Sometimes the right foot for free motion quilting makes all the difference in the end result.
Anyone who has read my books or taken my classes knows I highly recommend an "open toe" free motion foot. This foot lets you see directly, in an unbroken line, to the needle. You can aim with this foot. It is invaluable in doing detailed, precise quilting where each stitch counts.
However, there are other kinds of quilting that can be accomplished more successfully with a closed toe, larger foot, photo above. The Bernina #29 foot is included with most models for free motion quilting. It lets you see around and through it because it is clear plastic, is built with a nice spring bounce so you can "feel" the stitches as they happen, and works great for larger, allover designs. The size of it helps disperse the puff around the needle and keep distortion problems minimized. It is a great little problem solver!
However, because I rarely quilt those large allover designs my #29 foot languished sadly in my cabinet drawer. I discouraged students from using it. It strains your neck to peer into the tiny opening to see, for example, precise intersections that needed to be hit in Apple Core or Diane-shiko. I even suggested cutting an opening in the front to give you a visual doorway to the needle.
However! This past year I have found myself reaching for it many times for a few important jobs. In the photo above I used it for long straight lines in an undulating vine in a border motif. It controls the batting so well, flattens it down around the needle and disperses the puff beautifully so I can get even smooth stitches. The foot is doing so much of the work for me. I love it!
After those lines were stitched perfectly with this foot I switched to my usual #24 foot for the rest of the quilting.
I also love this bigger #29 foot for stay-stitching raw quilt edges down. It smoothly rides over batting edges too and controls the edge so this becomes an easy feat to accomplish. I was tired of getting batting caught in the toes of my open toe foot, the top part of the quilt moving along and getting pleats stitched in.
Any long lines, even long cross hatch grid lines, work best with this foot.
Every machine manufacturer has a variety of feet for free motion quilting. Check them out, try each one to see what it does best. It takes a moment to switch them out and I love having the right tool for the job.
Below, my trusty #24 open toe foot that I use for most of my free motion quilting. It gives me incredible visibility plus that open unobstructed view to the needle is invaluable for relaxed quilting, and precise quilting.
Below, some recent quilting where I used both feet successfully. The long curved lines were done with my new friend, the plastic #29 foot, and the remaining quilting was done with my old best friend, the open toe #24 foot.
I did not use the magnifier for the long lines. I like to see the "whole field" and just aim for a point for smoothness. It doesn't have to be in sharp focus. Indeed, the magnifier doesn't work that great for this kind of work.
However, when I did the close background quilting, or even the precise Diane-shiko, I did use the magnifier. I love it. I have one especially for my Bernina, but there are generics available for all machines if you have eye problems, or just want to see what you're doing a little larger.
Take some time to find out what feet you have, what are available, and what works best for each particular type of quilting.
Keep quilting! Your work gets better every day.