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Can you free motion quilt on any machine?


Many advances in regards to sewing machines have been done over the years, one is free motion quilting. Free motion quilting means the ability to stitch a quilt without the use of the feed dogs. Feed dogs march back and forth pulling your fabric under the presser foot while you sew. Their march is measured and precisely timed in increments which create the distance between each stitch. It is important to note that you will need the ability to lower or disengage your feed dogs. On most machines, this is a lever or switch found of the side or back of your quilting machine. Please check your manual if you are unsure whether your machine has this capability. Other than that, free motion quilting is just straight stitching. There are different presser feet that can make it easier to see as you stitch, these are called “free motion feet,” sometimes called a “darning foot,” and can come in many different varieties.

Free motion quilting is typically done on a full quilt rather than a quilt block, however, a “full quilt” can be any size of your choosing. For instance, you can use free motion to create a quilt that is about the size of a sheet of paper. This method of quilting is taught in various fabric stores so anyone can practice this method even as a beginner. In fact, it can be learned and practiced at any skill level. Some may even find that it is easier than sewing or piecing, as there is no measuring, marking, seam allowance, or anything to keep track of. It’s just simply doodling and having fun with thread. The great thing is that free motion quilting can be done on any regular sewing machine. It’s actually considered one of the fastest and fun way to quilt.

With free motion quilting, this allows you to adjust your tension. By making these adjustments, you can overcome your fear of quilting with and make the best stitch with quality. Controlling your speed with free motion quilting is also another skill you learn with free motion quilting. Free motion quilting is similar to driving a car because you need to be able to control your speed by knowing when and how to slow down, speed up, stop and start back up smoothly. It takes some time to find a balance of moving your hands along with the speed of your sewing machine.

With free motion, quilting one can really quilt for hours but that's only if your sewing table and chair are set up in accordance to the ergonomics of quilting. Which means that the sewing table and chair are setup properly so there is not a lot of strain to your back, arms, and shoulders. It’s only understandable that once you’re having fun and enjoying what you’re doing you don’t focus on these things but it is truly something to be extremely careful about.

Free motion quilting has given people the opportunity to quilt with ease especially since any regular sewing machine has the capability of free motion quilting. This method allows people to get creative with their styles of quilting by learning how to first master this technique of quilting. It’s amazing what a regular sewing machine can do when it’s just maneuvered a certain way. Various fabric stores offer classes to learn how to maneuver this type of quilting. Some basic learning information is to first find as much table surface area as you can that way you have enough work space. This will also give you plenty of space to move around your fabric. It is best to start free motion quilting with busy fabric prints because this allows you to hide your mistakes easily compared to if it is a solid color. Practice on scrap materials first just to avoid wasting fabrics which can be used for an actual quilting project.

Please be kind to yourself and allow yourself the time to learn this technique. At times it's only human nature to want to rush and learn something so fast but as the saying goes slow and steady wins the race. Don’t be hard on yourself; this will take some time to learn. Your first time around might not turn out to be as you expected to be but it’s ok. Be kind to yourself as you are learning this new style of free motion quilting. If you’re not interested in taking a class, then there are plenty of books out there that show you how to use your regular sewing machine and using this maneuver.

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