The Free Motion Quilting Project: Piecing & Quilting on the Janome Horizon 7700

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Piecing & Quilting on the Janome Horizon 7700

Last summer I purchased a Janome Horizon 7700 and immediately received hundreds of emails asking what I thought of it and if I could post an update.

I then posted an update a few weeks later sharing my immediate thoughts, and received another hundred emails asking for another update! I've never received such an overwhelming response to one of my posts!

Mostly everyone has been wanting more specific information on how to use the machine and exactly why I liked it and how I use it. Also, I've gotten more emails than I can count asking why I'm not quilting on this machine in all my videos!

So here's the deal:


I literally quilt or piece on my machine every single day and I wonder how I ever loved another machine before this. It just simply does everything so well!

I've finally made a video showing how I piece and quilt on this machine, what settings I use, and my opinions about some of the add-ons.

Keep in mind that this is my OPINION and I am a very opinionated person, particularly when it comes to my machines! I'm not being paid by Janome and I'm not in any way a spokesperson for the company.

So this is a video of how I personally use the machine, not necessarily the official, "right" way to use it so you'll need to use your own judgment about whether you'd like to try my way or not. Essentially I'm saying if you break your machine using the information in my video, I'm not responsible!

This is one of my longest videos, so you may have to hit "play" then "pause" and wait for the video to fully load (the red bar will fill up completely) so the video will play all the way through:

One important thing - if you live around NC and you're looking to buy a Janome Horizon, I must insist you go see Kelly and Joanne Jones at Ye Olde Forest Quilt Shop in Greensboro, NC. I purchased my machine from them and they really are the best dealers around!

Now on to Piecing!

Back when I posted the update, I complained a bit about the "O" piecing foot this machine came with. I did receive an "O2" foot, but to be perfectly honest, I prefer the clear plastic piecing foot. You should be able to get this foot from your dealer.

For me, it wasn't an issue with the bottom of the O and O2 feet - it was the right side. They softened the side of this foot so the metal curves from the top down the right side (the piecing side), which means that light hits this curve and makes it almost impossible to see if your fabric is coming out from underneath the foot.

A good piecing foot should be as square and boxy as possible with few curving bits that will catch the light. Sorry Janome, but Bernina still produces the best 1/4" piecing foot! The clear plastic foot I'm using is better because it's much more square and easier to see that right side.

To sum up the piecing section - I use the D1 stitch on the machine, which pops up the single needle plate, and I turn my stitch length down to 1.3.

When I purchased this machine, I never thought I'd use the D1 stitch since I'd never used my single needle plates on other machines because it required unscrewing the plate, switching it with the other one, screwing it back on, etc. Now that it's automatic, I use it all the time!

The single needle plate simply ensures needle is going straight up and straight down and I find it to be more accurate when piecing and free motion quilting.

Now let's talk about free motion quilting!

The settings I use are as follows: turn on the D1 stitch and lower your stitch length to 0.00.

The feed dogs will move up and down, but they will not feed forward. I simply cover them with a Supreme Slider, or a Queen Sized Supreme Slider because it fits better and covers more surface of the machine, and start stitching.

I DO NOT USE the "free motion setting."

I DO NOT USE blue bobbins or bobbin cases.

My tension is set at "auto" and I use Isacord Polyester Thread in both the top and bobbin of the machine. I did have to buy the spool holder attachment and screw it to the back of the machine to hold my Isacord cones, but that's the only modification I've made to the machine so far.

Using the settings and materials mentioned above I literally don't ever have to touch my tension. Ever.

The headaches I used to have with my Juki TL-98QE are over. That machine would have a different tension every day of the week, and a different tension with every bobbin and it got SO annoying having to adjust and readjust to suit that finicky machine.

So I love the tension and stitch quality on the Janome! I also love the QBH free motion quilting foot. It's big and clunky, but the tension spring is right there on the foot and allows me to adjust the height of the foot over the surface of my quilt. So if my quilt is particularly puffy, I can raise the foot by a small amount, and if the quilt is very flat, I can adjust it again so the foot is lower to the quilt.

This is SO important for free motion quilting!

I truly believe there are only 2 reasons why quilters find it so hard to get a good looking stitch on their machine in free motion:

1) Badly designed feet that squish the quilt, making it impossible to move the quilt smoothly and evenly in free motion.

2) Dropping feed dogs often causes more problems with tension and stitch quality than it solves.

