Which Free Motion/Darning Foot?

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on 18 Mar 2010 5:23 AM

Hi - I need some help. My sewing machine is pretty old - a Sears Kenmore 1516. I've actually "storrowed" it from my mom and am slowly getting acclimated to it. ("Storrowed" = I borrowed it about a year ago...and have pretty much stolen it at this point.)

I want to get a free motion/darning foot for it - dropping the feed dogs and using the regular foot just isn't cutting it. However, I'm confused. When you look at the amount of darning/free motion feet on the market, there are more choices than years my machine is old...which is quite a few! How do you know which is the best?

I found a 4 pack of feet for $24.99...but do I really need all 4? (Walking foot, 1/4"  seam foot, darning foot, and cloth guide for sewing a consistent seam allowance.) Or is the 4 pack for $29.99 a better deal? (Open toe walking foot, open toe darning foot, open toe craft foot, and ditch quilting foot.) Or do I really just need the regular open toe darning foot for $11.99? Or is getting one from Amazon or somewhere, equally as good? Or, is the "Big Foot Presser Foot" really the best, and worth $24.99 by itself?

See what I mean?? Not a good category for someone as green as their sewing machine, who just wants to free motion.

Can anyone help? Please? I don't want to buy one and find out I got the wrong one...so any input would be sincerely appreciated!

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Posts 135
on 18 Mar 2010 11:38 AM

I do a lot of free machine (motion) embroidery, not quilting, but I'm hoping the principle is the same.

Using a regular foot isn't  a good idea, its job is actually to move the fabric through under the needle with the feed dogs up, as in normal sewing.  Put the foot down on the feed dogs without any fabric between, you will see it sits flush against the teeth.  Lots of the feet you have quoted are not for free motion work, they too sit flush against the teeth.

A darning foot, (circle shaped) sits above the feed dogs, even when engaged,  its your hands which move the fabric and guide where to stitch.  An Open Toe Darning foot just means its more of a C shape, you might liek the clear view that offers, but it can catch on other surface embellishments.  I have a Big Foot, which is a large clear disc... to be honest I don't really notice any difference between my sewing whichever foot I use  AND you don't have to use a foot at all.  However, consider DANGER if you opt for no foot - as there is nothing to stop fingers getting close to the needle.  I do work like this at times, and again no difference with my sewing,  just need to remember to engage the presser foot lever, which is easy to forget without the visual of a foot in place!!!

I don't know if its possible for your machine - but you can buy a universal "shank" for machines,  they come in 2/3 variations specific for certain machines, but once you have the right one, you can then buy a whole range of feet, which are so much cheaper, because you are not buying a whole unit each time, just the foot part.  I have the Big Foot this way, plus a whole host of others.  Not sure I've been much help.

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Posts 13
on 18 Mar 2010 11:54 AM

Actually, you've been a big help, Beverley. I've been driving myself crazy over what I need to get - and all I really want to do is free motion. That's it. I don't want a test on feet or the sewing machine or...maybe I'm going about this the wrong way, but that's how I seem to approach all art. I jump in and ask questions later. :)

I appreciate your insights and the help you offered. I'm still not sure which foot to get - but it's good to know it's not necessary to buy the most expensive one. It's equally good to know that I was having difficulty with free motion because of the foot I was using. It was like fighting a losing battle - like fighting with a dog over a rag. The sewing machine would not cooperate and I wound up trying to force fabric this way and that...which meant uneven stitches and not at all the look I was aiming for. :)

Thanks again.  xx

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Posts 128
on 18 Mar 2010 9:25 PM

Hi, Katherine.  I do lots of free motion embroidery and quilting.  I use both a closed toe and open toe foot.  I use the big closed toe when I have tulle or small bits of fabric which may get snagged on the open foot.  I have also done free motion with a regular presser foot; however, I leave the feed dogs up not down.  When I do this, I gently guide my quilt around -- like sewing curves on a dress.  Some of the other feet you quoted are very important for quilting.  I use my walking foot regularly.  It really helps to quilt in the ditch and to put on bindings.  The thing to remember about it is that it will help you do simple quilting and it keeps all the layers moving at the same speed.  I say get one and experiment.  Then you can get another one if you want or need it.  Have fun!  Debbie


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Posts 123
Quilnan wrote
on 19 Mar 2010 9:26 AM

If your only goal is free-motion stitching, I think the Big Foot alone would be a good choice, and one you would be pleased with. It's clear so you can see where you're going and where you've been. And it's smooth, so no catching in any surface embellishments.

The others are nice to have for their various purposes, but not if you don't use them.  I'm not familiar with the open-toe craft foot in the one package. Nor with a "ditch quilting" foot.

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Posts 13
on 19 Mar 2010 2:49 PM

Debbie and Quilnan - Thank you both so much for your insights. After looking around online even more, I've decided to get the Big Foot. I'm still torn in a way - for less than just the price of the Big Foot (around $25), I could get a free motion foot and a couching foot elsewhere...but since I'm so new to the process, I'm going to take the advice I sought.

Thank you very much for taking the time to comment and share your opinions/experiences - I really appreciate it. Quilting Arts and Cloth Paper Scissors - and the artists and readers involved with both - just ROCK!!   xx

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