Open Line Friday–Stitch Regulators

Pumpkin Free Motion Quilting, Stitch RegulatorsGood Morning, Quilters!

We certainly had a resounding response yesterday when I asked YOU if my little quilt needed more quilting!

I will be adding more quilting…which puts one more in the UFO column!–

I plan to add the quilting this weekend and will re-post my “finished quilt” photos next week.

Thanks for your responses!


The question I am most frequently asked:  Do you use a stitch regulator?

Pumpkin Free Motion Quilting, Stitch RegulatorsTHE ANSWER

No, I have never used a stitch regulator.

When I started to learn free motion quilting, stitch regulators were not available.  (Otherwise I’m sure I would have wanted to try one…I’ve tried EVERYTHING related to FMQ over the past ten years!)

After I was already fluent with free motion quilting, I tried the Bernina Stitch Regulator and I found it completely discombobulated my own rhythm!

(Plus,  it was always beeping at me for moving too fast…not very conducive to relaxing and getting in a groove!)


First, the regulator attaches to the machine like any foot.  (Regulators are not available for many machines.)

Next, the quilters chooses the desired stitch length.

Once stitching, the regulator senses how fast the fabric is moving and the computer speeds up or slows down the needle to create the desired stitch length.

If you go too fast…BEEP!

You do not have full control over the speed and you don’t develop your own rhythm.

Pumpkin Free Motion Quilting, Stitch Regulators


When someone asks me if I use a stitch regulator, what they really want to know is:  Should they buy a stitch regulator….

If you a serious about free motion quilting for the long-term…I would say “NO”…Eventually you need to develop your own rhythm.

Stitch regulators have been compared to training wheels, so they may be beneficial.

However, anything that hinders you from developing your own timing is ultimately not a good idea.

Stitch regulators are very costly AND you are trading short-term benefits for long-term gains.

Go for the long-term.

Pumpkin Free Motion Quilting, Stitch Regulators

Now that’s just my opinion…

Do YOU have any experience with stitch regulators?

What’s YOUR opinion?

We’d LOVE to hear!


PS…The Pumpkin quilt was made last year.

You might also like The Perfect Pumpkin Free Motion Quilt Tutorial

and Braided Wheat Free Motion Quilt Tutorial

PS…All tutorials, information and images are the property of Lori Kennedy at The Inbox Jaunt and are intended for personal use only.  Feel free to re-blog, Pin or share with attribution to The Inbox Jaunt.  For all other purposes, please contact me at  Thanks!

45 thoughts on “Open Line Friday–Stitch Regulators

  1. My Bernina 750 came with a stitch regulator when I bought it last year. I’d been FMQ for about 2 yrs before that. Didn’t have any trouble adjusting to it and love using it. I love the fact I can go very slow when I need to and still get consistent stitches.

  2. My stitch regulatory came with my Bernina 440. I’ve used it for small wall hangings, but didn’t care for it on anything larger. On larger quilts there would be long stitches between when I would stop and restart. Even when I switched it from BSR 2 (motion controlled) to BSR 1 (foot pedal controlled). I could never get the even stitches it promised.

    • I have the same issue! Still get inconsistent stitching, especially when going in a certain direction. It;s like it can’t “see” a certain way.

  3. I am happy to hear that you don’t use a stitch regulator .I often have wished that I could afford a machine with one and now I think who cares! This gives me hope that I can get there eventually.

  4. Lori, I totally agree with you. I had a stitch regulator with my MegaQuilter on the Inspira frame. I used it once and took it off. I had done enough FMQ to be able to control the speed of my hands and the machine and the regulator couldn’t keep up with me and was just annoying. Luckily the dealer had thrown it in for no extra cost so I didn’t feel bad about sticking it in a drawer and forgetting it. And whenever anyone asks me about a stitch regulator, I also tell them it’s not always a help and you should try to develop your own rhythm. I now quilt on a BabyLock Tiara which has a stitch regulator available but the cost is crazy!! Love your quilting motifs – they are so much to see!!

  5. We’re talking longarm here…I have the best stitch regulator currently made on my longarm – Lightning Stitch. Yep, VERY expensive. It never beeps at me 🙂 and I never get a long stitch coming out of a point (think stars) or a short stitch going into a tight place where I slow down. I absolutely, positively could NOT quilt without it!!! I am not a smooth quilter…I go fast (over 2,000 SPM) when I’m quilting something easy for me and when it is hard I can sometimes count the stitches cuz I’m REALLY slow! I think, that for me, the investment was totally worth it and I love how it works. Makes working with rulers (lots of stop and go there) really easy. Maybe I’m weird, but I have been known to check out my stitches with a magnifying glass!!! If I HAD to quilt on my DSM, I would be using the walking foot…all the time, every time!!

  6. I agree with you, Lori. No stitch regulator for me. I also think it hinders the quilter in the long run because you become dependent, and a little lazy, using it. You don’t practice the hand/foot coordination on your own, and don’t develop that skill as fast. I too tried a stitch regulator at a quilt shop, and yes it was fun, but I felt it was a “toy”. A nice, expensive toy. Fun to use, sure, but not necessary. And again, as you stated, this is just my personal opinion.

  7. I also feel very discombobulated with a stitch regulator. My first Bernina didn’t have the additional feature of the the stitch regulator, so I learned to do without. Now I can’t do free motion quilting with a stitch regulator to save my life. You are right about getting into your own groove while free motion stitching. This is important to successful stitching. Thanks for all your tutorials, they are fantastic.

  8. After years of trying to FMQ. I took a Longarm class at one of the quilt shows, the machine had a regulator on it and my movements and stitches were awful..the lady told me that if I had never used one, it will hinder you. My stitches for the most part are OK, my biggest problem is not having the time to practice FMQ or to Doodle to get the movements flowing and to be consistent! I love you what you do and love the article in AQS each month, read the latest one last night, you do such a great job! Thanks

  9. I own a computerized Singer, and a stitch regular is not available for it, although I truly wish it was! It may be “training wheels” but I sure could use them. I’ve only been practicing for several months, and am now starting to make “real” stuff ( yes, Lori, I saved my practice pieces for little mats to go underneath things!) and I’m so unhappy with how my stitches look. I have not yet been able to find my rhythm and some of my stitches are very short, some normal, and some too long! At this point I’m wondering if they will ever even out to be the same, and look somewhat like yours. The ones you do are so perfect, they look like you used a regulator!!!

    • Me. too. Me, too…Siigh!..will keep trying cause it sounds like long term practice is what does it. I hope it doesn’t take as long as the piano. I quit after 4 years. (many years ago) 🙂 My fellow quilters who have perfect stitches use a regulator. I am glad to decide I can mark it off my wish list.

  10. My Bernina came with a stitch regulator. Looks just like the one in your picture. 🙂 I used it for a while when I first got my machine, but I could never get the stitch length where I wanted it. They were always tiny little stitches. I put it in a drawer and it resides there still. Another friend of my who loves hers, borrowed it for a while when her machine was on the fritz. We were hoping it was the BSR. An easy, cheap fix considering I would have sold her mine CHEAP, but no. It’s her machine. Something is wrong and it doesn’t recognize the BSR any longer. In the meantime, she’s learned to quilt quite well without it (she’s an amazing quilter) and maybe she’ll decide she doesn’t want to spend the money on the fix. Who knows!?

    Thanks so much for your generosity. I enjoy your blog each day and have gained so much knowledge from it. Best Stitches!

    • The length of your BSR stitches is determined by the stitch length you have your machine set at. Increase your machine stitch length to 3.0 and see how your stitches look. Also, be sure to drop your machine pressure (not tension) to 0 to eliminate any drag. Maybe that will help you.

  11. I learned to free motion without a stitch regulator and can achieve excellent results. When I got my bernina 820 I was determined to learn the BSR. Now I can FM with the BSR or without. The BSR does not change my tempo and it never beeps at me. I love the BSR and if you have one, learn to use it!! If you don’t have a stitch regulator and struggle with inconsistent stitches, buy one. It will take some getting use to, but once you master it, you’ll love it. When I teach FM I demo without a stitch regulator as I want my students to recognize the need to coordinate machine speed and hand speed. Having said that, I think it is important to initially learn FM without a stitch regulator. Again this is only my opinion.

  12. I taught myself to free motion quilt. I was never really happy with the results, however. Probably due to not enough practice. I recently bought a new Bernina 560 and popped the extra money for the BSR. It was offered at a nice discount, so it was not as pricey as normal. Still, it was no small investment. I thought that it would make my free motion quilting way better. It did not. Even adjusting the stitch length did not help a great deal. I am not really happy with it. The local dealer told me that she had the same result and felt that she was sewing in a jerky, uneven manner and that was the problem. Once she smoothed out her movements, the BSR worked great. That sounds backwards to me. The whole idea of the stitch regulator (I thought) was to correct for uneven movements by the quilter. If you can quilt smoothly, why would you need the darn thing? I feat it will also come to live in a dark forgotten corner of some drawer in my sewing room.

