Janome Memory Craft 9500 – A More Affordable Sewing/Embroidery Machine
|September 29, 2003||in Product Reviews|
A review of
The new Janome Memory Craft 9500 sewing machine with embroidery features represents an exciting trend – the price of sewing/embroidery machines is coming down while the set of features these machines offer is going up.
The Memory Craft 9500 has a manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of $2,499, one of lowest MSRPs you’ll find for a sewing/embroidery machine. But the Memory Craft 9500 has nearly 100 stitches, nearly 100 embroidery patterns, and three upper- and lower-case embroidery alphabets.
Janome made the Memory Craft 9500 an affordable sewing/embroidery machine without eliminating any major features you’ll find in their Memory Craft 10000 (now called the Memory Craft 10001), though they did eliminate a number of nice-to-have features.
Read my review of the Janome Memory Craft 10000
Instead of a color touchscreen, the Memory Craft 9500 has a black-and-white touchscreen. The Memory Craft 9500 also lacks the automatic thread cutter, the second light over the machine bed, and the direct hook-up to your computer that the Memory Craft 10000 offers.
Sewing Machine Features
The Memory Craft 9500 has 98 stitches for sewing, home decorating, heirloom garment construction, and quilting. All the stitches are listed on the flip-up lid of the machine.
Unfortunately, the stitches are grouped by stitch type, not by who would use them. As a quilter, I used a straight stitch from one menu, a satin stitch from another menu, a mock hand-quilting stitch from a third menu, and embellishing stitches from additional menus.
It would have been a little easier if all the quilting stitches were on the same menu. But I’m sure I’d learn the stitch numbers of my favorites in a very short time.
Ten Feet, And Two More
The Memory Craft 9500 comes with ten sewing machine feet, seven of which snap on. The embroidery foot, the darning foot, and the walking foot all screw in place.
I’m surprised that Janome still uses screw-on fasteners for these three feet. But Janome has improved the screw-on feature by making a slot instead of a hole in the foot. You can slip the foot on by loosening the screw without having to remove the screw completely.
The accessory list on the Janome Web site states that the Memory Craft 9500 comes with a 1/4″ piecing foot and a walking foot. The manual didn’t agree with this, so I confirmed with Dave LaValley of Bittersweet Fabric Shop that the manual, not the Web site is correct. Dave called Janome and they say they’ll correct the Web site.
Because these are both important sewing machine feet for quilters, I tested them and was happy with both. You can buy these two feet for a total of less than $50.
The Memory Craft 9500 comes with a button foot! I love it!
I haven’t sewn on buttons by hand since 1976 and don’t see any reason to start now. Since most sewing machines haven’t come with a button foot for years, I’ve just been using my old 1976 button foot on my new machines.
But thank goodness, button feet are coming back!
The Memory Craft 9500′s button foot holds the button so the back and forth stitch anchors the button in place. It even comes with an accessory to attach shank buttons. The buttonhole stitch senses the size of the button inserted into the rear of the foot and makes great buttonholes very easily.
The Memory Craft 9500′s automatic tension worked perfectly on almost everything I tried. I did piecing, free-motion embellishing, free-motion quilting, walking-foot quilting, satin and decorative stitches, and mock hand quilting using cotton, rayon, metallic, and invisible thread. I even satin-stitched silk flowers onto the front of my quilt.
The only times I wasn’t 100% satisfied with the automatic tension was when I tried to free-motion quilt with jeans thread and with polyester thread. In both cases the top thread showed through on the back.
To solve the problem, I turned off the automatic tension and manually set the tension. That approach worked beautifully for each of the troublesome threads.
There are two stitches on the Memory Craft 9500 that I especially love. One is the French Knot stitch for embellishing. And the other is a single basting stitch.
Janome’s single basting stitch redefines machine basting. It sews one basting stitch and stops so you can position the quilt for the next basting stitch. Now you can put basting stitches exactly where you want them, as far apart as you can reach.
Like the Memory Craft 10000, the Janome Memory Craft 9500 has a permanently-attached embroidery arm on the back of the sewing machine. It retracts to take up no extra space when you’re sewing, but extends to require 8″ of space behind your sewing machine when you embroider. Thankfully, the embroidery mechanism doesn’t seem to add much weight to the Memory Craft 9500, so it’s still portable.
I like Janome’s embroidery arrangement better than the detachable embroidery units that other manufacturers use. Those units usually attach to the left side of the sewing machine bed, requiring a wider work space.
Janome’s approach is so efficient that you can even put the Memory Craft 9500 in a cabinet, as long as it has 8″ of clearance behind the sewing machine’s bed.
More Embroidery Designs
The Memory Craft 9500 comes with 91 built-in embroidery designs. You can combine pictures and text, selecting from three alphabet styles. You can also increase or decrease the size of a design from 90% to 120% of its original size.
To have access to more designs, or to manipulate designs in more exotic ways, you need a way to move designs into and out of the Memory Craft 9500. The Memory Craft 9500 accomplishes this with a slot into which you can plug a Janome memory card. You can buy hundreds of embroidery designs from Janome on their memory cards.
To use your computer to create designs, edit designs, or download designs from the Web, you’ll need appropriate software and Internet connections. And you’ll have to have a way to move designs back and forth between the Memory Craft 9500 and your computer.
The Memory Craft 9500 doesn’t plug into your computer, as the Memory Craft 10000 does, but I don’t see that as a real drawback. Very few people I know have their computer in the same room as their sewing/embroidery machine. And even fewer of them have the two close enough together to run a short cable.
Instead, you’ll need a drive for your computer that will read and write to a standard ATA PC memory card, and you’ll need an adapter (less than $10) that will let you use standard ATA PC cards in the Memory Craft 9500 memory card slot.
Four Thread-Color Schemes
The Memory Craft 9500 has a great new embroidery feature that also appears on the Memory Craft 10001. You can choose among the thread color numbering schemes of four manufacturers – Janome, Robison-Anton, Madeira, and Mettler.
By building in these four manufacturers’ numbering schemes, the Memory Craft 9500 saves you having to look up color numbers on a chart or trying to guess which shade of blue Robison-Anton thread is closest to a particular blue Janome thread.
Thanks to Dave LaValley and Bittersweet Fabric Shop, I was able to use the Memory Craft 9500 for four days at home, working on my own projects, to see how it would perform in “real life.”
At the end, I finally had to force myself to take this great sewing machine back to Bittersweet. It was especially hard to give up knowing how much it does at such a low price.
Maybe Santa Claus will get me one for Christmas!
A big Quilter’s Review thanks once again to Bittersweet Fabric Shop and Dave LaValley for allowing me to do my review using their demo Memory Craft 9500 at my house.
Bittersweet, in Boscawen, New Hampshire, fixes all types of machines, but only sells Janome. They used to be a dealer for other manufacturers, but they were so impressed with Janome that they decided to be an exclusive dealer.
Dave and his parents, Audrey and Don, have come up with really good ideas for designs, manufacturing changes, and additional feet. Janome has listened to these experienced people and has added several of the LaValleys’ suggestions to its sewing machines.