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.