I was delighted when Stephen at Aberdeen Sewing Machines (https://www.aberdeensewing.com) produced the Janome Atelier 9 for me to review, I have to admit I’m not a huge fan of Janome sewing machines, but Stephen was determined that I would change my opinion with this one. We shall see!
The machine came in a huge box, entirely necessary for this machine. It also has a detachable embroidery unit, it’s very compact in comparison to some of the others I’ve seen. Soft covers for both the machine and the embroidery unit are also provided, ideal if you are travelling to classes. There’s an excellent manual, easy to read with lots of information.
Also included were a fantastic range of feet, most of which would be added extras with other machines. Some of the feet included as standard are the quarter inch foot, open toe foot, 3 feet for free motion quilting, stitch in the ditch, 2 couching feet, walking foot, embroidery feet to name but a few, and of course, there are all the other feet that you normally get with your machine but possibly don’t use unless you do dressmaking. So far we’re off to a good start.
The machine was quite straightforward to set up, It has a large foot pedal and a touch screen control panel. It also has a start stop button and a knee lift.
I decided to start by making some patchwork blocks, so changed to the single hole sole plate which was included in the box and then fitted the quarter inch foot. The control panel is quite easy to manoeuvre and I was soon stitching my blocks. The quarter inch foot provided is the one with the bar at the side, not my favourite foot, so I would be looking to buy one without the bar attached. The stitching was good and the blocks were pieced quite quickly.
There are a huge amount of stitches on this machine, the utility stitches which come as standard on most machines, as well as a large variety of buttonholes and eyelets. There are also quilting stitches, pictorial patterns and decorative stitches. I decided to stitch a sample using designs from the heirloom section, these were worked on a piece of ice dyed fabric with a layer of cotton soft underneath to stabilise the stitches. This will eventually become a book cover after some more hand stitching is added.
I next decided to play with the decorative stitches, I worked a variety of stitches using Cotton Soft underneath as a stabiliser. I particularly like the textures achieved with some of the heavier patterns, I used a variety of threads to see how they would work, I’m happy to report the machine liked them all. This will also most likely become a book cover at some point.
I make a lot of postcards and book covers so thought this would be a good test for the machine. The fabrics were layered onto Fast2Fuse, shapes were bonded on top then the entire piece was covered with organza. I stitched a variety of the designs through all of the layers and each choice of stitch worked perfectly, you simply use the stylus provided to select your stitch, and the width and length can be adjusted using the stylus, the machine handled the bulk easily. I zig zagged the appliqué shapes and again, the stitch was good. The final test would be the satin stitch around the outside edges, but the machine handled this beautifully and a really smooth satin stitch was achieved.
Next I tried free motion quilting, I changed the foot, navigated the control panel and found a selection of options for quilting, I selected one and then Dropped the feed dogs, the feed dog controls are at the side of the machine, I dropped them and started to quilt. I quickly realised this would be a nice machine to use for quilting, it has a reasonable size throat, but you would most likely want to buy an extension table if your machine isn’t set into a table. This is the only thing that didn’t come with the machine. I was quite happy with the quilting achieved, it was just a small sample but the stitch was good and there were no tension issues whatsoever.
Simple free machine quilting
I finally plucked up courage to unpack and attach the embroidery machine, never having used one before, I wasn’t sure how I would get on with it, or if I would even enjoy using it. The unit is quite small in comparison to others I’ve seen, you simply slide off a cover at the back of the machine, slide the unit in place and then extended the arm. Easy…. There are three different hoops, which come as standard, and a large amount of designs built into the machine. Navigation of the control panel was quite straightforward and before long I was stitching out a design. A roll of stabiliser is also included in the box. There’s a lot of information on the control panel, the length of time it will take to stitch out the design, how many threads the design needs and also a list of the threads required.
I started with a butterfly, it had a few thread changes, simple enough for me to try to understand the process, it was all very simple, and it was fun watching it stitch the design with minimal input from me.
Next I tried one of the many alphabet designs and was extremely pleased with the finished piece.
I played with several other designs, all were stitched out well, there were a couple which were a bit wrinkled, but this was ‘operator error’ I had pulled the fabric too tightly in the hoop, but it was a good lesson learned.
You can download patterns through your PC, so this was to be my next challenge. I found an online shop which provided a selection of free patterns, I chose one and proceeded to download it via the cables which are provided. This was quite straightforward, but it took me a couple of attempts to transfer it through to the machine, but eventually I figured it out and the design appeared on the machine and stitched out perfectly.
I’ve really enjoyed playing with the Atelier 9, it’s a lovely machine, and it would be the perfect machine for anyone who was thinking about dipping theirs toes into the machine embroidery world without having to spend many thousands of pounds on a pure embroidery machine. This, for me, is the best of both worlds, a workhorse of a machine for everyday sewing whether you’re into patchwork and quilting or dressmaking, but with the added benefit of an easy to use embroidery unit to expand your creative options.
Finally, I said at the beginning I wasn’t a fan of Janome, has this changed my mind. Well, yes I think it probably has, in particular I really enjoyed the embroidery stitches and the ease in which it sewed them all, not once did I have an issue with any of them and it accepted every type of thread I used without complaint, and yes, Stephen will be pleased to hear that I would buy this machine. Pricewise, I think this machine is excellent value for money, it has a price tag of around £2499, and you get a lot for your money. Stephen does excellent trade in deals, so check that out too.
I am very grateful to Stephen and Tracy at Aberdeen Sewing Machines for letting me have this machine to experiment with, and can highly recommend their shop to anyone, a great family business with exceptional customer service. You can find their shop here: