For the last 5 years I’ve been using a Janome TXL607 (reviewed here) which I love but was struggling to fit a full size quilt under it when quilting. When I make quilts I make them big! The last one was over 2.5 metres long so I decided it was time to look at getting a long arm machine.
I was very happy with my first machine so I wanted to stick with Janome again for the next machine. A few friends of mine have Memory Crafts and told me they were amazing so I had a browse of the range and fell in love with the new MC 9400 QCP. It has a huge amount of space under the arm for quilting, 11 inches!
Note this model has now been superseded by the Janome MC9450QCP.
I’ve been sewing with it for almost 4 months now and have fallen in love! First up let me warn you this machine is a beast! It is massive, weighs 13kg and takes up a lot of space – but that’s how you have so much more room for sewing big projects on it. The photo above shows the size difference between my TXL607 and this one. It’s not the kind of machine you’d take to sewing classes or groups (I kept my TXL607 for that).
With regards to the arm space when I’m working on a project from a magazine I can fit the whole magazine between the foot and the body of the machine and still have space to sew. I’ve made a very large travel bag on it and there was much more room to manouvre the bag around (pic above). I find I end up keeping scissors, wonder clips, chalk pen and any other accessories there so they are close to hand. I haven’t quilted a large quilt on it yet but I’m planning to over the summer so will update this post when I have had that experience. I have made several mini quilts, a baby quilt, pouches and bags on it and it definitely makes sewing easier to have that extra space.
The MC9400 QCP is Janome’s top of the range long arm quilter machine, but you not only get a large sturdy machine but a huge amount of accessories for your money too. I won’t list them all here as there’s a list on the Janome website but you get 16 feet and 3 different needle plates plus lots of other useful bits (see the image above) and a large extension table is included. The extension table and quilting feet cost me an extra £100 to buy for my old machine. I took the photo above before I found another hidden storage compartment that contained a walking foot too.
The MC9400QCP comes with 3 needle plates: The standard zig zag, straight stitch and the professional ¼ inch. The needle plates can be easily changed without having to use a screwdriver, just push a lever and the needle plate pops up and you can swap it over for a new one which snaps into place. Accurate stitches and perfect starts on any type of fabric has gotten easier. The new narrow gauge industrial foot and straight stitch plate are great for stitching curves and precise top stitching.
To keep all those accessories to hand the machine comes with lots of hidden storage compartments, it took me a while to find them all! There’s storage compartments in front of and behind the needle plate as well as underneath with additional storage on the top of the machine too. There’s also a handy little tray that fits into the front storage compartment to help you keep your feet all neat and organised rather than just jumbled in like on my old machine. No more rummaging through to locate the correct foot.
Another thing I love about this machine is the lighting, it has a pull out light at the front left of the machine (the Janome Logo) which you can angle down onto the needle or your fabric as well as a light above the foot and 3 LEDs on the arm bit too. I used to use a daylight lamp with my old machine as I have quite a dark sewing room, now I don’t need to.
Now I’m not a foot pedal user (read about sewing without a foot pedal here), I just use the stop and start button and speed control to sew. But if you use a foot pedal I think you’ll like the fact this model comes with a huge foot pedal, plus a smaller thread cutting foot pedal too. You also get a knee lift too.
Now onto the computerised side of the machine, there is so much so say about this I just can’t cover it all in one review. But to start with it has a whopping 350 stitches! All the stitches are handily shown on the lid of the machine, and grouped by type to make it easy to find the one you want. The maximum stitch width is 9mm, so much larger than most machines.
The computerised panel on the right of the machine comes with a stylus to help you easily navigate to the correct stitch. One nice bonus would have been an extra stylus, I’m sure I will end up losing it at some point. It does respond to a finger touch but the stylus is more precise. As well as using the guide on the lid to find the stitches it also has a handy categorisation where you pick the kind of project you are working on – for example quilting – and it will show you the suitable stitches to choose from.
I am not a dressmaker so I have not used most of those stitches yet, but I have used many of the quilting ones. There’s several great quilting stitches including ones that make it look like you hand quilted. The free motion one is great, it automatically adjusts the tension and stitch length so it’s quick to set up for free motion quilting. It also has a very clever thing called memorised piecing. Essentially this means if you are sewing the same length of block over and over you can tell it that, sew the first one and it will automatically remember the length for future ones and stop at the right place.
As you can see from the image above you can easily alter the width or length of the stitches,plus the machine tells you which foot you should be using to sew that stitch.
The one I use the most is the quarter an inch stitch. One little gripe is that the quarter an inch foot does not automatically put your needle ¼ an inch from the edge of your fabric. You have to make sure to go into the quilting menu and select the quarter inch stitch, otherwise your seam will be wider. You would think that after 4 months I would have learned that by now – but somehow I always seem to forget and start off with too wide of a seam and have to unpick it!
