Sewing is rarely completely flat. More often than not, you’re working with layers, folds, and dimensional edges – especially in one of our favorite categories: Bags + Totes. The Janome Bi-Level Foot is precisely engineered to allow you to sew at a consistent width from the fold of a fabric. 

The foot is split into two levels to accommodate the multiple fabric layers created by a seam. By placing the foot along a seam, the split levels guide the foot along the seam, creating a consistent line of edgestitching or topstitching. The foot is also perfect for finishing non-seamed edges, such as around the top of a tote.

Janome has a number of adjustable feet that can be used for accurate edgestitching and topstitching, such as the Edge Guide Foot and the Sliding Guide Foot, and we love and use these feet quite often. However, one of the things we appreciated about this new foot was the fact it is not adjustable. You are using the guide markings on the foot itself and its bi-level design for accuracy; there is no play to it at all, resulting in an extremely consistent stitch.

The wide needle drop hole has three guidelines; stitching can be placed 1.5mm, 5.0mm and/or 8.5mm from the fold.

The wide needle drop hole increases the options for using the Bi-Level Foot. A decorative stitch can be used in place of straight edgestitching or topstitching, or combined with lines of straight stitching. 

In the photo below of our initial testing, you can see how we first created a single line of stitching along a seam, then re-set the needle position to create a parallel line of decorative stitching. 

We then added a third parallel line of straight stitching to complete our pattern. You can see the finished pattern to the right in the photo below, in which we’ve once again moved and re-set – this time for a decorative-stitch-only test.

Using the foot with a twin needle

As we continued to play with this foot’s versatility, we realized it could also be used with a twin needle by carefully adjusting the width of the stitch so the needles clear the opening of the foot.

Twin needles are available in a number of widths. For our testing, we used a twin needle with a width of 2.0mm. This allowed us to safely use a stitch width of 5.0mm. 

To get ready for your own test, first select your favorite decorative stitch suitable for twin-needle stitching. Adjust the settings for this selected stitch until, using the machine’s hand wheel, you can slowly lower the twin needles so they completely clear the foot on either side of the needle drop opening. Don’t forget to test through a complete stitch pattern so you can watch the full left to right movement of the needles. 

Once you’ve made sure the needles clear, thread the machine with bobbin thread in the bobbin and 40wt embroidery thread in the needles. Make sure the threads are properly seated in the tension discs. Then, simply guide the foot along the seam, sewing at a steady, moderate speed.

We made a tucked pillow cover with a variety of stitch accents

Our finished sample is a pillow cover for an 18” x 18″ pillow.  There are five ½” tucks across the top of the pillow cover, each one accented with decorative stitches. 

The center line of decorative stitches is done with a single needle and metallic thread. 

The two lines of decorative stitches to either side of center are done with a 2.0mm twin needle, 40wt embroidery thread, and metallic thread. 

The two outer rows are both done with a triple straight stitch in 40wt embroidery thread. 

The back closure on the pillow cover is finished with a 1″ overlapping placket, topstitched in place with all purpose thread to match the fabric, also done with the Bi-Level Foot.

The Bi-Level Foot is designed for Janome machines with a top loading bobbin and a 9mm stitch width. It is recommended for medium to heavy weight fabrics such as denim, cotton canvas, cotton duck, outdoor fabrics, and medium to heavy-weight linen.

Check with your local, authorized Janome America Dealer for more information. 

Our thanks to S4H seamstress team member, Michele Mishler for her work on both the testing of the foot as well as the construction of the finished sample.

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Janet
Janet
7 days ago

Wow this website is fantastic I’m from the Uk
Really nice too meet you all 😀😎😎

Linda Bryan
Linda Bryan
14 days ago

I am impressed by the simple, clear, down-to-earth instructions and pacing of Janome’s public education postings. This one does not disappoint. Nice job showing us a new foot, an easy pillow project using decorative stitches, and a humble “we’re also learning” attitude that brings us into the bigger world of good home sewing. You are acting more like a big sister than a pompous lecturer. The best kind of teacher!

Jane Coombs
Jane Coombs
15 days ago

I have Janome Skyline 5 which is a high shank machine. I also have many presser feet for my grand daughters Janome Hello Kitty which is a low shank.I have heard I can buy an adaptor to convert high shank to low shank. Is this a good idea?

Jane Coombs
Jane Coombs
14 days ago
Reply to  Liz Johnson

Thx for the clarification. That was what I was thinking as well. I love my Skyline S5 and want to give it the respect it deserves. Such a workhorse.

Rochelle @ eSheep Designs
Rochelle @ eSheep Designs
15 days ago

Seeing this brings to mind the numerous times we all complain, “if only I had this tool, then I’d be able to do this really well”. In a lot of cases, it’s more about our skill set than the tool — practice does make perfect, after all — but I can certainly see how having these specialized feet can make things easier and less hair-pulling!
Lovely work by Michele as usual, by the way.

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