As the owner and designer of Blue Calla Patterns, I have always received questions related to sewing machines suitable for bag making. Since receiving my Janome HD9 professional machine, I have been inundated with questions regarding this machine and how well it performs when it comes to making bags and purses. This blog post is the perfect opportunity to address some of those questions!
The most frequently asked questions are regarding the strength of the machine when sewing through thick layers, the types of thread it can handle, presser foot height and finally, the recommended attachments for bag making.
Is this machine capable of sewing through thick layers?
Yes, definitely. I have tried many comparable machines and this machine does not hesitate when sewing through thick layers. You must remember that it’s always important to use the right type of needle for the type of fabric you are using but when done correctly, I have never had an issue or a broken needle. The motor does not sound like it is struggling.
To illustrate, I created a “layer sandwich” which consists of 2 layers of 10-ounce waxed cotton canvas, 2 layers of cork fabric and 2 layers of foam interfacing.
For my test, I used a thicker thread – Tex 75 or a 40 wt. in both the bobbin and my top thread. The machine was threaded using the heavy weight threading guide and I had my stitch length set to 5.
The stitch length remained consistent and the machine had no issues. I have sewn through this many layers and more when topstitching bags – especially at the side seams.
What kind of thread can I use?
When making bags, it is important to always use 100% polyester thread unless you are sewing with leather. With the Janome HD9, you can use the same weight in both the bobbin and your top thread.
There is no need to use a regular weight thread in the bobbin because the Janome HD9 was designed to work with heavier thread. The larger bobbin size is fantastic for holding more thread – even with heavier thread weights.
There are 3 different thread weights I use with the Janome
- 100 wt. thread or Tex 30 which is considered regular weight thread (left)
- 40 wt. or Tex 75, also known as upholstery thread (middle)
- 30 wt. or Tex 100, also known as topstitching thread (right)
My default needle type when using a regular weight thread is a Sharp size 90/14 (seen on the left in the photo above). I find this needle goes through everything including cork and vinyl/faux leather fabric.
When using heavier thread, I tend to use a topstitch needle size 90/14 or 100/16 (on the right in the photo) which has a much larger eye and reduces the chances of your thread shredding.
If you are sewing with leather, make sure you use a leather needle!
The topstitching in the photo above shows all 3 thread weights.
How many layers can I get under the presser foot?
At first glance, it may look like you can’t get much under the presser foot but if you gently pull up on the presser foot lever, you can get up to ½” of height under the foot.
I used the same “layer sandwich” from above which has a height of ½”. By gently lifting on the presser foot lever, I was able to get the presser foot slightly higher and fit this thickness underneath.
What are the most important presser foot attachments I will need for bag making?
There are 3 attachments that I use with the HD9: the Straight Stitch foot which I use 90% of the time, the UltraGlide Foot which I use when topstitching vinyl and faux leather and the Adjustable Zipper foot for zipper installations.