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!