We'll give it to you straight: it's totally possible to hack your machine so you can free-motion quilt. Start dreaming up those swirly motifs, and get ready to teach your old machine some new tricks!
Free-motion quilting is a technique where stitches are added by sewing in any direction on the surface of the quilt. To give yourself this range of motion on a standard machine your have to two things: Disengage the feed dogs and swap out the foot.
Most modern machines let you disengage or lower your feed dogs to get them out of the way. But if your machine doesn't have this capability, you can cover them with a special piece of material called a Supreme Slider. This temporary cover also creates a slippery surface on which your quilt can glide, which can make your project a little easier. (You might want to give the Supreme Slider a shot even if you can lower your feed dogs, just to see what you prefer!)
Since the standard sewing presser foot is made to work directly with your feed dogs, you'll need a special foot to use for free-motion quilting. If your machine does not come with a free-motion foot, you can get a generic darning foot that's made to fit most sewing machines. Once this is in place, you can thread your machine as your normally would and get started.
This is another great option for adding 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.
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.
To machine quilt matchstick lines, simply start on one side of the quilt and stitch a line from one end to the other. Don't 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.
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.
Quilting Wavy Lines
You can quilt slightly wavy lines with a walking foot as well. The lines don't have to be even and they don't even or planned out to add dimension to your quilt.
Learn More Now
Get more tips and tricks for better, faster quilting in our free guide, Genius Hacks Every Quilter Should Know.