Sewing Machine Feet | Quilting

We’re back with another post about sewing machine feet. Last time I looked at feet for patchwork piecing and now the focus turns to quilting. It feels like there’s even more feet for different types of machine quilting and choosing one over another can be far more down to personal preference than how well they function at the task. So this time I’m going to tell you about the sewing machine feet that I use for straight line quilting and free motion quilting, and I’ll tell you why I like them. There are plenty of quilting feet that I have never used because I’m happy with the results I get from the following four. I don’t want to start telling you about things I’ve never actually had on my sewing machine!

If you missed the post about patchwork piecing feet then you’ll find it here…

Now back to the quilting feet. There are two main types of quilting you can do on a sewing machine (with lots of varieties within each one) and they are straight line quilting, also known as walking foot quilting, and free motion quilting.

Straight Line Quilting

I always use a walking foot for straight line quilting. The teeth on a walking feet help work with your machine’s feed dogs (and teeth in the needle plate) to move the quilt more easily through your sewing machine. This generally makes it easier to manoeuvre the bulk of the quilt and will also help to keep your stitches an even length as there’s less drag. I’d encourage you to use a walking foot to straight line quilting but some machines only have the option of a regular walking foot; my machine (Janome Atelier / Skyline 7) has interchangeable feet for the walking foot. If you are only able to use a regular version of the following feet then I would try that out and compare it to a regular style walking foot and see which pros and cons are more important to you and your style of quilting.

Open Toe foot

As the name suggests, this foot has a large open area in the centre of the foot. This is great for straight line quilting as it gives you a really clear view of the guide lines or seams you are following for your quilting design. The downside of the open toe foot is it doesn’t really have any guides on the foot itself so you’ll need to either mark your quilt (I like to use a Clover Hera marker) or use the adjustable guide bar that can be inserted into the back of a walking foot and used to follow an existing line of quilting/seam line/guide line to stitch parallel at a set distance.

Stitch in the Ditch foot

This foot has a guide bar in the centre and is great for lines of quilting that follow seam lines. The combination for the guide bar and your needle position (which is the tiniest bit to the side of the guide bar) means your line of quilting will go right next to the seam. The guide bar almost helps to gently push the seam to one right so the stitches can go right next to it.

You can use this foot to stitch in the ditch on a pressed-open patchwork seam but I’d highly recommend only using it for pressed to the side seams; it makes it easier to use the guide bar and get the line of quilting accurately positioned and there’s no risk that you might weaken your patchwork seams with the quilting stitches.

Free Motion Quilting

When I first started free motion quilting, the main problems I had (thread breakage and uneven motifs) were caused by my choice of machine foot. I mentioned at the beginning that quilting feet can more often some down to personal preference and I think this is even more true when it comes to free motion quilting. I didn’t like the feet I started out using but I know plenty of excellent free motion quilters who love them and use them with great success. I’ll tell you the reasons I like the follow two feet; they may seem like reasons you’d agree with but they may also seem like “problems” that wouldn’t be a problem for you at all! I use a convertible FMQ foot which came with four different feet, of which I use two. In the photos all the bulk on the right of the foot is the part that fits around my machine (and means the foot is height adjustable), the actual foot where the needles go is at the bottom left on both examples.

Closed FMQ foot

This foot doesn’t bounce. Some types of feet that are used for free motion quilting (like a darning foot) bounce as they move across the quilt. I find this very distracting and don’t get on with any feet that bounce! The closed foot style gives you a small circle in which the needle is going but when you’re free motion quilting, you’re looking at the area of quilting you are working on more than the foot itself so this small size doesn’t cause me any issues with having a good view of the quilting. I actually like the small size as it means I can use the outer edge as a spacing guide for motifs like swirls and switchbacks.

Clear View FMQ foot

This foot also doesn’t bounce; a big bonus for me. This is a larger foot overall compared to the closed foot and curves up at the edges like a plate. Although it is larger, being clear means it doesn’t block any of your view of the quilt top. And the addition of the red lines can be used as spacing guides etc. Personally I prefer to use the solid edge of the closed foot as my spacing guide over the red lines on this one, but again that is purely personal preference. For me the big benefit of this foot is the fact that it’s larger and curves up at the edges; this makes it a great choice if you are quilting over bulkier seams as the design of foot glides more easier over these and is much less likely to get caught on any bulk.

So which of these four feet have you used for quilting? Is there a feature on one of these that you hadn’t thought about? For straight line quilting I mostly reach for the Open Toe walking foot and for free motion quilting my favourite is the Closed FMQ foot.


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