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

  1. #1
    Senior Member thelondonzoo's Avatar
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    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?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Super Member raptureready's Avatar
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    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
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    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
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    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
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    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
    alimaui
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    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
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    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
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    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
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    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
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    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.

  11. #11
    Junior Member BATIKQLTR's Avatar
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    I have a 1965 Kenmore and I FM with it all the time. You need to:
    1. drop the feed dogs.
    2. Turn the presser foot dial to "O".
    3. Turn the stitch length to "o".
    4. You might need to adjust the tension if you have loopy threads on top or on the bottom.

    I use a teflon sheet (I think it is called "Sew Slip" or "Supreme something) taped down so the quilt slides really good. There is a post somewhere here on the forum about using them.

    http://www.quiltingboard.com/t-33038-2.htm#1828039

    And some quilting gloves with the rubber fingers. You possibly have a "darning" foot or open toed foot(mine was with the applique accessories) in your accessory box. I love FM quilting, I've been doing my own for a year now.

  12. #12
    Senior Member thelondonzoo's Avatar
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    Wow, thank you so much for all your advice! I was bummed thinking I might not be able to do it but I'm definitely going to try!

  13. #13
    Super Member klgreene's Avatar
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    I got the slider, a ring, gloves all the stuff necessary to FMQ. Did what I was supposed to do....but my feed dogs don't drop and it just eats up the slider. So I pretty much have to stick to straight lines. Hope your feed dogs drop. If they do here is a great site for FMQ.

    http://www.daystyledesigns.com/

  14. #14
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    You can taped a playing card over your feed dogs and machine quilt that way

  15. #15
    Junior Member BATIKQLTR's Avatar
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    KLGreene.......I go to the "Daystyledesigns" site a lot. I like the "365 days of FM Quilting" section. They are fun to try on a rainy day.

    Tammy.......good idea with the card trick. ;-)

  16. #16
    Super Member Crlyn's Avatar
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    Christina, yes you can quilt on your machine, and you don't even have to do FMQ if you don't want to, it's a bit slower but this is one that I have done ......

    http://www.quiltingboard.com/t-58849-1.htm

  17. #17
    Eri
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    If you can drop the feed dogs make sure you practice--a lot--on scrap quilt sandwiches that are similar in composition to your real quilt before actually putting a quilt you love into the machine. The first time I tried this I ended up with a huge mess and went back to "stitch in the ditch" for years before trying it again. And remember that unlike a professional quilting machine which will pause and adjust for speed, a sewing machine just keeps going if your foot stays on the pedal, even if you stop moving the quilt--all the stitches will clump together and make a giant mess if you don't keep moving the quilt consistently.

  18. #18
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    I have machine quilted for years and since my carpal tunnel put an end to hand quilting. Have done 3 kings, several queens plus all the rest. It takes time to learn but it is so much faster. You'll get it. Just don't give up. Good luck. Marge L.

  19. #19
    Super Member mar32428's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by raptureready
    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.
    I use surgical gloves when I garden to keep the dirt out of my nails. I hadn't found anything that was comfortable for me when I quilted. One day, in utter frustration, I tried the SGs and they worked. They fit tight so they don't slip and you have a excellent "feel" for the fabric.

  20. #20
    Super Member Gwyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thelondonzoo
    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?

    Thanks!
    Yes! I discovered this pasat weekend that I can machine quilt IF I use flannel as the batting instead of anything else. The 2 quilts I made for Secret Santa I ended up tying because I didn't know. This weekend I made 2 wallhanging/lap quilts, using flannel as the batting and it was just like sewing through 3 layers of fabric. No problem. Looks very old fashioned...AND...the flannel holds the fabrics together without a lot of pins.

    Granted, the largest was only 50 X 65, but still, I was finished in hours instead of days, it lays flat and looks really cool.

  21. #21
    Member kaykid815's Avatar
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    I'm able to do the free motion quilting, but just cannot figure how to get a queen size quilt moved around on my little machine. I roll it, tuck it, try to turn it -- but get SOOO frustrated because it is so big. Working on a wall hanging is do-able, but how do you work on a full-size quilt??

  22. #22
    Junior Member BATIKQLTR's Avatar
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    I section it off into quadrants and roll the rest and use those clamps that look like open hoops. Put the largest part away from the machine. I also set up a portable table in front of my machine to hold the rest of the quilt up so it doesn't drag so much with the weight. It isn't real easy, but doable. I don't make too many queen/double size as I quilt mostly for children or lap size for assisted care homes.

  23. #23
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    If the feed dogs will not drop, there is a feed dog cover that should be with your machine, or your sewing machine man can order one for you.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gwyn
    Quote Originally Posted by thelondonzoo
    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?

    Thanks!
    Yes! I discovered this pasat weekend that I can machine quilt IF I use flannel as the batting instead of anything else. The 2 quilts I made for Secret Santa I ended up tying because I didn't know. This weekend I made 2 wallhanging/lap quilts, using flannel as the batting and it was just like sewing through 3 layers of fabric. No problem. Looks very old fashioned...AND...the flannel holds the fabrics together without a lot of pins.

    Granted, the largest was only 50 X 65, but still, I was finished in hours instead of days, it lays flat and looks really cool.
    I agree with you, it is possible with less batting, and a smaller quilt.

  25. #25
    Super Member patdesign's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thelondonzoo
    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?

    Thanks!
    Not necessarily, if the feed dogs drop that helps, if not there are coverplates that you may be able to use. I use my 201 straight stitch Singer and even though I can drop the feed dogs I usually don't. Once you get a small darning/quilting foot, you can manuever better, check out big foot or little foot attachments for your appropriate machine shank. I do a lot of ditch quilting on the one Iam working on and just used a walking foot with feed dogs UP. Lots of starts and stops though on the curvey stuff I am outline quilting in the center of my blocks. Iam a QAYG quilter but looking forward to Santa this year and a quilting type machine, (not the pricey ones). Check out you tube for free motion quilting, the person posting the TUTES was patsem, and a link was posted on another thread a few days ago. Very helpful as she used a regular home sewing machine. :-D

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