Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Janome Free Motion Couching Foot Review Part 2

I have some wonderful videos for you of this foot in action, however they are in .avi format. While .avi format is listed as a supported format on YouTube's site, apparently it is not so. So these videos will have to wait until I figure out how to convert them to a more preferred format.

So to have something to post, I offer up the written portion of the review, along with a few photographs. "Few" because who needs photos when taking video? Sigh.....

Edited to add: All three videos are now live on youtube and in the post; Free Motion Couching Review Videos.

 Here is the new foot, part #202110006. It cost me $25.20, bought at a small shop in central Virginia, USA. The two balls of yarn to the left in the above picture were the yarns I tried so far. The very first try was with the pretty fine sock weight (I think, I'm not knowledgeable about yarn) yarn in the very front.


 Above is a side-by-side comparison of the FM couching foot with the wonderful convertible free motion quilting set. Here I am showing the two toes that came with the couching foot (on the left) and the open toe is on the convertible FMQ foot and the "hacked" couching toe I made for it.

 Here is a close up of the free motion couching foot. Note that this is the standard darning type foot, which needs to have the rod at the top of the spring put over the needle screw. This means it goes "clackity-clack" as you sew.  There is a nice tutorial and video at Leah Day's site, The Free Motion Quilting Project for how to better fit this style of foot to your machine. This turns it into a foot more like the convertible FMQ foot, in that it doesn't go up and down anymore. However, this foot is a bit short for my machine, though it is for high shank Janome machines, which describes my 6600P Janome. This means that it floats pretty high over my quilt sandwich. I have just a smidge of presser foot pressure adjustment left, so I would not be helped by the rubber band adjustment, though I most likely will hack it eventually so it is quieter.
 Above is the #1 toe, which is the larger of the two toes. Note the handy notch in the foot to easily thread the yarn and thread into this foot. Though if the yarn gets too tight as it unwinds and is fed to the machine, it can pop out through this slot. It also can come out the slot when moving the fabric to the right. I think this feature neither adds or takes away from the foot.
 My biggest question for Janome is: "Why oh why didn't you just make compatible toes for the free motion quilting set?" Then I could just change out a quilting toe for a couching toe. I have to hope that this might be in the works. Maybe I'll have to send them an email.

It doesn't stitch like the picture!
The biggest difference between this new foot and the couching foot I rigged up (and the Bernina foot as I understand it) is that it is designed to be used with a zig zag stitch! Any of you who have played with using the zig zag in FMQ knows that it looks very different when moving the fabric from side to side. You would also know that if you were to couch yarn in the way that is shown in the illustration from the packaging above, you would have to rotate the fabric/quilt, thus negating the benefit of doing the couching in free motion in the first place.

Sorry Janome, I think this is a big fail! Not that I'm saying the entire thing is a fail. Read on.

 Using the zig zag means the hole is large in order to accomodate the swing of the needle. Above is the smallest diameter toe with the finer yarn I tried. Even with setting the zig zag to the 1.5 setting for the widest stitch this toe can handle, it still missed attaching the yarn most of the time except for when I stitched in a mostly vertical direction.Changes in direction pulled the yarn off to one side for several stitches, resulting in unattached yarn.
Shortly after I took the above picture, I started shooting video. So until I get the formatting issues resolved, this is the last picture I have for now. You can see there's quite a bit of room, both in the hole around the yarn and under the foot.

I then switched to the convertible FMQ foot set and couched this same yarn with my "hacked" FMQ couching foot. I had to reset my machine to a straight stitch first; I nearly forgot! And proceeded to couch this yarn much better, though still not perfectly.

Before I forget, Vivian, asked in the previous post what thread was I using. I used Superior Thread's Bottom Line thread, top and bottom in a cream color. I did not want to complicate this test drive (no matter how slightly) with using the monopoly. The Bottom Line disappeared quite nicely into the fluff of the yarn.

Then I switched back to the FM couching foot and used a heavier yarn, still with the smallest diameter holed foot. You can see photos of the two stitchouts with the FM couching foot here. The foot performed much better with the larger diameter yarn, though still not perfectly.

Bottom line? No, not the thread, rather the verdict of this review: The foot certainly has some serious design issues that could be improved upon, but it has earned a place in my tool kit of creativity (especially since it's an hour and a half drive to return the foot). Since it cannot handle small diameter yarns and I would love, love, love to FM couch Superior Thread's Razzle Dazzle, I may re-hack my hacked foot to use for finer yarns.

If I had to choose between hacking the plastic foot of the convertible FMQ foot set or getting the FM couching foot I would hack the foot. I would most definitely not choose the couching foot over the entire convertible FMQ foot set!

I hope I can get the videos loaded and posted for you in the next couple of days!

4 comments:

  1. Wow! I felt like I was reading a professional review! You should consider doing that and/or getting on their beta test list. When you email Janome, "remind" them that if you want it then there are most definitely others who want it also.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for doing such a thorough review! O.k. more dumb questions until I can get to my dealer and order one...Even though it's meant to work with zigzag, can you use it with straight stitch anyway? Might that improve the problems when sewing in an FMQ fashion?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Vivian, yes, you can use a straight stitch with this foot. Though I am certain that unless the yarn you are using fills the hole completely, you'd have even more trouble getting it attached. The problem, as it seems to me, is the hole was made wider to accommodate the swing of the needle. This leaves the yarn too much room to move, even with the smallest-holed toe.

      Delete
  3. Amy, Thank you for your post and video! It's all I need!

    ReplyDelete