It should come as no surprise - if you can't move the quilt and if the tension has just flown out the window, what comes next is not going to be pretty!

A few last details about the Horizon:

There is a bar to adjust the speed of the machine and I mentioned twice that I don't adjust that bar. I believe in using the machine with the full range of speed it was built with.

Why? Well, the biggest problem most quilters have is they only seem to understand two speeds on their machine: slow and fast.

But a sewing machine is just like a car, there are many more speeds in that foot pedal that you have to find, and slowing the machine down, essentially eliminating its ability to stitch fast, is not going to help you learn how to free motion quilt.

Another cool thing I didn't mention in the video is the table I have my Horizon in. Yes, that's the Gidget 2 table, but the best thing is the acrylic extension table the Horizon came with is being used as my insert.

Right now I know of no other machine that comes with an extension table that works like this! It's such a big extension table, and it hooks to the back of your machine, so it works perfectly to fill the gaps between the machine and the edges of the table opening.

Now a few things I don't like about the Horizon.

First, keep in mind that none of these things are deal breakers for me. I would buy this machine again in a heartbeat if I needed another one. It's just that awesome.

But not everything is perfect. Personally I find the computerized start up to be annoying. Basically the machine needs to reset itself after being turned on and I totally understand why it needs to do this.

I still find it annoying though that I have to either be a good stopping place, or I have to break my thread whenever I turn the machine on. I've gotten around this a bit as I showed in the video, but this is not a machine you can turn off in the middle of a project and expect to turn back on again and just stitch like crazy from that point.

And now for a soapbox...

The other thing I don't like is the price - generally this machine costs around $3000. Personally, I think this is a good value, but I wish it was lower so more quilters could afford it.

Three years ago I would never have even considered buying such an expensive machine. I also could never have excused the expense before I started this blog and my business.

It would have been a choice between the paying the bills and feeding my family or buying a new machine, which do you think had higher priority?

I just feel like the general trend of machines is bigger and more expensive. Bigger I can sort of understand. More expensive? I balk at that.

Why? Because quilting has always been a free hobby of friends sharing. It hasn't been a hobby of elite, expensive machines or tools. It didn't start out as a craft of "haves" and "have-nots." All you needed was a needle, a thimble, and a desire to learn.

But when I open up any quilt magazine these days, what are the biggest, most prevalent products taking up huge, full page ads full of pretty pictures of gorgeous quilts? Longarm machines and the higher end domestic machines like the Bernina 830, which cost thousands of dollars.

What is this saying to beginning quilters? What is this saying to teenagers or kids who want to learn how to do this? What is this saying to older quilters who aren't really comfortable with computerized machines? What does this say to everyone still stitching on their grandmother's machine?

It's saying: You CAN'T Do This without Money.

And I can't stand that message.

So I love the Horizon for the features and the stitch quality it has, and I do feel that $3000 is a fair price to pay for this machine, but I don't like the message it sends that beautiful stitches can only be had for the quilters who can afford it.

I hope you can understand in this soapbox that you don't need to spend $3000 or $15,000 in order to free motion quilt! You can learn on the machine you're using right now!

I didn't learn how to quilt on an expensive machine. I learned how to quilt on an OLD Bernina 830 and a Viking Prelude 340. Both were mechanical machines and can still be found for under $1000.

It is not the MACHINE that makes you a good quilter; it's the time you take to learn how to USE the machine, and the skill with which you wield it.

So for this reason, I just purchased a much, much cheaper Janome and will be sharing tutorials on how to use it in the coming weeks. The machine I choose retails for under $500, is mechanical, and I hope it will be a solid workhorse and the perfect machine for beginners to get started with.

Why am I bothering with this? Because for me it's important to do more than just TELL you that you can quilt on an inexpensive machine, I need to SHOW you as well.

I certainly don't need this new machine, but I received an email from a quilter with a very specific request - help her find a good machine for under $500.

At first, I didn't really know what to say. How am I supposed to even know and be able to compare all the different machines in the world that cost under $500 right now? Does a list of all the machines from every major brand currently in production even exist?

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this really does need to be done. While I don't have the capability to stitch on every machine that exists within this price range, I could pick just one from Janome and give it a whirl.

If I liked it, if I could produce decent stitches from it, then I know, with a bit of practice and patience, you can too.

