Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Review of the Westalee Ruler Foot for Domestic Sewing Machines

Today, let's learn more about Westalee Designs' Ruler Foot! I am so excited to share it with you. I think this is going to be a great option for those who want to do free motion ruler work for the smoothest lines and curves and still need a proper ruler foot. (Disclosure: Westalee sent me the feet upon my request along with few rulers so I could play with them. They did not pay for this review and my opinions are my own. 12-8-15 Edited to add: Additional disclosure- I now sell the Westalee products at my online shop, Amy's Quilting Adventures)

I was so excited to get my package and since I didn't have any quilters at home to squeal over it, I did the next best thing and shot an un-boxing video!


Then I got the foot onto my machine and it was a breeze to install. The visibility is absolutely excellent around the foot area. Better than my beloved Janome foot. Do I like it better than the Janome foot? Will I betray my little quilting bud? Read on.....


As I said in my unboxing video, this foot is a nice cast metal. Nothing that's going to bend and break, no bar to go over the needle screw to go tap-tap and to need bending to adjust. There's a slotted area for the attachment so that you can raise and lower the foot by sliding it up or down the presser foot bar and then retightening the screw. There's even a little plastic plate that comes with the foot to support the foot in the 'hover' position.


The slot did not give me as much adjustment as I expected for the height on my Janome 6600. I couldn't raise it up as far as possible as there's a raised spot on my presser foot bar that stops it. My Janome ruler foot can go higher and lower. It might not be an issue unless you use very lofty or double battings. Do not think that the length of slot means you should be able to adjust it that entire length. It's so it fits a wider range of machines.

So far they have 3 versions: high shank, low shank, and a high shank to fit the Mega Quilter/Janome 1600 type specialty quilting machines. See here for a list of those machines. With the use of a Bernina shank adapter, you can use the westalee foot! I think it's the low shank version for most Berninas, but the Westalee site says Berninas may need high or low shank depending on the model. Order through my site and I'll help you get the right foot.

The other thing I noticed is that it's not as smooth as I expected. The casting left some ridges. When I discussed this with Bill West, he assured me that it didn't affect performance and while they could have had the foot smoothed and polished, it would have raised the price considerably.


I have to say, I had the perfect project to test out those grooves to see if it slid easily along rulers (It does!) and if the ridges might snag delicate fabrics (It didn't!) I used it on my latest quilt project which is a whole cloth quilt using Robert Kauffman's Radiance, a silk and cotton blend. This fabric has had me using tons of hand lotion to keep me from snagging the fabric with my hands. I quilted using the Westalee foot with no snags at all.


Westalee has also recreated many of their rulers and templates for domestic machine quilters. They wanted quilters to be able to use rulers around all sides of the ruler foot and because of clearance issues (especially for low-shank machines), they've made thinner rulers. This also helps those who have machines with a built-in walking foot system like on some Janomes and Pfaffs.


You can certainly use regular long arm rulers and templates with this foot, but you may not be able to use it well behind the foot. (Especially on low shank machines as there is little room under the presser foot bar of these machines.) That may not matter to you, if like me, you've gotten used to not using that area, especially if you've got the prongs hanging off the back of your machine for a dual feed system. (Granted, buying thinner rulers is a cheaper way to go than replacing a perfectly good machine that has those prongs....But I did it anyway! Look for a post on my new machine soon!)

Because this isn't a hopping foot, it is safer to use these thinner rulers, but make sure the foot isn't too high above the quilt when using the thinnest rulers. I can't say I'm totally comfortable with the idea of using the 1/8 inch rulers. I did enjoy the ruler that comes included with these feet, a curve on one side and a straight edge on the other. Handy!

You've figured out by now that I think this is a great ruler foot option. But will I leave my first love of the Janome ruler foot combo? That's something I haven't decided yet. I think they both have their strengths. The Janome foot is bulkier which reduces visibilty. But I like the rounded underside of the Janome ruler toe compared to the flat underside of the Westalee foot. The roundedness may help prevent pushing of fabric in a quilt with plenty of poof or fullness. The Janome foot is much easier to adjust the height. Since I have both now, I can say there are times that I'd prefer one over the other.


I'll be posting more about this foot as I work with it on my smaller Janome 3160 (a low-shank machine) and also on my new machine, which is a high shank Janome 8200.

Once again, my thanks to Bill and Leonie West of Westalee Designs for making this review possible and being in tune to the needs of domestic machine quilters who want to use rulers and templates.

Edited to add: Since I first reviewed this product, I have begun carrying my favorite ruler feet, rulers, templates and other supplies for ruler work and free motion quilting at Amy's Quilting Adventures, where I sell the Westalee ruler foot.

17 comments:

  1. Interesting.......I checked out their site yesterday. Looks like it's well thought out. Thanks for the review..........

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  2. Amy, I watched your first video, checked out their website and watched their videos. I sent an email to Bill with a few questions and he gave me a call just this evening! I placed an order for some of the rulers and a foot to fit my 8900. Im really excited to try them out! Thank you for sharing this with everyone!

