August 31, 2010

Free Motion Quilting: Feed dogs


There's some feed dogs, amazing little things, moving up and down, forward and back, to pull your fabrics through the machine when you sew.
Except, when you are free motion quilting, No Dogs Allowed.

So how do we keep the dogs off your quilt? I am aware of four ways to do this.


1. Lower the feed dogs. If you have a machine that can do this, awesome. Push the button, turn the knob, do whatever your machine manual tells you to do, and the feed dogs will lower themselves under the throat plate and wait until you call them. The picture above shows the knob I turn on the Bernina to lower the feed dogs.


2. Raise the throat plate or use a throat plate cover. Some machines can't lower the feed dogs but they can cover them. My Singer has a lever that lifts the throat plate above the feed dogs. That seems like a good thing, but it also reduces the space between the plate and the darning foot. It kind of squishes my quilt and makes it harder to move. I don't like it. I had an more modern Singer long ago with a plastic cover that snapped over the feed dogs that did the same thing. The picture below shows the lever that raises the throat plate on my Singer. This is my least favorite feed dog solution.


3. Cover the feed dogs with a piece of card. This is the low tech approach that anyone can do. Get a piece of card big enough to cover the feed dogs, punch a hole in it for the needle to go through, and tape it down. Inexpensive, low profile. A solution for the masses.


4. Leave the feed dogs up. I know, you didn't expect me to say this, but guess what? I've quilted for hours with the feed dogs up before I realized it, and there were no ill effects. A cursory tour of the internet tells me that a lot of other quilters do the same thing, simply setting their stitch length to 0. Will there be a little more drag on your quilt with the feed dogs going up and down? Could a stitch theoretically get caught? It's possible. But not very likely.  Don't stress.

So if you've stayed on the sidelines because you couldn't lower your feed dogs, please just cover them with a card or set your stitch length to zero and let them go up and down. And let's get ready to quilt!

21 comments:

Brenda said...

I have an old Elna which doesn't lower the feed dogs. I've had no success with fm quilting with the little cover that snaps on, but maybe I'll try the low tech approach. even a bit of margarine lid plastic might work and it would be a bit smoother than cardboard. thanks for the idea. and do you use a special disc in your bobbin case? also, I like your header!

A Girl said...

So simple. I can't believe i didn't think of that.

soggibottom said...

Does no dogs allowed mean me ?
luv Amie Soto Blossom :-) x x x

Dolly said...

Wonderful instruction, as always !

elsie123 said...

I'm getting ready! I've made the practice top, and now my machine is in the shop getting cleaned and serviced. If you start in the next week or so I'll just have to play catch up. :)

Margie said...

I think I'm ready. Everything is basted, machine is cleaned, and new needles are ready.

Devoted to Quilting said...

Covering the feed dogs with a card? Brilliant! I wish I'd thought of that. Thanks for sharing such helpful ideas. ~ Nita

Lilfroggin said...

I have tried with the plastic cover on the feed dogs with my machine, and only ended up frustrated, I am excited to try a different option.

Allie said...

My feed dogs are lowered and waiting in anticipation, lol!

WoolenSails said...

I am lucky enough to have a free motion function, so I just hit that and it lowers the feed dogs. Not sure what the one with spring foot means, need to figure that out.

Debbie

Fat Chick said...

Christina, You are a great teacher, so good at taking the fear away,
Thank you
:)

Carmen said...

Las ideas son increíbles. Yo pensaba que con una máquina que no podía bajar los dientes, no se podía acolchar. !Es genial! solucionar ese problema. Gracias.


Besillos

Mama Pea said...

Thankfully, my machine allows me to lower the feed dogs. I used to have one that used a plastic cover that snapped on. It was a Pfaff. I like all the ideas you presented here. Thanks again! Gotta get my basting done. That durn kitchen floor still needs to be swept.

Elizabeth said...

Wow! You are amazing! You think of everything! I love how you've got things covered right down to the very basics. It is great for absolute newbies AND a good refresher course for those of us who've done it once or twice. Your pace is just perfect, too.

xo -E

P.S. Love the FM Quilt Along tab at the top of your page. It is excellent!

a.niza said...

Excellent! U know so much..before having a bernina, i have tried FMQ on my basic sewing machine by covering the feed dog.. it worked.

Jen of ReannaLily Designs said...

I'm a free-motion-feed-dogs-up girl. I leave them up and set the stitch length to zero, so they don't move, but still provide a little friction.

craftytammie said...

on my cheapo brother, if i cover the feed dogs, i get all these crazy thread loops on the back. but if i leave it up - no tension troubles! crazy - i'm still figuring it all out...

Kei said...

Just found your post through google, I hadn't even considered simply covering the feed dogs with card! Thanks for such an informative post, if card doesn't work I might just try leaving them up :)

Linda French Dawson said...

can I use the cover that comes with my buttonholer?

Carla said...

brilliant!! i think a combination of the last two ideas might just do it! no feed dogs moving AND no rough surface... thank you!!!

Brook Vessell said...

I hate to sound ignorant but how would you use a card? Doesn't the bobbin thread have to come up? I am not quilting, I want to sew a jersey material without stretching it. Thanks for the help.

Post a Comment

I love reading your comments, thank you for coming by!