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.


Hello everyone! I’m new here, but I wanna ask for your advice. I’ve started to sew just this month. I’m using my mom’s old sewing machine, and I understand that it is not that good as I want it to be. I want to buy a new one, but I don’t know what to choose. I run across this article. I like Singer Start 1304, though if someone uses it, please let me know, I would be happy to hear your comments.

What kind of things are you wanting to sew? Not all machines are well-suited to all projects.

I wanna sew some easy stuff for myself like shopper bags or dresses. But in future I hope to sew costumes for my sister’s cosplay. So I need a machine that could handle both natural and heavy fabrics.

That machine looks sufficient for basic sewing. I’ve never used that model, so I can’t tell you whether or not it will be able to handle heavier fabrics. However, I made do with a pretty basic machine for nearly two decades before upgrading. Because of all the mask sewing and shipping interruptions, certain categories of sewing machines are pretty hard to come by lately. What is it that you want to do that your older machine isn’t capable of? The machine you mentioned is quite basic.

It’s slow and sometimes the needle sticks, and it takes time to make it work again. I could take it to a repair shop, but I decided to please myself with a new machine.

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Sorry for the up, but which semi-professional machine you can recommend then?

I’m not sure what you mean by semi-professional.

I’ve never had a high-end machine, so I can’t really give much guidance there. I have an old Kenmore that can manage most sewing. I also have a Brother cs6000i that, with the right needle can sew through 1/4" of fabric, webbing and stabilizer.

In general, though, this would be my advice. I would avoid newer Singers, because the quality has dropped off since they outsourced their manufacturing. I have heard great things about Janome, Husqvarna, and Brother machines. Pretty sure most of them produce heavy duty, metal frame machines that can handle almost anything. Read reviews on any machine you’re considering, from as many sources as possible. With covid, there seem to be worldwide shortages and manufacturing delays…this mean a limited variety of machines, especially the more basic ones.

Id opt for a singer HD 44XX doesn’t matter which after the XX its just the number of built in stitches. The singer start is $75 less and not very heavy, you will become frustrated as a newer sewer with it and overtime it won’t last as long. I’d just spend the about $199 for the heavy duty machine now. With that being said my favorite home machines are Kenmore 9-12 stitch models from the 60’s and 70’s I have one and a Singer HD 44XX both run amazing. I can also switch to free motion on the Singer no issue and use a quilting foot but can then sew through leather, layers of canvas and more and the parts are readily available for any repairs down the line.

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