Friday, April 15, 2022

The Kenmore Q-Foot and Q-Needle. Any Q-uestions?

 I couldn't resist the Q humor - but the Q-uestion is this - do the much ballyhooed Q-foot and/or Q-needle live up to the hype?

It seems that every vintage Kenmore owner covets a set of these.  They were intended to sew the super stretchy fabrics that were popular in the 1970s, including Qiana (which is supposedly what the "Q" refers to.)

The foot is hard to explain and I don't pretend to know how it supposedly works, but this is how it looks on the bottom.  The needles, I suspect, are equivalent to today's ballpoint needles intended to sew stretch fabrics.  

So working on the assumption that this foot and needles will work better on stretch/knit fabrics than their regular counterparts, I just ran up a few test swatches to see how much difference it would make.  

First, I just wanted to see if the FOOT made any difference, so I did a row of zigzag stitching on a stretch knit (about 50% stretch both ways) with three different needles:
Q-foot and Q-needle on low shank Kenmore machine

Red = standard all purpose needle
Green = modern ballpoint needle
Blue = vintage Q needle

          So, there is NO DIFFERENCE between the various needles using this foot.  None, whatsoever!

Then, I tried doing the same stitch in the same fabric using a regular presser foot and the regular sewing needle and guess what...
Standard presser foot with standard needle

             The stitch quality is identical. (The one on the left is the standard presser foot and needle.) 

Even the bobbin sides all have the same good results.

Wow, so this was an eye opener!  But I still gave it another test:  I switched machines and tried a reverse stretch stitch with these two configurations.  

                                 Again...and the drum roll please... there is NO DIFFERENCE!

  • Sample on the left with the blue pin is the Q-foot/needle, sample on the right is the standard foot/needle.
  • Above is the front side, below is the back side  

I stretched both samples as far as they would go, and they did equally well, neither one of them popped a thread.  

So, there you go!  If you don't have the Q set, then maybe you're not missing anything.  If you're like me, though, you do want every possibly accessory that was made for your machines, so you still want it (I get it, trust me!) 

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