Elizabeth Dackson from Don’t Call Me Betsy, author of Becoming a Confident Quilter, fills us in on Free-Motion Quilting Feet basics and gives you a chance to win access to her new free-motion quilting class below! A self-taught free-motion quilter, Elizabeth faced her share of free-motion quilting challenges on her path toward mastering the art. Now Elizabeth teaches free-motion quilting in several Florida quilt shops, and she just released her first online class with Craftsy, Start Free-Motion Quilting!
Elizabeth’s encouraging, easygoing manner instills both confidence and excitement about free-motion quilting. The class is full of tips and tricks to help you get started free-motion quilting and you’ll also get three exclusive patterns, including the Superstar Quilt pattern.
To sign up for Elizabeth’s class right now, click here. Craftsy is also offering one lucky Sew Mama Sew reader free registration to Elizabeth’s class! Just visit Craftsy through this link to enter the giveaway. Enjoy Elizabeth’s Free-Motion Quilting Feet Guide below, and feel free to add your thoughts on free-motion quilting feet in the comments. What have you had success with? Do you have any tips or great sources for free-motion quilting info to share?
Update: We’re working with Craftsy to fix the link. Our apologies for the discount issues…
Free-Motion Quilting Feet Guide
While the options for sewing machine feet can be overwhelming when you visit a dealer, there’s typically only one foot for each job. Only one option for a cording foot, for instance, or one type of zipper foot.
But with free-motion quilting, most sewing machine manufacturers offer several different feet for the job at hand. This can be awfully frustrating and confusing, especially if you don’t know what to look for! Let’s talk about the most common options…
Floating vs. Spring Loaded
Floating feet are quite aptly named– a floating free-motion quilting foot will hover over your quilt sandwich, never making contact with it, as you’re quilting. Floating feet are typically snap-on feet made of clear plastic, and often resemble a Teflon foot, but there are also screw-on varieties.
Spring-loaded feet, on the other hand, are structured with a tall spring that will sit to the right of your shank, powering the foot to bounce up and down as you’re quilting. The spring works in conjunction with the needle to allow you to move your quilt sandwich around however you like, even when your foot is in the “down” position. When the needle goes up, so does the foot, giving you that maneuverability.
Open Toe vs. Closed Toe
Spring-loaded free-motion feet, also referred to as darning feet, have a curved section that sits around the sewing machine needle. This section of the foot is known as a “toe.” The toe sits just above your quilt sandwich. If you’re looking at a closed toe foot, that oval toe is going to be closed. The toe can be metal, or clear plastic; in my opinion, the clear plastic really doesn’t allow for much visibility so I recommend steering clear of those feet when possible. I prefer to work with an open-toe foot.
An open-toe foot is shaped much like a squished horseshoe, which allows for more visibility while you’re free-motioning. Without the ability to see what you’ve stitched, it can be very difficult to avoid overlapping your free-motion quilting stitches and to steer to the next area you want to quilt.
Can’t find a spring-loaded open-toe foot for your machine at your dealer? Don’t have a dealer to work with? Check online. Many reputable online sellers list compatibility for their universal feet, like Ken’s Sewing Machines and SewingMachinesPlus. Both are also only a phone call away, and are very helpful in determining which foot will fit best on your machine!