The Free Motion Quilting Project: Janome Horizon Update

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Janome Horizon Update

Yay! The update is finally here! I've been getting many emails and many more comments asking me about the new Janome Horizon 7700 I purchased in July.

I know I've kept you all waiting, but I really wanted to take a little time with the machine and get to know her before posting something that made me seem like the ultimate authority on this machine (which I'm not, by the way!)

I still haven't tried out all the many features of the machine, but I have put her through a good selection of piecing, applique, and free motion projects so here's the skinny on this machine:

  • Stitch quality and tension - I'm not a big fan of "auto" tension on most machines simply because it rarely takes into account different types of thread (metallic, invisible nylon, etc).

    But the Horizon is definitely helping to change my opinion! It combines an auto tension setting with a dial you can adjust when you change to a really weird thread. For the most part I've pieced, appliqued, and quilted on the Auto setting with my Isacord thread and produced gorgeous stitches every time.

    When I satin stitched the tree roots onto the surface of My Cup Runneth Over, I was using Yenmet Metallic threads and I did have some breaking issues until I took it off Auto tension and switched to a very low 1-2 setting. I also changed to a bigger needle and never broke thread a second time with metallic!free motion quilting | Leah Day
  • Applique Stitches - Really this machine is an applique quilter's dream come true. I've done more machine applique in the last 2 weeks than I have in the last 2 years!

    Why the sudden love for machine applique? Quite simply this machine just handles it better that any I've owned before. Using the clear plastic F foot, it doesn't squish the fabric, but evenly feeds on any setting, which is why I think it satin stitches so beautifully.

    With the built in stitches, I have had to make some adjustments to lower the stitch length because I'm a control freak and I like to have a very tight satin stitch. Even with a tighter stitch length, I still really didn't need to stabilize the backs of these heart flowers:

    free motion quilting | Leah DayThe other times I've satin stitched on my Bernina Activa, the fabric has gotten extremely lumpy and bumpy unless I used thick stabilizer on the back.

    Maybe that was just an issue of the presser foot having too much pressure applied to the top? I'm not sure, but in comparing the Horizon to the four Bernina's I've owned, I'd have to say the Horizon really knocks them out of the water when it comes to machine applique.
  • Free Motion Quilting - This is probably the info ya'll been waiting for and I have to say, this machine doesn't disappoint!

    The Horizon comes with a very nice free motion quilting foot. It's big on the top because it has a pressure adjustment right on the foot itself. The base can be switched out to have an open toe or a full circle as motion quilting | Leah DayI love the different options and I really like that they come with the machine so I didn't have to shell out more money just to get an open toe foot.

    Now when actually free motion quilting, I didn't know there was "free motion" setting on this machine (I haven't read the manual yet), so I haven't been using it. Several quilters asked me about that at the Asheville Quilt Show and mentioned that their stitches didn't look as good on this setting.

    This is probably because this setting drops your feed dogs. As stated numerous times on this project, I never drop my feed dogs because it often turns a wonderful machine into a tension monster.

    So when I want to free motion on the Horizon, I simply lay my Supreme Slider over the top and dial my stitch length to 0. I also like using the straight stitch that pops the single needle plate up on the machine since I'm only going to be stitching up and down.

    I don't use the magical "free motion" setting, I don't drop my feed dogs, and so far my free motion stitches are some of the most gorgeous I've ever stitched. Here is the back of my banner stitched with Swirling Feathers:

    free motion quilting | Leah DayUsing Isacord again for free motion, I haven't had to adjust off the "auto" tension setting which is really nice in comparison to my Juki, which I have to adjust every time I change a bobbin!
  • Lights - I have to mention the lights because they are so darn awesome on this machine. There are two sets of lights, one to the right side of the needle and one to the left. For once I don't feel like I need to have all the lights in my studio on in order to see what I'm stitching!
  • Size - I stand by my opinion that you can quilt any quilt (even king sized) on a domestic machine with a tiny harp space (distance from the needle to the side of the machine).

