How to Free Motion Quilt On a Regular Sewing Machine

If you want to be able to quilt your own quilts on your own sewing machine but are worried that you don’t think you have the right quilting equipment, fear not. It is totally possible to add beautiful texture to your quilts without having to purchase a special machine.

If your machine is able to sew a straight stitch, then it can absolutely be used for quilting. In this article, we’re going to show you how to do exactly that. Read on for more information.

A Brief Overview of Free Motion Quilting

For those that are not 100% sure about what free motion quilting is, here’s a quick explanation:

Free motion quilting is a specific machine quilting style that can be performed at a home sewing machine, or at a long arm quilting machine. In order to free motion quilt, you’ll need to use a darning foot (or something similar), which is a particular foot that is meant to hover over the quilt’s surface. This allows you to move the quilt in all directions.

This freedom of movement in turn allows you to create beautiful patterns and designs over the surface of your quilts, which is a core component of quilt design.

The Tools

There are a couple of things that you are going to need to get started with quilting on your regular sewing machine. Here are the tools you will need:

  • Thread – It helps to find thread that comes in large reels because quilting tends to use up a lot of thread. We also recommend getting a thread stand to make your life just a little bit easier.
  • Stitching needles – This is generally a must-have in any sewing kit, so you probably have a few on hand already. Be sure to keep them close, because you’re going to need them when quilting.
  • A sticky glove – Sticky gloves are incredibly useful when sewing or quilting, and there are plenty on Amazon for great prices.
  • Spray baste – Spray baste makes life a whole lot easier when it comes to taking off safety pins. It makes the process so much easier, and also allows you to cruise without worrying about getting onto a pin.
  • Your sewing machine – This is the most important tool in your arsenal and is necessary for all kinds of sewing projects.

We should mention that not all of these tools are absolutely necessary to start out. You could even start quilting with a very basic sewing machine and a standard free motion quilting foot and still manage to create a queen-size quilt. You can upgrade gradually as you become more confident.

How to Free Motion Quilt On a Regular Sewing Machine

Now, let’s get onto the part that you actually came here for!

Method 1: Covering the Feed Dogs

If you are unable to lower or disengage your feed dogs to get them out of the way, you can cover them instead. A great way to do this is to use a special item known as a Supreme Slider. This is a specially-made piece of plastic that you can temporarily adhere to the bed of your machine to cover your feed dogs. It also acts as a slippery surface for your quilt to glide on.

Start by lowering your stitch length to zero with your feed dogs covered, and you’ll have completed the first step!

As a matter of fact, some machines actually perform better with this technique. If you are able to lower your feed dogs, try sewing with and without engaging them and see which mode you prefer. You might just be surprised by the result.

Method 2: Using a Free-Motion Foot

If your sewing machine does not come with a free-motion foot, you can get your hands on a generic darning foot that is made to fit in most sewing machines. This is a much simpler process, and they are generally quite affordable, so you won’t have to worry about breaking the bank.

Other Methods for Quilting Using a Regular Sewing Machine

If you are still not able to or are not interested in free-motion quilting, there are other options for quilting using a standard sewing machine. You can add a lot of incredible texture to your quilts using simple straight line quilting.

A built-in even-feed or walking foot system works well for stitching straight lines, but if you don’t have access to either of these options, you can still quilt straight lines using your standard all-purpose sewing foot.

Spiral quilting

You could quilt a series of geometric, concentric spirals inside of a square block. The lines don’t have to be even, and they don’t even have to be completely straight to add some extra dimension and depth to your quilt.

Machine quilting matchstick lines

Another fantastic way to add some interesting lines using a walking foot or standard sewing quilt is to stitch a series of straight lines that are spaced very close together over your quilt’s entire surface. This is often referred to as ‘matchstick quilting’, and is a highly popular design that many people use with modern quilting.

To machine quilt matchstick lines, all you need to do is start on one side of the quilt and stitch a line to the other side. Again, you don’t have to worry about making sure that your lines are perfectly straight – having them be slightly uneven adds a lot of good character to a quilt.

Continue stitching in the same direction all the way across the quilt. You can periodically mark a straight line using painter’s tape to make sure that the lines are going in roughly the same direction.

Quilting lines that are spaced further apart look fantastic on quilts that have lots of negative, white space in their backgrounds. They can be quilted at a diagonal angle across the quilt to break the space up and add some more visual interest.


Now you know a few different ways to use your regular sewing machine to free motion quilt. We hope that one of these will work for you and you can enjoy your future projects!