How to Free Motion Quilt with Feed Dogs

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Perfect for Older Machines, and a Potential Fix for Wonky Stitches!

Dropping the feed dogs has long been one of the first steps in free motion quilting. Why? Because that gives you full control of the movement of the fabric. Otherwise, with the feed dogs engaged, the fabric will automatically feed through the machine.





But, what if you can’t lower or disengage the feed dogs on your machine? Does that mean you can’t free motion quilt?

Feed Dogs Exposed

The throat plate has been removed on this machine to better show the movement of the feed dogs.

Not necessarily. One solution is to cover the feed dogs so they don’t engage with the fabric.

And, many quilters actually prefer having the feed dogs engaged, saying they get better stitch quality.

“I have read this advice about the need to disengage the feed dogs repeatedly …  However, it is not correct to state that the feed must be lowered in order to do free-motion quilting. In fact, on my older machines (by which I mean in some cases, antique treadle machines) even using the feed cover plate is an unnecessary inconvenience. On my newer modern machines I have found this is entirely optional. If the stitch length is set to zero, then the dogs only move up and down (and not back and forth to pull the fabric) so they only touch the underside of the quilt for a fraction of a second on each stitch … this can actually produce better stitch quality without interfering with the free motion.”  – Susan Kelly

The following article by Rachel Hauser will tell you more about the purpose of feed dogs and how to free motion quilt with them engaged. Be sure to read through the comments under the article for more helpful information.

Click here for the “Can You Free-Motion Quilt With Feed Dogs?” article.

 



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