    I can't see a huge difference in having 11 inches verses 9 inches, so honestly if you're thinking of investing in a Janome, you should also test drive the Janome 6600, which basically has the same features of the Horizon, but a 9 inch throat space.

    Of course, I just went from 9 inches to 11 inches of space. I'm sure if I'd come from a 6.5" harp to 11 inches I'd feel really differently about that!
  • Extension table - Why in the world would I list this extension table as a "pro" when I put my machine down in a flat bed table?

    Here's the beauty of this extension table:

    I've placed my Horizon into a Gidget 2 sewing table and taken the legs off the extension table. With a little adjustment the extension table top can go over the machine perfectly, filling all the gaps without me having to purchase a separate acrylic insert cut for the machine!

    This is one nice little bonus that saved me about $60 for another cut insert and it's a good reason why spending a little extra on a machine can end up saving money on all the little items that can add up like extra feet and table inserts.
  • Piecing - Yep, the quilters who commented about piecing were right. While it produces a wonderful stitch, getting an accurate 1/4" seam allowance isn't easy on this machine.

    However, the fault is not the machine. This is entirely a foot problem.

    You see this is the foot that comes with the machine designed for piecing. I can tell you right off the bad that it's going to have problems because the entire right edge is rounded and then covered with this annoying fabric guide.

    Visibility is key with piecing so the first thing I did was rip the fabric guide off so I could actually see what I was doing. I did manage to piece a fairly accurate seam then, but the foot still isn't perfect.

    For some reason it's not lined up to make 1/4" with the needle in center position (which would make the most sense and allow quilters to use the single needle plate!)

    Instead you have to move your needle over in order to get the perfect setting. Even then because of the rounded nature of the foot, it's very tricky to keep your fabric lined up evenly.

    Many quilters have queried about the width of the feed dogs and if this could have something to do with the inaccurate piecing. I personally don't think so. This is entirely down to a badly designed foot.

    Of course there is a piecing foot designed to work with the even feed mechanism, but I'm personally not going to even try it. First off the foot is huge, clunky and impedes visibility almost entirely.

    The second reason is this: I don't piece with a walking foot on any other machine, so why in the world would I want to piece with essentially the same thing on this machine? Even though it's built in and right there doesn't mean it will work any better.

    So what is a quilter to do? Personally I feel inspired by this problem rather than turned off my it. My goal is to find another foot that will piece accurately and with clear visibility.

    Just this morning I got onto several sites and found a few generic piecing feet that could definitely work. Now it's just a matter of ordering them and trying it out to see which one works the best.

    While it is annoying that the piecing foot isn't better designed, this is not unusual. I usually count on needing to buy at least 2-3 new feet with every machine. So far I'm only needing to buy 1, so I'm not too bent out of shape about it!

    UPDATE - I just received an email from Janome and a new piecing foot is on its way! All you have to do is register your Janome under warranty online and around September they will start shipping out a new foot, specially designed to stitch accurate 1/4" seams. Read more about this right here.
  • Bobbins - Really my only other complaint for this machine is a complaint I have for ALL machines and that is NOT ENOUGH BOBBINS!

    The Horizon came with 5, which is pretty typical. When I control the world (Ha!), all machines will come packaged with a minimum of 25 bobbins.

    The bobbin issue, just like the piecing foot issue, is easily remedied by purchasing a few new packs of bobbins when I'm back in Greensboro and can get back to Ye Olde Forest Quilt Shoppe.
Overall, I have to say that I'm more satisfied with my purchase of the Janome Horizon 7700 than any other machine.

I've invested in machines in the past and immediately felt a sinking feeling of let down when I got them home and really started putting them through their paces.

I haven't felt even remotely let down by this machine. In fact, for the perfect stitches, ease of use, and size of this machine, I think the current market price is an absolute steal.

So that's it for this update on the Janome Horizon! I'm still having a little trouble finding a good angle to film this machine at, but once I get it all figured out then there will be many more videos on free motion quilting filmed on the Horizon.

Let's go quilt!

Leah Day


  1. I have a Jajome 6500 and Gem. Both sew an inaccurate 1/4 inch. I simply move the needle position to the right until it is correct. Then I note the setting so I can do it that way every time.

  2. Please report back when you find a quarter inch piecing foot you like. Thanks for such a detailed review by a sewer who has put her through her paces. Really am enjoying your free-motion posts, too.

  3. Leah, if you're using the 1/4" foot and the seams are getting "held up" Janome has listened to its customers and is issuing new feet to those who have registered their machine. If you follow the yahoo 7700 Horizon group you'll see the complaints as well as the company's response to the issue. They're fixing it! Yes! Isn't this what customer support should be all about it. Hope the fix is successful. Foot won't be shipped until October, however. Hope this helps clarify one of your "cons".

  4. I just bought a 6600 2 weeks ago and am loving it. I am having problems figuring out the 1.4 inch issue also, but I joined the Janome Yahoo group and a lot of the people there are talking about a clearview quilting foot. They are ordering it from a company called Brubakers that is giving a discount to all in the Yahoo users group and you can order it online. Thanks for the run down on this machine!

  5. that's so funny, today has been my "omg I hate this 1/4" foot!" day. it HATES hst's! even just plain chain piecing isn't great on it. I'm basically stuck using the dual feed 1/4" foot which isn't bad, but yeah do I want to unscrew that foot every time? and thank you for agreeing with me about moving the needle! for reason Janome doesn't believe me on this issue.

    if you find a foot that works better please let us know! it would be magical if I could get a foot that gave me a scant 1/4" seam at the 3.5 st setting so I could use the apc.

  6. Leah,
    Did you know Janome is issuing a new piecing foot slated for September? The Yahoo Horizon group stated they have received emails saying the foot will be shipped to all owners.

  7. "When I control the world (Ha!), all machines will come packaged with a minimum of 25 bobbins."

    LOL I acutally LAUGHED OUT LOUD!

  8. Thankyou for your update on the Horizon. I saw a demo a couple of months ago and was very impressed, especially with the Accufeed and the lights. I have a Bernina180 embroidery machine which I absolutely love for piecing. I have a 1/4 inch foot with guide which stitches very accurately. Your review of this machine has convinced me that I need one!
    Thanks for all the amazing work you do!

  9. I have the 6600, which I bought last Christmas and LOVE it. I am surprised by the 1/4 inch problem - I use the provided foot. I also taped some guides to my machine to help me feed the fabric straighter. I chain piece without problems. When the seam is off, it's driver error for sure - usually not paying attention on my part. However, I will be interested to know of new feet and options! I didn't buy the single hole plate - too expensive for me, but have not really had any problems using the regular throat plate.

    What I do have problems with is fouling of the thread inside the bobbins area - the machine is very fussy above types and quality of thread. When this happens, I have to take the bobbin out and rethread everything before it will work. Occasionally I have to dig in there to retrieve some offending piece of thread that tore off when the mess happened. I do clean the machine very regularly.

  10. I love love love the 1/4" foot I bought for my Pfaff a few years ago. It has a very thin metal guide on the right side that works perfectly for piecing, and half square triangles etc. There are 1/4" marks all around the foot that help when turning corners, and stopping at the right spot. There is one small hole for the needle set in the center position. It was the best $25 I ever spent for quilting tools.

  11. I love that you refer to your sewing machine as "her". I call mine "baby girl"....just like I do my car. Of course, her pet name changes when she screws up...but at least the first initial stays the same so her monogram can go either way!!! I can't afford the expensive toys you ladies have, but I did just invest $300 in a Singer 7469Q (please don't laugh at me, I'm new at this and poor too) and so far am enjoying the upgrades over my bottom-level machine. Happy exploring and discovering with all of your new machines!

