The Janome Rotary Even Foot Set is a nifty little tractor foot with five attachments. It's like a little sewing machine tank rolling over your fabric. By switching out the attachments, you can use it for: blind hemming, joining, attaching bias binding, making rolled hems, even matching stripes and plaids or keeping plush fabrics like polar fleece from shifting. I think if I delved a little deeper into all the possibilities, I might be able to figure out how to use it to bake a cake.
Although produced by and for Janome, the foot can be used on most sewing machines that accommodate snap-on feet.
The foot and its five attachments come in a handy little plastic case so you can keep track of them.
There are fairly detailed instructions included in the box, and Janome also has some videos online that show some of the techniques in action. I'm going to walk you through the techniques I tested and a few of the additional tips I discovered along the way.
The foot all by itself
The tractor feed on the Rotary Even Foot moves the layers of fabric in perfect sync with your machine's feed dogs.
This makes it a dandy choice when you are trying to match stripes or plaids.
Or, trying to keep plush fabrics like fleece from shifting. I used a stretch stitch; the finished seam lays nice and flat, and I can stretch it without distorting the fabric.
The blind hem attachment
Loosen the screw on the foot and slide the blind hem guide into place. After a bit of trial and error... heavy on the error. I found that aligning the guide in between the two red lines on the foot gave me the most consistent results. You do need to have a blind hem stitch on your machine, and you also need to know how to do the "fold-fold again-and then fold back" technique to set up the hem for stitching. If you haven't tried this technique before, take a look at our blind hem tutorial. We are using a traditional blind hem foot in the tutorial, but the folding and set up of the hem is exactly the same as what you need to do to use the Rotary Even Foot.
You can also use the blind hem attachment to join together two flat pieces, such as two pieces of lace or two pieces of ribbon, which is what I did. This would be a fun technique to create an interesting piece to use as the focal point of a pillow front or as an inset to the front of a bodice.
As above with the regular blind hem, make sure the guide is centered between the two red lines. Align your two pieces of fabric or trim so the guide runs between them. Choose a zig zag or decorative stitch with a wide left-right swing. Set the stitch to its maximum width.
The bias tape attachment
Keeping bias tape even so you can be guaranteed to catch both sides can certainly be a challenge. Solving that challenge is the best thing about about this attachment. However, you can't turn a corner with it in place, so it's best on long straight edges that need binding or big circles, like a round tablecloth or tree skirt.
Loosen the screw again and switch to the bias tape attachment. It just slides into place and then you tighten the screw. With all these attachments, you need to tighten the screw when the foot is off the machine or, if the foot is on the machine, when the presser foot is up.
I found it easier to start the bias tape into the foot with it off the machine. I then snapped the foot into place and slid the raw edge of the fabric into position.
The instructions that come with the foot also suggest spending some time adjusting the guide and testing the needle drop to get the seam running as close to the fold as possible. This is kind of 'futzy' work, but I think it's worth the hassle. I was impressed I could keep my stitching so close to the edge. I started with a straight stitch and then switched to a decorative stitch.
You could even set the guide to allow you to stitch across the fold with a decorative stitch, which would be a cool-looking embellishment. The Janome video on this technique shows a sample of this option.
The rolled hem attachment
The set comes with three sizes of attachments for rolled hems: ½", ¾" and 1".
Like the bias tape attachment above, you can't turn a corner with the attachment in place, but that's really the case with any kind of rolled hem foot.
However, according to my much-more-clever sewing pal, Michele Mishler it can be done. Here's her personal tip:
The first side is sewn to the end and removed from the foot. For the second side, the hem is finger pressed into place. Using a needle and thread, insert the needle through all layers at the starting point. Machine stitch from the beginning, using the doubled thread to 'pull' the starting point under the foot until the feed dogs can grip the fabric unassisted. Once the hem is started, insert it into the rolled hem attachment and continue to the end.
I used the ½" attachment for my test. To start, I cut about 3/8" off the corner of my fabric and then pressed a ¼" hem. Then, I took the hemmed fabric to the machine and rolled it over another ¼" to feed it into the foot.
Unlike the bias tape attachment, with these attachments, I thought it was easier to put it on the machine first and then feed in my fabric.
Like the bias tape attachment, spend the time to adjust the guide and test the needle drop. I aligned the fold of my fabric with the left red guide line (of the double guide lines on the foot). Using a standard straight stitch, I was impressed with how close to the edge I could sew and how even it kept the line. It did help to hold up the fabric a little to help feed the roll through the foot.