  13. I agree with absolutely everything you said! I had the same experience and am really glad I learned to machine quilt before trying one.

  14. I have a Bernina 440QE and I had the same problem you have …. beep !!
    So I learned free motion without this piece and have my own stitch regulation and speed.
    I totally agree with you.

  15. Do whatever makes you smile. I started FMQ without BSR for 5 years – and loved it. The last 3½ year I have used BSR on both my Aurora 430 and Bernina 710. And I love that too! It hasn’t made me lazy – I haven’t lost my hand/foot/eye coordination. Instead it makes me smile for every time I quilt.

  16. When I first started on a Pfaff grand quilter (midarm) there was a stitch regulator, but it eventually broke. The regulator not the machine! I began free motion w/o the regulator and did OK. just larger stitches.
    I moved up to a Nolting, w a stitch regualtor, or you can turn it off. I was trying to make your dragon fly, but was unhappy w my larger stitches. I turned on the stitch regulator and it was FABULOUS. the dragonflys looked great too! So I guess it has it’s place.

  17. I tried a stitch regulator for the first time while shopping for a long arm. I was impressed with it and thought it was a cool tool. When I got home and started working on a UFO I found I didn’t need one.When did that happen?

  18. I have a Bernina 530 which did not come with a stitch regulator. Since I was just learning to FMQ, I went ahead and bought the stitch regulator for an outrageous price, and never could get used to using it. It is much easier to control my stitch length with my hands and feet. With the BSR I get long stitches mixed in with my other stitches, as well as the beeps. My suggestion would be to take a few months and FMQ every day for a half hour just like hen practicing the piano, and you’ll see huge results.

  19. I have a Handi Quilter Sweet 16 (sit down machine) so it’s basically a sewing machine with a longer throat. It has a stitch regulator that is very difficult to use (not the same as on the long arms). Dealers kept pushing it, but I couldn’t get it to work for me. I have been FMQ’g for about a year and while I still need practice getting the stitch length more consistent, the stitch regulator isn’t for me.

  20. I use a BSR with my Bernina 440 QE and love it. I do appreciate the fact that those who learned FMQ without it prefer not to use it, but I don’t think it’s necessary to learn your own rhythm or timing if you don’t need or want to. Like any quilting tool, some will use and like it and some won’t. One isn’t better than the other, just different. We all do what works for us and can turn out beautiful quilting either way.

  21. I had done thread play on an older machine and just learning to do FMQ when I bought a Bernina with a Stitch Regulator. I focused on using for a couple of years, but found that I really did a better job on my own. Some swear by the stitch regulator. I think it has a purpose, but I see it better for beginners who are afraid to try on their own. On the other hand, the BSR is way overpriced for the value, so I would recommend that quilters really focus on finding their hum-purr stitch and practice and they can save a lot of money spent on the BSR that they can spend on fabric, or other quilty fun activities.

    note: A BSR on a domestic machine, like a Bernina, is not like a stitch regulator on a longarm, so my response and advice only pertains to the BSR on the Bernina.


  22. The BSR for the home machine is a waste of money. It was so disappointing to purchase it and then have it not work well. It was too slow.

  23. I longed for a Bernina that could be fitted with the BSR, but all I could afford was the Aurora 170, used, off eBay. I was so frightened of the Free Motion Quilting (FMQ) learning curve that I just pieced top after top. I am an amazing piecer now! Finally I knew I had to face down the FMQ dragon and took a week long course, no stitch regulator allowed, at Empty Spools. It changed my life! If I can free motion, anyone can. By the third day I had found my rhythm, my “humm-purr” as teacher Cindy Needham called it. After that, it is just practice, practice, practice (as Yehudi Menuhin says!). So do FMQ exercises ie. a Craftsy course, for a whole week, all day and every day, and you will be on your way. Now I try to FMQ at least once a day, building confidence and skill. It works, even if all you have is 5 minutes.

