Choosing A Free Motion Quilting Foot And 5 Options To Consider

Have you struggled to quilt a design that required you to stop and rotate your fabric over and over?

Then you should try free motion quilting. 

The technique lets you move fabric around while the needle is in action.

You can create fanciful designs without having to stop every few stitches

You only need a special foot to start exploring the possibilities of free motion quilting.

Quilting Ruler FootQuilting Ruler, Low Shank, Free Motion Darning Footamazon button
Large Metal FMQLarge Metal Free Motion Quilting Darning Sewing Machine amazon button
YEQIN Quilting FootYEQIN Quilting Foot SA129 Compatible with Brotheramazon button
Metal Open ToeMetal Open Toe Free Motion Quilting Embroidery Presser Foot amazon button
YEQIN Low ShankYEQIN Low Shank Clarity Clear Ruler Patchwork Sewing Presser Footamazon button

What Foot Do I Need for Free Motion Quilting?

A free-motion foot, also known as a darning foot, is the necessary part. You should buy one built for your brand of sewing machine. Every major sewing machine manufacturer will have one available, at least for newer models.

Some generic free motion feet are on the market for fitting onto older sewing machines. People often succeed with these once they find one that works for their machine.

How Does a Free Motion Quilting Foot Work?

Unlike other attachable machine feet, the free motion foot does not supply continuous pressure against your fabric. 

One style hops while the sewing needle goes up and down. When it hops up, the fabric is loose, and you can move it in any direction that you want. 

The other style floats over the fabric. It gently keeps the material flat, but you can still shift it easily as you sew. With either kind, you can slide a design template between the foot and fabric.

Here is the general process:

  • Attach the free motion foot
  • Lower the sewing machine dogs or cover their teeth with a darning plate
  • Thread the needle and bobbin
  • Slide a pattern template under the foot, if using one
  • Place hands on fabric alongside foot
  • Run the sewing machine and steer the fabric to make your design

Can You Free Motion Quilt with a Regular Machine?

Yes, you can! As long as you can lower the feed dogs on your machine, you can perform free motion quilting with the specialty foot.

Some models have a plate that you need to install to cover the feed dogs if they cannot be lowered manually. Your sewing machine manual could have directions about how to cover the dogs or lower them.

Free Motion Quilting Foot Types

Your sewing machine model will determine whether you need a low shank or high shank style foot. 

A low shank machine has only a 1/2 inch of space from the bottom of the foot to the foot's thumbscrew. Measurements above that would be a high shank machine.

Other than shank style, your foot options will fall into the hopping group or the non-hopping group.

A hopping-style free motion foot has a spring in the shaft. This spring gives the foot its bounce as the sewing machine motor drives the needle up and down.

A non-hopping-style foot might have a small spring mechanism, but it's engineered to float over the fabric.

You will also see open and closed-toe feet. An open foot gives you a clear view of your design. You may find the open toe easier to use for that reason. These feet may be made of metal or plastic. 

A clear plastic closed-toe foot does not impede visibility as much as a metal one.

Free Motion Quilting Foot: 5 Options to Consider

These products present a range of visibility options from clear, closed-toe designs to open-toe metal products.

1. Quilting Ruler, Low Shank, Free Motion Darning Foot

This product is designed to fit on any low shank sewing machine. The foot offers a 1/4-inch radius all the way around the needle so that you can observe needle placement as you work. 

The foot works well for both embroidery and quilting. The relatively thick edge of the foot protects your fingers somewhat from the needle.

Main Features:

  • Design prevents skipped stitches or puckering
  • Fits most low shank machines
  • Narrow open-toe helps you line up the needle with design

2. Large Metal Free Motion Quilting Darning Sewing Machine Presser Foot

This foot also has a notch that you can align with your design. You can follow a template or meander the stitches in any way that suits you. 

The manufacturer designed the foot with spring action, and it is meant to work well with all types of thread. If you're having trouble finding the exact foot for your low shank sewing machine, try this one because it fits many brands.

Main Features:

  • Sturdy metal foot
  • Open notch to increase visibility
  • Fits most low shank machines

3. YEQIN Quilting Foot SA129 Compatible with Brother

When an opening in a metal foot does not give you enough visibility, go for a clear plastic darning foot. The spring in this foot can handle a variety of fabric heights. 

This makes it a good choice for quilting and embroidery projects. The product is built to fit low-shank machines from Janome, Kenmore, Brother, Baby Lock, Singer, Euro-Pro, and more.

Main Features:

  • Clear plastic foot
  • Fits many low shank machines
  • Handles thin and thick fabrics

4. Metal Open Toe Free Motion Quilting Embroidery Presser Foot for Brother, Singer and Janome

A generous 12mm open toe on a metal-free motion foot gives you the best of both worlds. Sturdy metal resists breaking, and the wide opening provides more visibility than a small notch. 

The manufacturer says that the foot performs well on cotton, silk, and thick layers. Try this foot on low shank sewing machines from Brother, Janome, Kenmore, White, Juki, Bernina (Bernette Series), New Home, Simplicity, Toyota, and more.

Main Features:

  • Wide open toe
  • Metal foot
  • Fits most low shank machines
  • Prevents skipped stitches

5. YEQIN Low Shank Clarity Clear Ruler Patchwork Sewing Presser Foot

This foot looks deceptively simple. Completely clear, it's made from polycarbonate to allow for full visibility. It does not rely on spring action and only floats over your fabric while you perform detailed designs. 

The foot can accommodate fabric layers up to 1/4 inches thick. You should be able to use it on most low shank sewing machines from Janome, Brother, Singer, Elna, Husqvarna, White, Toyota, Pfaff, and Baby Lock.

Main Features:

  • Clear plastic
  • Fits most low shank machines
  • Floats over fabric
  • Works with multiple fabric layers

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Release Your Creativity with a Darning Foot

When learning how to use a quilting foot, practice on small projects or even scraps. There is a bit of a learning curve as you become comfortable with the equipment, but you will quickly pick up on the process. 

Being able to shift your fabric almost effortlessly will feel liberating. You really can take your quilting ideas to the next level with free-motion quilting.



About the author: 
Miriam Ronne is a lover of all things quilting and sewing. She is a self-taught quilter and is constantly learning and broadening her skill set to create one-of-a-kind quilts! When she's not behind her sewing machine you can find her playing with her fur babies or trying her hand at other crafty things.

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