Free Motion Quilting with Sewing Machine

Quilting is another way to enjoy sewing. Surely, there are a lot of designs in your mind and it’s very exciting to see them come alive in your quilting.

Free Motion Quilting

There are a lot of techniques that you can use when quilting and free motion quilting is one of them. So, what is free motion quilting anyway?

Free motion quilting is a quilting technique with the use of a sewing machine for stitching quilt sandwich. The stitches are added by sewing in any directional patterns on the quilt’s surface. It doesn’t require the use of feed dogs but needs a presser foot.

Every time the feed dogs are detached, you are already doing the free motion quilting. That is, even if you’re completing a pre-drawn line such as stencil line, or stitching a scribble from your memory.

Better Understanding of Sewing Machines

For us to understand how free-motion quilting works, we must understand our sewing machines better.

With standard sewings, such as stitching or piecing a seam, the feed dogs move the fabric with each stitch. The feed dogs are located below the footplate and are known as the “toothy” device. The stitch length button determines the distance of how the feed dog will move the fabric. It also varies the stitch in place to a ¼ inch on most sewing machines.

The challenge is that the feed dogs could only move the fabric forward and backward in a straight position. Because of it, we’re only limited to stitching straight or gently curved lines. It’s granted that curved and straight lines can create impressive quilts.

Ways to Disengage Feed Dogs

Remember that when we are doing the free motion quilting, we need to disengage the feed dogs first. These are the common ways to do it:

  • Most machines have a press button where the feed dogs lower out of the way.
  • Some older machines will require the covering of the feed dogs. This covering is called a Supreme Slider. It produces a slippery surface allowing the fabric to glide easily.
  • Another way is setting the stitch length to 0 to disengage the feed dogs. Setting the stitch length to zero will keep the device immobile. The set-up will provide the quilter absolute control of the movement.

The next thing to do is we need to choose a different kind of presser foot. This is because the feed dogs work with presser foot and we have changed the function of it.

In standard sewing, the piecing foot keeps motionless. The feed dogs let go of the fabric with every stitch for movement. Alternatively, if we’re free-motion quilting, the feed dogs are disengaged. That requires a presser foot to release the fabric.

After doing the necessary disengagements of the feed dogs, you’re now ready to do your much-awaited free motion quilting. You’re now in control and has the power to determine the stitching line directions and the length of each stitch.

And at but not least, if you haven’t bought your sewing machines yet, check out our list of best sewing machines for quilting and pick one for yourself.

Leave a Comment