No, I’m not talking about the dentist and his biker chick. I don’t get that one, but I absolutely respect their feelings for one another.
No, I’m talking about a new relationship that I’m just starting to recognize. It’s the relationship between the amount of downward pressure exerted on fabric when the needle pierces it and forms a stitch.
I have machines that will not free motion quilt. They do beautiful work when there’s a stitching foot on them. But, they WILL NOT free motion quilt. The only difference between piecing and free motion quilting, if you can’t drop the feed dogs, which most of my machines won’t do, is basically the foot. Hmmm. Something about changing the foot prevents the stitch from forming. And, I haven’t been able to figure it out.
I was having the same problem on the National Two Spool sewing machine. Stitches just wouldn’t form without the sewing foot.
Okay, so let’s talk for a second about free motion feet for machines that take Griest feet. Griest feet don’t attach like regular sewing feet, so modern darning feet won’t fit them. But, I found this very smart lady who has made a Griest foot out of a paperclip. Brilliant! There is an official darning foot for the machine and it works nicely, but it’s kind of impractical.
It’s a piece of copper wire. The spring side to the left goes over the needle and the hook on the right goes over the needle set screw. It works well, but it has a limited shelf life as that copper wire is only going to spring up and down so many times before it breaks. So, I don’t use it often, but it’s a nice attachment to have.
But, my paperclip foot was easy to make and it’s more practical. And, if I break it, it won’t cost $15 to replace. When I loaded it on the machine, it kind of floated above the fabric. And, stitches wouldn’t form. The fabric would grasp the needle and as the needle rose, the fabric would rise just a tiny bit and the stitch would not form. So, I bent the foot so that it presses down on the fabric hard. Stitches immediately started to form, but it caught on every seam. Can’t have that. So, I straightened it out just a bit so that it applies just a little less downward pressure on the fabric and stitches kept forming and the foot glided over the fabric seams without any trouble. A delicate balance based on just fiddling with it.
Okay, so I don’t yet fully understand the relationship between the pressure exerted downward on the fabric and the formation of a stitch, but I suspect that if the fabric can lift up with the needle when the needle rises, that causes the thread loop being formed by the upper thread to rise as well, and prevents the hook from being able to grasp the thread and pull it around for the stitch. Normally the fabric would grasp that thread that’s forming the loop and keep it from rising back up at the same rate as the needle. But, if the fabric itself is moving, then that loop is going to rise with it.
That makes sense when I think of the machines that won’t FMQ. There is that little lift in the fabric because the foot doesn’t hold it down securely. I’m excited to try this theory on other machines; especially machines where I’m not using the darning foot that was provided with the machine. I want to try the manufacturer supplied darning feet and see if that makes a difference. I’ll let you know if it holds true. I also have other Griest machines that I’d like to try this on.
Everybody have a great Tuesday. I’m so busy with Quilt Guild business this week that I haven’t had time to sew a stitch.