How To Set Sewing Machine For Free Motion Quilting

Threading the Machine

Before starting any free motion quilting project, the most important step is to thread the sewing machine properly. Select an appropriate thread for the project and load it into the sewing machine. It is important to ensure that the tension on the thread is set right – otherwise, the stitches will have loops or other inconsistencies. To check the tension, make a few test stitches. If the tension isn’t right, adjust it using the knobs on the machine. Also, ensure that the bobbin is loaded correctly as it affects the quality of the stitching.

Choosing the Needle

Needles are probably the most overlooked part of the sewing process, yet they make a big impact. For free motion quilting, a special quilting needle should be used – the needle should be sharp and have a large eye, a pointy tip and a wide area in the back near the eye. It is best to select needles that are labelled ‘universal’ or ‘sharps’. Additionally, the needle should be appropriate for the fabric, so it is important to be aware of the type of fabric being used. For example, lightweight fabrics will require a 70/10 needle, and thicker fabrics will require a 80/12 needle.

Setting the Feed Dogs

The next step is to set the feed dogs. The feed dogs are the metal pieces in the sewing machine that move fabric while sewing. For free motion quilting, they should be lowered to the lowest setting, or removed entirely. To do this, remove the needle plate and lower the feed dogs to the lowest setting. To remove the feed dogs, use a flat head screwdriver and unscrew the screw that is located between the feed dogs.

Adjusting the Throat Plate

The throat plate is the metal plate that covers the bobbin area of the sewing machine. To simplify the free motion quilting process, the throat plate should be adjusted to a larger size. This will allow more fabric to pass through the machine and make free motion stitching easier. To adjust the throat plate, remove the needle plate and loosen the screws – then adjust the plate to the desired size.

Choosing a Walking Foot

A walking foot, also known as an even-feed foot, is an attachment that fits onto the sewing machine. It is specially designed for free motion quilting, as it helps the fabric to move evenly and smoothly while stitching. To attach the walking foot to the machine, loosen the screw on the foot and slide it onto the machine until it clicks into place.

Attaching the Quilt Hoop

The quilt hoop is an attachment to the table of the sewing machine, and it is used to keep the fabric in place and make it easier to move the fabric when stitching. To attach the hoop to the sewing machine, slide the arms of the hoop onto the machine until it clicks into place. If the hoop is too big, the size can be adjusted by releasing the locking bolts at the top of the hoop.

Adjusting the Stitch Length

For free motion quilting, it is important to adjust the stitch length to the desired size. The stitch length will depend on the type of quilt, so it is important to review the design before adjusting the stitch length. As a general rule, the stitch length should be set between 8-15 stitches per inch.


Setting a sewing machine for free motion quilting is not as difficult as it may seem. The key is to ensure that the machine is properly threaded and the right attachments are used. With the right setup, free motion quilting becomes an enjoyable and rewarding experience.

Stress-relief Techniques for Quilters

It is important to be aware of the potential for stress while quilting. Many quilters experience anxiety and stress when taking on a difficult quilting project, and it can be overwhelming to try and make everything perfect. To relieve stress, it is important to take regular breaks and allow yourself to relax. There are a number of relaxation techniques such as mindfulness, progressive muscle relaxation and guided imagery that can be used to reduce stress. Additionally, spending time in nature can also be beneficial – go for a walk in a park or a nature reserve, or take some time to enjoy a cup of tea in a quiet spot.

Dealing with Mistakes

One of the biggest challenges that quilters face is learning how to deal with mistakes. Making mistakes is an inevitable part of the quilting process, and it is important to accept that no one is perfect. The key is to not be too hard on yourself, and to try and find ways to fix the mistake without much effort or stress. One of the most important things to remember is that is it possible to fix almost any mistake, as long as one is patient and creative. Taking a break from the project and coming back to it with a fresh pair of eyes can also be helpful.

Designing a Quilting Project

When designing a quilting project, it is important to keep in mind the type of fabric, the size of the quilt, and the pattern of the quilting. It is also important to be aware of the techniques that will be needed to achieve the desired results. Beginners should plan simple projects so that they can get used to the quilting process, while more experienced quilters may want to take on more complex projects. It is also important to take into account the design aspect – when selecting fabric, consider the colours, patterns and textures that will bring the quilt to life.

Longarm Quilting Machines

Longarm quilting machines are the perfect solution for quilters who don’t have the time or patience to design their own quilting projects. These machines have a long arm that allows quilters to stitch larger quilts in no time. The machine is pre-programmed with stitching patterns, allowing the quilter to simply select the desired pattern and start quilting. This eliminates the need for tedious free motion quilting and makes the process much quicker and easier.

Quilting Machines for Quilters on a Budget

Quilting machines can be expensive, and not everyone has the budget to purchase a top-of-the-line machine. Fortunately, there are a number of lower-cost quilting machines available, such as entry-level domestic sewing machines and mid-range lightweight machines. These machines are perfect for quilters who are just starting out or who have limited experience with quilting.

Quilting Tools and Accessories

It is important to have the right tools and accessories when quilting. This includes quilting rulers, scissors, rotary cutters, thimbles and pins. Quilting rulers are essential for accurately measuring and cutting fabrics, while scissors and rotary cutters are used for cutting fabric. Thimbles are an important safety tool, as they protect the quilter’s hands from the sharp needles. Pins are used to hold fabrics in place while the quilter is piecing the quilt together.

Caring for Quilts

Caring for quilts is an essential part of the quilting process. Quilts should be regularly inspected for any damages, and the fabrics should be washed and dried on a gentle cycle. It is also important to ensure that the fabrics used are colorfast and any embellishments are securely attached. Additionally, quilts should be stored in a dry, dark place to prevent fading and color running.

Geoffrey Kirby is an experienced author and sewist who has been creating sewn projects for over 20 years. He has a passion for teaching beginners and inspiring more advanced sewists both online and through his writings. Outside of writing about sewing, Geoffrey loves to explore new techniques and styles of sewing that incorporate upcycling fabric remnants into sweet items with personality.

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