I made sure to select a machine that is new and probably won't be discontinued for a while at least. I didn't want to pick an older machine, like the Viking I mentioned above, which could be difficult to find these days.

I'm also not going to tell you the make and model number until I actually get my hands on it. I know it's easy to get excited and you might run off and buy it before I have a chance to see how well this thing runs. If it's a dog, I certainly don't want you to have wasted your money.

And if ya'll like this sewing machine program a lot and share it enough, I may pick another machine from another brand and play with it as well.

Whenever I do a post like this, I usually hear from many quilters who think I should go to Janome and ask for a sponsorship. A year ago, this would have been very tempting. It would be so nice to be paid for all the machines I sell simply by my stitching on it in my videos, no doubt about it!

But lately I've realized just how important it is to have the freedom to share my honest opinion. There have been a few times over 2010 where I couldn't talk about a project because it was going to be published in a magazine, or I couldn't share a design because it was stuck in a year long, no re-publishing contracted somewhere else, or I couldn't honestly say how tired and pissed off I was at a show because, well, I was vending the show.

While I did make money from these ventures, mostly I just felt strangled by them. I simply don't like being told what I can and can't say or write because this quickly becomes the same as what I can and can't think.

No, I doubt any of those companies would be that cut and dry about it in their contract, but when you're paid for a sponsorship, you're essentially being paid to LIKE the products, not being paid to share your honest opinion on it.

So the more I think about it, the more I absolutely don't want anything to do with any major sewing machine brand or specific products. I don't want anyone to have the ability to buy my love, my word, or my truth, because if it's not true, if I put my name to something and say it's great when it really sucks, it's going to be you that gets hurt by it most.

The more I think on it, the more I want to be like the BBC Top Gear. The guys get these awesome cars: Ferrari, Lamborghini, BMWs, and they test them out in bizarre ways and share their gut wrenching, honest opinion about them. Performance issues, price, and reliability are all shared honestly on the show and whether a car is really good or really bad, you know it.

So whatcha think? Are you interested in seeing video reviews of sewing machines under $500? I think it will be loads of fun, but I'd like to know your opinion too!

So I'll close this excessively long post with one of the most common questions I get via email or comments:

Why are the project videos still being published showing the Juki TL-98QE or my Bernina Activa 210? Why don't I quilt on the Janome Horizon on video?

In order to answer this question, I have to reveal two tidbits of information I've been keeping quiet about for a long time.

The first is this - all 365 designs are done.

The truth is, I stitch ahead of myself. It's virtually impossible to stitch a design, upload it, edit it, upload to YouTube, and write a post on it all in one day or even in the same week.

And since I've had my Janome since August 2010, you can tell that I stitch WAY ahead of myself. The project has actually been finished (all 365 designs stitched) since December 2010.

Why have I only been publishing 2 designs per week when I could be publishing them every day?

I really don't want to burn out! I can keep amazingly busy just writing blog posts each day, taking care of James, and keeping both sites updated. I created this project to ebb and flow with my own mood and ability, and sometimes my focus is on making new designs, and sometimes it's on making a new quilt, and sometimes it's on making clay faces or something equally random.

And I know this project is a better place for all the occasional random stuff I post. The free motion designs give it a center and a focus, but it's by all means not the only thing I do.

So this brings me to my second big reveal - this project is not going to end at 365!

I've already decided to continue stitching past 365, mostly because the designs keep coming and it seems silly to stop. So the next goal will be 500 designs.

Unless the designs stop popping in my head, I'm not going to stop quilting them and sharing them! I do plan to start sharing more designs each week, and I have some ideas for a new video series showing you exactly how to quilt the designs into real quilts.

I'm still working out some logistics on that simply because I have to keep the projects reasonable within the time I have to work on them.

I hope you've enjoyed this post about the Janome Horizon, some new machine reviews coming in the future, and my plans for the free motion quilting project. Please share this post with your friends!

Let's go quilt!

Leah Day


  1. I am really looking forward to the machine under $500 posts!

    I have a very cheap one from walmart that is starting to give me trouble and I think Im going to start saving for a new one.

  2. Excellent post! I love that you say it like it is. I am certainly not in the market for an expensive sewing machine, but I love hearing what people like and don't like about the machines they get. I know someday my 26 year old mechanical Singer workhorse will have to retire, so I am very interested in your review of machines under $500. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!