    • “westernwilson”……After doing a 2 day fmq quilting demo on my domestic machine (Juki TL2010Q…..NO stitch regulator!!!!) and trying to explain/encourage others to try fmq on their machines and the need for daily (15 min, or so) time spent, I sure could have used someone/YOU(!) with me to “spread the (fmq) love”!!! I couldn’t agree more with your comment and I follow Cindy’s “hum-purr” thought totally!!!! You rock!!!!!!!

  24. I love the stitch regulator with my Bernina. I don’t free motion often enough or have enough time to practice the way I need to, so it helps me to keep my stitches neat and even. I’d love to be able to do what you do, but I just plain don’t have the time to devote to it and small isn’t my specialty, I’m just not good at doing small.

  25. I use a stitch regulator and love it. I’ve used it with my Bernina for free motion and on a short arm quilting frame; I’ve also been happy with the results I’ve had when not using the stitch regulator, I can keep my stitches pretty even most of the time but not always, and for some things I really like that slightly uneven look. I want my sewing to look handmade but not homemade! I think if I took the time to quilt a little every day or even every week I would improve to the point where I wouldn’t need the regulator, but even though I do sew almost every day, as I do all sorts of different types of sewing , not just quilting, I couldn’t easily fit it in. So for me the stitch regulator is worth every penny. Love your tutorials Lori! Lola.

  26. I used the regulator to learn how to FMQ, but after a while I ditched it. I explained to the husband it was like driving an automatic. Eventually you learn to use a stick.

    So, I DID show him how to FMQ and started him with the BSR, just so he could focus on one thing at a time. After a while I’ll switch him to the darning foot.

  27. I’ve been free motion quilting for many years, and last year I bought a new Bernina, and the dealer added the stitch regulator. I use it occasionally, mostly when I am trying to stitch very close to the edge of an applique, as it keeps the stitches more even, but for general quilting, I trusty myself to stitch without it. I usually judge my speed by sound, and had to learn the new perfect machine sound to get an even stitch length.

  28. I fmq for 20 years before I got my Bernina 750 that came with a BSR foot. It took practice to get results that I liked, just as it took practice when I first started fm quilting. I love my BSR and use it for all size quilts.

  29. What a great conversation! Waving madly at utahoosier up there… I’m the friend who tried to borrow hers in an attempt to see if it was the BSR or my Bernina 440QE that had the glitch. I wasn’t very good at fmq’ing for a long time. About a year ago, it “clicked”. Now I’ve gotten fairly good at it! (Keep up the practice and it will click for you too!)

    I didn’t think that I was coordinated enough to push the “gas” and drive the car at the same time… The BSR let me get comfortable with one thing at a time. I too, had problems with the BSR moving at certain angles and such, but I found if I slowed down in the inside corners, or came at something from a different angle, it responded much better.

    I was really bummed when my BSR stopped working. Grudgingly, I got out the darning foot to see if I could do it. (I had 3 challenge quilts with deadlines fast approaching.) To my surprise, I found I could! What a thrill! If I had a long/mid arm, I think I would still be inclined to use stitch regulation… I do see a mid/long arm in my future. Hopefully, sooner rather than later!

    Thanks for sharing your talents with us Lori! You are so inspiring!!! Yours, Ruth

  30. When I first “test-drove” a Bernina with BSR I was quite new to quilting. But I didn’t see that it made quilting any easier or better. Now I’ve been quilting for a longer time, have tried quilting with and without the BSR. I still don’t see that it helps keep my stitches even. But the worst thing is that it really restricts my visibility with that big white foot attachment. I can’t see where I’m going or if there is a safety pin I’m about to run into. So no, I don’t use my BSR. Love my Bernina machines, though!

  31. I have a Bernina 750 which came with a BSR (stitch regulator). A few months ago, my machine quit recognizing the BSR foot. Took it back to Bernina, they had to replace the BSR. Have had it back a couple of months, used it many times, and now again, the BSR not working. Seems my machine just doesn’t recognize it. Anyone else had this problem? I am very frustrated. This was an expensive machine. The BSR foot costs about $1200. Has anyone else had this problem?

  32. I have the 750 as well.. No problems with the BSR. BUT I have terrible straight stitches. I took to the dealer and they did some kind of fix. Replaced something that was a manufacturers problem.. Stitched well for 1 week.. My stitches are not in a straight line. instead one stitch is a little to the left, then the next one is a little to the right of center… has anyone else had that problem.. I have a bernina virtuosa 160 and those stitches are great.

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