Friday, July 1, 2011

Best foot forward

I picked this unassuming little book up during a recent mooch around Hobbycraft, and after a few moments spent flicking through its pages it just had to come home with me.

If you've ever wondered what on earth to do with some of those weird and wonderful feet that have been gathering dust in your sewing machine tool box, then this is the book for you.

I got a job lot of feet with my sewing machine but up until now have only used the basics - straight stitch foot, zigzag foot, zipper foot and buttonhole foot. I've also bought, and used, an open-toed applique foot, a free machine embroidery foot and one of my favorites, a walking foot. I've used all of these for every type of sewing, ignoring the box of odd looking feet that had been shoved to the back of my sewing cupboard.

So, with the help of this book I decided to have a closer look at my sewing machine feet, that is....not my actual feet which remain too far away from my face for any sort of close scrutiny, and thought I'd share my favourite discoveries with you.

Foot #1 - Teflon/non-stick Foot (recently purchased but unused and neglected)

If you like sewing oilcloth, vinyl or leather then this little treasure will save you many tears, as it helps the fabric glide smoothly through the machine as you sew. If you've tried to sew oilcoth without one, you'll know what a pain it is.

I should have chosen a longer stitch for this but it still looks pretty neat. You can also buy Teflon strips to stick to your standard feet, or you can even use masking tape stuck to the underside of your metal feet but I'm now sold on this little foot.

Foot#2 - Blind Hem Foot

This one came with my machine and has sat there doing nothing whilst I cursed and swore at the tedious termly task of hemming school trousers by hand. Those days are now gone - in fact, I'm looking forward to that particular job come the new school term!

It goes into your machine like this, with the hem on the bottom and the main fabric (wrong side facing) on top, guided by the little plastic guide.

Choose a blind hem stitch on your machine. The wrong side will look like this when you've finished stitching and opened out the 'seam' :

These little flat stitches appear on the right side- hopefully in a matching thread!

Foot #3 - Gathering Foot

Before now, I've used a standard straight stitch foot and the longest straight stitch on my machine to produce gathers in fabric. It's a real drag, as you have to then carefully pull on one of the threads to pull up the gathers and then stitch it to whatever you're sewing.

This foot does it all for you. It looks very unexciting doesn't it?

Simple but oh so clever!

The fabric you want to gather goes beneath the foot, onto the feed dogs, and the piece you're attaching your gathered fabric to goes through the little slot in the foot.

As if by magic, as you sew, this happens:

I have a feeling things might get frilly around here!

Foot #4 - Ruffler Foot - aka Scary-looking Monster Foot

This big beast is like a scary grown-up version of the gathering foot. It took me a bit of playing to get this one to work and I still have a long way to go before I'm entirely happy with it BUT it's a very very clever foot indeed and will take cushion making to a whole new level.

The little slots on the top determine the spacing of the pleats in your ruffle, and another little gizmo determines how much fabric is pleated each time. Coupled with your chosen stitch length you can produce a whole range of gathered and pleated ruffles to adorn yourself and your home.

Here it is on the machine. Ominous looking, right?

Like I said, I do need much more practise but for a first attempt (ok fourth!) it's not too bad.

Pretty :o)

Foot #5 - Piping Foot/Feet - my newest and most exciting purchase

Two piping feet - one for narrow and one for medium piping.

Piping is one of those clever sewing tricks that can make your sewing look that little bit more special. I've always been scared of piping. I haven't even tried it as it looked far too clever for me.

Of course, that was before I treated myself to these miraculous little feet.

No more struggling to keep my stitching straight alongside the piping using a zipper foot. The piping feeds beautifully through the little groove beneath the foot and once you've finished stitching, you take it off the machine and feel like you may have changed your entire sewing world for the better!

Here it is using thicker piping cord:

Thanks to that brilliant little book, I've got a whole load of new sewing fun to look forward to.

Of course, thanks to that little book I now also have to save up for a rolled hem foot, a stitch-in-the-ditch foot, a flat fell foot, a humper jumper, a bias binding foot, and most definitely a pin-tuck foot!!

I made this last weekend, using a purse clasp that came free with a knitting magazine ages ago, and not a single one of my fancy-schmancy sewing machine feet!

Happy sewing xxxx

p.s. there is loads of info about each of these feet on the internet - check out YouTube. I could have provided you with a stack of useful links but that would deprive you of hours of Googling fun ;o)


wonderwoman said...

Wow, i never knew 'feet' could be so exciting!! (so,get it,lol!) Puns aside what a brilliant little book, i too have been scared to try out all the things that came with my machine, but not any more!!! Love the little purse and i recognise that fabric!!!


dottycookie said...

I'm sorry, I do believe a humper jumper is something else entirely.

And I have to say that I am beginning to think I bought the wrong machine - what with Gina's slot on feet and your fancy ones I definitely feel like a poor relation!

trash said...

Whereas I am bereft because I cannot even find my 1/4" foot! Oh woe is me.

Is a 'humper jumper what one chooses to put on when it is too cold to rely on the power of'f**k me' shoes alone?

quinn said...

Thank you SO MUCH for this post! I can't remember a time when there was not a boxful of these mysterious implements sitting tangled in the back of a drawer by my sewing machine. (That's where my mother kept hers, so I guess I've been maintaining a tradition - heh!) Perhaps your post will be the encouragement needed to get some experimental sewing underway :)

Ali said...

Humper jumper? You made that one up, didn't you?!

Jodie said...

a humper - jumper ? I am intrigued !

Thimbleanna said...

That little purse is just adorable! Don'tyou love playing with your feet? (Ha!) I sure wish I could find my teflon foot -- I know it's around here SOMEwhere!

noknittedknickers said...

Oh wow! These are just amazing. Im a complete novice when it comes to my new sewing machine but you make me want to figure it all out now. I have a yard of rather nice oilcloth stashed somewhere and that tephlon foot is the business. Thanks. Cx.

Lina said...

Such a useful post. I have a box with 10 different feet of which i only use 3 or 4 regularly. I recently went to a sewing store in Montreal (where there's still a farily big needletrade) which sold hundreds of different sewing feet -totally blew my mind!

Marie said...

I'm really quite afraid of that ruffler foot. It looks like some scary implement of torture from a SAW movie! LOL.

Who knew Mrs Moogsmum had such a foot fetish ;P