  3. Fantastic post Leah, I've read your previous posts on the horizon and always appreciated how honest you are. I think the under $500 posts are a great idea and I'm happy (and impressed!) that your going to aim for 500 designs! :)

  4. Leah,
    I love this type of post. I am such a machine nut and love testing them and playing with friend's machines. I can't wait to hear about the under $500 machine. I am a frequent reader on the Sewing Machines board over at I love hearing about all things machines.

    Keep up the FABULOUS job! I love the blog.

  5. Thank you Leah - you are so so right about treasuring your freedom to share your experiences with machines, notions etc, without having to 'like' them because you 'work' for the manufacturer.
    I not surprised that you have all 365 designs done or that you intend to provide more in the months/years to come - thank you again
    It's also brilliant that you share knowledge / experience and examples of 'how to' and 'what to do'on quilting techniques and FMQ designs.
    Back to machines - there is NO WAY I could justify splashing out £1500 (the new reduced price) for the Horizon but I'm doing quite well with my humble Silver Viscount 8000E (I paid about £260 for it) - OK a bigger throat would be brilliant, and an extension table, but I plan to improvise and make a flat bed sewing table out of a charity shop drop leaf table, but I manage OK so far and when I get the table sorted things will hopefully improve FMQ techniques even more.

  6. You know, what you say is soooo true.

    I have a Janome machine that is 23 years old. I bought it for about $300 way back then, and that machine is a workhorse. To this day the stitches are straight, the tension is lovely, it's is a great machine.

    I started quilting about 10 years ago and it has gotten me though a ton of quilts. I used it to sew many many many garments as well.

    I am upgrading to a Bernina 440QE soon simply because I want the stich regulator and the stronger motor. Janome kinda sucks there. I have to hand twist the knobby thing to get the needle through thicker fabric or it hisses at me. Since I'm constantly repairing jeans and biking equipment for my husband, I just need something stronger.

    But I will always rave about my Janome. It was cheap and it was fabulous for a first time quilter. I even told my Bernina dealer that I'm having a hard time making the change because my machine works so well for me.

    But I do agree, people need to know that you do not need to spend thousands to get a fabulous quilt in the end. You just need to know how to use what you have and use it well.

  7. Wow! Thanks for all the info! I really admire your honesty.
    I would love to know the best machines out there for under $500. I, myself, would love to purchase a sewing maching that I can quilt with but that is not so expensive!
    Love your designs. You're so talented!

  8. I have fairly recently bought a Janome 6600p and absolutely love it!

    The only downside is, it weighs a ton so I need something lightweight to take to classes so would be interested to know whether the under $500 one would be suitable.

  9. Holy cats girl...that was some post!.. and I do agree that it really can feel like it takes expensive machines to be a quilter but it does not and I teache people to quilt every day on very humble machines and some become very good quilters but some are hog-tied by their machines due to the fact there are quite a few mahcines out there that just are not made very well for whatever reason. Very frustrating to say the least so I think your *under $500 * series.

    Now as a point of true disclouser I do own a Bernina 830 and a Avante18 long arm machine along with all my other toys, but they were paid for in cash and did not mean we went hungry :) Having big mach daddy machines can be a whole hell of a lot of fun, but it's fun that is open to everyone.. $500 machine or $10,000 machine.


  10. Thank you very much for this post.
    I thought a real long time for buying a new, better sewing machine and 2 month ago I decided to buy a very simular machine to your Janome, produced in switzerland from elna.
    And I am very happy about this decition.
    I found it much too expensive too, but it is a real good tool for designing purses from fabric and the free motion quilting is much easier than before for me, and I have a lot of fun and a lot less trouble while sewing.
    Let's go quilt!

  11. That is an excellent tutorial on the Horizon. If I win the lottery. . . lol. I'm looking forward to your review of the cheaper Janome. I would really like a machine that does a bit more than the Kenmore I have does-but I can't afford the top of the line!

  12. I have briefly read your post and will come back when time permits to watch your video.I am with you 100% on older less expensive machines,they work great.I started on a Bernina 801, now have a Aurora 440 and have also bought second hand a Bernina 830 as a backup machine.I have found when teaching quilting that it doesn't matter what machine the student has as to how well she quilts.In fact I have found so far the ones with the older plainer models seem to excel.
    I look forward to watching your present video and the other you mentioned.You have a fantastic way of putting things across.

  13. Thank you for your insights on the 7700! I appreciate the time you take. Sadly, I had a 7700 to use for several weeks (it belongs to my mom) and I hated it! It's bulky and I can't see what I'm doing, it jams on every cross seam when piecing (no matter what foot, stitch or setting I tried), Janome feet wobble, the 1/4" foot guide flexes, and so on. It was a disaster for me. (and it's for sale BTW) Would you believe the dealer said the O2 foot was created because users don't know how to sew properly! I ran the other way. :-(

    All that said, it really does have a lovely free motion quilting stitch, though I found I just couldn't see what I was doing around the bulk of the machine.

    I've put my trusty Juki back in the table and I love it all over again. .....though you make me want to give the Janome one more chance. :-)

    Isn't interesting how different all our experiences are.

  14. Great post Leah! Good for you for sticking up for your integrity by deciding not to go the sponsorship route so that you can truly remain an unbiased commentor. Very refreshing! I'm also floored by the fact that you've had all 365 designs already done for so long! Amazing! I can't wait to see the rest of them revealed and the next ones to come.

  15. I have been a Bernina stitcher for many years and have the 630E with the BSR which has a learning curve but works well. I then took classes from Pam Holland who told us about the double spring free motion foot by Janome. I wanted one. I found Sewing Machines Plus on the internet and ordered - sight unseen - a Janome DC2011 as well as the double spring foot for the fabulous price of $436.00 - no tax and no shipping. It came within a week and after a few minor adjustments and also buying the blue bobbin holder, it is working beautifully and much better than the BSR foot. Kathy Schattleitner

  16. I am looking forward to the $500 review. A year ago when I made my first quilt I used my featherweight to piece it. I decided that I wanted a machine that would actually allow me to do free motion quilting. I looked at the DC2010 from Janome but ended up with the Kenmore that is identical. I have been VERY pleased with the machine and glad that I did not have to spend $3000 to learn to quilt. A Horizon would be fun but my Kenmore works.

  17. Awesome that you have all the designs done! It'll be fun to see them as you post them.

    I did free motion last month, but I dropped the feed dogs on my Bernina. I did have a lot of tension issues. Next time, I will you use your method of just covering them.

    Looking forward to your posts on the under $500 machine. I was telling a friend that she didn't need a long-arm to free motion, and shared your site with her.

  18. I SO much like your blog and your honest opinions. You are generous with your teaching and I have learned so much from you already.I would love to hear about machines under $500. I have an "old" Viking 215 and a newish Husq 850 that I have barely used. I am telling my daughter about your blog and your designs. She has some kind of Janome and I think your site would help her with jump starting her quilting.
    Thanks for being you!

    I too love that you say it like it is! I will continue to read it!


  19. Great post Leah. I love my Horizon too. I differ in how I piece though. I use my walking foot. I put the needle position to 6.8 and then line my fabric up with the right side feed dog. That way all the fabric is pulled through evenly and I can adjust the seam allowance in tiny increments to get that perfect 1/4 inch!! But then I also alter my machine. It's your fault you know - you got me started by altering my quilting foot. Now if I don't like something, I change it. So, yes, I use my Horizon on my Inspira frame. And I take the "hood" off when I do because it just takes up space and limits visibility.
    But for those special quilts, where I want to do special things in a block larger than 9", I put her back on the table, and love her in all her glory. Looking forward to more designs. Keep 'em coming!

  20. WooHoo! I hope it's the Janome Sewist 500. That was my first machine (6 whole months ago) and I loved it. It's inexpensive, modest, charming, and powerful; I'd recommend it to anyone. If Janome made a bigger version of it, I'd kiss them. Instead, when the 6" throat space became a problem, I upgraded to a 9" MC 6300. I don't need MC's computerized controls either. All I need is manually adjustable straight stitch and zig zag, and I'm content.

    Both machines bang through lots of layers at once, and I haven't had a needle break yet.

    An 11" equivalent of the Sewist would rock my world. Sigh.

  21. Great post. I rarely can find such a indepth review of a machine and I would be interested to here more reviews of less expensive (under $500) machines. Some sewing machines cost more than my car and because it is a hobby I don't think I will ever be spending that kind of money to quilt.