  12. Thank you for the information on your new machine. I have sold sewing machines in the past and this machine is worth considering if you're in the market for a new machine.

  13. So glad to hear your review of the horizon. I have two Janomes and love them both!

  14. Thank you so much for the review, I saw it advertised the other night, would you believe my husband brought it to my attention... and I may have to go and have a look at one.

  15. Thanks for this inspiring post - I am a new 7700 owner (replacing 6600) and was dispirited by the quarter inch foot problems but now I see they can be resolved and feel encouraged by the other good things you have to say. Please post about any replacement feet you find that do th job better. I have walking foot quilted 2 quilts and am very pleased.
    Mary in Canterbury UK

  16. I have a Janome 6600 and had the same problem with 1/4 inch seams until they came out with a new foot about a year ago. It's clear and has a removable guide. I've never used the guide, just the foot, and also use a stack of post-it notes along the bed for a guide in front of the foot. This solves the problem. I don't know what the new foot is like for the 7700, and why they couldn't just give you the one I've had for a year.

  17. In looking back at my blog, I found I bought the new foot in March, but I know it had been available longer. Here's a link to a post I wrote about it in case any other Janome 6600 owners are interested.

  18. A very excellent and thorough review. However, I think the best part of the machine needs additional highlighting--it's red. A gorgeous, beautiful tone of red. I'm thrilled you're enjoying your new machine so much.

  19. I have a similar free motion foot which is sold as the "convertible" free motion foot for older machines. It comes with the open toe foot, a small closed toe foot and a large clear plastic dish foot. It also has it's own (looser) bobbin case, marked with a blue dot. I'm using it on my Janome 10000.

    It's really a joy to have a foot like this that has a screw type pressure adjustment and does NOT move up and down with the needle bar. It's quieter and more accurate. I have modified my Janome clear plastic foot to be an open toe foot (using my handy Dremel tool) and I use that for certain free motion stitches. But for just a free motion straight stitch, the convertible foot like Leah has on the Horizon is superior and well worth the money.

    About the feed dogs: on my Janome, I can do free motion with the feed dogs up BUT they would definitely mangle my Supreme Slider if I did.

    I have no issues with tension sewing with the feed dogs down and that's my preferred method.I do check the top tension and adjust as necessary for my thread, but in general the way my Janome handles tension is a dream.

  20. Thank you so much for sharing this, Leah!I really appreciate your blog!

  21. Why on earth is no one using the "clear view quilting ft and guide set"????? It has detachable guides and sews a scant 1/4" without moving the needle position. It is available through your Janome dealer for around $14.95. It makes an absolute perfect 1/4" seam, and I have tested it extensively.

  22. Hi Leah, I hope Janome are sending you some freebies as I bought my Horizon last week at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, based on your report. I love your video's, and I'm looking forward to using my new machine. Finding Time is my only problem.

  23. Hi - Couple of questions for you. I just ordered the Horizon. Should have it next week. I'm looking at ordering the Supreme slider - do you also use Little Genie little Bobbin Washers? Would you recommend those. I'm just getting into FMQ and was going to order the set with the gloves.

    Also - on the table - do you use or can you use the leg lift?


  24. Hi Madame Purl - Yes, I do use the bobbin washers with the Horizon. It doesn't have as dramatic a difference as with my Juki, but with metallic or super thin threads, it still definitely pays to have one in the bobbin area.

    Also yes, you can use the knee lifter bar with the Gidget 2 table. The front section is open so you have more than enough space to place the knee lifter into the machine.

    Let's go quilt!

    Leah Day

  25. I am the very proud new owner of a Janome Horizon! However, I am having teething troubles. I am a fairly novice free motion quilter. I am currently FMQ a quilt made from Batiks. I am using a green thread in my bobbin and variagated brown thread on top and can see each thread pulling through on the wrong sides. No matter what I do with the tension I can't get it right. Can anyone help????

