Sunday, October 21, 2012


I've been using my new Janome Horizon for several months now, have pieced two twin size quilts, and free motion quilting is now nearly complete on the second one.  I absolutely love the machine for piecing, though I still adore piecing on the old vintage Singers too - there is just something so soothing about their quiet tick-tick-tick as they stitch with beautiful straight precision.  The Janome is a totally super ditch quilter, however, with the built-in walking foot attachment.  I don't think I'll go back to the Singer 401 with its vintage walking foot for this task when it's so easy with the Janome.

I wonder if anyone else using the Horizon has experienced difficulties with free motion quilting when there is a pieced backing.  The quilt I'm working on right now, which I hope to finish this coming week, has a pieced strip down the back.  The Janome balks nearly every time it approaches a seam that lies underneath the batting, that is, a pieced backing seam.  This seems to happen whether or not there is a corresponding seam in the top layer.  On the very few occasions where a seam in the top layer is directly above a backing seam, the machine literally stops, and I'll need to hit the needle up button, raise the presser foot and move the fabric a tad, then needle down and continue.  Where the seam only exists below the batting layer, the needle just goes up and down and will move with an additional tug, but this sure interrupts any stitching rhythm I'd managed to achieve.  I'm about ready to give up on using a pieced backing for any future projects, this was so frustrating.

That said, I'm finally beginning to enjoy free motion quilting on this machine.  Having tried all sorts of variations including feed dogs up and down, auto stitch tension vs. manual, straight stitch setting vs the built-in DS-1 quilting stitch, I've found the best stitches are achieved using the recommended settings, auto tension, DS-1, feed dogs down.  What I haven't been able to use successfully is the open-toe foot without having numerous top thread breaks.  Using the closed toe foot totally eliminates that problem, but visibility for detailed work decreases drastically, and visibility of  the work is the greatest failing of the Horizon, in my opinion!  The entire machine is too low-slung and there are too many fixed items (needle threader, built-in-walking foot attachment holder, etc.) right in the way of one's line of sight.  The old Singer 15-91 has super visibility in comparison, and if I could fix the intermittent skipped stitch problem with that machine, I'd probably go back to it in a heartbeat for detailed quilting of feathers, etc.

Here are a couple quick previews of the current work, another planned gift, so shots of the entire quilt when finished will have to wait a while longer.

The problem with stitching over seams in the pieced back occurred mostly in the straight up and down lines in the horizontal sashing, and wiggly vertical lines in the narrow sashing strips between blocks.  I did not notice as many problems while doing the meandering within the blocks.

This is the pieced back.

I'm hoping Leah and others who use the Janome Horizon can offer some insights.  Fabrics are all cotton, thread is Aurifil 50/2, low loft poly batting, Schmetz 75/11 quilting needle.  I was pleased with the tension of the stitches on both sides using this thread/needle/batting combination and the recommended settings for the machine.  I'd just like to know how others cope with quilting pieced backings.

Linking up with Leah Day's UFO Sunday on the Free Motion Quilting Project.


  1. I'm not using the same machine, but it sounds like the presser foot pressure might be just a tad too tight.

  2. I am with Dora, sounds like a pressure issue. But then I FMQ on a Singer Featherweight and that machine has the easiest pressure fix in the world. Your quilt is especially handsome and will probably go so some handsome young man, I would guess.


  3. I will have to try decreasing the pressure a little on a sample piece of the same fabric, though the quilt glides very smoothly through at the current setting, only hangs up if there's a seam that lies under the batting. If the seam is in the top of the quilt, no problem. I had wondered if it might be a needle issue, either size or type, though for the most part the quilting looks ok and tension is good on both sides. Thanks for your insights - I will try playing more with the pressure of the foot.

  4. Do you press your seams open or to one side??? I believe Leah presses them open and so do I (especially if I piece the back). Pressing the seams to one side on the top gives a dimensional look that may be desired for the sake of the pattern, but, unless there is a special circumstance in the pattern of the top, I press those seams open, also. It does sound as though the downward pressure of the foot is tight when going over the seams, though. Beautiful work!!!!

  5. Pressing the seams open may help solve the problem for future quilting. I find that this works quite well for me! Beautiful work!!!

  6. I agree that you may have to lighten up on the pressor foot. The dream is that this machine is so easy to adjust with the quilting foot - just adjust the wheel on the foot. I love my Horizon but I agree that there are too many fussy things around the needle area. If I had my wish, the entire hood would be less boxy and more streamlined - most of the space inside is empty anyway. Although I love the needle threader, yes, it's another space hog. The only other thing I would change would be to get the accufeed dogs up even higher out of the way when they're not in use.
    Good luck with your troubleshooting. Your quilt is beautiful.

  7. I have a Janome P-QC and I have the same issue. If I don't catch it, I will get a weird jump in stitches, but if I do catch it, i do the exact same thing you do:) I press my seams open BTW;)

  8. Meant to say Love love love your quilt!

  9. Good luck with your new machines! And I like the way the ball stands out with your quilting all around it!

  10. Do you have the same issue if you use a larger "sharp" needle? I use size 80 microtex sharps for quilting (I am not familiar with your thread; I use Isacord and they go well together). I believe the "quilting" needles are in between sharp and universal. Universal needles are more likely to try to deflect around an obstacle whereas the sharps are designed to punch right through. I wonder if that is the issue--your lighter weight needle is encountering more stress when it tries to slip by the lower seam (as opposed to through it).

    In the quilt you commented on at my blog (thank you so much for reading and commenting!), I have a complicated piece on the back where most of those seams are to one side but the last few were open (in some attempt to not put a crazy amount of overlapping seams in the piece). I quilted through it, most of the time not realizing I was over that area.

    I hope this helps you identify the source of those frustrating issues.

  11. Try using a size 90 needle, get those specifically labeled for top stitching. I've also had to use needles labeled for jeans/denim when quilting some paper pieced tops because they're so thick in parts. It doesn't make the finished quilting look bad, it just makes the job easier. Good luck!


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