Janome have just released an upgrade pack for the Janome MC9400 which comes with 4 new feet as well as the upgrade on a USB. The main purpose of the upgrade is to allow people to do ruler work on their machine. This is an increasingly popular trend in quilting and lots of quilters are keen to experiment, so this upgrade came at just the right time.
In the upgrade kit you get the following new feet:
– Ruler work foot (QR)
– Variable Zigzag open toe foot (QZ)
– 1/4 seam foot without guide (O)
– Darning foot (open toe) (PD-H)
Also included is a USB with the upgrade and an instruction book, full contents of the upgrade pack shown above.
I will be reviewing the feet, upgrade and the Janome ruler work pack (sold separately) which makes the perfect companion to the upgrade. The ruler pack review can he found here, it would make this post too long if I included it on this page.
First the upgrade itself. I won’t talk you through the step by step how to do the upgrade because you have those instructions in the upgrade pack, plus there’s a very useful video here you might want to watch through first.
One thing I will flag up is that after doing the upgrade you need to set your machine back to factory settings. So if you have changed the settings for example set the machine to silent mode, changed the standby time, set it to remember your last stitch when you turn the machine on etc you will need to set them up again after applying the upgrade. It’s worth making a note of the settings you had changed so you can change them again after the upgrade.
The upgrade adds new stiches to your stitch menu. The new ruler work stitches and variable zig zag stitches both appear in the quilting menu (click the t-shirt on the top right of your screen and then the quilting option).
Open Toe Darning Foot (PD-H)
The first foot I tested was the open toe darning foot which you use for free motion quilting or embroidery. Because there is a wide opening to the front you have much more visibility making it easier when stitching outlines or when doing applique. It works just like the regular darning foot that comes with the machine but because the plastic of the foot doesn’t go right around the needle you can see where you are stitching much more easily. Below you’ll find a photo which compares the two feet, the open toe foot that comes with the upgrade pack is the one on the left. The original closed toe foot was my favourite for free motion quilting, I suspect this one could soon take its place.
For more information on how to use both of the darning feet check page 92 of your owner’s manual.
Quarter inch foot without guide (O)
When using this foot you need to remember to select the ¼ inch setting from the quilt menu or you will be stitching 3/8 of an inch from the edge of the fabric. This foot has many advantages, firstly because you don’t have the seam guide you can easily stitch past overlapping seams without the guide getting caught on any bits of fabric that protrude beyond the edge. I also use a quarter inch foot when top stitching around the top of bags and found the edge guide would get caught on the straps so this foot will avoid that problem.
I found when piecing with the quarter inch foot with guide sometimes my seams were not accurate, I think the fabric was getting squished against the guide which you can’t see. You do need to stay focused when using this foot to make sure you keep the edge lined up with the edge of the fabric, but it then gives a much more accurate seam – much like sewing with the HP foot.
Speaking of the HP foot, which is my favourite method of sewing quarter inch seams, the advantage the O foot has is you can use it with your straight stitch needle plate. So, when you are sewing something that requires switching between quarter inch seams and other kinds sewing (such as zips for example) in one project you don’t have to keep switching the needle plates around like you would when using the HP foot. You can change the foot but keep the same needle plate speeding things up.
The other good thing about this foot is it is ideal for sewing half square triangles. There is a quarter inch line on the left-hand side of the needle, as well as the foot edge being a quarter inch away from the needle on the right. So when you need to sew a quarter inch either side of your diagonal line on your half square triangles instead of sewing up one side, turning the block around and sewing back down the other side. You can sew up one side using the side of the foot as your quarter inch guide, then sew down the other side of the line using the marking on the foot as a guide. Plus on the right of the foot you’ll spot another line, that is an 1/8th an inch line for those tiny seams.
Variable zig zag open toe foot (QZ)
This foot works in conjunction with your knee lift, applying pressure to the knee lift increases the width of the zig zag. If you apply no pressure at all it just straight stitches. The variable zig zag is ideal for adding shading to your free motion embroidery designs or applique pictures. It is open at the front which gives you good visibility of your stitching, but just be careful to watch your fingers as the front is quite wide to allow for a wide zig zag. For instructions on how to install the knee lift check page 26 of the instruction manual.
I have to admit I found this foot the trickiest to get to grips with out of the 4 included in the upgrade pack. I had never used the knee lift before so I had to get used to that and the sensitivity of it, plus my arm and leg coordination is useless (that’s my excuse for never doing aerobics!) To master this foot you need to use the knee lift to alter the width of the stitch, and your hands/the speed you feed the fabric under the needle to change how close together the stitches are. It took me quite a few attempts to get to grips with controlling both at the same time. It’s definitely something that improves with practice, below is a picture of my 7th or 8th attempt.
One thing I did find is I had a few issues with the bobbin thread at first when doing this stitch, but when I switched to using the Janome free motion bobbin holder it started to stitch much more smoothly. Therefore I’d highly recommend using that bobbin case along with this foot.
You can also do a variable zig zag with either of your darning feet (PD-H) more details on that on page 93 of the owners manual.
Ruler work foot QR
This is the foot many stitchers have been asking for since the recent increase in popularity of ruler work quilting. Ruler work requires using different shapes of rulers to stitch around to create quilting designs. You need to closely follow the edge of the ruler so you need a special foot which is small and has very narrow edges so you can get as close to the edge of the ruler as possible when stitching.
To go with the ruler work foot Janome have released a ruler work set which includes 6 rulers plus a project dvd. I haven’t covered this foot much here because you can read much more about it in my review of the quilting ruler set.