FREE MOTION INSTRUCTIONS – Cutting Edge Tips and Tricks

With all of the cutting edge patterns for quilts available today, why wouldn’t we keep up to date on ourFill in quilt with loop design quilting designs? All this takes is a little variation. I will share some ideas as we move along.

Just remember in these free motion instructions, there are no make or break rules.

In this section, I will go over setting up your machine for quilting, the designs, stitch in the ditch, outline and crosshatch quilting along with a couple of fun meandering designs.

Setting up your sewing machine

  • Lower your feed dogs! (unless advised otherwise)
  • It is best to start quilting in the middle of your project.  This isn’t too difficult with smaller projects. As you move up to larger projects it get’s a little more intense.  The best practice at this stage, instead of giving up, please don’t.  Roll up one end of your quilt and slide it under the neck of your machine.  Keep doing this as you move directions.
  • Place your quilt under the free motion quilting foot; lower the foot.  Hold onto the top thread and make one stitch this will bring your bobbin thread to the top. If it is still loop-shaped use a pin to pull it straight.  Start quilting, once you are have moved a bit away from those loose threads I stop and tie and cut them so they don’t get buried under future stitches. If you would rather not to it in this manner then simply hold the threads and take a couple stitches.  This will set the stitch.
  • With your gloves on place one hand on each side of the foot, this will keep the fabric smooth and enable you to direct your quilt.  To achieve even stitch length keep the machine at a steady speed and use smooth, flowing hand motion.  Practice, practice and more practice will have you mastering this part.
  • Be sure not to rotate the quilt while quilting.  Instead move back and forth, sideways or in a circular motion.

Stitch In The Ditch Instructions

I didn’t say stitch n’ ditch!  You can do that after some practicing…

This technique is really just stitching along the seam lines or edges and marking it is not needed.

I know you pressed your quilt before assembling it but those seam allowances sometimes have a mind of their own.  Don’t worry you can still do this.

To start, feel the seam you are about to quilt and you will feel a high spot. Your goal is to stitch on the lower side as close to the seam as possible.

This will add definition to your blocks but not like the stitching you see with other techniques.  It is also a great way to dig in and begin to feel comfortable with quilting.  It is a great way to get used to keeping a steady and smooth pace.

Since your feed dogs are up, and you are using your regular sewing foot, the machine is doing the work but you will begin to get the feel of hand placement and that will be an advantage as you move on to other quilting stitches.

If you would like to see this in action please watch the below video.


Outline Quilting Instructions

Lower the feed dogs…On most machines, there is a sliding button on the back of the machine that looks like this:

‾‾/\/\/\/\‾‾    FEED DOGS DOWNRemember Put Feed Dogs Down

——/\/\/\/\—— FEED DOGS UP

The feed dogs are up when you ‘stitch in the ditch’.  When you are quilting almost any other method they need to be in the down position. When I first started I had to put a sticky post on my machine to remind me of this. Really, it’s not a bad idea.

Outline quilting is simply quilting a uniform distance, normally 1\4″ from the seam.  This adds a bit more texture to your quilt than in the ditch.  If you were to make a few outlines around a block that would be echoing.  You want your feed dogs to be down but you can use any foot.  I find using one with a 1/4″ mark on it allows me to create even lines, especially when echoing.


What is Meandering Quilting?

Meandering means to follow a winding course.  In quilting we do this by stitching random lines that are winding, curving, turning and twisting.  The lines should not cross or touch each other, of course, that Loops and Stipplingwould be in a perfect world!  I have yet to have anyone point out any of mine.  Now, after much practice that isn’t such an issue. For this type of quilting, there is no need for marking.

I have found that loops and stippling free motion quilting are great starting points for the beginner.

To the right, I have included a couple samples of my own quilting using loops and stippling.  I am showing you the back as it is easier to see on the white background.  You will notice that I used a couple different colors of thread.  I like doing this because I feel that it compliments the quilt top, drawing out the colors in the Create fun designs on your ownfabric.

At the end of this post, I have added two more videos for your viewing pleasure. They are of these two designs.  Being a visual person, I like to watch how things are done.

quilt finished wit loops and stippling


What is the Best Way Learn and Feel Comfortable with these Designs?

If you have taken a shot at trying these designs already, that is great! Did you try with or without your gloves?  Makes a huge difference doesn’t it?  Like night and day, as you may have learned.

When you begin to quilt you may find that you are cruising right along and suddenly you have sewn yourself into a corner…it happens.

To start getting the hang of quilting before you do so on your quilt.  Get out a pad of paper and practice, practice, practice.  Divide the paper up into four sections and in each square draw loops and stippling of all sizes, filling up the square evenly.  Get creative and create some designs of your own. By practicing first on paper you will get the feel of what you want to create on your quilt as well as helping you to figure out how to correct yourself if you draw yourself into a corner.

Remember you are your worst critic.  It really is alright to have a couple mistakes, we all do.  When quilting you are up close and personal with your quilt, and so you will see every little error.  Trust me, nobody else will see any of them, just the beautiful quilt you have created.

When you actually start quilting these designs, don’t get frustrated or discouraged.  Keep at it.  Down the road, you will glad that you did.

Time to get out that pad of paper and PRACTICE!! Have FUN and ENJOY yourself!

I hope you have enjoyed learning these basic steps.  Keep practicing!  Next, we will introduce more fun and fabulous quilting designs.

If you have any questions or suggestions please leave them below.

Thanks for visiting!


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