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Free motion sewing??

Novical | Posted in General Sewing Info on

Hello, everyone! I’ve recently started to take an interest in free-motion sewing, mainly for the purpose of quilting. I’ll be getting a new sewing machine soon, but right now I have a machine that you cannot drop the feed dogs down on. I do, however, have a darning plate (that covers the feed dogs). I also do not have a free-motion foot for my current machine. Could I use the darning plate and NO foot at all to do free-motion work until I get my new machine? Has anyone had any experience with this? Thanks in advance!


  1. Pattiann42 | | #1

    Always use a daring or free motion foot. 

    It helps keep the fabric from pulling up with the needle and thread and your fingers away from the needle.

    If you did not have the cover plate, you could set the stitch length to zero and that stops the motion of the feed dogs.


  2. valleyboy | | #2

    I am able to drop my feeddogs, but I did happen to read a tip in a magazine from someone in the same boat as you.

    They purchased a teflon sheet at the sewing store that you would use for ironing .

    They cut a square about 3"  from this teflon sheet and then cut a hole a little bigger than your bobbin hole.  They then taped this with the green tape used for painting (because it's easy to peel off) on their throatplate which then covers your feeddogs and I guess makes things a little smoother.   

    I also have heard other people say the same as some of the other here - that using some different feet will help too.


  3. Palady | | #3

    Spicegirl1's post is definitive to Novical.  Use the darning plate for free motion is necessary since the feed dogs are fixed.   But a foot will be also needed to keep the all from messing up.

    I have a free motion needle that I've had so long a time I've forgotten from whence it was bought.  It has a spring permanently attched to the needle shaft.  My guess is it was offered in a sewing catalog before embroidery machines came into vogue.   In use, the spring helps keep the thread from tangling. 

    Another gadget in my presser foot stash is a spiral wire that resembles a cone.  i.e., narrow at the bottom and wider at the top.  It attaches to the needle bar and functions much like the spring needle.  Again, I'm clueless as to where I bought it.

    I mention these "gadgets" in the curiosity of other members having like ones.

    An important point in free motion is the need to sew slowly with a planned eye as to how the fabric is moved.




  4. damascusannie | | #4

    Okay--I'm a professional quilter that specializes in freehand free motion quilting. I've had a custom quilting business for five years and have never used a long arm machine. Instead, my machine of choice is a 1950s Japanese-made 15 class machine mounted in over treadle irons--it doesn't get much simpler than this! I use a darning foot (this is really essential) but you do NOT need to drop the feed dogs in order to fm quilt, nor do you need to cover the dogs.

    Here's what can be accomplished with an old machine and the right foot. I apologize for the one picture--I accidentally downloaded it before I remembered to resize it. It's the one called "Wreath Back-close". Skip that one and look at "Wreath Back" instead.

    You don't say what your "old" machine is, but if it's fairly common, you should be able to get a darning foot for it and that's all you need to get started.


    1. ljb2115 | | #8

      Your quilting is absolutely exquisite.

      1. damascusannie | | #9


  5. Teaf5 | | #5

    A zigzag or satin stitch foot will work for free motion stitching, and you don't have to drop the feed dogs if you can loosen the pressure on the foot to the lightest it can go.  As long as you can drop the lever down but still be able to move the fabric with your fingers, you can direct the stitching; just be careful not to tug while the needle is in the fabric or get your fingers anywhere near the needle.

    Are you doing a random pattern or following a pattern like the beautiful photos already posted?

    1. damascusannie | | #7

      While I have done FM this way, it's significantly more work to manipulate the quilt sandwich than it is with the foot. If the sewing machine takes a typical short-shank foot, they are readily available, inexpensive (I get mine for less than $10, including shipping) and really do make the process much less fatiguing. I quilt an average of 15-20 queen-sized quilts a year, so it's important to me to minimize the fatigue, especially with the tendon/ligament damage I have in my arms and elbows.

  6. JanF | | #6

    Ive read all other replies to u for this question and agree with most of the comments but in regard to being able to do free motion with ur machine as it is - u should be able to.
    When I was taught to do this skill - the instructor never even showed us the darning foot - we started without any foot - just dropped the feed (or upped the bed with the additional plate)its just that u must keep ur fingers out of the way and for this reason I would suggest that as u r learning to do the skill anyway - it would help u to stretch ur fabric in an embroidery hoop and hold the hoop to move ur work.
    Just make sure that u put the hoop under the needle{dont forget to lower the presser foot even though u haven't got one on u need the tension}the correct way up - you need the fabric as close to the bed as possible so in fact u would be looking into the "well" that the hoop would create.The opposite way to using an embroidery hoop for hand embroidery.
    Sorry if I come across as being a teacher - occupational hazard!
    Let me know if this works for u!

    1. damascusannie | | #10

      Do you hoop your quilts when you FM quilt?

      1. JanF | | #11

        Sorry if I have given the impression that I make quilts - gave that up years ago as too time consuming!
        I do do small quilting versions on book covers, pics etc. and for this I occassionally use a hoop - I suppose it depends on the fabric choice and what I want to do - If I can get away without a hoop I do so as I find it more manageable without the hoop.
        I do start my pupils off using a hoop though because I think it helps them to keep the tension etc.

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