  26. Hi Peter - Stop mismatching thread! Ha!

    Seriously though, I find that most tension problems occur due to using a good thread in the top and a cheap thread in the bobbin.

    I always use the exact same thread in both areas and have never had a problem with tension on the Janome. Usually I just thread it and leave the tension on "auto" and it works just fine.

    I hope that helps!


  27. Help meeee!! lol I have been trying for EVER to remedy the crappy FMQ that I'm doing on the Horizon. My 4900 was easy, perfect. The 7700 gets serious eyelashes on back, and when I get the back looking good, then the top ends up showing both threads. Higher upper tension causes threads to break. O GOD. In the mean time I'm straight stitching everything. help.
    @ MySweetPrairie

  28. I am *really* thinking of purchasing the Horizon at the end of this year. Loving your great review compared to someone else's in blogland:) So do you like the new O2 1/4" foot??

    BTW, I love your blog and have been foloowing for awhile. You are so clear with everything you show us8)

  29. Hi Leah,

    Thank you so much for your observations on the Horizon. I'm thinking of buying one but am concerned because I read that it doesn't handle monofilament very well. Have you found this to be true? Thanks!

  30. Hey Linda - Monofilament on the Horizon? I've not had any trouble with it, but then again I don't use it much.

    The best thing to do is go to a dealer with the thread you like to use, the fabrics you like to use it on, and quilt several samples.

    Spend a good part of the day there just playing with the machine and try to reproduce exactly the results you're looking for in your studio.

    Sometimes a particular machine can be finicky because the timing is off, but that doesn't necessarily mean that all Horizons can't stitch with xyz thread well. Shop smart and always try out the machine you will be quilting on before you buy it!

    Good luck,


  31. Thanks, Leah! I will definitely put the machine through its paces while I'm at the dealer, and will take some of everything I use in my landscape quilting--glued layers and all!

  32. Leah: I am not sure if my first comment went thru as I had a problem w/my acct. pw so am posting again. I was asking if your Horizon has an additional thread stand behind the door that opens on top. One of the pics that you posted seems to show that and I do not have that on my new Horizon purchased in Dec. which I love. I also purchased the Gidget 2 from you and after a few adjustments, my hubby has it installed. Thanks so much for your very thorough review of the machine. I bought it on the strength of that. Thanx. Jackie

  33. Hi Jackie - Yes, I purchased an additional thread stand for the back of the Horizon. I think it was for around $30 and attaches directly to the back of the machine.

    I needed the spool stand because I mostly use big spools of Isacord thread and I wasn't getting enough weight on the thread using the regular spool holders.

    I will be posting another update on my Horizon soon! I promise!


  34. Leah: Thanks so much for the info on the extra thread stand. I have ordered on for myself from my Janome dealer. I had already discovered that there was not enough support for the larger Isacord spools. Thanx again. Jackie

  35. I'm thinking of purchasing this machine and I was wondering if you have found a 1/4 inch foot that works yet? I just bought the Clear View Quilting and Seam Guide foot for my other Janome: and was wondering if you had tried that one yet. All I do pretty much is piece and quilt and an accurate 1/4" is important. Thanks!!!

  36. I traded in my flawless 6600 for the not so flawless 7700.
    I left my tension on auto, used matching threads top and bottom and new topstitch 14 needle, made sure the bobbin casing was clean, no threads or dust and had the worst thread jams, Not only that the thread jam pulled the bobbin case out of its seat and damaged the bobbin. The machine is new. I have been sewing for 40 years and this is a first.
    It is in the shop. Anyone else have this problem?

    I did drop the feed dogs and left the tension on auto, used the reg bobbin case, not the blue dot.
    No washer. I had spent an hour or so in total trying out the machine befoe buying and that included FM Thread painting and no problems, with the technique I have discribed.