  22. Buy a machine from Walmart... you buy a machine with a box. No expert service, no education, no support. I'm a Bernina girl. I believe like you, Leah, that is the person and the time they spend learning. Our world teaches 'be good now' and 'spend the money' now, for sure. We have forgotten to show people, especially young people, that it's exciting to grow in your skills, and to enjoy the learning process. That is our joy in creating, whether it's a quilt, garment, or whatever it is that makes you happy to create. Machines don't have to cost alot. FYI, I have noticed many times Bernina also puts ads in the magazines for their newest 'beginner' line, too, which is where I STARTED! It's not just all about the new 830 (which I own NOW, many years later... Having owned several other models of machines besides Bernina... hands down... no one educates like the Bernina company. No one! Glad you found a good dealer for your new Janome... that's a huge bonus. Best to you; I've enjoyed your free motion designs and appreciate the work you put into it!

  23. Forget the machines, you are a girl with principles, virtue and a strong character... and the quilting world is so much a better place with you in it!

  24. Thank you, thank you, thank you Leah for your honesty in your posts on the Janome 7700. I emailed you last Friday in regards to purchasing one, but knew that I probably wouldn't receive a response. Therefore, I read and reread your previous posts on the machine and looked for other reviews on it. Most everything which I read by the machine owners was positive with just a few comments about what would make the machine better. I took the leap and bought one. I have only had the chance to play with it a couple of times, but I am very impressed with the machine. I have to admit that it was your review of the machine which sold me, as I was in the market for a great free motion quilting machine. I believe that I have found it. Thank you so much for all of the generous sharing which you do! I know that you will be blessed many times over for what you do.

  25. I'm a Janome girl, but since I lost my dealer I really have no support. I've been reading more and more in blogs and forums about the lack of support from Janome. I think whatever brand you buy one of the most important points is having a good dealer close to you.

  26. As many have said, this post is GREAT. So much information and you take the time to write alot of things, those little in and out things that make the "picture" come together. Thank You.

    This post I learned about the red line and viedo loading.... how cool is that!!
    This post also had cc with voice reconination!!! cooler yet.... sure it was alot of jibberish BUT there were phrases that made sense and again added to the "picture"
    Last, this post has me modivated to find the single hole plate and switch it....
    Sew we go on to 500!!! sew sew sew.
    Big Thank You

  27. Hi Leah
    Its so good to hear your strength of mind and character coming through in these latest posts.
    We know you have been through some tough times and hope that your on the way out of them.

    Your views and comments are a very valuable part of this blog so I am pleased that your staying independent.

    Your review on the $500 machine will help so many quilters, because your right that sometimes you feel as though the cost of your hobby is being priced away from you ( bad grammer but you know what I mean ).

  28. Leah - can you post what foot you use for piecing. I am working to get an exact 1/4" seam, and have only been able to get there on the Horizon 7700 by moving the needle position to the right. What clear, boxy foot do you use? Many thanks

  29. Fantastic post. Can't wait to learn about your under $500 machine. I'm new to the sewing/quilting world and I do feel overwhelmed by the super expensive machines. Yes, I'd love one but doubtful I'll be able to rationalize the cost. So thank you for creating your under $500 series.

  30. Im so excited that you'll be sharing a possibly good free motion machine for under 500! I have a Brother PC 420 that I've been using for piecing and free motion quilting and everything else and I LOVE this machine but Im still excited to see how the one you found does! You're awesome Leah!

  31. Hi Leah! I've been following your blog for awhile and your quilting for even longer - I really admire you as an artist and appreciate your great contributions to the quilting world. As a fairly new quilter, I find your work extremely inspiring... so, thank you!!! I have a question - I was wondering the part number of the additional spool holder that you bought to accomodate your thread cones? I, too, have a Horizon and I'd like to buy that part and try the isacord thread. Thanks so much for any info. you have on this!

  32. There are many wonderful vintage sewing machines from the 1960's and earlier that still sew wonderfully. They are all metal (no plastic parts!) and will last another 50 to 100 years. I've got at least a dozen of them and have paid no more than $35 for any of them. My best ones cost $15 or less. They are not fussy about what kind of thread you use. They are simple to maintain and relatively simple to repair. They are better machines BY FAR than not only the Walmart plastic wonders, but even the machines selling for hundreds or thousands of dollars. They were built before the concept of "planned obsolescence" and were designed to be used daily for decades. They will still be here and sewing long after the plastic machines with computer components have gone to the landfill.

    1. I haven't been able to fmq on any of my old machines with much success. I have had them serviced and tried every increment of tension, changed needles, etc. I am ready to get something that will actually fmq. I can sew on them other than that.

