Monday, August 25, 2008

The Janome free motion quilting foot

I bought the new free motion quilting foot for my Janome 6600 sewing machine while I was making this quilt. What prompted me to buy this new foot was some bobbin tension problems I was having with my machine.

I was using one of my favorite bobbin threads, Superior Bottom Line, and I think it was too thin for my bobbin’s tension. On my Bernina and Pfaff machines I have a second bobbin case adjusted for using thinner weight thread. But with the Janome’s drop in bobbin I did not know how to adjust it. I read through the instruction book twice and found no instructions for tightening it. My dear friend and free motion quilting goddess, Frieda Anderson, has since told me how to adjust it. (There is a tiny screw on the outside of the black bobbin case, I suppose if I pulled the bobbin case out I would have seen that. Never having owned a machine with a drop in bobbin before, I didn’t realize the case came out.)

To try and solve my thread problem I called Superior threads and ordered King Tut Cotton. This was an overall improvement anyways because the heavier weight thread really made the quilting line have more definition.

About this same time I came across Gloria Hanson’s blog post about Janome’s new free-motion quilting foot, Desperate, I thought I would try it out. Janomes FMQ foot is a two part purchase; the foot and another bobbin case with a tiny blue dot on it (to differentiate it from the regular bobbin case with a tiny red dot). Together it runs about $50.

I tried out the new foot with the king Tut cotton and a top stitching needle and had my thread break about every 3 inches. Very frustrating! So I did another Google search and found that there is a Janome 6500 Yahoo group, I figured surely someone there would have an answer. I did a post search and found a couple people recommended a 90/14 quilting needle with this foot. I could not believe that changing my needle from a top stitch to a 90/14 could possibly solve the problem, but I was willing to try anything.

I put a 90/14 in and stepped on the gas, lo and behold, it worked! What a dream. This FMQ foot is wonderful, even though it has a tiny closed loop it is not too hard to see when quilting. The best part about this foot is that it does NOT bounce up and down when stitching. So quilting feels very fluid and smooth, no grabby feeling on the fabric.

I think the real negative, is that you have to unscrew the throat plate to change the bobbin case every time you switch between free motion and other kinds of stitching. It is about three steps more than I want to do when working. I probably won’t switch it all out when doing small stuff where I go back and forth with different stitches a lot, but for free motion quilting a large quilt, it’s the best.


  1. wonderous...the back of the quilt is amazing...

  2. I agree how frustrating it is with threads and then mucking around with the bobbins. I have a Pfaff which sometimes gets tetchy with different threads - BUT, my old Husqvarna doesn't really mind the different threads - top or bottom. Only thing is that I've been through 3 'darning' feet in the last 2 years with free motion quilting. The foot has a metal spring, like the Pfaff plastic one, which tends to lose it's springiness and break - OK I know that it's old now but I still love the machine.

  3. I love my old pfaff too, I would hate to give it up. Now my daughter has taken over my old Bernina, it has always been fussy with threads. It seems like they all have their strengths and weaknesses.

  4. Judy....glad you found the yahoo group. Truth be told, I have both bobbin cases, and I never bother to switch! I did fine with the red-arrow one, then put in the blue-arrow and it has now taken up permanent residence. I just fiddle ith the needle-thread-tension and it works......

    As for removing the throat plate (yep, it's a pain), it's good to do so every so often. Using poly threads you'll have noticed you get a TON less lint, but you still need to every so often (after a huge one of YOUR huge quilts) or a number of smaller ones, remove the bobbin case and dust out the lint. Do NOT remove the little gray thing that *looks* like lint. This is the wick. Not brilliant planning to have it be gray. Anyway, a drop of sewing machine oil every few months is a good thing. You can also oil the wick *through* the bobbin case....

    HTH! And glad you found a solution that works for you...and yeah, the NON-hopping foot is a dream!

    Cheers, Sarah

  5. I've been looking for this foot for years. Where can I order it from? Nice blog - thanks for sharing. Cheers - Marie

  6. You know I'm surprised that you have to change out the bobbin case to FMQ with the 6600. I just spent about 25 hours FMQ on my latest project using the Horizon and it worked like a dream. I used Bottom line in the bobbin and all sorts of threads on top including a bit of King Tut. I just used the regular bobbin case at its regular tension. I'm glad the Horizon comes with the darning foot. I remember that the ease of it FMQing was a big draw for me. I haven't tried the other two that it came with - 'cause I love the no bounce of this one. Thanks for sharing!


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