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Thread: Can I machine quilting with my regular sewing machine?

  1. #1
    Senior Member thelondonzoo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Portland, OR
    I know, it's probably a very "newbie" question. :) lol

    I have a regular old Kenmore sewing machine and I have done some quilting on it but only straight lines. Is there a way to do tight curves or scrolls? I see such pretty quilting in the photos section and would love to do something like that. Will I one day have to save up for a $1500 sewing machine or can I somehow use my Kenmore?


  2. #2
    Super Member raptureready's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Can you lower the feed dogs? If so find a darning/ballerina foot that will fit it and you should be able to do any type of free motion that you want. On some old machines there was a nob on the base toward the right that could be turned to raise or lower the feed dogs. On some, you have to lift up the head and there's a thumb screw toward the front near the bobbin holder than you loosen to lower the dogs.
    Free motion is easier if you have some grip gloves. You can use the kind that you get at the fabric store or a cheap pair of gardening gloves with rubber dots on them. Just make sure that if you use gardening gloves that they're small enough to fit just a little snuggly so that they don't move around too much.

  3. #3
    Super Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Anchorage, AK
    the key is finding out if your feed dogs will drop...some of the old ones have that feature. Check your manual on this. Even if they don't drop, you can try setting your stitch length to zero, and putting masking tape over the feed dogs...this allow you to have control over the movement of the fabric. These options address the bottom of the quilting sandwich.

    In either case, you will also need to have a machine quilting foot that puts less/no tension on the fabric from the top. These feet are called either quilting feet or darning feet...Sears should have them, and there are some generic feet out there that will work as well....one brand is called "Big Foot", but don't know names of others.

  4. #4
    Super Member Maride's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    New York, NY
    You may need to play around with your tension a bit, but you certainly can do it on your domestic machine. I had a Kenmore when I started. I will admit that having the right machine has made a difference, but it is still possible to be done with an older one.

  5. #5
    Quilt Mama's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    I free motion quilt with the feed dogs intact. My feed dogs don't drop. I can physically remove them but that is a real hassle because then when I need to stitch something else I have to put them back in. I use a professional machine, a cast iron work horse, that does straight, zig zag and reverse and I manage very well. I just put my stitch length to zero. This way the dogs don't move. My biggest hold-back was my mind, not my machine. When the even foot fell apart from so much use and I couldn't find a replacement my mind kicked in. I now wish I had received this kick start years ago. Tension plays in even in regular sewing so that has never been a problem for me. Remember to check the back side often because it might be a boar's nest of loops while the front looks beautiful.

  6. #6
    I will probably be the bummer here. I have a singer 403a (1951). No matter what I tried, I could not FMQ on this machine. There was some sort of tension issue. I had tried every variation of settings, I did the equivalent of putting the feed dogs down (my throat plate goes up), but alas to no avail. The husband bought me a new machine, and I had no issues whatsoever. So After you try all the above suggestions (hundreds of times), just realize it may not be an operator error, and a limitation of the machine.

  7. #7
    Super Member raedar63's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    My old kenmore bout 23 yrs old, has what the book calls a darning plate that covers the feed dogs, then you attach the darning foot and it free motions just fine. If you don't still have the darning plate you can order it. and the darning foot they still sell at sears, I seen them when I went to buy a new walking foot because my ornery bulldog got ahold of the old one.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Kat Sews's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    My old Kenmore (1975) has drop feed dogs. The owners manuel says for darning to drob dogs and use no foot. I tried it that way for free motion and it works fine.

  9. #9
    Super Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    As others have posted, there is probably a way of working with your current machine. However, if this one doesn't work out for some reason, there are plenty of vintage machines out there that you could pick up very cheaply that would do the job.

    No need to start saving for a more expensive machine yet, unless you want one for other reasons ;-) Of course, a large throat area does make life a little easier, but it is not essential.

  10. #10
    Moderator littlehud's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    SW Iowa
    I have a Juki on a frame to free motion quilt with but before that I did it all on my regular machine. I still do small quilts on the reg. machine.

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