily threaded in one smooth motion without any eye strain! The 9400 is truly a self-threading machine.

I love the ease of the top-loading, drop in bobbin. It’s goof-proof to engage the thread because just like the thread path for the top spool, the path is clearly marked in the bobbin area as well. The plastic door is clear and easy to see through at a glance to check for the thread color you are using or even the amount of thread left on the bobbin. However, the 9400 has a bobbin sensor and lets you know when you’re about to run out of thread.

The color LED screen is bright and the icons are clear and easy to understand. The touch screen buttons are user friendly; quite simply, they just make sense. All the information you need is on the screen such as the suggested presser foot for each stitch. And there are so many stitches from which to choose. They are sorted into logical groups, such as utility stitches, buttonholes, decorative stitches, alphabets and many more. The stitch width and stitch length is easy to see and adjust to personalize every stitch! And an advanced menu pops up at the touch of an arrow to allow you to adjust the tension, presser foot pressure, and more.

But one of my most favorite new features is the presser foot “hover” feature: The presser foot can be easily programmed with the push of a button to automatically lift when you stop stitching and the needle is in the down position. This is particularly helpful when doing machine applique or free motion quilting and want to keep both hands on the fabric for superior control.     

The machine comes with bright LED lights that remain cool to the touch. They light up the bed of the machine beautifully! But it gets even better. The 9400 comes with a slide out extra light that tilts so you can position the light exactly where you need it!

   

The buttons on the machine itself are also easy to use. You can choose to sew using the foot pedal or you can start and stop your stitching with the touch of a button and no foot pedal at all. There is a button to raise and lower your presser foot, but for some of you more “traditionally trained” sewists, never fear. You can still lift and lower the presser foot with the manual lever on the back of the machine.

Clearly, this machine is all about options and ease of use.

Another one of my other favorite features is the automatic thread cutter. It cuts beautifully, time and time again. I’ve used other brands of machines with automatic thread cutters but there always seemed to be an issue with the thread being cut so short when the take-up lever raised the needle, it would become unthreaded. Has this ever happened to you? Well, this is not an issue with the 9400. After all these months of continuous use, it has never become unthreaded after using the automatic thread cutter. Ever.

And did I mention speed control? By changing a sliding lever to the left or right, you can adjust the speed at which the machine sews. The slowest speed is slow and methodical but if you want to fly, simply slide the lever to the right. Quite honestly, I prefer not to sew at such high speeds and keep the position of the lever just past the mid-way point. The beauty of the 9400 is you can adjust the speed to fit your own sewing comfort level.

The machine comes with a wide variety of the most necessary and useful presser feet and accessories. But I’m a ‘notions gal’ so I ran right over to my local Janome dealer and bought extra feet, just for fun. I love trying them out using different techniques. The presser feet are quite affordable, too. If you’re a quilter, like me, I highly suggest the Clear View 1/4″ Foot with Seam Guide.  Using stitch number 2 in the quilting category gave me the most perfect quarter inch seam allowance I’ve ever sewn. It is consistently accurate so if you cut your units and pieces accurately, your blocks will finish at the perfect size – not too large or too small! The only thing I would change, however, is the stitch length. The machine’s default setting is set to a 1.8 stitch length. I change the length to 2.4 and it is the perfect length for piecing. You can make this a favorite stitch and save it in your personal settings!

Finally, some additional things I appreciate and love about the 9400 is its versatility. It can go from sewing tiny, intricate stitches on the most delicate of fabrics to sewing consistent, even seams on heavy-weight fabrics such as canvas or denim without a missing a single stitch. The machine has a powerful motor, too. There is no hesitation when going over seam intersections or places where many layers of fabric come together.

There are simply so many features on this machine that I recommend you go straight to your local Janome dealer and ask for a demo. Plan to go when you have some time to sit and sew on the machine. Go ahead – put the 9400 through its paces. I’m sure you’ll see it is up to your most rigorous standards, too. If you’re not sure where the closest dealer is located, check the Janome website at www.janome.com.

