Monday, February 2, 2015

Westalee: A Ruler Foot for Most Sewing Machines

I have been sitting on this post for a while, waiting to try the new ruler foot from Westalee Design. It finally arrived this past weekend and I'm trying it out. While I play, you can read this Q & A session I did with Leonie West from Westalee Design. I'll post a proper review of the foot in a few days, but I will say that I'm liking it!




Please tell us about your company and how long you have been in business?
In 2008 we formed Westalee Design, a family owned business, located in Victoria Australia following my invention of the Adjustable Ruler and templates. I won the New Inventors Grand Final Viewers Choice award in 2008
I have been quilting for over 37 years and had one of my Quilts, “Every Quilter Dreams” at the Houston Quilt Festival in 2006, judged as finalist. That was so memorable.
We design and manufacture over 300 innovative rulers and templates for patchwork and quilting, including an extensive range of Long Arm Templates
We made the first incrementally adjustable rulers with locking fabric guide in 2007, the first Crosshatch Guide for Long-arm machines in 2008 and the first pin located rotating templates in 2010 and many other tools for patchwork and quilting..
Our Company mission is to Innovate - Create -Design - Educate – Inspire - to make it easier for quilter’s of all levels to achieve beautifully pieced and Quilted quilts.

What made you decide to make a ruler foot for domestic sewing machines?
I can’t really say that it was a necessity, as I am a long-arm quilter, designing and using rulers all the time.
The real reason was the looks of disappointment we have seen for the last 6 years, when we tell quilters with domestic machines, “Sorry, no you can’t use these rulers and templates”. Bill and I decided to do something about it. We tried a number of the feet available for domestic machines for using rulers and were never happy with how they functioned.
About 18 months ago we decide to get serious about making a ruler foot for most machines, a foot that was ½” round. My preference is to float the Foot rather than hop, as it is unnecessary and all the mechanisms to make a foot hop just get in the way of your templates and your hands and your vision.  With prototypes and testing done we are now happy that we can say, “Yes, go for it, you can use our rulers and templates on your domestic machine.
The important difference between our Ruler Foot and others is that it was designed by a quilter who uses both domestic and long-arm machines. The long-arm machine work told me how I would want a ruler foot to work on a domestic machine. As a template designer I learned a long time ago that it is often easier to work on the inside of an arc than the outside, but mechanisms impede vision and movement. I wanted our Ruler Foot to be as useful as possible.

All you need to know to properly fit a machine with the ruler foot is high shank, low shank or Bernina?
We designed our Ruler Foot to fit most makes and models both High Shank and Low Shank also for the special quilting machines on frames.  With introduction of the Westalee Ruler Foot  for both High and Low Shank Machines we put some important information on our web site on how to identify the shank size of your machine.
(They now have a third version of the foot available for the following machines: Pfaff  1200 Grand Quilter, Husqvarna   Mega Quilter,Brother  PQ1300   PQ1300  PQ1500S, Janome   1600P 1600P-DB 1600-QC, Singer 2OU 31-15, Babylock   BLQP BL500A and JUKI    DDL-227 DDL-555 DDL-8700 TL-98E TL-98P
    TL-98QE TL2000Qi TL2010Q)

Which Bernina shank adapter does the Ruler Foot need and must that be purchased separately?
The Bernina Shank Adapter is a Bernina accessory which enables Bernina machines to use feet other than Bernina. The adapter replaces the standard Bernina foot making the machine low shank, so you would use our Low Shank Ruler Foot.
You can purchase a shank adapter from your local Bernina dealer all you need to know is the model of your machine.  The most common being the #77 and #75.



Will your foot work on Babylock machines?
We have arranged for some testing on Babylock in the USA and will notify you immediately. We do not have Babylock sewing machines in Australia. All indications are that the majority are Low Shank machines and would take our Low Shank ruler Foot

I love the simplicity of the foot. How does the adjustment for the foot height work?
To fit the Ruler Foot, lower the presser foot, then remove the screw that holds the shank and replace with the Westalee Ruler Foot.
To adjust the Ruler Foot height, place the quilt sandwich underfoot, simply lower the presser bar (shank), loosen the shank screw and raise or lower the foot, independent of the shank, depending on the quilt thickness, tighten the screw.  The required height of our foot can only be determined by stitching a sample; I always have a test sandwich at hand. Every machine is different as is every quilter. I prefer to free motion with my feed dogs up and my stitch length set at 0 – this is personal preference.