But on the plus side when you turn the machine on it asks if you want to use the same stitch as last time, so if you switch off partway through a project it’s easy to pick up where you left off. Speaking of stopping during a project, if and when you get side tracked by kids, housework etc if you leave the machine on it will go into power saving mode after a while and dim the lights and screen to keep your electricity costs down.
Another great feature it has is a low bobbin warning. So you shouldn’t ever have to have that pit of the stomach feeling when you realise all the stitching you’ve just done has to be re-done because the bobbin ran out just after you started. It warns you around 44 inches from the end of the thread (I tested on a jelly roll strip). You can get a few more seams out of it when doing patchwork but it will pop up every time you start a new seam to warn you the bobbin is running low. Out of curiosity I let it run right out one time to see what it would do and it popped up another warning about the thread breaking, so it does realise there’s something wrong and stops you stitching.
It also has an auto pivot function which allows for fast and accurate stitching, especially useful for sewing corners and curves.
I’ve also enjoyed playing with the embroidery stitches, not only does it come pre-set with some great pictorial, border and text designs but there are 4 text fonts, upper and lower case, and you can type entire words then sew not just 1 letter at a time like I had to do on the TXL 607.
One of the most exciting things is that the machine comes with software to design your own stitches! In my most recent few projects I’ve been wavy line quilting so I think I need to get the software out and have a go and designing my own wavy stitch. It has a usb port so you can transfer the stitches you design on your computer to your sewing machine. I’ll write a separate post about that when I do it as this review is getting rather long.
Loads of storage, very useful.
Tons of accessories, you probably won’t need to buy any feet for quite some time!
Comes with large extension table.
Well lit, including a pull out repositionable light above the needle.
Auto settings plus several feet for free motion quilting which makes life easy.
Over 300 stitches, plus you can create your own.
It warns you when your bobbin is running low or your thread has broken.
Lots of machine embroidery text options, 4 fonts, upper and lower case, can type entire words then sew not just 1 letter at a time. Some pre-programmed on the machine like ‘handmade’.
Big foot pedal and small thread cutting foot pedal, but works without pedals too.
Big and sturdy. Can be both a pro and a con in different ways but it looks and feels like it will last a long time and sew through almost anything.
I am really happy with this machine, it makes everything very easy for you and has so many stitches and options you couldn’t really ask for more. After 4 months I’ve only just started to get to grips with what this machine can do. I love the bright lighting, all the accessories and the big range of stitches. It is not too techie for those who are not very computer literate, and it comes with a very comprehensive instruction manual. I also found it much easier to free motion quilt on this machine than my old one.
I’m not going to lie, it is a lot of money (over £2,000) but if you are looking to invest in a machine that will keep you going for years with endless functions and stitches to explore then I’d recommend the Janome MC9400 QCP.
Update April 2018
Now I’ve been using the machine a little longer I have discovered a few other things I wanted to mention. It’s definitely one of those machines that you will keep exploring the features and accessories for years!
Firstly, I have been doing a lot more free motion quilting and have discovered that there are several free motion feet to choose from so if you are not a fan of the springy foot there are smaller non-springing feet you can use. Using the settings you can adjust the height of the foot so that it’s just skimming your fabric no matter how thick or thin it is.
I have also found out there is a blue dot bobbin case which has looser bobbin tension specifically for free motion quilting to reduce/remove those little loops you sometimes get on the back. That is next on my to buy list. Plus there are just introducing a new upgrade which includes 4 new feet including one that works with rulers and one for variable zigzags. I will be getting this soon and writing a full review so more to come on that.
I have also been learning about the professional foot and plate that come with the machine (the plate with HP on). This is a straight stitch only combo which is ideal for piecing (gives a scant 1/4 inch seam) and for sewing curves. Find out more about them in my post here.
Update February 2019
Janome have replaced this model a newer version: the Janome MC9450 QCP. The key differences between the MC9400 and the MC9450 are:
– More lighting, the lights on the newer model are 1.6 times brighter.
– The ability to taper stitches including the option to include lock stitches at the start and end, to set the tapering angle and number of cycles, and to mirror image the patterns.
– Ruler work comes as a default option (rather than having to add an upgrade as with the MC9400)
– It comes with an AcuFeed HP foot (HP2) so this popular foot will now acheive an even more professional result. (Note you can buy this foot to use on the MC9400QCP)
– Auto power off timer so you don’t accidentally leave it on.
Click here to download a summary of the key benefits of the Janome MC9450 QCP
Image credits – I have added some of Janome’s images into this review. The bright professional looking images are copyrighted to Janome, the others are copyright of Fiona Pullen.