  37. The 02 foot is suppose to fix the 1/4 inch foot problem.
    But I have read that the clear foot with the two guides has been a better fit. And does a better job cost about $13.00
    I have not ordered yet, Piecing on my Bernina.

  38. I was thinking of buying the additional thread stand too. I have a feeling the thread unless its a small spool does not feed that well from there.

  39. Hello Leah, thank you for this review, It helped me a lot to decide that I will also buy Janome Horizon. Sounds like a dream machine!

  40. I am really getting into quilting, and I have a Kenmore w/110 sts, which I think is probably a Janome. Throat/harp? is 6.5", I guess. I also have a Janome Cover Pro 1000. I would like to move up to something with a deeper harp, but will have to trade up, if I can do it, at all. What I was wondering is, do you know of a Janome that would do what both these machines do? I'm really not that interested in 110 sts, but would like to have 1 machine that sews, quilts, does the cover pro tricks (and in my wildest dreams would work as a serger, too. ) Thanks! I'm LOVING your videos!

  41. I have a Bernina 930E and love it but am thinking of getting a new machine with a few more features. (just retired!) My quilt shop, The Quilted Cottage in Saginaw MI has a used 7700 for $1800. What questions should I ask? Will it embroider labels? Does it have an auto up needle? I recently purchased a 1/4 foot for my Bernina and love it. I'd be disappointed to go backwards...

  42. Well Miss Day I just heard about you at Bee last week. I said I'd never master free motion and your name came up as someone to watch. Of course I've been buying a new sewing machine now for 2 years and no idea where to start or what to look for and wow the prices. I think I looked at the Horizon and thought perhaps I don't sew enough to justify that one based on the price. Also the size. My sewing corner is pretty small and that machine is huge compared to my Kenmore. Kenmore is a good machine but feed dogs won't drop and light could be better. That's my reason for upgrading. My little $133 Electronic Brother from Costco has been just wonderful for taking back and forth to Bee each week and I've actually done most of my sewing on it. So when I compare what I do on the little Brother, I find it hard to justify the costs of say the Horizon. I just happened to land on your review today and really appreciated all that you had to share. Reviews and comments hopefully will help me decide as several people are now challenging me to make the leap.... this year. The new machine will replace my Kenmore in my little downstairs sewing corner.

  43. Leah Day, I understand your happiness with your new machine. I purchased a Singer S18 it is the same as the Janome 6500. I am pleased to report it does sew a perfect 1/4" seam allowance and with just a couple of needle movements to the right I get the perfect scant 1/4" seam allowance and the 1/4" foot works super as does the FM foot. It has 9" x 6.5" throat area, knee lift, needle up down, speed control lever, large extension table, two thread stand attached, I can fill a bobbin while sewing and It free motions beautifully I do not drop the feed dogs and I do not adjust the tension I do change the presser foot tension. It comes with a ton of built in stitches and also came with a large assortment of pressure feet including the walking foot, they each have a separate space in a plastic box made special to hold each foot.
    I am so happy I was able to purchase this machine. I would have liked the auto straight stitch feed dog cover and the changeable free motion foot like your has and the additional light as well as the extra 2" of sewing space but I am so pleased with my new machine. My cost was about 1/2 of the Horizon 7700 and for me that made it possible to purchase it.
    From one happy quilter many thanks to you Leah Day for all your craftsy lessons and the BBQA , DBQA that I have signed up for and thanks to my new sewing machine, I can quilt all of my projects and get wonderful results.
    I upgraded from a Singer Quantum 9660 and previously a Singer Athena 2000, the very first electronic sewing machine made by Singer some 35+ years ago, it was my Mom's. I mainly sewed clothing on my 1970 Kenmore zig zag machine and my Baby Lock Surger. I have been quilting for 2.5 years now and love free motion quilting.
    Thank you again Leah for your wonderful quilting & free motion lessons.


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