Darning foot (Free motion embroidery Presser foot)

How to use a darning foot or free motion embroidery foot on your sewing machine and do embroidery stitching and darning easily.
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Darning foot is a very convenient but optional sewing machine foot to have – it is used for freehand quilting, darning over holes, sewing appliques, and for embroidering even when you do not have an embroidery machine. So indeed, a very nice sewing machine pressure foot to have.

darning foot

The darning foot is also called free motion embroidery foot or freehand embroidery foot, because it is mainly an embroidery foot. The base of the foot is very small so that you can see where you are going. I have seen darning foot with a clear cut in the base so that there is even more visibility.

darning foot

It usually comes with a spring (vertically placed on it). The spring helps in keeping the pressure on the fabric without being too overbearing about it. But there are darning feet without a spring and they work equally well.

How to attach Darning foot and use it on your machine

when using darning foot on your sewing machine lower the feed dogs

  1. The number one stipulation to use this foot is to lower the feed dogs. The feed dogs move the fabric forward, and you do not want that. You want the fabric to move according to your will.
  2. The second one is to use the fabric on a loop. You will be moving the fabric with the help of the loop. As the feed dog is down, you have to control the fabric, and you will be doing that with the loop
  3. The third very important thing is to tighten the fabric as much as possible on the hoop
  4. And keep the presser foot down as you sew.

To bring the feed dog down, you will have to consult your sewing machine manual – it may be different for different machines. In a singer, there is a small switch on the back. In basic sewing machines there may not be this switch – but you may get a small plastic covering that can be locked in place over the feed dog. This will effectively make feed dog ineffective  – what you want!

Some of the problems you might encounter when using this foot are skipped stitches, thread breaking midway, and puckering. If you follow some basic rules, all these can be avoided. But remember, this is not an attach-and-forget-it foot. You need to be diligent while using it for it to be effective and continuously move the hoop correctly.

For puckering, ensure that you are using a hoop. The fabric needs to be on an embroidery hoop. You can use a hand embroidery hoop and keep the fabric in a reverse position so that the bed of the fabric surface is lowered.

For improper stitch formation and skipped stitches, always ensure that you are locking the stitch as you start stitching. Just bring up the bobbin thread up to the surface of the fabric – that is all.

To prevent thread breakage, lower the tension. And go slowly.

Ensure that the pressure foot is down. Sometimes this is forgotten, and then it is a free reign of uncontrolled stitches.

Usually, You will be using a straight stitch with the foot. So do not increase the stitch width. But you can also do a zig-zag stitch with the machine.

How to do darning with the foot

Start stitching crosswise across the tear first. This will bridge the gap between the hole. Then start sewing lengthwise.

How to do Free motion embroidery with the foot

The main purpose of the foot other than for darning is to do embroidery work. You can freely move the fabric as you wish, filling the inside of the design with your own version of embroidery stitches.
Check out this post on embroidering with an ordinary sewing machine and freehand embroidery for more details.

How to do applique with the foot

You can set your machine to a zig-zag stitch and sew the applique on the fabric along the edge.

Related posts: Different types of Sewing machine feet; Walking foot; Hemmer foot; Edge foot; 1/4 inch seam foot; Braider foot.; Ruffler foot; Gathering foot


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Author: Sarina Tariq

Hi, I love sewing, fabric, fashion, embroidery, doing easy DIY projects and then writing about them. Hope you have fun learning from sewguide as much as I do. If you find any mistakes here, please point it out in the comments.
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