Quilting Blog

Yes, You Can Free-Motion Quilt on a Regular Sewing Machine!

Would you like to quilt your own quilts on your regular home sewing machine? Are you afraid to try because you don’t think you have the right quilting equipment? What if I told you that you can add beautiful texture to your quilts without investing in a specialty machine? If your machine can sew a straight stitch, it can be used for machine quilting.

Vintage Singer Sewing Machine

You can machine quilt on any “regular” sewing machine.

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Craftsy blog reader Sue recently submitted the following Ask an Expert question:

“Hello, I am a novice sewist and trying patchwork and quilting, but my machine doesn’t do free-motion. Can I still quilt on my machine, or does it mean I have to do it by hand?”

Great question, Sue! Yes, you can do free-motion quilting using a regular sewing machine.

Free-motion quilting is a technique whereby quilting stitches are added by sewing in any direction on the surface of the quilt.

Two things are needed to perform free-motion quilting:

  1. The feed dogs need to be disengaged.
  2. A free-motion quilting foot needs to be used.

If you think these options are not available to you on a basic sewing machine, think again! In fact there are a growing number of quilters who quilt on their antique Singer Featherweight machines. Where there’s a will, there’s a way!

Supreme Slider Quilting Tool

Supreme Slider in action

Covering the feed dogs

If you cannot disengage, or lower your feed dogs to get them out of the way, you can cover them instead. My favorite way to cover the feed dogs on my machine is with a special piece of material called a Supreme Slider. This specially made plastic can be temporarily adhered to the bed of your machine, covering your feed dogs. It also helps by acting as a slippery surface on which your quilt can glide.

Lower your stitch length to zero with the feed dogs covered and you’ve just completed Step 1. In fact, some machines may actually perform better using this technique. If you can lower your feed dogs, try with and without engaging them and see what you prefer.

Darning Foot for Free-Motion Quilting

Photo via Leah Day

Acquiring a free-motion foot

If your machine does not come with a free-motion foot, you can get a generic darning foot that is made to fit most sewing machines. Leah Day, instructor of the Craftsy classes Free Motion Fillers, Vol. 1, Free Motion Fillers. Vol. 2 and Free Motion Quilting a Sampler, has put together a video tutorial showing how to modify the foot to help it perform better on your machine.

Other ways to try quilting using a regular sewing machine

If free-motion quilting is still not for you, there are other options for quilting using a regular sewing machine. You can add plenty of amazing texture to your quilts with simple straight line quilting. A walking foot or built in even-feed system works well for stitching straight lines. However, if you don’t have either of these options, you can still quilt straight lines with your favorite all-purpose sewing foot.

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

String of Pearls Quilt

String of Pearls, Photo via ChristaQuilts

To quilt the square spiral design shown above, start stitching on one side of your square. Using the edge of your foot as a guide, sew until you are about ¼ inch to ½ inch away from the edge. Stop with your needle in the fabric. Pivot, and then sew another straight line next to the edge. Continue in this manner until you have quilted the entire block in one continuous pattern.

Sewing on a String of Pearls Quilt

 Photo via ChristaQuilts

Another great way to add interesting quilting with a walking foot or regular sewing foot is to stitch a series of straight lines spaced very close together over the surface of your entire quilt. This is sometimes called “matchstick quilting” and is a very popular design to use for modern quilting.

Cycles 2 Quilt: Modern Quilting

Cycles 2 Quilt, Photo via SheCanQuilt

To machine quilt matchstick lines, simply start on one side of the quilt and stitch a line from one end to the other. Do not worry about keeping your lines completely straight. Organic, imperfect lines actually add more interest to the quilt. Continue stitching in the same direction all the way across the quilt. You can periodically mark a straight line with painter’s tape to keep the lines going in roughly the same direction.

Triangle City Quilt

Triangle City Quilt, Photo via SheCanQuilt

Quilting lines spaced further apart look great on quilts with large amounts of background negative space. They can be quilted at a diagonal angle across the quilt to add interest and break up the space. So don’t feel limited if you can’t or don’t wish to free-motion quilt your creations. The sky is the limit when it comes to creativity, and it all starts with a straight line.

FREE Guide: How to Free-Motion Quilt for Beginners


Discover how to quilt on your home machine, troubleshoot common issues & achieve beautiful results with this FREE downloadable PDF guide.Get My FREE Guide »


Karen Seitz

Another great post to encourage us to quilt our own quilts! Thanks for the hand-holding. 🙂

Karen A Thimot

Awesome info thank you

furtdso linopv

excellent points altogether, you just gained a brand new reader. What would you suggest about your post that you made a few days ago? Any positive?

Sewing machine

Thank you for the information such a great content about sewing machines.

sandra snowden

Lots of good info about quilting will help me alot.I haven’t tried machine quilting but I will now.Have one ready to be quilted .Thanks

Pat Hezel

you make it sound very simple. Thanks a lot.

teresa Goshleski

good info. and ideas I can apply thank you


My husband loves Featherweights and has over fifty of them. He’s a crazy colecter.

Debra Dickson

I have been making machine quilts for 20 years now. Always wanted to know of simple way to add additional texture and make my projects more complete. Thank-You for all these helpful suggestions! I also finish some of the backs with fleece, it makes for a cozy warm throw with the quilted top.


My fancy Janome Memory Craft absolutely will not quilt with fleece–well at least I blame it on the machine. I’ve used every thread and size of needle, thread shreds no matter what and I have to put the tension down to 0. Does fine with thin cotton batting.


WOW love these tips, i’ll have to give it a go.
I have a round metal darning foot with my machine that has a metal arm sticking out that goes over the needle pin so it also jumps all over the place. So I bought a clear generic foot very similar to the one in the video. the main problem I have is I go fine for a while then the upper thread starts to loop and make a mess on the underside of my work, and has to be removed and done over again (I have checked and adjusted the tension) same thing happens ;o)

Karen Smith

You are quilting only the top and batting I presume but the backing as well so it doesn’t matter what the underside looks like as it will be hidden.


If you decide to quilt on a Featherweight, I highly suggest leaving the machine light OFF and using an Ott light or other lighting. Ask me how I know! Burned a whole in a quilt I was working on. I didn’t realize the quilt was sitting against the light. I also have a few burn scars on my wrist from the light.


This is especially encouraging to me as I have finished piecing lots of throws and quilts but I can’t fmq worth a flip–and I’ve been practicing for years. Today I did straight lines, one way and then across the other way in one portion, cool. Thanks.

Deborah Rogers

Too afraid. It takes enough just to make the quilt and not enough confidence to quilt the quilts donated to Victoria’s Quilts. I will practice on quilts for the dog.


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Sylvia Conner

I have a stamped baby quilt printed to embroider which I will do. How do you think I should machine quilt, I am a beginner.

Helene Beadman

I have a 27 year old kenmore sewing machine from Sears. I have a darning plate and I can embroider and do darning but I have no free motion foot. It’s very cheap to order but with shipping and us fees it costs three times the price, should I just use the needle and darning foot..must try..what do u think??


These tips sure are helpful. Thanks!

I’m browsing around for a good sewing-machine that doesn’t cost too much for a beginner. Your tips are putting my mind at ease that I can start with a basic one and experiment. Thanks a lot.


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