  33. Rebecca - Great question! Here's the model number for the spool holder I have attached to the back of my 7700:


    And here's the page I found it on on the Janome website:



  34. I am so glad you are going to review a machine under $500. I was shopping for a new one and couldn't find any decent reviews on cheaper machines. Meanwhile I am using my 40 and 50 year old singers.

  35. Oooh, now I'm wondering what Janome you've bought! I Have 2, one is in the under $500 category: 3169 QDC and while I like it, I found that I wanted a second machine so I could switch from sewing to machine quilting easier and one with more arm space and while I couldn't quite spring for the Horizon (and am kinda kicking myself for that now) I've now got a Janome MC 6600 that I'm pretty much loving except for a few petty issues.

    One thing that drives me crazy about my Janome dealer is that they seem to think the auto thread cutter is a big deal. I think it's a royal pain and covered the button with a post-it note to keep from using it, since you seem to need to bring the thread up everytime (even w/ plain sewing) to keep from getting a tiny tangle underneath!

    Looking forward to hearing more about Janome from you.

    And if anyone ever wanted to make an aftermarket Janome manual, they'd make a fortune!

  36. thank-you soooo much!!!! You have cleared up som issues I was having! Leah you are the BEST!!

  37. Hello -

    Is this the Clear View quilting foot you are using. I've been using the Accufeed feet like crazy and love them. That has made all the difference in my quilting, but I would love to try your method.

  38. thanks for your review,
    Today I am also a proud owner of a Horizon. And already did some fqm on it, with al your tips..
    It was super!
    greetings Judith

  39. I was just messing around with some fmq on my machine (I have a Horizon as well) and something reminded me of this post. If you go into settings and change the resumption setting (the one that looks like a star) the machine starts up on the last stitch settings you were on! You won't have the annoying "resetting" you are living with right now and the straight stitch plate will stay put. Reading the manual is key with any machine.

  40. I want to thank you for your video on fmq...... you saved me!! I have done fmq in the past but this is the first time on my Horizon. I was getting skipped stitches and was getting very frustrated so resorted to using the acufeed and doing lots of quilt turning. After watching your video.. I found a couple settings I was missing and SUCCESS!! It is much easier not having to rotate the quilt all the time!! Thanks again!!!

  41. Leah, Just started reading your blog and love it! To date I've only done rag quilts and recently made the top and back for a baby play quilt (45" sq.) for our new grandbaby due next month, will be my first "real" quilt, which I want to FMQ.

    Plan to use a 65 yr old Singer that I found at Goodwill ($25) and sews beautifully! I have a computerized Kenmore but the throat is only 6 inches where the Singer is 8.5".

    My mom was a professional seamstress and always told me I'd get a better machine for the money if I bought a good used one within my budget. A good place to find them is your local sewing machine repair shop, not necessarily the dealership. These will be machines that have been cleaned, repaired, and have a warranty long enough for one to put it through some use.

    Thanks for doing this blog, I'm learning so much about FMQ, can't wait for my new presser feet and tools to get here and practice.

  42. I gotta say that it was your honest assessment of the Janome 7700 that helped me settle on buying one a few weeks back. No machine is perfect, I learned from you. Was wondering if you ever use the O or O2 foot, and even if you don't do you ever experience any wobbliness with the feet that you do use. I'm such a new quilter I'm just trying to figure out if it's me or the machine. Thanks.

  43. Also A Quilter - Honestly I avoid piecing on the Janome Horizon. I do use a generic piecing foot, but even then I sometimes question the accuracy of my stitch.

    Overall I haven't found the O or the O2 foot to be much help and yes, the wobbliness of the connection is an issue that needs to be addressed by the company. A foot that moves is obviously not an accurate foot.

    Overall though, you have bought a terrific machine for all manner of quilting (with the even feed system or free motion) and applique. While it might not be perfect at precision piecing, it is still an excellent machine!

  44. This is a great article! I can't wait to see the post on machines under $500. You can learn to quilt on anything that sews correctly.

  45. I have the 7700 and I really like it - however I am definitely going to try the way you free motion - now if I can only find that foot....hmmm. I am glad to see someone else just loves their machine - I do have other sewing machines - including the 12000.

