Sewing Machine Set Up for Free Motion Quilting

One of the most frequent questions I get asked is how I set up my sewing machine for free motion quilting so I made a video to show you how I do this.

There are really two things to consider: what tools you should have that will help you to free motion quilt easily and how to set up your sewing machine.

First, let's take a look at the tools. Having the largest area around the machine's needle to support the quilt will be very helpful. If you have an extension table, this is the time to put it on your sewing machine. If you don't have an extension table, a Sew Steady table is a great investment. 

 Image courtesy of amazon.com

Image courtesy of amazon.com

It's a good idea to have something underneath your quilt so that it will slide easily on the machine bed. I like to use the Supreme Slider: it's durable and can be easily cleaned.

You will also need something to help you grip the quilt and move it around. I like to wear Machingers for this purpose: they are lightweight and have rubberized tips on each finger that help you grab the quilt.

 
 

Now let's take a look at the machine set up. Whenever you are starting a new project, you should insert a new needle. You should also turn your stitch length to 0.

You will also want to put the appropriate foot on your sewing machine. You probably have a darning or free motion foot for your machine and you will need this when you are free motion quilting. 

You should lower the feed dogs on your sewing machine - or should you? If you are using the Supreme Slider, the feed dogs are already covered and some sewing machines actually work better when the feed dogs are up when free motion quilting. Try both on your machine to see which gives you the best results.

If you have a newer sewing machine, it probably has a speed control on it. This allows you to adjust how fast the machine is stitching - how fast the needle is going up and down - when you press the foot pedal. Play around with this until you can press the foot pedal all the way to the floor and are comfortable with the rate at which the machine is sewing. This means you don't have to think about what your foot is doing - you just need to focus on moving your hands.

 
Janome and embroidery project - 6.jpg
 

For more information on how I set up my sewing machine for free motion quilting, click on the image below to watch a video on my YouTube channel.

How do you set up your sewing machine for free motion quilting? Leave me your best tips in the Comments below.

Creatively,

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Book Review: Lunch-Hour Patchwork

Another book in the Lunch-Hour series by Martingale & Company, Lunch-Hour Patchwork features 15 easy to start and easy to finish projects by a variety of designers.

 
 Photo courtesy of www.martingale-pub.com

Photo courtesy of www.martingale-pub.com

 

Some of the projects you’ll find in Lunch-Hour Patchwork are a tote bag, a wall hanging, a picture frame, and a needle book. These projects are all simple enough for beginning quilters and just the right size to learn a new technique.

 
 Photo courtesy of www.martingale-pub.com

Photo courtesy of www.martingale-pub.com

 

As the title indicates, these are pieced projects – not an appliqué project in the mix at all. 

Since these projects are small in size, they are also good choices for using up your fabric scraps.

The various projects in Lunch-Hour Patchwork are also quick to make so if you need a quick gift, you can finds lots of ideas in this book.

 
 Photo courtesy of www.martingale-pub.com

Photo courtesy of www.martingale-pub.com

 

As there are a variety of techniques used to create the projects in Lunch-Hour Patchwork, they are good choices if you want to sample a new technique without having to commit to a large project – just in case you don’t like that particular technique.

You can see more of the projects in Lunch-Hour Patchwork by clicking on the image below to watch a video on my YouTube channel.

For your own copy of Lunch-Hour Patchwork, click here.

Creatively,

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P.P.S. I am an Amazon affiliate and will receive a small amount of compensation if your purchase a product by clicking through links in this blogpost. This allows me to continue to provide you with FREE content each week. Thank you.

Perfect 1/4" Seams with the Janome MC9400 O Foot

This is the last blogpost in my series about the new feet included in the Accessory Upgrade Kit for the Janome MC9400. Just because it is the last blogpost does not mean that the foot I’m going to tell you about is the least of the feet included in the kit. If you aren’t familiar with the Accessory Upgrade Kit and what is included in it, click here.

For most quilters, stitching a perfect ¼” seam is a constant struggle and any help we can get to achieve this is most appreciated. One of the feet included in the Accessory Upgrade Kit for the Janome MC9400 will definitely help you stitch that perfect ¼” seam. It is the O foot or ¼” seam foot without guide. Let’s take a closer look at this foot.

 
Janome Foot O without guide.jpg
 

If you are thinking that you may already have an O foot in your Janome MC9400 accessory storage box, you’re right! There is, however,  a significant difference between that foot and the new O foot: the new O foot doesn’t have a guide on it. The black metal piece that is on the right side of the foot when viewing it on your machine has now been removed. This guide is helpful for running along the edge of your fabric when stitching a ¼” seam. While I like this foot, I sometimes find that the metal piece can catch on loose threads and cause issues if I’m not watching carefully. You won’t have this problem with the new O foot as the black metal guide has been removed.

