Machine Quilting Quick Tips

Craftsy Free Motion Quilting

Good Morning, Quilters!

Last week we worked on creating a smooth stitching line by moving one thing at a time…

Whenever you need to move your hands, stop sewing with the needle in the down position.

As you start sewing again, it can be challenging to create even stitches.  It is important to coordinate your hand movement with your foot speed.

As you resume stitching…Say out loud “R-e-a-d-y, stitch!” 

This will help your timing.

As you gain more experience, you can just say it in your head.

Later it will become part of your natural rhythm.

YOUR ASSIGNMENT:  Ready, Stitch!



PS…All tutorials, images and information are the property of Lori Kennedy at The Inbox Jaunt.  For all other purposes, please contact me at  Thanks!

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Doodle to Design, Craftsy, Lori Kennedy

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31 thoughts on “Machine Quilting Quick Tips

  1. I was trained to take one stitch in place (needle down) and then start moving my hands by Diane Gaudynski and it also gave me time to get in motion smoothly. Thank you for your superb machine quilting tips and web site!

  2. Lori, Are you using a Bernina? It doesn’t look like you use a BSR. I can’t get used to mine in FMQ.. I am new to FMQ and I feel more comfortable without using the BSR. Any comment/suggestions other than the obvious – PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE?

  3. Thank you for all these wonderful tips Lori…. I have been having so much fun with free motion quilting… which is something I thought I would never say!! I also use a 770QE without the BSR…. as a beginner to FMQ I found it off-putting and now I quilt without it I am happy to continue.

  4. Off the subject question…what is best way/place to pre-order your book coming out in March? Thanks…I have credit cards and Paypal.

  5. Oh, and those who pray, please remember the south GA tornado victims…only 2 hours from us. We need to get to work on some comfort quilts here. Their delivery would need prayer also.

  6. I was at a quilting retreat this weekend. We had a guest vendor who was extremely knowledgeable about tools and supplies including quilting tools, feet and templates. After her quilting demo she let us try tools. Her tip for more consistent free motion stitching was to adjust the machine speed down to about half and when stitching, and keep the foot pedal floored. This creates a consistent stitch speed and you only have to concentrate on moving your hands and quilt smoothly, rather than trying to adjust the pressure on the foot pedal to coordinate with the speed at which you are moving your hands as you quilt. This trick also applies to any other free motion work such as earning or embroidery.

    • Great advice! Goes along with Lori’s ‘one thing at a time’, so you can focus on just moving your hands.

    • I’m proud to say that I figured that one out on my own. On my Janome HC8200, the ideal setting (at least for me) is just above half. The other thing that I’ve found is that I need to put gentle pressure on my work in the direction I want to keep going or I get an unwanted “zig” in my line.

      p.s. Thanks to this site, my FMQ is improving!!!

  7. Lori, how do you handle quilting over ‘fat’ or ‘lumpy’ intersections, especially where 4,6,8 points intersect?

    • I usually avoid that section by stitching a circle or square around it or make it the center of a motif like a flower.

  8. I am ready to give up trying to free motion quilt. The weight of the quilt is so frustrating. I feel like I am fighting and tugging and therefore the stitches jump and zig zag all over the place. Practice pieces are small and easy to move around but real life projects are just undoable. My hands and shoulders just ache with the effort. Do you recommend the quilt suspension systems that I have seen on Pinterest? The weight of the quilt is attached to clamps.

    • I am curious about the quilt suspension systems as well after seeing them demonstrated in Houston.

      • I have used a quilt suspension system with my Sitdown machine. It definitely does help with the big quilts. Also, need to work on stopping often and readjusting the quilt when working on the big projects rather than trying to stitch that last few inches first…that’s what gets a lot of us into trouble I think.

    • I have NEVER been able to FMQ comfortably anything larger than a baby quilt! I just finished a 53 x 53 quilt called Prism (kit from Craftsy) and it drove me crazy to echo quilt the whole thing. I’ll take larger quilts to my longarm friends and avoid the hassle! (AND I’ve been free-motion stitching since 1966!) Just can’t deal with the bulk. I like the suspension idea, but I don’t have the room for anything like that.

    • I just did a king on my domestic sewing machine – I put the machine on my dinning table so that keeps the weight of the quilt from hanging. All the quilt is on the table and then I fluff and bundle the quilt around the sewing machine so that I’m only focused on what is under the needle. I don’t use those rings or roll my quilt just smooch it around. It does occasionally get sort of caught, or the weight is uneven on the table. I’ll feel it tugging, I just re-smooch it so that it will be free flowing again. I’ve heard of others putting an extra table behind and/or towards the left of the machine. (Gee – I hope that was helpful. Rereading it I’m not sure it makes sense. )

    • Diana, I got myself a clamp-on dog grooming arm, hung a couple of heavy duty clamps (the big square ones with trigger release which are a lot easier than the ones you squeeze) make sure they have holes in the handle for tying them to the arm. Clamp up your quilt and enjoy your fmq more. Patsy Thompson has this set up on her blog/you tube channel. Her ones are a bit expensive so I bought the dog groomer arm. I am in the uk and got mine from Amazon.

    • Diana, I feel your pain. I just finished quilting a kingsize quilt on my domestic machine and but really wasn’t too difficult. The trick is to “puddle” the quilt. Well, first of all, you have to be able to support all the extra quilt weight–on the sewing table surface, on the ironing board I place to the left of my sewing table, and I throw the excess quilt over my right shoulder at times, and sometime I use my “bosom” as a table for holding some of the weight! I’m generously endowed! Whatever works. Then, to create the puddle, you smooth out the area you’re going to work on–about a 10″ square usually. Then bunch up the excess quilt all around it. When you make all those puddles, you only have to move the quilt in the 10″ area where you’re stitching. There is enough give in the bunched up quilt that you should not have to move very much of it. When you’ve finished stitching in the puddle, stop the machine (needle down), pick up your hands, and move the quilt so you can form another puddled area and then begin stitching again. I hope I’ve described it well enough, because I want you to be happy with FMQ and not worn out! I’m sure there are online videos that will demonstrate this as well. Good luck, and keep practicing.

      • Appreciate this description..thanks…. I still wish the open area to the right of my presser foot was 20 X 20 inches….LOL I am already blessed with a large drafting table.

  9. Yes, I have the suspension system and it makes a big difference to take that weight off the table where the quilt is laying and the clamps are really easy to operate that holds the quilt. Makes it so much easier of arms and neckkkk!!

  10. Agree. Steps make us consistent and tidy.
    I just have a mechanical machines. My White machine is the sturdiest.
    I do not like to push my antique machines too hard, I use them daily.
    For all quilting, I use the White, or sometimes the Janome Hello Kitty, which is also mechanical and sturdy.
    Your ideas are so colorful and one just has to try them!

  11. Lori, I have difficulty maintaining a smooth line of stitching after I’ve stopped for a bit. Especially if I’ve had to move the quilt around a bit. Any tips on how to make sure the next stitch is in line with the previous ones? Thanks for all your help to all us “Lori Wannabes.” 🙂

      • Marta, I’ve had a lot of trouble with this as well. What has worked best for me (in a comment above) is to put gentle pressure on the work in the direction I want my stitching line to continue before you start sewing again. Hope this helps.

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