Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Darning Feet--One More Time!

Hearts and Trillium by Ann Fahl
As I was quilting my trillium piece for Valentine's Day I used Janome's small adjustable open foot for the quilting. It was great for outlining all the flowers and leaves and in the ditch. But it was terrible quilting around the bugle beads sprinkled on the lower half of the quilt! Because it doesn't hop on a spring, this new gliding foot gets stuck on every single bugle bead. 

Also when quilting the outside edges I found it necessary to go back to a closed toe foot on a spring as the open toe got caught in the batting and the outer edge of the quilt top. These problems were really irritating.
Here  is my collection of Janome darning feet.  L to R: open toe spring, closed toe spring, adjustable open toe, large closed foot option, small closed toe option for adjustable foot.
So after many hours of testing and comparing the new gliding adjustable foot with the traditional spring loaded foot, I find I have strong preferences for which foot works better for a particular job. Here is what I've found:

No matter what brand of machine you use darning feet will fall into the same categories:
  • Open foot on a spring--great visibility with this foot for all around quilting.  Zigzag stitching is possible with this foot. Open toe catches on the batting. Your eyes eventually get tired watching the foot bounce up and down on the spring. I have had good success with this foot over many years for both embroidery and quilting.
  • Closed foot on a spring--great all around darning foot. It works well when quilting the outside edge of a quilt because it is less likely to get caught in the batting. Zigzag stitching is possible with this foot. Great when working around embellishments. The closed toe reduces visibility. Your eyes eventually get tired watching the foot bounce up and down on the spring. I have had good success with this foot over many years for both embroidery and quilting.
  • Open foot that hovers--the open toe gives good visibility.  This foot hovers over the quilt rather than bounces, so it is so much easier on your eyes. Straight stitching only with this tiny foot. Gets tangled up in batting when quilting on edges of quilt. It also gets caught in and around embellishments.  I love this for my free-motion embroidery.
  • Large foot or big circular darning foot--at this point, I haven't used this foot. It is possible to zigzag stitch with this one. There is some distortion because of the curved plastic shape.
  • Closed foot that hovers--limited visibility causes eye strain. Straight stitch only. Impossible to stitch in the ditch or outline an applique with this foot.
  • It is best to have a selection of several feet so they can be changed to accommodate the project or need!

If you have any additional comments, preferences, or problem areas, please let me know. I could like to  compile your ideas with mine and come up with a chart about darning feet by type, and positive and negative aspects of each type.

For my earlier posts on darning foot, go back in the archives to Nov 2010, I think there were 3 or 4 different posts.
Please send me your observations.



Unknown said...

Great commentary! Variety is the spice of the quilting life!

Rachel said...

My machine is a Bernina 170. I have only used/own two darning feet. #29 is a closed foot on a spring. Used it for years until I accidently had my needle in the wrong position and it hit the acrylic area and snapped it. The foot is still functional (cracked but did not break off) but it "clacks" a little sometimes. #24 is an open foot on a spring. Since it's metal it won't crack. I prefer the open foot visually. It is a bit problematic on the edges but I just slow down and hold things more carefully. I've not had any visual problems with the foot bouncing.

Kd Brown said...

Diane Gaudynski has an interesting post on her blog that shows how to use a small rubber "O" ring on darning feet to temporarily give more clearance when stitching. Here is the link: