Tips for Bag Making/ Heavy Duty Sewing

Last year, I was sew excited to be asked to teach classes on sewing an easy, beginner’s tote bag at one of the quilt shops in my area. It’s always fun to meet new people with the same interests, and to empower them by teaching them new skills, but little did I know at the time that I’d develop a new affliction in the process. From those classes, I seem to have been bitten by the bag bug and I just can’t stop making bags – tote bags, iPad cases, travel bags, you name it! I’m hooked, as are many of you, so once again it’s Janome to the rescue.

To help meet the needs of the bag-makers, or anyone who’ll be sewing with heavy duty materials like boat canvas, vinyl, and leather, Janome has recently released the ultra-powerful Janome HD9 Professional, an exciting new update of the ever-popular Janome 1600P.

As you likely guessed, HD stands for Heavy Duty.

That’s 8 layers of denim. As you can see from all the stitching, I like doing that demonstration. lol! Capable of 1600 stitches per minute, the Janome HD9 Professional is the fastest domestic sewing machine in the entire Janome line. The Janome Quilt Maker Pro 18 longarm quilting machine is 2200 stitches per minute so that’ll give you some idea of the power behind this machine.

Attached to the machine in the video is an exciting new accessory foot called the HD Roller Foot. Aptly named, the HD Roller Foot helps roll the thicker, more dense layers through the machine with ease. No need to pull and tug at the fabric, or whatever it is you’re sewing. Let the machine do the work!

Even more exciting is that this foot works with some other Janome models, so be sure to click on the links for a full description of which models are compatible. As always, please consult your Janome dealer for more information. Below is a photo of the HD Roller Foot on my Janome MC 15000 Quiltmaker. Full instructions on how to attach and position the foot are in included in the blister pack.


Akin to the HD9 Professional is the Janome MC 6700P; it shares many of it’s features: all metal flatbed; heavy duty, industrial-like, Professional look and feel; LED lighting; high speed – the MC 6700P has 1200 stitches per minute. I’ve had one at home since it debuted and I absolutely love it!

Since I travel so much for work, I love having lots of little bags and multiples of things to help stay organized and save time. I have several sets of toiletries; razors, shaving cream, shower gel, etc. packed in several bags so I have less unpacking and packing to do between trips. I used a Kwik Sew pattern, but there are many great patterns available. Many quilters have also caught the bag bug, so most quilt shops carry a variety of bag and wallet patterns and the corresponding hardware, which adds that professional touch.


I used two weights of vinyl, one which had a fleece-like backing so it was thicker and a little harder to work with, but no problems with the actual sewing. The pattern didn’t call for it, but I inserted a bit of left over piping from another project, and again, no problems with the extra layers, extra bulk. The Janome MC 6700P has an extra-high presser foot lift to accommodate thicker layers. These little travel bags are a great way to use up some of your stash. Be sure to use some snazzy lining so everything is neatly finished on the inside!


Bags, wallets and pocketbooks, often require a zipper closure, which can lead to dread and project abandonment if you’re fearful that your machine is not up to the task. Fear no more when using the Janome AcuFeed Flex Single/ Narrow foot holder and corresponding Zipper foot. It is not included in the MC 6700P, but it’s available in a separate blister pack from your Janome dealer if your machine did not come with one. It’s narrow profile helps you get into some tight spots while feeding the layers evenly at the same time.


One of my favourite feet to use is the Janome 1/4″ foot with guide  as it helps keep topstitching straight along the zipper seam, as in the photo below. There are other great Janome presser feet options to use, as well, so use what works best for your project. Topstitching to keep the seams flat is usually an essential step in heavy duty sewing since pressing with an iron is often not possible with the materials used, for example, leather, suede and vinyl can not be pressed.


Often referred by different names, the Button Shank Plate is something which comes with many Janome machine and I use it a lot, especially when sewing thicker, bulkier fabrics. It’s fantastic to use when hemming jeans when you have to sew over that big bump of the inseam. Use the Button Shank Plate when sewing on buttons by machine (consult your instruction manual for more information) AND use it to keep the presser foot level when sewing over thick, bulky seams. In the photo below you can see how it’s keeping the presser foot level while sewing at the edge of the fuzzy strip of Velcro, another notion often used in bag-making and heavy duty sewing.  Keeping the foot level will prevent skipped stitches and broken needles, so you’ll want to keep this handy tool, well, handy!


And of course, since you’re the designer, you can customize and personalize your bag, pocket book, wallet, etc. as you desire. Any of our Janome embroidery machines; the Janome MC 15000 Quiltmaker, Janome Skyline S9, Janome MC 500E, for example, would help do the trick!


NO! This gym bag is NOT for ME! lol!


The special recipient is our very good friend, Laura, who’s from England, and I’m very proud to say that it was my partner, Joe, NOT me, who sewed every stitch of this bag himself. He’s a beginner sewist and used the Janome MC 6700P. He even quilted the fabric using the AcuFeed Flex Dual/Twin foot holder with standard AD foot and attached the Quilting Guide Bar to achieve even crosshatched quilted rows of stitching. Having the large extension table which comes included with the machine definitely came in handy for this step. (the extension table also fits the new HD9, as well!)


Joe used the Duffle Bag pattern from Taylor Made Designs and made modifications to include side pockets, using the very fun “Girl Power” Superhero fabric, and added the embroidery to the front pocket. Okay, Joe didn’t stitch that! lol! Other than that, it was all him. I provided some instruction, but he did the work.


Even a beginner sewist can achieve professional results no matter what the project; no matter how heavy duty, when using the right tools. As always, Janome’s got you covered! Visit your Janome Dealer to give the new HD9 Professional and MC 6700P a test drive, or, stop by our Janome booth at the next sewing show you attend where we’ll have these machines and more!








About janomeman

As Janome Canada's National Consumer Education Manager, I'm SEW excited to share my love of sewing, quilting and all things creative with everyone at our fabulous new Janome Sewing and Learning Centre in Oakville, ON. Have an idea for a class, or to be put onto our mailing list, E-mail me at
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3 Responses to Tips for Bag Making/ Heavy Duty Sewing

  1. Way go to, Joe (and teacher Michael)! And…brilliant to use the quarter inch foot with guide for the topstitching on the zipper….hadn’t thought of that one! And yes, that narrow AcuFeed is Da Bomb! Now, if they would make a slightly open toe base for it I’d be in hog heaven!


    • lizafrica says:

      Hi SarahAnn,

      Thanks for the vote of confidence as well as suggestion. We will be sure to pass it along. And Happy 4th of July!



      • And happy Canada Day a few days late back….and my son just got back from a month in South Africa, was just north of Alldays working/volunteering at a reserve!


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