The new AcuFeed™ Flex Professional Grade Foot (HP2) and its matching Professional Grade Needle Plate from Janome have been gaining quite a reputation for their precision stitching. Well alrighty then… it’s time we took the set for a little test drive. Follow along to see how we put this specialty set through its paces, testing it on a challenging quilting sample (Drunkard’s Path) as well as a compact barrel tote.
The AcuFeed™ Fabric Feeding System is built-in to a number of the Janome models. Similar to how a Walking or Even Feed foot operates, this built-in system moves the foot in unison with the machine’s standard lower feed dogs (most Janome models feature a 7-piece lower feed dog). Working in perfect sync, the fabric layers are then fed from both the top and bottom, moving beautifully and keeping everything flat and even.
Janome originally released a Professional Grade Foot and Plate Set (HP) that operates outside the AcuFeed™ system, and this foot is still available. It is the same type of narrow gauge industrial foot.
We were excited about the HP2 set because we love the control provided with AcuFeed™. The HP2 foot is a narrow width, and by aligning the edge of the fabric to the edge of the foot, you can get a perfect ¼" seam allowance. The matching HP Needle Plate is a straight stitch plate, which further increases the stitch quality. The combination makes it perfect for curves and precise stitching. The shape of the slit at the front of the foot also contributes to its superior visibility.
Janome’s 7-piece feed dog system, standard on the majority of models, is a great feature for ease of sewing. With a standard foot in place, the machine sews a precise straight line with very little help. When using this HP2 foot, instead of engaging all seven feed dogs as it does with a standard foot, the HP2 foot is repositioned over just the left side feed dogs. This allows much easier control when maneuvering tight curves.
And, the left needle position and straight stitch plate guarantee the best stitch formation. It all works together to produce beautiful curved seams with perfect stitch quality.
As a comparison for those of you who already work with the available AcuFeed™ feet, the photo below shows the HP2 foot next to the narrow Acufeed™ VD foot. The HP2 foot is shorter by ¼" and a little bit narrower.
During construction of the barrel tote below, there were a few times when we were working in very small areas, such as inside the tote when topstitching. The smaller size of the HP2 foot made it perfect for these applications, something that isn’t really possible when working with a standard Walking or Even Feed foot. Plus, we had the benefits of the AcuFeed™ Flex fabric feeding!
We invite you to review the detail below, showing each of our test drives. In general, we found the new HP2 foot and Needle Plate set to be very well designed for sewing curves and precision stitching. It feeds a variety of fabric types with ease; we worked with both standard quilting cotton as well as thick denim layers. The resulting seams were smooth and the seam allowances even. With its narrow base, the foot gives a consistent ¼" seam and provides good visibility for aligning the edges of fabric when assembling quilt blocks. It also handles general sewing tasks with ease (check out how we applied webbing below in the barrel tote test), which means it’s not necessary to continually change back and forth when sewing a project. If your seams are straight, you are good to go.
The HP2 Foot is compatible with the Horizon Memory Craft 9400QCP, Horizon Memory Craft 9450QCP, Horizon Quilt Maker Memory Craft 15000, Memory Craft 6700P, and the Skyline S9-Indigo. The upgrade kit for the MC15000, includes the standard HP Foot and Needle Plate; the HP2 set is an optional accessory. The same is true of the upgrade kit for the 9400. Check with your local Janome dealer for availability and price.
Test Drive on a Drunkard’s Path Quilt Block
- The Drunkard’s Path quilt block is one of the most challenging blocks. It matches a convex curve to a concave curve, requires precise pinning, and must have a consistent ¼" seam allowance in order to create a smooth curve within the finished block. It seemed like the perfect challenge to test the new HP2 foot.
- Our small sample quilt top has a total of 36 pieced squares. We cut the pieces using a paper template. You can also use a purchased template set.
- Mark the center of each curve by finger pressing a crease.