You are selling thinner rulers for use with domestic sewing machines. First can you explain why long arm users need such a thick ruler with their machines and why a thinner ruler can be used with your foot?
Long-arm quilter’s use a 6mm (1/4”) thick ruler with their machines to ensure the hopping foot does not step over or under the template during operation. This height enables the machine to sew across a variable surface that may include appliqué’ features.

As we began to design the Ruler Foot it quickly became obvious that lowest point of the presser foot bar (Shank) was too low for 6mm templates and on machines with duel feed (Pfaff, Janome) the duel feed behind the foot was too low for 6mm templates.
Our intention designing the Ruler Foot was that it would be available to as many quilters as possible regardless of the machine that they were using. We wanted anyone wanting to do ruler work to be able to do so. Our Ruler Foot clearance is high enough to clear the template, it is the Machines shank the dictates the thickness of the template. We have tested extensively with thinner templates without any issues. There are several videos showing the Ruler Foot in action.

Can 6mm rulers still be used with your foot?
You could of course use the thicker template, but not from all directions and I strongly suggest that if are tempted to try, you do not to allow 6mm templates to go under the presser foot bar. You cannot stitch around the inside of an enclosed 6mm template.
It is not worth risking damage by experimenting with template thickness.

Can you please share with my readers why you love using rulers for your own work?
I have been called a precision piecer, because I like accuracy in my piecing  and quilting I also like my quilting to reflect the same level of accuracy.  I can easily achieve the results I want with rulers.

One of the things that quilting teachers tell their students is to relax and take the tension out of your shoulders to get nice free motion quilting, I have had arthritis in my right shoulder since I was 16 years of age and that shoulder is very tight, so free motion can be a bit harder for me, but with rulers I find that I can achieve beautiful quilting.
My feather wreath template enables me to stitch a perfect feathered wreath, this is something that only the most experienced long arm quilter can achieve. I know that without our template I could not stitch out this wreath.
When I design a template I want the template to give me more than just one design if possible.

For too long, rulers and templates have been the domain of long-arm quilters and the quilts that they produce can be exquisite. Much of the ruler work that they do is either for the backbone of a design or for filling in space with lines and crosshatching straight or curved.  We make one of the largest selections of rulers and templates available, we hope that with the Ruler Foot and the templates quilters of all levels using domestic machines will now be able to achieve results that only the truly experienced domestic machine quilter and long arm quilters could.

 I am sure some readers will notice the angle of your sewing machine in your videos. I had initially assumed it was for visibility when filming, but you had another reason. Can you please explain it to my readers?

I have been quilting since 1972 and in Australia at that time there were no patchwork shops and no teachers, so I am primarily self taught.  Sometimes being self taught is a bonus because no one has told you that you can’t.
The first quilt I made was king size  and I quilted it on a domestic machine.  Big quilt-small throat space - no where to move.  In the 80’s I read about rolling the quilt and tried that, I did not like that. I had been using what is now known as the fluff and stuff method and still use that method today. With a big quilt the body of the machine was in the way of my right hand so I simply pushed the right side of my machine back putting the machine on an angle and instantly had more freedom of movement to quilt. The extension table set at this angle is my design.
When talking with beginners at free motion quilting many of them have difficulty in stitching curves, one of the reasons for this is that when we sit at a machine that we face straight on, our brain wants to sew straight lines. Hands on each side of the needle moving straight forward. When you push the machine back at an angle not only do you have more space, you also stop you brain from thinking of moving straight in a forward direction.

You are an Australian based business, what does that mean for customers in the US and other countries as far as shipping and prices?
We have been supplying US quilters for over 6 years now and right now your dollar is worth more than ours. [ Edited to add: Westalee does now have a distributer in the US and I am happy to report that I am now a retailer for the Westalee products! You can purchase their products as well as others from my online store at Amy's Quilting Adventures. ]We will have a supplier in the United States very soon, but right now, the exchange rate is in the US's favor and all feet and templates can be ordered from our site with reasonable shipping.