I wouldn’t recommend this machine if I wasn’t thoroughly and completely sold on it. In fact, I’ll be buying this machine to keep as my own very soon. I love it that much!

Simply put, the Janome 9400 “had me at hello.” I’m hooked. Now, forgive me but it’s time for me and my 9400 to sew!

31 Comments
  1. I bought the 9400 on a review of someone else, now I’ve read yours I know I’ve a Monday morning machine. The bobbin winds the thread round the spindle, the thread cutter only cuts one thread, Everytime the needle goes down the machine croaks like a frog.
    I bought it because of the acufeed system, I too have had several Janome machines and been delighted with them, one with the acufeed, but these interchangeable ones come offMine does not go through multi layers at corners or Sean intersections.
    Thank you for writing your independent review, it has reinforced what I knew, Janome makes excellent machines, I just bought a bad one

    • Valerie –
      First, I am SO sorry you seem to have gotten one with a gremlin. That’s NOT good! I would take it BACK to the dealer right away and tell them you are “less than thrilled” with it and they should make it right. That’s why dealers are there — to make sure their customers are happy with the products. I’m confident this is what your dealer will do. However, if you have done this and they do not fix the machine, please email me privately and I will put you in touch with someone from the company to see if they can take further steps to ensure the machine is fixed properly.

  2. Forgot to say thar mine does not thread like a dreamSorry about the typos in the first reply

  3. Hi Kimberly,
    Lovely machine. I bought one when it was launched last year in May – in the UK. The thing that swayed me to buy this as apposed to the Brother VQ2 is the fact that you can attach a magnifier to this machine – for when your eyesight is not so great anymore. It is an inexpensive extra accessory and comes with four magnifiers getting stronger as you go, if you wish.
    Kind regards,
    Joan Wells.

    • Oh boy…..I LOVE that magnifier! You’re absolutely right — it is an inexpensive attachment for oodles of benefit! And my eyes aren’t getting any younger…..

  4. I have three Janome machines. A Skyline S7 that I just upgraded to in March, a Memory Craft 500E embroidery machine, and a smaller Hello Kitty 18750 that was my very first machine that I still use for classes and my husband and son use every once in a while. I love my Janome machines! The 9400 is a gorgeous machine.

    • You lucky girl! Having different Janome machines to play with and enjoy for different uses is such a wonderful blessing! Enjoy to the fullest!

  5. I was in your class at Quilt Odyssey at the end of July last year. We were using the 9400 in our class. You told me that yours had been delivered just before you left for the show and hadn’t had time with it yet. I came home with the machine I used in your class and am enjoying using it. It is a remarkable machine and so easy to use.

    • Hi Sharon! That’s right — I remember you! I’m so glad you bought one and have been enjoying it. I just LOVE mine. Seriously, I get so excited when I have time to sew. It is such a dream and pleasure to use! Enjoy your to the fullest. I hope to see you at Quilt Odyssey again next year!

  6. Sounds like a great machine. I’ve been able to sew on a few Janome machines and they always stitched beautifully. This one looks like it has plenty of fancy stitches too!

    QuiltShopGal
    http://www.quiltshopgal.com

    • LOTS of decorative and utility stitches! I’ve been having such fun playing with the machine trying different stitches….

  7. I have a Memory Craft, it is many years older and I have always loved it. I also have a Singer a and. Brother Embroidery Machine/Sweing machine, but of all I use and love my Memory Craft first of all.
    Could you tell me the cost of this new Memory Craft machine, I wouldn’t mine trading up.
    Karlen

    • Karlen, I’m honestly not sure of the MSRP on this machine. But I can tell you from experience that it depends on where you live and if you are close to where there are large, regional quilt shows such as QuiltWeek, or the Vermont Quilt Festival, or Houston Quilt Festival, etc. When a dealer is supplying classrooms with machines at these large shows, they offer THE BEST PRICE you can get. At Houston last fall, I taught in a classroom where the machines were sold for $2499 and they came with lots of accessories! Another show I taught at the machines were sold for $2999 but it was in a different part of the country. Local dealers may honor these “show prices” if you ask. Do you live near one of these regional shows? Check it out and I’ll bet you’ll find you can get a GREAT price on a machine. Or ask your local dealer for his or her BEST price.

