I was at a meeting of the Machine Embroidery Guild of Toledo recently and one of our members did a presentation on needles. She talked about a needle I’d never seen before and it was called the Spring Needle. Here’s an image of what the spring needle by Schmetz looks like:
This needle enables you to do free motion work without any foot at all. It sounded like a handy thing to have around and I left the meeting thinking I needed to try one of these out but I didn’t really have a particular need for one.
Two days later, I was quilting a border area on a quilt and I had divided the border into “zones” where one design would be in one area but another design would be in an adjacent area. One design I did was a version of McTavishing I do where there is a heavy emphasis on swirls:
I started to quilt the adjacent area and quickly realized I really could not see where I needed to stitch, as part of the design required me to stitch backwards. This photo of my darning foot illustrates how it just is in the way of my field of vision:
Enter my new spring needle! In this photo, you can see that I’ve removed my darning foot and regular needle and replaced them both with a spring needle:
…and you can improve your visual field even better if you remove the ankle, although it’s not necessary:
…and here’s a shot of what it looks like as the fabric has been pierced. You can see that this compresses the spring. To me, this setup made me think of the hopping foot that you see on longarm machines. The needle worked great for me and I highly endorse this product. It’s not something I’ll use every time I quilt, but it’s a really nice too to have on hand if you need better visibility or if you are working around bulky objects and the free motion foot would have trouble with them. Here’s a shot of the alternating border design:
If you’re interested in trying one, you can find them here.
Wow that is a blast from the past! In the 80ties when there were a lot of machines around that did not have a darning foot we used to thread paint with just a needle, no foot, and that was not always that successful because the needle could pull up the fabric. When we discovered the spring loaded needles it got so much easier. It is hard to believe that we also put tape over the feed-dogs because they could not be lowered
Using just a needle it can be hard to remember to lower the foot to engage the tension so some unexpected loops happens and do keep your fingers well away from the needle otherwise you might get a very nasty surprise!
I have been aware of such a needle but haven’t purchased it because I do FMQ on pieced tops and I was a bit leery of going over points that had multiple selvages converging resulting, possibly, in a broken needle. This would be perfect on whole cloth or minimal thicknesses. It is perfect for the instance you indicated!!
I do have setting on my free motion for spring motion, now I know what it means, lol. I need to see if I have one in my set, but not expensive and I have been wanting to go without the foot on pieces that I have wool appliques on, this would be perfect.
Thanks for this post. I had heard about spring needles, but had never seen on and for the life of me I couldn’t imaging what they were! Now I know, and now I wonder if I could use one without perforating myself!
You learn something new every day….just learning to FMQ and my tutor suggested I check out your web/blog…I am very glad that I did…can you use these spring needles in any sewing machine…I have a very old Janome…LindaB (Aust)