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

Image courtesy of

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.



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