  46. Hi, I also have the Horizon 7700 and totally love it!! I bought my sewing machine before I replaced my car and we laughed that the Janome was worth more than the Civic! Have you tried using the Resumption mode when you leave your machine? I took the machine mastery classes from my amazing retailer Quilt As Desired and they taught me so many little tricks of the machine. Just that alone has saved some mistakes of missed up stitches!Enjoy your blog!

  47. I enjoyed your demonstration of the Janome Horizon 7700 I purchased one when the first was demonstrated at the NEC Birmingham UK but I am still am still learning and you video's help, I would never have thought not to lower the feed dog, my next purchase will be a sliding mat. Thank you Mavis.

  48. Bravo! Love your take on the simple historic roots of quilting. It's been in my family for generations, but my mother was not interested in sewing, so the chain was broken. I have decided I will push on to learn on my own & hopefully share with my daughter as well.

    I have a few old mechanical Singers (all metal gears) and am happy with them, but want an embroidery machine now as my vision is not so good. I hope to try some FMQ and love all your designs.

    I appreciate our freedom of speech more than most, as I see the risk now of it being threatened. Glad to hear your point of view.

  49. Leah, that was an excellent post. I LOVE your honesty. I look forward to seeing more sewing on the $500 machines!!!

  50. Leah, that was an excellent post. I LOVE your honesty and integrity. I am in the Richmond Mondern Quilt Guild and in our meeting last night one of our members taught a class called "Free Motion Quilting on a Rinky Dink Machine". Everyone needs to know that they don't have to buy a longarm or super expensive machine to be a successful quilter...and you are an excellent example. KUDOS and Thanks!!!

  51. I have had my Horizon for 9 months now and just love it, a quality machine. While I was hesitant to spend $2,000 (I got a floor model) I had never had a new-to-me machine, always purchased 2nd hand. But, as Leah points out you do not have to spend big bucks to be able to sew or do FMQing. I've been FMQing on my great aunt's Singer 15-91 for years, it has drop feeds even. You can find the 15-91 and other's similar on Craig's List or Ebay all the time, sometimes for very little money. Thanks Leah for all your great quilting posts.

  52. Thanks for a well-done unbiased review of the 7700 and looking forward to your next review of a less expensive machine. I am curious as to why you cut your threads with scissors and didn't use the auto-thread-cutter, do you not like it?


  53. I appreciate your review very much. I have an older model Kenmore, a cadillac sewing machine that I wouldn't trade for anything in the world, except....I can't get a freemotion/darning foot for it.

  54. YES! I'm interested in the under $500 machine. I am a beginner quilter and so glad I found your site. The lady that taught me basic quilting told me I needed a long arm machine to quilt large quilts - then I found your site. I plan to try with my basic Brother before investing in a bigger machine.

  55. How refreshing! While researching Janome machines, I found your blog. I own a Viking 6430 and the machine has served me well throughout a dressmaking career. I find the current prices repulsive, no matter what the machine can do. Your site will be a valuable source of information before reinvesting in an up-to-date machine with embroidery /quilting uses. Thank you so much for your honest and insightful information tool!

  56. Thank you for your help. Very useful for freemotion. I could not figure out the tension and was so frustrated. I am going to try this on my older Janome as well. Love your site.

  57. So excited! Getting this machine in the next few days! I know this is an older model now 3 years later but it's definitely an upgrade from my old singer! And a more reasonable price too!!!!

  58. Just wondering if you are still in love with this machine? And what clear foot do you use to piece? Thanks!

  59. Constance , Oh yes I Still love my machine. For piecing I use my 1/4 foot

    1. The foot that came with the Horizon, or a.different one?

  60. Constance, I use the one that came with my machine

  61. I love my Janome 7700. I bought it used, so it cost me about $2000, but it came with the warranty. The dealers I purchased it from are very good at answering questions and giving me lessons on anything I want to learn. My husband recently asked me if I needed a better machine (I've had this one for about a year.) I told him I honestly thought this one would do everything I want for a long time. I think it is a great machine. I've read your notes and look forward to watching the video to get your expert take on my machine! Thanks!

  62. I would be REALLY interested to hear about any sewing machine that actually works and does not have tension issues constantly!! If you can find one under $1500 I would be thrilled. Under $500 and I'd probably trip on my own feet trying to go get one immediately!

  63. Nice post, when it comes to quilting, Janome machines do really great, another quilting machine I found to be good is the Magnolia 7318.


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