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  3. Amy: I have a Janome 3160QDC machine and look forward to your post on this new foot. I am new to the ruler quilting and have the Janome ruler foot. Yet to try it. I enjoy your posts and am learning alot from you regarding free motion quilting, especially the encouragemnt. Thank you.

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  4. Thanks for the review, I've just bought one from them with the suggested ruler pack. I have a Janome 8200, have you tried yours on that machine yet?

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    1. Well, I'm late to reply, aren't I? Sorry. Yes, I've tried the foot on the 8200 and it works well. I still prefer my Janome ruler foot combination for the most part. The Westalee foot does have much better visibility around the foot area.

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  5. Hi Amy, I just found your blog through Pinterest. I recently took a class with Cristy Fincher using rulers and HQ Sweet Sixteen machines (which I don't own). She wasn't aware that they made feet for ruler work for domestic machines. I'm so glad I found this post! I discovered that my Juki comes with the bigger fmq foot and now I know why. Thanks for the information. I'll check out the Westalee Designs website, too.

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  6. I purchased the ruler foot and sample pack from Westalee for my Janome 6600. I'm doing something wrong, because as soon as I put that foot on per instructions, no stitches will form. When I put on a standard foot, all is well. What am I missing? Theresa

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    1. Theresa- That's odd. Hmm....OK, first a basic question- don't be insulted- Did you put the presser foot down before trying to sew? With a foot that hovers over the quilt top, sometimes it's easy to forget to put the foot down before sewing. Then, is the foot set low enough to the quilt? This would cause poor stitch formation, but still stitches, so the idea that you're getting no stitches is perplexing. It worked fine on my 6600.

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  7. Where can these ruler feet be purchased? I have been looking online for the name that it was called by toe ruler or ruler presser feet ,not sure what to call it because everywhere I look turns up nothing in my search.If you have information as to how this can be obtained I would greatly appreciate an email,, ellad53@hotmail.com thanks in advance I really can't wait to try this as I believe it will simplify a few things.

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  8. I wrote to Bernina to find out which adapter I need for my Bernina Aurora 440QE. They gave me two adapter numbers (75 and 77) but did not say which one I need. They did say that using a non-Bernina foot could damage the machine and that they have a ruler foot in production due out late this year or early next. That doesn't help me now. If the Westalee foot can damage the Bernina machines, why is my Bernina dealer insisting on the Westalee foot for their ruler quilting class? I asked this of Bernina and am waiting for an answer. Any thoughts on this or is it clearly Bernina attempting to scare me into waiting for their new foot?

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    1. The official line from Bernina is to not use other brands' feet. Yes, they want you to wait for their foot. I've met several Bernina educators who have been told not to do ruler work until their foot comes out.

      The issue with the feet is very simple and not anything any other machine user will need to do. ----Because of the thick foot to this machine, the needle clamp will hit the foot if the needle is lowered while the foot is up---- The solution? ALWAYS LOWER THE FOOT BEFORE LOWERING THE NEEDLE. Easy peasy.

      Most Bernina machines use the #77 shank adapter with these other brands' feet. And plenty of Bernina users are using them, and some series 7 and 8 Bernina machine owners are using the #96 foot.

      I've heard rumors that Bernina is nearly ready to release a ruler foot for their domestic machines.

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  9. To revisit the "which foot to order" issue. I decided to buy the high shank Westalee foot for use on my Brother PQ1500S. As required, I gave the machine and model number when ordering. The news is this: This foot will not work accurately on this Brother machine!!! This is a high speed, straight stitch machine with no needle position adjustment. The needle position is to the right and forward of center within the circular foot. This will make all passes used with the ruler on the left a different distance from when used on the right. A circle or a feather, which need to be used on all sides of the ruler foot, will absolutely not work if the needle is not centered within the circular foot. I took a quilt shop class for using the foot and ruler (they ordered the starter kit for me) and the instructor said this is the first time she's seen this problem. The store has contacted their distributor, but basically, I have a $55 ruler foot and kit that will not work on my machine. The Westalee site names my machine in their list of machines for the long shank foot, so apparently they aren't aware of the problem either. I am absolutely bummed!

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    1. Forgot to click to be notified of a reply;)

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    2. They just ordered the wrong version. Your Brother PQ1500 needs a "special high" shank version. Westalee has them and the machine is listed on their foot version listing. Any machine that's similar to it or the Janome 1600P (there are several variants of these straight stitch machines) take the special high shank version, which has the foot sticking out farther so you can have the needle in the center.

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  10. How could that be, since they had to give the machine model number when ordering?

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    1. Well, somebody made a mistake that could be rectified. Just to clarify, this isn't from my shop, because I would have totally set you up. Mistakes do happen and I would think that they'd exchange it for the right version.

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    2. Amy, you are absolutely correct. I finally received an email from the quilt shop where I purchased the starter kit and they said the company they ordered from "is very embarrassed" and will swap out the foot. What a relief! I bought this machine for quilting and I was sad that the foot wouldn't work on it and thought I would have to switch to using my Bernina which has a much smaller space inside the head for quilting. Thank you so much for your help! I'll be searching your shop for additional rulers :)

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