A quilting foot also known as a darning foot has a small hole in the center and guides you when machine quilting.
Free motion quilting requires a darning foot which is standard equipment for most sewing machines.
There are as many shapes of darning feet as there are brands of machines. The foot with a small hole in the center can be made of metal or plastic.
The darning foot is designed to allow free movement of the fabric as you stitch.
Machine quilting with a darning foot produces allover curvy lines, loops, stipple designs, or circular movements connecting stars, hearts or irregular shapes.
The quilting foot rests on the fabric when the needle is lowered.
The feed dogs are lowered below the needle plate or covered with a plastic or metal plate that snaps onto the machine bed.
Sometimes it may be necessary for you to tape a piece of cardboard over the area if the feed dogs do not lower.
As the needle approaches its highest point, the foot lifts off the quilt, allowing you to stitch in any direction.
Since this is free motion, you will be moving your quilt randomly under the darning foot which will determine the stitch length.
In other words, you will be determining the stitch length by how fast you are moving the quilt.
So there is no need to set the stitch length on your machine. In fact it is recommended that the stitch length be at zero to disengage.
The darning foot and lowered feed dogs allow the quilter complete control of the stitch.
Free motion quilting is like drawing with a needle.
Because you can stitch in any direction you can do any design, no matter how complex or detailed.
Free motion quilting is the most exciting and fun part of machine quilting.
One more quilting tip for free motion quilting. A machine like a Viking made by Husqvarna may require that you adjust the pressure on the presser foot for free motion quilting.
You will find the dial on the left side of the machine. It's that little black wheel protruding from the left side. Other machines may hide the dial inside the light bulb door.
No matter, it is important to adjust the pressure. Look at the setting before you move it so you can return to your original setting. Then adjust slightly.
When first learning how to machine quilt it is important for you to know that all machine guided quilting requires that you use a walking foot when quilting.
When using a walking foot you need to have the feed dogs in the raised position (which is the normal position for sewing.)
The purpose of a walking foot is to keep the upper fabric layer in tandem with the machine's feed dogs for machine guided stitching.
Machine quilting with a walking foot produces a solid hard line, which can be a strong design element such as quilting in the ditch. Don’t be alarmed if you find the machine leaves needle holes. Spritz the area with cold water to relax the cotton fibers which will allow the holes to fill in.
Some machines, like Pfaffs, have built in feed mechanism and do not require a walking foot for machine guided stitching.
If your machine did not come with a walking foot see your dealer to purchase one that will fit and work for you when doing machine guided stitching.
The quilting foot called the presser foot is another important quilting tool. When piecing a quilt top the accuracy of a quarter-inch seam cannot be over emphasized. That is why we mention it often for beginning quilting lessons.
In our picture the first image is called a straight-stitch foot and it works in conjunction with the matching throat plate. Both have a small hole designed to prevent fabric from being snarled in the feed dogs.
The second image is the open-toe embroidery foot. This foot was designed for embroidery work as well as applique work.
It has a cut-away area in the immediate front of the needle so there is always an unobstructed view of the needle. You can use it for intricate piecing, like set-in pieces, eight-pointed stars, applique work and embroidery work. But it cannot be used to sew an accurate quarter-inch seam.
The rule is, use a darning foot for circular patterns and use a walking foot for parallel lines.
A darning foot requires you to lower the feed dog and a walking foot requires the feed dogs to be in the up position.
You can readily understand that you are controlling the movement when using a darning foot but the machine is controlling the movement when using a walking foot.
Relax and play with various patterns. Always have fun while you are learning how to machine quilt. The goal line is to finish the quilt, not to make every stitch perfect and every quilt worthy of a large cash award!
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