Tuesday, 19 March 2013

FMQ Feet

So far we have talked about threads and needles for FMQ.

Today we are going to look at sewing feet you need for Free Motion Quilting.

Free Motion Quilting is a is like doodling with a pencil, but you are using you sewing machine!

You need the machine to allow you to move the fabric in all directions - not just forwards and backwards as you would usually use the sewing machine.

There are two elements that you need to enable the machine to do this:

  • Drop or cover the feed dogs
  • Darning or free motion foot

Feed Dogs

The feed dogs on a sewing machine grip the fabric and pull it through the machine whilst you are stitching, but they only pull it in one direction. To effectively FMQ you need to be able to move in all directions.

If your machine has a drop dogs function you can drop the feed dogs away and this will allow you to move in different directions whilst you quilt. This is a really effective way of FMQ, but you do need to make sure you check the tension on a scrap before you begin.

A sewing machine works best with the feed dogs up, so sometimes it will struggle with feed dogs down, so it is always worth trying them up if the tension seems off - sometimes this fixes the problem.

Covering the dogs, if you are able, is the best way to FMQ that I have found. The machine functions much better with the feed dogs engaged even if they are not touching the fabric.

Darning or free motion foot

Just with the feed dogs you need a foot that means you can move the fabric around easily in the machine. The foot needs to float over the fabric, but be low enough that the machine is engaged to sew.

There are two feet that you can use.

A traditional darning foot will allow you stitch and float at the same time - sounds funny I know!

The foot will allow you to move the fabric around and doodle!

The only draw back I have found is that it jumps up and down, which is really distracting when you are stitching. Plus you need to keep an eye on the tension whilst you are stitching.

If you can, then a free motion foot for you machine is a better investment. I love the Janome kit. It comes with 3 different attachments for the foot and you can lower and lift the foot mechanism, but it doesn't jump around. There is less stress about the tension as I work.

Out of the 3 attachments I prefer the closed loop to work with, the thread snags less and it is much smoother stitching, but that is just my preference!

I hope this helps on you FMQ adventure!

See you next week with a chat about designs!


  1. I'm really appreciating your FMQ tips as have just signed up for a workshop in a few weeks to venture in this directions. Thanks! Jill @ The Nocturnal Stitcher

    1. You will love it! It is so much fun!