One of our most commonly asked questions is how to free motion quilt on their sewing machine at home. Free motion quilting (FMQ) is fun and simple with a little practice, and lets you really customize your quilt exactly the way you want. Today, I'll show you the basics on one of our favorite machines, the Janome 6700p! Even if you don't have this specific machine, the basic procedures still apply.
1. If your machine has an extension table, attach it to the machine. The 6700p is sold with the extention table, but if your machine does not have one, most have the option to purchase one separately. This makes it easier to quilt because the weight of the quilt will be displaced over the table and you can better see where you're going!
2. Drop the feed dogs. This is the single most important step in setting your machine up for FMQ, as the feed dogs "pull" your fabric in a straight path and do not allow for side to side movement. How to lower the feed dogs will vary by machine; check your manual first to see how. On the 6700p, all we have to do is flip the side lever to lower the feed dogs.
3. Attach the FMQ foot. The 6700p includes this as well, but again, you can also buy one for your machine.
4. Set your stitch length to 0.
5. Once everything is set up and tension/speed is correct, use a fabric pen or pencil and practice drawing lines and squiggles and other designs on scrap quilt sandwiches. Practice FMQ, following the drawn lines and feeding the fabric smoothly through the machine.
When you're confident with your design, you can move on to quilting your quilt!