Sunday 3 May 2015

Westalee Ruler Foot on Pfaff QE 4.2

After having watched Amy over at Freemotion Quilting Adventures talk about her use of rulers in her FMQ work, I did go ahead and ordered the Westalee Ruler foot to try this out.

There was a bit of a wait as a Medium Shank foot was needed for the Pfaff QE 4.2

If you do not know what I am talking about, head over to Westalee Design for their information on doing Freemotion ruler work on domestic machines.

The package arrived a few weeks ago and contained the following:

Pamphlet on how to attach it
Arc Ruler
Tape for making the ruler stick better to the surface (if you want)
black placement guide
 Off I went to try it out...well, this did not work for me at all in the beginning...had lots of skipped stitches, in fact, could not get the machine to form any stitches in part. Fiddled for a while and then set it aside as I was working on other things. In between I also checked out the Janome Convertible foot, however as you also have to buy the little ruler foot that would be quite an expensive exercise...decided against this as I do not know whether this would work on this machine.

Went back the other day to have a play and same thing happened...skipped stitches galore. In the end I emailed Westalee Design and finally spoke to Bill West and his wife, Leonie on the phone. Lovely people...had a good talk about Pfaff machines in general and this model in particular. After checking out that I understood the instructions in the pamphlet, Leonie pointed out that I was probably dealing  with a tension issue. Now this was interesting...definitely had not considered this and had set the machine to the setting that I normally do my FMQ on. She suggested that I might have to get an additional bobbin case to play around with the bobbin tension (or, if you are game enough to try it on your current bobbin, which I would not advise). I have in the past played around with bobbin tension, particularly on my first Pfaff machine and remember the pain, however in the machines that followed, definitely never had to touch the bobbin, probably because my FMQ skills have improved over time. However, this could be an option, I thought, if I got a second bobbin case.

Anyway, went back that afternoon to try out the foot again, this time focusing in on tension. Started with the preset tension (5.2 on the FMQ setting for the Pfaff, which is very high). Never mind...I thought I would go systematically through the motions. Also paid more attention on how I attached the foot, i.e. placed my fabric sandwich underneath and loosely tightened the screw so it was just above it when the foot was lowered. Then double checked with the little black placement guide. Yep, looking good...then started sewing with that enormously high tension. Needless to say, the thread did not like it and started shredding after a little while, however I noticed that I was actually forming ok looking stitches. I think I adjusted the foot a tiny bit, tightened it and then started going down in tension, increment by increment to see what the machine was doing. Still had the occasional skipped stitch and followed Leonie's advice and put a different needle in (had started off with 80/12 and went to a 90/14).  I was now stitching perfectly towards me but still had problems going backwards...I then lowered the pivot height in increments and that seemed to fix that problem.

My settings were:

Spring Freemotion setting mode
Tension: 4.0 with an Aurifil 50/2 thread
Needle: 90/14
Pivot: -3 (the batting in my sample is very flat)
Here are my grids...stitches look good and I did not have any problems. The only issue I had was that I did not know at times how to align the ruler, as you can see in the first example. Started off ok and then somehow lost the plot. Worked it out second time around. I really do not have any experience working with rulers and need to practice more.

The ruler is great and works very well. What I like about it is that you can flick it in any direction (for example for the little star above)...stitch a line towards you, then flick it sideways, place it behind the foot...very handy indeed.

Now this would have been handy the other day when I had to use my walking foot to stitch out a series of grids.

Will let you know how I go next time when I use a different batting etc...I am hoping that I 'got' it on how to adjust this.



  1. Karin,

    I have a different model Pfaff than you, but I used my Westalee foot with the presser foot completely down (as in normal sewing) instead of using it in the normal halfway down position that I use for FMQ. In that position, it worked perfectly at my normal tension settings. My Pfaff are an earlier version than yours (i.e. 2030-2056.)

  2. Hi Karin

    I have a Pfaf Expression 4 that I only use for FMQ because of the deeper throat. Does yours have the drop in bobbin or a shuttle bobbin. I've never played with the bobbin tension but have to say it is so much more temperamental on tension than either of my Berninas are which frustrates me somewhat. Do you think the foot size you got would be the same for me or do I tell them my machine and they tell me the foot size I need.

    1. The Pfaff machines are very precise...I talk about this in my posts about the Pfaff 4.2. Unless you select the right needle in relation to your thread, the machine will feel temperamental.

      By the way, you are coming up as a no reply blogger, hence I have no email to respond to .

      I would tell the Westalee people your exact model. From talking to them, I believe there is a slight difference between the 4 and the 4.2, even though the machines look identical.

      Hope this helps....Karin

    2. Thank you for your reply. Don't know why I came up like that because I logged in with my Google account. My email is I am in Australia, Orange, NSW. Have to say I do struggle with tension with my Pfaff at times. Bit spoilt with my Berninas. Or maybe it is just learning the nuisance of the Pfaff.

  3. Thank you for this post. I am a very new FMQer and Pfaff 4.2 owner and also have problems with my Aurofil thread shredding and skipped stitches. I will try making similar adjustments until I find the right combination. I am using the 6A Sensormatic foot. DO you like the spring foot better?

    1. Hi are a No reply blogger, hence I can't email you.
      check your tension and needle, retread the settings are usually...
      Tension: 3.8
      Needle: 70/10
      I use both the 6d dynamic foot and the spring foot.

  4. Hi Karin, I live in the Isle of Man (UK), love my Pfaff 4.2 (better than my Bernina 750QE!). I received my delivery of Westalee products yesterday and wanted to thank you for the information in your blog. I immediately changed my settings to the ones you used and hey presto I was very pleased with the results. I still need to practice a huge amount. Thank you and keep up the good work. Happy Quilting, Christine

    1. Thanks for your kind comment. I am glad this is working for you. Please also see posts in June and July of this year

  5. Thank you so much for this post. It helped me a lot. I was going crazy trying to get it right. My thread was always breaking. Now, practice, practice, practice!

    1. Thanks Catherine...unfortunately you are a No Reply Blogger, hence I can't email you. Have played more with the foot since then and the stitching is ok. Still not entirely happy with it though...fell off after prolonged use!

  6. Thanks heaps for your post, I love my QE 4.0 but have not gotten the ruler foot to work yet. In case you're interested, I blog at Himmelgarten Quilts - (logged in with a different account here, sorry). HAPPY SEWING!

  7. My foot works great but the IDT gets caught on the rulers. How do you adjust the OFT to lift it highrt?

    1. Not sure what OFT is...however, if your IDT gets caught on that your rulers might be too high. Are you using the Westalee rulers? I don't think you can lift the IDT higher.

  8. My foot was working with the rulers b4, not good but now it won't grab thread. I am not sure if my practice piece is too thick or what. My machine is QE 4.2 like yours. Tried lowering tension, putting setting on all three FM Settings, not sure which one to use & none of literature tells you. Thanks for this blog

    1. Hi may have to move your needle over a bit. Try -/+ 1 and see whether that makes a difference. Also, lower your foot maybe.

  9. I talked with the Westalee people at length. I had thread shredding problems as well. She suggested I use a 90/14 needle instead of the 90/12 topstitch needle I had been using. It sure helped. I like to use a 40 weight thread for top stitching and the larger needle with the spring setting seems to work. I need to practice before tackling a quilt thought!


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