free motion questions answered!

well I’m glad you enjoyed my video, I still can’t bear to keep the sound on and think I need elocution lessons, but it seems some of my international friends enjoyed it! And quite a few of you had questions so here we go. Remember, I’m no expert! I am kicking myself that I didn’t get more practise in with Kellie came to teach. I was so busy organising and fussing around I didn’t get a lot of time on the machine under her guidance! Ok here goes:

Celia asked what needle/foot am I using?

I use a quilting needle, Shmetz brand. Just look for quilting needles on the pack. The foot came with my machine and is an open toe foot. You can also get feet which are similar but enclosed. Just look for an open toe/darning foot. You will find these at sewing machine stores, quilting stores and of course old faithful Spotlight and Lincraft. Going from left to right is my 1/4 inch foot for piecing, walking foot for straight line quilting and attachng my binding (also great for polar fleece, cloth nappies etc), open toe foot, and a fancy foot that came with my machine for circles.

feet for quilting

Emma asked what happens if I stuff up in the middle and start and end in the middle?

I would probably unpick it if I wasn’t happy with the stitches. If you need to finish up then I make a little curve going in and a spiral and finish there. You don’t have to end your stitching on the edges of your quilt but I find it’s a great way to leave your threads over there on the side, sort of like parking them there and you don’t need to worry about them. You can practice your design by doodling on paper but it’s just to get the feel of what you are doing. I don’t do it before I start quilting each time but it’s good practice for a beginner.

Yardage Girl (real name Nic) asked how do I manage larger quilts?

Well I’ve quilted single bed quilts on a smaller machine. I don’t roll up my quilts under the arm of my machine like some people do. I actually stuff it through as I find it’s easier. I put the bulk of the quilt to the left of me with the bunched up bit under the arm of my machine and go. Some may be in my lap but you don’t want it weighing down on your work so you want the bulk on your table so as to not drag your work as you are quilting. Next video, how about me quilting a proper quilt.

Taylor Made asked can you do this on an older machine?

Absolutely! If you can lower your feed dogs – the little metal teeth under the needle on your machine then you can do free motion. You’ll just need the right foot attachment and you’re off. STOP! Apparently I am wrong, just ask Julie my friendly sister in law… her post here

Trish asked how to choose what colour thread to use?

I’m a 111 kind of girl. Guttermann 111 to be exact which is a neutral/creamy colour and works well with everything. I don’t match up to the colours of the fabric because I use a variety of colours and the neutral colour shows off your stitching and also looks nice if you have white/light colour sashing. If I was making an all white quilt or a quilt with lots of white sashing and a white back then I’d think about white all over. I don’t use a different colour for the underneath either.  I buy mine in 1000m spools and buy 3 or 4 at a time and pop them in a little straw basket so I never run out of thread! Some people use 100% cotton thread for their quilting but I love the guttermann and am happy with the results.

my thread basket

Kristina asked where to buy batting?

There are lots of different types of batting. I started out many years ago using a 100% polyester which was nice and cheap for starting out but quickly moved to 100% cotton. It has a slight smell and a little tendencey to go a big flat after  a while. When Kellie came up I had to buy 30m of wool/poly and really enjoy using it as it hasn’t gone flat on me when quilted and is really lovely to work with so that is what I’m using now. Now spotlight sell the stuff in big bags or by the metre in their quilting section but if my local store is anything to go by the ladies at the counter are flat chat. If you’re a beginner, I’d say pop into your nearest quilting store and ask for 2m of batting and see what they have. You’ll get more help in there – trust me! I did sell batting for a while but it’s just too big and bulky to be carting to the post office on a regular basis with little children.

Jenny at Red House asked what machine I use?

I’m using a Brother QC 1000 and yes it is quite the business. I love her. She does everything and more and auto tension, needle threader and trimmer are the biggest timesavers in my life. Because it is a quilting machine it comes with all the feet you need (1/4 inch, walking foot, a few free motion feet) and also an extension table. There are less expensive Brother innovis models too but if you’re starting out you don’t need anything too flashy.

my machine

Oh and I picked up my baby 2nd hand on ebay from a reputable dealer for $1000- I love the touch screen too! For any option you can press the help button and it gives you instructions/explanation of what to use that stitch for – perfect for dummies like me!

touch screen

So I hope that helps some of you! One of my goals for this year was to make more quilts and in keeping with that goal I’m turning a Moda honeybun into something quite cute… share with you. Elodie is now ‘almost’ sleeping through the night which means I get some quilting time but don’t think it’s all smooth sailing – just because she is down for the night doesn’t mean the other 3 are.

 friday night piecing

my jazzy ironing board cover!

Righto, gotta run. Hair appointment this morning because short hair may be low maintenance on a day to day basis but you do need regular trims (and a colour)! But I love the break and especially since my hairdresser has ipads with the magazines on them! Just another reason I love my hairdresser!


  1. Corrie, I think yours is fine, I love that this one has a coughing fit in the middle! Don’t stress, no one is watching for that stuff, it’s a freebie haha

  2. Thanks – that was excellent! Nic

  3. Fabulous summary Corrie. If anyone has an older machine (ie. like my 40 year old Elna) I can still quilt on it even though the feed dogs don’t go down. It has a small flat metal plate that clips over them to create a smooth surface . Other older machine might come with a similar attachment. I’ll put it on my blog today and show you what I mean.

  4. Thanks! I bought a free motion foot yesterday so I’m all ready now to give it a go!

  5. Oh I am so glad that I found a link to this post over at Narioka! I do have a question, I hope you have time to answer it. I have heard that you have to put your stitch length at zero to get machine quilting to work. I have a very basic brother machine and it only goes to 0.2 stitch length(its digital and it wont go further down). If I set it at 0.2 will that be a problem? Thank you for such an informative post, I’m definitely now following your blog and bookmarked this post!!

  6. Annie

    thanks for your question. I don’t but on my machine once I lower my feed dogs it goes into quilting mode ready to go! I just thought I better check and my new oh fransson book says yes to put stitch length to zero for most models of machines. I’ve never done it but try with your machine on 0.2 and try it at the normal lemgth and see which you prefer.


  7. You are such a legend, Corrie, for sharing so openly and honestly. Take a bow, my friend! J x

  8. That’s a heap of good info..thanks Retromummy!

  9. Elodie sleeping through the night – very impressive. Not having a crafty bone in my body I can’t comment on the quilting tutorial however the sleeping thru the night thing has me very happy for you

  10. These little lesson’s have been fab. Thank you. My darning foot for my machine arrived today so I’m going to watch your tutorial a couple more times and give it a whirl! Wish me luck.

  11. Thank you… I searched through and found the darning foot for my 22 year old machine…never knew what it was for….I can’t wait to try my own free motion sewing. Thanks again for your help.

  12. Thank you very much for all the pointers! I will face my fear and practice like crazy, then maybe I can master this skill too=) And I just want to say I love your blog – it´s such an inspiration.

  13. Corrie, have you got a link to the ebay store you bought your machine from? I am in the market for a new one.

  14. consider this post bookmarked. thank you


  1. […] done a couple of quilting posts – this one on your free motion questions, my free motion video post here and the infamous charm square tutorial part 1 here that I […]

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