- Place the two pieces right sides together, matching the center crease lines. Pin by piercing the fabric ¼" from the edge of the fabric with the point of the pin pointing away from the seam allowance. Pin in the center first.
Next, match the ends of the curves and pin.
- Find the center point between each mid-and-outer pin, match the edges, and pin. The curve is now divided into quarters.
- Follow the same method to divide the curve into eighths: find the center between pins, match the edges, and pin again. In each case, remember to arrange the pins with their points toward the center. This will make it easier to remove the pins as the curve is stitched.
- A view from the back shows how the fabric is eased to create the flattened curve.
- Before turning the machine on, attach the HP2 foot and HP Needle Plate to your machine. When you turn on the machine, it will automatically recognize the HP needle plate and adjust the selection of available stitches so the needle position and stitch width options match the single hole of the plate. This will prevent broken needles. Adjust the stitch length to 1.80 mm, the recommended stitch length for piecing quilt blocks.
- Place the pinned Drunkard’s Path block under the needle with the edge of the fabric aligned with the edge of the foot. Lower the foot.
- Start sewing, removing pins as you go. As you sew, guide the curve under the foot, keeping the edge of the fabric aligned to the edge of the foot for your consistent ¼” seam.
- When the curve is complete, trim the threads and press the seam toward the pie shape.
- Our sample blocks had nice consistent seams and smooth curves.
- This tricky block inevitably results in a few tucks, but in all 36 of our blocks, this occurred only one time!
Test Drive on a Compact Barrel Tote
The HP2 foot and Needle Plate set is also marked for standard seam allowances, like the ½” we use on most of our Sew4Home projects. Our second test drive sample is a variation on a popular project from our archives, the Compact Barrel Tote. Our sample is made of denim with coordinating denim jacquard trim in place of the ribbon used on the original project, which allowed us to test the foot on thick layers.
Once the pieces for the tote were cut and the interfacing applied, the next step was the zipper assembly. The narrow HP2 foot and AcuFeed™ Flex control allowed us to sew right along the zipper teeth with a consistent ¼" seam. The seams were then pressed away from the zipper and topstitched. The HP2 foot has excellent visibility and the resulting topstitching followed the folded edges perfectly.
The pockets on the round ends of the barrel tote were originally accented with ribbon trim and topstitched in place. Our sample substituted denim jacquard strips, turned under ¼" along each side and topstitched along the upper edge of the pocket. This topstitching along the upper edge of the trim benefited from the great visibility of the HP2 foot.
This photo from the back of the pocket shows how smooth and even the resulting topstitching is, despite the added bulk created by the folded edges of the trim.
Each end of the tote has a D-ring attached with webbing. We left the HP2 foot and Needle Plate on the machine to see if it would handle the multiple layers of webbing and denim. Yep! It worked like a charm, and the resulting stitched X-box is perfect.
To inset the circular sides into the main body of the tote, each side circle was first stay stitched ½" in from the edge and then clipped every ½". This step makes it easier to follow the curve of the round ends. The side panels and open ends were then marked, aligned, and pinned in place. The panels are sewn with a ½" seam allowance, following the line of stay stitching. The HP2 foot followed the line of stay stitching easily; there was no need to stop and pivot occasionally to keep the seam allowances even. The HP2 foot with its AcuFeed™ Flex feeding created a perfect curve with no tucks.
NOTE: This technique of inserting a flat circle into an open tube is one for which we have a full step-by-step tutorial if you are interested in learning more.
As mentioned above, the HP2 Foot is compatible with the Horizon Memory Craft 9400QCP, Horizon Memory Craft 9450QCP, Horizon Quilt Maker Memory Craft 15000, Memory Craft 6700P, and the Skyline S9-Indigo. The upgrade kit for the MC15000, includes the standard HP Foot and Needle Plate; the HP2 set is an optional accessory. The same is true of the upgrade kit for the 9400. Check with your local Janome dealer for availability and price.
Test Drives, Sample Creation, and Instructional Outline: Michele Mishler