Free Motion Quilting for Beginners

FreeMotion quilt

So, can we talk? It’s just us here.  Have you wanted to try Free Motion Quilting, but freeze up every time you think about it? Well, quilting buddy, just between you and me, it’s time. Time to take a risk in the privacy of your own home, do a little preparation (more chocolate?) and try it out!

Now, I’m not speaking to you from a point of expertise – I’m a learner and I’m getting ready to take a risk, too. I do know that you CAN do this, though and I’ve got some great hints and resources to help you out.

I love the straight forward “lose the perfection, relax and enjoy” style of the Free Motion Quilting tips presented on the Sew Mama Sew blog. This method of quilting is called “free” for a reason, but there are still some guidelines that will help you exercise your freedom and allow you to enjoy doing your own quilting.

FreeMotion collage

No, it’s not going to be perfect – especially when you begin. The more you practice, the more control you will have over your Free Motion Quilting, so don’t give up. Make sure you have the right supplies and tools – it will make all the difference.  Keep going, keep going, keep going!

FreeMotion Needles

A fresh, correctly sized needle is essential for Free Motion Quilting. And, by fresh, I mean brand-new, just out of the package, not the one you put back after 25 hours of sewing and want to re-use to save money. The price of a new needle is much, much lower than the price of frustration and a ruined project.


S975_3660The right thread is extremely important for Free Motion Quilting! Coats & Clark makes a really fabulous Machine Quilting thread. Click here to check it out. All my quilty friends love it , so it comes highly recommended. It’s a cotton thread that’s 100% mercerized plus it’s lustrous, very smooth and has hardly any stretch. A thread made specifically for what you are doing will pay you back over and over again. Keep your machine quilting threads in a separate place so you don’t accidentally grab one for another purpose and find that you don’t have it when you need it!

Do whatever helps you best to relax. I was serious about that chocolate! Nice music, a little scent in the air, your favorite beverage – whatever helps your serenity and focus, do it.

FreeMotion practice

When you’re practicing, remember – it’s practice! This isn’t the time to work on a quilt you’re entering in a show or giving as a gift, that comes later. This is selfish quilting time, just for you and your satisfaction, enjoy it. Don’t give up, but if you need a break, take one. Here’s a hint that has served me well for many years in many ways. When you’re done and/or frustrated, take a break, then come back the next day to re-assess what you’ve done and where you need to re-do or head towards. What a difference a day makes or a night or even a few hours. Be gentle with your new Free Motion Quilting self!

FreeMotion bubbles

Try different kinds of Free-Motion Quilting. Stipples are fun and can be random. Stitching around a shape is interesting and helps to train your eye and your muscle-memory. Combine straight quilting lines with bubbles or swirls or chevrons or whatever looks like fun to you. That’s what this should be about – FUN!

FreeMotion waves

Once you’ve begun to practice and you’ve built some confidence, define your goals. Is there a particular style of Free Motion Quilting you’d like to achieve? What will it take to get there? What resources can you find to help you? Break it down into small practice and mastery sessions and you’re on your way!

Click here for Sew Mama Sew’s 10 Tips for Beginning Free Motion Quilters. When you’ve absorbed all those tips, click here to check out a post on how to combine straight lines with Free Motion Quilting. So, now you’re immersed in helpful instructions and you CAN do this, right? Start today (no one’s looking) and enjoy your journey to making Free-Motion Quilting a skill you own and love!

One thought on “Free Motion Quilting for Beginners

  1. Claire Reply

    I hopped right in on quilts and had good results, but I’m a hop right in gal and I have a stitch regulator. I love the pictures–good inspiration there! Makes me want to do another. Thanks Annette!

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