 
 

There are some other helpful features on the new O foot that I know you’re going to like. You will notice that there are some additional markings on this foot. There is a raised metal piece that extends to the edge of the front of the foot and this is ¼” away from the needle drop position. While this sounds complicated, what it really means is that you can use this guide to stitch another line ¼” away from a previously stitched line.

There are also three ¼” markings on the left side of the foot and these can be used in different situations, such as when you are at a corner and want to stop ¼” away from it to turn your fabric – or ½” or ¾” inch.

 
Janome O foot with pointer.jpg
 

If you’ve been using your original O foot on your Janome MC9400 and wishing that it didn’t have the metal guide on it, you’ll appreciate the new O foot without the guide as well as the additional markings on the foot.

For more information on the O foot and to see it in action, click on the image below.

Creatively,

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New Open-Toe Darning Foot for the Janome MC9400

Another new foot for the Janome MC9400!

You might wonder why the PD-H foot or darning foot is included in the Accessory Upgrade Kit for the Janome MC9400 and that’s a good question. If you aren't familiar with the Accessory Upgrade Kit and what it includes, click here for more information. Once you see it, you will understand: unlike the original PD-H foot included with the Janome MC9400, this is an open-toe foot. What does that mean and why should you be excited about it? Let me tell you.

 
Janome PD-H foot open-toe.jpg
 

The new PD-H darning foot will look similar to the original PD-H foot, with one big exception: there is a cut out at the front of the foot between the two red lines. This foot is an open-toe one, which means that you will have excellent visibility when using it.

 
Janome 9400 PD-H foot.jpg
 

As a quilter, I use this foot for free motion quilting and the better I can see my stitches when quilting, the better I like it! If you are a sewist, you will also find it easier to see what you are sewing when using it for darning or other applications.

I like to use the stitches in the Quilting area under the Sewing Application icon for this foot and you won’t notice any difference on your display screen. You will, however, notice a difference in how well you can see your sewing path when you are using the open-toe PD-H foot.

I would caution you on one thing when using the open-toe PD-H foot on your Janome MC9400: be careful not to catch the open area at the front of the foot on any loose threads or fabric as you are stitching along. As there is an opening at the front of the PD-H foot, it can catch on areas such as these. As long as you are watching where you are stitching, this shouldn’t be any problem.

I’m sure you’re going to really notice a difference when free motion quilting or darning on your Janome MC9400 with the open-toe PD-H foot and will appreciate the extra visibility.

To learn more about the open-toe PD-H foot, click on the image below to watch a video.

Creatively,

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Variable Zigzagging with the Janome MC9400

While I'm not sure if "variable zigzagging" is actually a verb, you'll be able to do it with the new QZ foot included in the Accessory Upgrade Kit for the Janome MC9400. For information about the Accessory Upgrade Kit and what new feet are included in it, click here.

 
 

The Variable Zigzag foot or QZ foot is the tiniest of the four feet in the kit. It is an open-toe foot, so it gives you a perfect view of your stitches. It allows you to create zigzag stitches up to 9 mm in width and, using the knee lifter, you are able to vary the width of these stitches. It’s sort of “look ma, no hands” stitching.

 
Janome 9400 variable zigzag foot.jpg
 

The QV foot originally included with your Janome MC9400 when you first bought it was used for variable zigzag stitching and while it can still be used for this purpose, I can see using the QZ foot going forward. The QV foot is perfect for free motion quilting around appliqués and for echo quilting as it has red lines on it that you can use for this purpose. The only issue that I sometimes have with this foot is that it reflects the light when I am stitching, making it difficult to see my stitching path. The open-toe design of the QZ foot eliminates this issue.

 
 

To start zigzagging with the QZ foot, click on the Sewing Application icon (the t-shirt icon) and choose “Quilting”. While the VZZ (variable zigzag) screen is still in this area, after you’ve upgraded your Janome MC9400, you’ll notice that it has changed slightly to include “RW” or Ruler Work. Options in the screen for variable zigzag stitching remain the same.

Like most of the presser feet included with the Janome MC9400, the QZ foot fits onto the presser foot holder. You just have to pay attention that you snap the presser foot holder onto both of the metal bars on the QZ foot, just like you do with the QC and QO feet. For more information on these feet and how to attach them, click here.

Once you’ve installed the QZ foot on the Janome MC9400, you’ll be ready to start having fun creating varying widths of zigzag stitches. This can take some practice as you have three things to thing about: controlling the machine speed with your foot pedal, moving the quilt under the needle and using your knee to vary the stitches by moving the knee lever out and in.

Click on the image below to learn more about the QZ Variable Zigzag Foot.

While the QZ foot is the foot to use for thread painting, it can also be used for creating unique stitch embellishments on your projects. With practice, you’ll be able to create dense satin stitches of varying widths or more open zigzag stitches. Remember to use a fabric stabilizer for satin stitches as the denseness of the stitches will distort your fabric if you forget this important step.

While you might only think of thread painting for the application of the QZ foot, consider using variable zigzag stitches to embellish the edges of your appliqué designs or as unique touches on garments.

Creatively,

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