Free motion quilting (FMQ) is the technique of stitching through multiple layers of the quilt on a regular sewing machine with the feed dogs disengaged.
Unlike regular machine sewing with feed dogs, quilters control the size of their stitches by hand movements rather than by the machine.
In FMQ, quilts are usually quilted on a table-mounted quilting machine with a mid- or longarm attachment. Free motion quilting can be based on a stencil or pre-drawn line or free-hand without a drawn pattern.
Tools required for Free Motion Quilting
Free motion quilting requires only two things, which are:
- Free motion quilting foot
- Quilting gloves (provide a better grip)
Benefits of Free Motion Quilting
Free motion quilting allows a user to get complete control over the fabric, so a quilter can create any type of design they desire.
Rather than having to turn the quilt sideways or backward, it can be moved in any direction. Free motion quilting is faster than quilting with feed dogs engaged.
Unlike “stitch in the ditch” or straight-line grid quilting, the quilter can move across the quilt surface without following a line.
Besides adding beauty to quilts, free-motion quilting also helps quilters finish tops faster compared to regular quilting.
Free Motion Quilting challenges
The very nature of free-motion quilting poses a challenge. Since you are moving the quilt on your own without using feed dogs, you will be responsible for controlling the length of the stitches by balancing the movements of your hands and the speed of your machine operated by foot pedals. This often results in uneven stitches or gaps between stitches.
This is the reason why many beginners find free-motion quilting challenging. The stitching suddenly becomes a mess of small and big stitches. As you are responsible for moving the quilt, creating the design, and maintaining your machine’s speed, free-motion quilting can feel completely out of control.
Conclusion: is free motion quilting right for you?
Free motion quilting requires patience and time to master because you need to control the fabric alone without the assistance of a feed dog. Free motion quilting may seem like a difficult process, but it has its own advantages.
Using the free motion quilting method, you can create any design you wish, so there is no limit to what you can sew.
Although free motion quilting may seem difficult at first, it will become easier with practice and patience.
If you ask me whether free motion quilting is worthwhile, I would say yes. Try until you master it and you will be pleased with the outcome.
Good luck with your quilting!