Long time quilter / sewing machine noob: help enable my free-motion!
April 27, 2015 4:29 PM   Subscribe

Can I use any old free-motion presser foot with my sewing machine, or do I need to stick with the same manufacturer? If the former, can you help me figure out which kind I'm looking for? If the latter, can you tell me where to find one that's not part of a kit?

Story: my mom taught me how to sew when I was an anxious, antisocial gay youth. I liked it and eventually she got me into quilting by hand. Fast forward 25 years and mom's bought me a starter sewing machine to help me hang onto my quilting hobby now that I've bought and been consumed by the requirements of a house. It's awesome. I've gotten really good at it in the last few months, but now I want to step into free-motion quilting. Trouble is, I can't figure out how to get the right presser foot.

Machine's a Janome Magnolia 7318.

Janome makes a "free motion quilting low shank" (part 202 002 004) that's compatible with my machine, but I only see it as part of a set in which the other components aren't compatible with my machine. I'd get the whole thing but yikes, it's more than $50.

I don't see just the part I'm looking for sold separately on the Janome mark, but it seems like there are a lot of other results that might be what I need. Is there a way to tell exactly what kind of presser foot I need here? There are clearly variables that I don't understand yet. A quick call to the supplier that sent me my machine got me a gruff response from a pushy dude saying I should just buy the $50. Another call to the closest sewing machine shop in town was... confusing, but they don't have what I need anyway. I'll call the manufacturer directly and ask next, but I can anticipate their response (i.e. buy only our stuff, the other brands don't care about you like we do).

What say you?
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (8 answers total)
Best answer: I'm not sure what a low shank is, but I don't think you need it for FMQ. I think all you need is a darning foot. Check to see if your machine came with one; mine did (a Brother, not a Janome).
posted by ocherdraco at 4:38 PM on April 27, 2015

Oh, and yes, you must get feet that are compatible with your machine, so Janome or made to fit Janome.
posted by ocherdraco at 4:39 PM on April 27, 2015

Best answer: ocherdraco is right that a darning foot will work. Every brand seems to have several different kinds of darning/free motion/embroidery feet that are slightly different, but to get started free motion quilting I think any of them will work, provided you get a thing that has a vertical spring with a little round thing at the bottom. This diagram will tell you for sure whether you need a high shank or low shank foot. I'm 99% sure you want low shank, and I'm 90% sure that you can get away with buying a generic foot like this one as long as the copy says it's Janome compatible.
posted by clavicle at 5:28 PM on April 27, 2015

Best answer: The Magnolia 7318 would be fine with this open toe darning foot: Janome darning foot, or this generic closed-toe darning foot: Distinctive darning foot. The open toe is nice for visibility but can be a little tougher to get started with; too-large stitches can catch in the toes. In general though I've found generic feet to be pretty hit and miss, and if I remember right that Janome foot lets you adjust the spring, which is pretty nice and would make it worth it, to me, to go with the name brand.

I have to say though, that combo pack is a pretty good deal; if you keep quilting you'll eventually want an even-feed foot and a stitch-in-the-ditch foot for sure. If you don't have the other feet already I'd consider it.
posted by peachfuzz at 5:38 PM on April 27, 2015

Once you get your foot you will need to play (loosen) your tension quite a bit. Also, make sure you lower your feed dogs and just practice. I like to wear a pair of suede gardening gloves to get a "grip" on the fabric. Playing a bit of music and trying to keep your shoulders relaxed will really help too. Start with a simple stipple and before you know it, you'll be doing great things. Good luck!
posted by OkTwigs at 6:31 PM on April 27, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks all! The darning foot it is. Thanks for the help--the manufacturer's recommended way to answer questions like this is to visit their online forum (!!!) so this seems to have been a wise place to ask.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 5:53 PM on April 28, 2015

Response by poster: You guys, wow, this is the best. I present to you my first free-motion quilt, made in quite a hurry for a friend so I could give it to her on a work trip that took me to our formerly shared city on the other side of the continent. The quilting is all lyrics from songs we sang while driving from San Francisco to San Diego along PCH back in 2005. Your guidance was brilliant.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 1:59 PM on May 28, 2015 [3 favorites]

That looks GREAT! Welcome to the dark side.
posted by peachfuzz at 9:31 PM on May 28, 2015

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