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Free Motion Machine Quilting Tools

by Christine
(Greenville Ohio)

Christine asks...

I tried to stipple a medium size quilt.

I just couldn't get the quilt to glide over the machine bed, so the stitches were all different sizes. I know part of that is me learning but it seems the quilt was "stuck to the machine".

Is there something to make the fabric move easily?

Julie replies...

There are several things that you can do to make moving the quilt sandwich easier. Some are low tech, requiring hand lotion or soap and water...others involve the purchase of special quilting tools.

Lighten Up

...the pressure of your hands that is. Sometimes when we first start quilting, we press down very hard on the quilt sandwich as we are trying to quilt. Get up on the tips of your fingers. This creates less friction than having the whole palm of your hands down.

When you are moving the quilt under the sewing machine needle, remember that the only part of the quilt that should be moving is the part between your hands. You are not moving the whole weight of the quilt as you stitch. The rest of your quilt should be supported and contained so that it doesn't suddenly move (i.e. fall off the table) and pull unexpectedly as you are quilting.

Wash the Bed of Your Sewing Machine

Dampen (not dripping wet) a cloth with warm, soapy water and wipe down the bed of your sewing machine. Sometimes we accumulate dirt and residues that make the bed "sticky".


There is a product called "Quilt Glide", a silicon based spray, that can be applied to your machine bed. Follow the instructions. Some have recommended car wax to make it more slippery.

Quilting Tools to Make the Job Easier
    The Free Motion Slider or Supreme Slider
  • Free Motion Slider (the latest version is the "Supreme Slider")

    This is a Teflon sheet that adheres to your sewing machine bed (just like a vinyl cling for the window). The Teflon reduces the friction and makes the area much more "slide able".

    You can be cut the sheet with regular scissors to custom fit it to your machine.

    It is available below from in two sizes:

    Expect to pay about $30 retail.

  • The Quilt Halo

    The Quilt Halo is weighted red and slightly tacky, PVC-coated metal ring. It sits on top of your quilt sandwich. You move the quilt with the ring. Expect to pay about $25 retail.

    For more information about using the Halo, go to Quilting Tools - Quilt Halo.

  • Machingers Quilting Gloves
    Quilting Gloves - Machingers

    These gloves have a coating on their finger tips that help them grip the quilt. They are light weight, they breathe and are a great improvement on previous versions of quilting gloves.

    Machinger quilting gloves are available in four different sizes:

    You may be able to find them at your local quilt shop. Amazon also carries them.

    Expect to pay about $8.00 retail.

  • Neutrogena Hand Cream

    Yes, a hand cream. Just a little bit on your hands will help you grip the quilt without leaving a residue. Cost: $3-$4 a tube.

    For more information, go to Quilting Gloves - Neutrogena.

Starch Your Quilt Back

Starch your backing quilt fabric before it is sandwiched in your quilt. The starch helps the backing slide more easily.

For more information, see Starch Quilt Fabric.

Try these suggestions. One of them should work for you! Machine quilting is so much fun to do! Getting over these initial hurdles is well worth the effort. Do let us know which of these suggestions works for you!


Julie Baird

Comments for Free Motion Machine Quilting Tools

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Tools to Improve Freemotion Quilting
by: egyptquilts

I tried a spring needle this week. I loved it!

I had bought it some time back and never tried it. I would advise wearing Machingers gloves or using a hoop.

You have to be careful and go slow to moderate. Work on control. The hoop and me had a challenge, it won, I broke the needle and they are pricey. About $5 each. But I did order more, as I like the quality and improvement of my work.

I also like to use plastic finger tips you buy from the office supply to sort piles of paper. They improve your grip. I also found out that if you use a quilting table you will have great success. I purchased a cheap one and that I could drop the machine down in. I think its much better.

There is no drag on the needle from weight of quilt.

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