  8. Hi, I’ve had the 9400 for a month and love every feature. I quilted a baby quilt and it was a breeze having so much space on the right and not having to fight to fit it in, the needle down and presser foot lift helped enormously, as the good lighting. I do have an issue with unthreading when using the auto cutter but assume it’s just me doing something wrong. I certainly need to explore the endless features and adjustments too.

    • Go back to the dealer where you bought it and ask them to make a slight adjustment on the auto cutter. It should never come unthreaded — and I believe it is simply a minor adjustment they can easily make to ensure the needle stays threaded.

  9. Thank you for this fantastic review. I have been keeping an eye on this machine since it came out but need to sell my 7700 before buying another one.

  10. Question: you have a lot of knowledge about Janomes. Did they change the feed system in any way for the 9400 vs the 8900? I have the Elna 760 and still find it wants to sit in one spot when it hits thick seams. just need experience with setting diff. feed or use the walking foot all the time?
    This review is one of the most comprehensive I have seen. I am debating between the Elna 780 and the Pfaff Performance 5.2. thanks

    • That’s a great question, Marlys, and one in which I’ll have to do some investigating to find out if the feed system is different. I can honestly say, however, that the motor on this machine is very powerful and I have not seen any hesitation when going over bumpy seams — even at points where 8 fabrics are coming together! Before you buy either the Elna or the Pfaff, do yourself a favor and check out this machine by going to a dealer and having a test drive. Did you know that Elna and Janome machines are now under the same company? Janome owns Elna — so many of the features are the same on both machines. Ultimately, buy a machine from a dealer you know and trust and who will give you GREAT after-sale service.

  11. Kimberly—I too have fallen in love with this machine (also a loaner for anyone else reading, as I too am on the Janome Artisan program) and also thinking of purchasing. It is a DREAM. My only quibble is that it does not have the convertible FMQ foot—if all of us can convince Janome to make that foot for this machine, it would be the perfect machine! As it is, it is pretty darn close!

  12. Hi Kimberly

    I was a bit surprised by your review. I recently bought this machine as a second hand machine.

    I am a Janome girl but not for this machine. I find the squeek noise associated to movement of the pressure foot unnecessary. My first bobbin load was a disaster. Wound very loose and spongy. Could not see if thread was in tension discs or not. Not a good addition.

    Setting up a 1/4″ seam to get all fabric running over both feed dogs impossible. Needle does not go far enough to the right.

    My first impressions of this machine was a disappointment.

    Have owned the MC6000 for over 10 years and it was a great machine, producing many pieced and quilted quilts.

    Will write this review to Janome as well.

    • Ann, I’m so sorry you’ve had any issues. Could it be that the first owner perhaps damaged the machine in some way? Did you test drive it before buying? Why was the first owner selling it? Regardless, you need to take this machine to your local dealer for a complete service. If they cannot fix the issue, please contact Janome’s customer service. I don’t believe this is a common factor with these machines. Something clearly isn’t right and needs to be fixed!

  13. I have had the 9400 since January. I cannot sew even a straight stitch with two different colors of thread without the bobbin thread showing on top. I’ve adjusted top tension, tried Masterpiece, Masterpiece and Bottom Line, Aurifil, different needles all with no results. I had a 6600 before this machine and I also have a 3160 and have never had this problem. I took the bobbin holder from the 3160 and put it in the 9400 and still no correction. I took it for service along with a stitch out of 18 different things I tried, and they said they adjusted the bobbin tension as good as they could get it. Still shows the bobbin thread on top. They also said I should use Guttermann or Mettler all cotton thread. I don’t feel I should be tied to certain thread. What thread do you use for regular sewing, and for decorative stitches? I’ve ordered the blue dot bobbin holder to see if this would help, knowing it is used mainly for FMQ. This is the first of four Janome machines I have had to take in for a service issue. What thread type do you use, and can you sew with a different color bobbin thread and not see it on the top?

