FMQ on regular sewing machine, tips and tricks

I have just received backing fabric for a quilt in the mail, so I will start quilting this one over the weekend. I only have a regular sewing machine and the quilt I’m making is single bed sized. I have done that before but I’ve always limited myself to very small areas of FMQ on large quilts and large areas of stitch in the ditch. I’d love to do more ‘fun’ and less ‘practical’ quilting on this one.

I have done FMQ on a smaller scale (much smaller, say, potholder) and I’ve done workshops so I’m not totally unfamiliar with FMQ, it’s just the size that’s an issue, so I was wondering if anyone had some tips or recommendations for easy patterns?:

Where I live quilting isn’t as big as it is in the US so having it done by a professional is not an option, there are only a few of them in the country. We have a quilt shop in town that sells basic quilting tools and supplies, anything more unusual I have to order online.

I do a lot of fm sewing and did a large cot quilt last year.
This is what I found worked best for me:
Start in the middle of the quilt and work out from there.
Always roll the quilt up to get it into the throat of the machine, much easier to handle and manoeuvre.
Plan the quilting before you start, you don’t need to draw it out, but decide on the pattern for the area before you start stitching, maybe decide if you want all of one shape/block to be quilted the same or just go with the flow. I did a jelly roll race quilt and I did each strip differently. I did repeat some patterns but never next to each other.
Practice. Set your self up with a quilt sandwich to practice on. Get used to a bigger area, the speed you want to go at and moving that sucker around. I did one before going my quilt and I now use it as a makeshift ironing pad if I have just a little bit to do.
There are loads of patterns demoed on YouTube- have a look and choose a couple to start with. Draw them out (continuous line) or practice stitching them so you know how they work, if you are unsure, before using on your quilt.
One thing I heard/read somewhere is that people will notice a difference in spacing way before they notice a stitching error - aim for consistent spacing, even if the stitching isn’t perfect.
If it’s really not working, get the seam ripper out, have a break, maybe a quick practice then deep breath and try again.
Have fun!


Thanks! I will try to get started this weekend. I l’ll probably try a potholder first just to figure out how everything works again and then I’ll try practicing on a full scale quilt sandwich. I bought a 10 meter roll of batting so there’s more than enough material to practice.

I have no advice for you, but @tendstowardschaos may have a few words of wisdom. From what I’ve seen on here, she is amazing when it comes to free motion quilting!


Aww, thank you!

Various paisleys, pebbles, stars, McTavishing…all are pretty forgiving. Leah Day makes great videos on FMQ designs.

@GMPNQ had some great advice. I start in the middle, but I then divide my quilt into quadrants with stitching, then quilt each quadrant. If you don’t have grippy gloves, they are so nice to have (Fons and Porter make a nice cheap set). Make sure you have a bit of slack in your quilt (sort of bunch it up around your machine) to make it easier to move it smoothly while you stitch.

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