Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Free Motion Feet: Observations

Free motion feet can make all the difference in the success you'll have for various techniques.  Above, two of my favorite feet for my Berninas, the #29 plastic foot, and the #24 embroidery foot.  Each is perfect for various types of free motion quilting.

Both have a built-in spring so there is a gentle "hopping" action as the foot releases and then presses down as each stitch is made.  This not only creates an excellent stitch but gives you the feeling that feed dogs are working and you are not skating alone on the ice. 

If there is too much of the up/down action, decreasing the pressure on the foot with a control on the machine itself smooths everything out and will let you move the quilt more easily as well.  This works for thicker batts, excess puff you need to work in, bulky seams in pieced work.

Open toe or not?  I love my open toe foot for the precise type of quilting I do.  I need to see exactly where the needle is, where I am stitching over a previous line of quilting, if it is in the right place.  A closed toe would make it so hard to see these crucial points, and I would become tense and aching, hoping to hit the line or design point "just right."  A closed toe foot prevents this great visibility.  Tiny clamshells with a closed-toe foot are almost impossible for me, but easy with an open-toe foot.

However, if there are long smooth lines of quilting needed such as the spines/centers of feathers then I like the closed toe foot that seems to be designed to keep everything smooth and even, like an embroidery hoop around the needle.  It distributes the puff of the batt perfectly, and keeps the fabric from creeping along and forming little ripples between two line of opposite direction quilting. 

For stay stitching at the edge of the quilt or any straight line quilting done free motion in the quilt I love my closed toe #29 foot.  It makes the job easier.  But, as I quilt, I look ahead of the needle, not the needle itself.

Recently in my Paducah classes I saw the new Janome foot, below, photo by Ann Fahl and used with her permission. 

This foot comes with three options for the base, an open toe, a closed toe, and a large circular plastic foot with rings in it used as guides for spacing free motion quilting such as echo quilting.

What attracted my eye immediately to it was the built-in way to adjust it in the spring itself, on the foot itself.  Instead of adjusting how tight the foot sits on the quilt, you can easily change the foot itself to float more easily, to eliminate the hopping action, and glide instead, whatever you like.  It worked very well for those who had it on their Janomes.

Sometimes we don't realize the right tool will do the job better and make quilting so much easier and more relaxing.

Looking at these photos you can tell there is a more unobstructed view with my Bernina feet too. 

See what your machine has available.  Investigate.  Try out something new, or something you've had all along but is now in the back of some drawer.  And keep informed with what your brand of machine has available.  Sometimes, like the Janome foot, there is a new tool for you that is super. 

Visit your brand's website, join a forum online, go to your dealer and browse, but use your own best judgment about what will work best for your style of work.

Oliver likes the #29 foot best to kitty-hockey around the sewing room.  Sigh.

Keep quilting!  Your work gets better every day.


Barb said...

I have several open toe feet but the stitches are too lose, can't seem to figure that out and when I put my darning foot back on, the stitches go back to you know what causes that?

Mary said...

I have both those feet and the #55 Leather foot that works around pins and applique. I only hope to get as good as you doing free-motion with my Bernina.

Diane Gaudynski said...

Barb, It could be that your darning foot, which was engineered for darning on one layer of fabric, not a quilt, sits a little more snugly on the quilt, and has a bounce so that it forms that small hooping action around the needle when the stitch is made. Your other feet might be designed for embroidery or quilting and are positioned slightly differently over your quilt. Or they might not have the bounce built in.

Also, be sure the feet are for your model and brand of machine. I see so often the wrong feet being used that don't belong on a particular machine, and they cause stitch problems.

You can try adjusting the presser foot pressure and see if that helps. Also, if you have a thin, flat batting it will react differently with the various feet, and you could even get skipped stitches.

Hope this helps a bit, I'd have to see your machine in person to try and help more.

Diane Gaudynski said...

Thanks Mary! It's fun to look at all the feet available and play with them. It is like a toolbox of good stuff for the machine.

Paula Ganyard said...

Thanks Diane for the post. This is helpful for someone that is just learning free motion.

Featheronawire Sally Bramald said...

As always, very imformative. I love the look of that new Janome foot with even better view of the work.

Sue said...

Thank you so much for all the valuable information you provide us! Also I just got the new book by Sandra Leichner you recommended. Its a lovely book with lots of great tips. Her work is gorgeous.

Had a thought on the little cat looking for a home. Maybe Alex Anderson and RIcky Tims might advertise his plight for you to their readers. There has to be someone out there looking for such a great cat.

Diane Gaudynski said...

Thanks everyone, I did think that new Janome foot was worth a mention to many who would love having it. When you are just learning free motion sometimes there is almost too much info, so breaking it down bit by bit is helpful. I also see that many tend to blame themselves for everything that goes wrong, and sometimes it is the tool or the machine, the fabric, thread, etc.

Vals Quilting said...

Hi Diane, thanks for these great tips. I do have this Janome foot but haven't had a chance to play with it yet. I'm going to be taking a class in January to learn new free motion techniques so thanks for the tips on this feet :)

Kay Lynne said...

Thank you for all the excellent tips! I sort of smiled when I seen your #24 embroidery foot because I had the open version before Bernina even manufactured them. One day out of frustration I took my foot to my husband's grinder and opened it up. I smoothed it up with a file and have been happy with the results ever since. Bernina finally came out with my version about a year later :)

Michele said...

Thanks for the helpful post! I love learning more about free motion quilting. There is so much to know!

QuiltingCyclist said...

Diane, my Janome foot was one of the ones seen by you in Paducah! I feel famous. Hope all is well in Waukesha. We are finally getting some cool weather down here on the Gulf Coast. Turkey Day next week even if it's hot! fondly - Mona

Diane Gaudynski said...

Kay Lynne, you are a woman after my own heart! I was always modifying things before they were made too, but the open toe is something you can still do to a closed toe foot. File it smooth, it should be fine.

Thanks Michele, and famous Mona! Aha, it was your new free motion foot in the class in Paducah. It was great seeing something new from Janome that gives you some good options. We have had sunny mild weather until yesterday when the damp grey rolled in. But no snow.....yet.