Thank You

Leonie West
Westalee Design
Australia

Many thanks to Leonie and her husband Bill for answering my questions. Please address any questions regarding the fit of these feet to your specific machine to them. I'll give you a good look at the feet and my work I've done with them Wednesday.

19 comments:

  1. Amy, now I don't know which foot to get!! I went out and bought the #77 adapter from Bernina after reading Reneah's post on your blog, but hadn't had a chance to find a Janome dealer. After seeing both the Janome foot and the Westalee foot in action, which would you recommend for my Bernina 750? The one downer with the Janome foot is that it seems you have to buy two different kits to use it, paying for additional Janome feet that I would not need. Is the Westalee foot just as good, and only one thing to buy?

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    1. Since you don’t have a Janome, I would suggest the Westalee foot. You’ll still need the adapter so nothing’s wasted there. You will also get a ruler with the set from Westalee.

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  2. Amy, I'm so excited about this! I already had the adapter for my Bernina 440QE, so I went ahead and ordered the low shank. Thanks for the interview...and all of your other valuable info. You've got a great blog!

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  3. Hi Amy. Really looking forward to the next instalment! Thanks!

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  4. Hi...this is interesting. Will check it out for my Pfaff. Thanks for the info.

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  5. I would be VERY interested in your angled extension table..........more info please!!!!!!!!

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    1. I let the folks at Westalee know of your interest.

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  6. amy, i am having trouble visuLizing this. will you do a video?

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  7. Nice interview! I have been looking into a ruler foot even though I get on my soap box that you don't NEED one (especially with inexpensive vintage machines you can and have serviced yourself, rebuilt even). I admire that smooth roundness. I wrote Westalee to ask if I could get their foot alone or with a different ruler swapped out, since I already have the lovelies from Accents in Design. He said they'd have an American site up April 1 for business and I'd be able to, yay!

    I dropped in to my closest Janome dealer yesterday, to price the conversion set and ruler toe. She was totally baffled and it took almost 20 minutes to convince her there was a foot that I was describing. She ordered one for the shop just to see it (thanks to the part number on your blog!) but assures me it will only work on one model Janome. When it comes in she's going to call me and I'll come up with my rulers and show her why a person would want to do such a thing, another foreign concept for her. I wrote down your blog and referred to you tube for your and Patsy's videos and perhaps I'll hook a dealer here.

    I may do a video today of working on a golden oldie with a standard free motion foot. Before I get a ruler toe and never do it again.

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    1. It took me a very long time to get Janome to approve of the use of the ruler toe for all of the various convertible free motion foot sets, so it's not surprising. In fact, the writer of the Janome Canada blog was asked about this foot combination about a year before Janome America signed off on it and loved the idea. She even blogged about it and linked to my site.

      Now if I could just get them to package the ruler toe by itself!

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  8. Hi Amy, I have been using the foot set up your recommend on my Janome 7700 now for a while, with the long arm rulers. They do hit and scratch a little in the back, so I can see a need for a slightly thinner ruler. But is the foot any better than what we are already using? I can't wait to hear your thoughts on this and see the video! Thanks for all you do!

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    1. Since I have the 6600 and you've got its big sister, the 7700, I can say that the thinner rulers would be nice for these two models (Because of the prongs on the back from the accufeed system). I would not go with the 3mm which are only 1/8 inch thick. I'd probably say stick with the Janome foot unless you find you crave more visibility due to the bulk of the height adjustment mechanism.

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  9. Will this foot work on a brother dream creator xe machine?

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    1. Yes, the Westalee foot will work with Brother machines. You just need to order the version that fits your machine (high or low shank).

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  10. I have a NV6750D Brother Machine..Will it work and how do you know if it is a high or low shank.

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    1. Check here for a diagram of how to tell your shank height as well as more info on ruler feet: FAQ page on shop http://amysquiltingadventures.com/pages/faqs

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