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Machine quilting speed

by Carol
(Ozark, AR)

Does sewing speed affect the quality of machine quilting? If you vary the speed does it change the stitching?


Good Question!

It'll depend more on what type of machine quilting you're doing.

Quilting with a Walking Foot

If you are quilting with your walking foot, I don't think the speed affects the stitches very much.

It does affect the control you have over the quilt sandwich. At some point, whether you are ditch quilting or just following a gently curving design, as your speed increases you will have less control over the movement of the sandwich.

Quilting with a Free Motion Foot

Your machine speed will have more impact for free motion quilting.

If you keep your movement of the quilt (or hand speed) the same, but increase your machine speed, your stitches will get smaller. The faster you stitch, the smaller they'll get. Go slower and your stitches lengthen.

When free motioning, I prefer to keep my hand and machine speed steady to keep my stitch length uniform (I do not have, nor want, a stitch regulator for my home sewing machine). I do lower my machine speed (there's a button for that on my D1) to about 60%. My stitches are even and I'm in control, not the machine.

And that is the bigger of the two issues, I think—being in control of your quilt sandwich.

At some point, you can be quilting so fast, that you are reacting to your machine instead of mastering it. When that happens, the machine speed it too fast.

You'll know when it happens. You'll feel it.

You'll be uncomfortable. Mentally you won't be able to react fast enough and physically you'll be tensing up because you are, well, tense. The remedy is to slow down. You may find that you can quilt different free motion patterns at different speeds. That's normal, or at least it is for me.

So, yes, speed does affect your machine quilting.

Readers, I welcome your comments and thoughts on this subject. Please share them using the 'comments' link below.

Carol, thank you for your question. I hope my reply has helped!


Julie Baird
Generations Quilt Patterns

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