    • Oh, Sandy, I’m so sorry to hear you’ve had such issues with what should have been a wonderful machine! I use Aurifil threads, but I’ve also used Mettler, Gutterman, Sulky and YLI. No issues. Take the machine back to the dealer and ask them — firmly — to fix this machine or have them send it to the factory! Janome cares about it’s customers and they would want to hear from you. If your dealer doesn’t make it right, then contact customer service. I’m sure with some persistence on your part it will all be resolved to your complete satisfaction.

  14. I have the 9400 and also had problems with the tension as… Sandy in April 27th. Also tried all things and the blue dot but this did not fix it. I do use the Janome blue, red, and purple tip needles and Mettler and Gutterman threads. I did take the blue dot and turned the tension dial almost 3 times to the left which DID even out the treads. Will see how long this works. An other problem I have is the thread getting stuck/ jammed at the 1st pathway. I’m continually getting broken threads because it gets stuck and won’t slide through. I know I need to get it in but have lots to do right now.

    • I’m so very sorry to hear you’ve had any problems or issues. I would suggest taking it straight back to the dealer and ask them — firmly — to fix the problems! If they don’t to your satisfaction, I recommend contacting the company directly and speak to someone in their customer service department. Good luck!

  15. Yes Kimberly I did know that Janome makes Elna. I sold a Janome 8900 to get an Elna 760 because I like the position of the jog dial and like the white sewing bed better. That is my worry with Pfaff. They are no longer a German company either. Hardly any machine is what they used to be. I read the reviews above and it all gives me pause. I love the Pfaff dual feed, but the tension and other systems in the machine are not like they were. I have read that often they flash a screen that says :machine needs to rest. then they won’t run. I had a Bernina 750, no longer Swiss made, and it was a disaster. The dual feed is nothing like Pfaff, they are not updateable, and worst of all it would not sew straight. Right now I have pretty much retreated to the land of Brother machines as my embroidery and “go to” machines. I have the auto hover function and really love it. I like how quiet the Elna is also and it has really nice stitch quality. But I sure would also like the hover function on it and the ability to update or create stitches. Now the Pfaff has not only a stitch creator, it has the ability to alter built-in stitches like the TOL Bernina does.
    they all have something to love, and sometimes something to hate. I just never want to experience the disappointment I had with my Bernina machine so I am treading very cautiously. I very much appreciate all the input from your review. Thanks if you do find out about the feed system, but I suspect they did not overhaul it as the dual feed feet still work on it. Not sure that would work if they had changed anything….. I love your site too. Someone posted this link on the janome site so I am grateful to her too! Marlys

    • Thank you for your kind comments about my work and my site. There certainly is a lot to consider when buying any new sewing machine. My advice to anyone would be to do as much research as you can and sit at the machines and try them. Ask questions of the dealer or contact the company directly. One of the best places to do this is at a major national or regional show where most — if not all — the sewing machine manufacturers are well represented and they will have top reps available who are highly trained and can answer all your questions. In the end, you need to find a machine you are comfortable with. Many dealers will offer some sort of trade in policy within 12 months of purchase. It certainly is something to consider!

  16. What is a janome artisan?

    • Janome has asked several quilting/sewing professionals to be “artisans.” These folks make projects, regularly sew on Janome machines, and teach or have a presence in their respective fields.

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Wherever I go, I am asked about the exquisite machine quilting on my quilts. I’m happy to share with you that most of my quilts have been expertly quilted by the internationally award winning quilt artist, Birgit Schüller! Read more