10 key tools for successful free motion quilting and how to use them

This week I’m excited to change the mindset of anyone who’s intimidated by free motion quilting, or a beginner who just wants to learn how to free motion quilt effectively. As a seasoned free motion quilting instructor, I promise you that learning to free motion quilt is not only achievable, it’s a very important skill to learn and make all your quilting projects look gorgeous. We’ll discuss essential tricks, supplies, and tools you need to get started and conquer your fears. I’ll also share a repertoire of quilting designs to practice and choose from. We’ll also discuss the right fabric choices with Fabric Creations and Fabric Palette, Gütermann threads, UNIQUE Quilting Therm Fleece, Sew Easy Jelly Monster Template, Sew Easy Freezer Paper, Odif 505 Temporary Adhesive for Fabric, SCHMETZ Quilting Needles and the UNIQUE Sewing Wash-Out Marker. These essential quilting supplies are guaranteed to improve the look and quality of your free motion quilting.

To not waste fabric, I suggest we make some seasonal potholders from our practice samples this week as you follow along. I always tell my students to make potholders, mug rugs or coasters from their practice samples. See my practice potholders below.

Free motion quilted sandwiches ready to be made into practical potholders

12 seasonal potholders made from practice samples with beautiful Fabric Creations and Fabric Palette fabric

Let’s get started with essential supplies and tools you need to achieve success with free motion quilting.

Supplies needed to practice free motion quilting

These are the items you need for free-motion seasonal potholder practice samples.


  • free motion foot for your machine (also called a stipple foot, darning foot, spring action foot and embroidery foot); you must be able to lower your feed dogs (please refer to a machine manual for this)
  • 3 yds of background fabric in gray, white or a light neutral color (so that stitches are visible) for front and back of samples
  • 2 yds of heat resistant or thermal batting
  • 12 different pieces of seasonal fabric made of 100% cotton (these can be fat quarters or ¼ yard pieces)
  • thread (I used 100% cotton, metallic variegated, 100% polyester and Gütermann Sew-All thread)
  • templates or shapes to pre-draw quilting guidelines
  • freezer paper (optional, but helpful to pre-draw designs)
  • temporary adhesive spray for the fabric and batting
  • quilting Needles (I used 75/11, and 90/14 for metallic threads)
  • wash-out marker for pre-drawing designs on fabric
  • paper and pen or pencil to draw designs before stitching (essential)
  • ruler
  • Velcro (hook and loop) for the back of the recipe pocket (optional)
  • recipe card with favorite recipe written on it to put in the pocket (12 copies optional)
  • candy of choice (chocolate preferred!!!) to put in the pocket (optional)

Once you gather all supplies, it’s time to cut some fabric practice samples, thermal batting, binding, pocket, and loop tab fabric for the potholders.

Note: I sewed pockets on the back of the potholders so that if I give away my samples as gifts, I can place a recipe card or some candy in the pocket. This is of course an optional step.

This Fabric Creations and Fabric Palette fabric was used for this week’s practice sample potholders.

Cutting instructions

  • Cut 24 pieces of white, gray, or neutral light fabric 12” x 12”; 12 pieces for the front (practice area) and 12 for the back.
  • Cut 12 pieces of heat resistant batting 12” x 12”.
  • Cut 12 – 2½” x 44” pieces of binding fabric from the seasonal fabric (you need to piece this from your fat quarter (FQ) or ¼ yard pieces. Refer to free binding tutorial download here).
  • Cut 12 pieces of fabric 10” x 10” seasonal fabric for the pocket on the back.
  • Cut 12 pieces of Velcro 1” x 1” (loop and hook pieces).
  • Cut 12 pieces of fabric 2” x 6” for loop tab.

Note: Cutting instructions are for 12 practice samples.

Gorgeous Fabric Creations and Fabric Palette cotton along with UNIQUE Quilting Therm Fleece and Velcro cut out and ready for practice samples

Tomorrow we’ll be working with Fabric Creations Cotton, UNIQUE Quilting Therm Fleece, Gütermann Thread, Odif 505 Temporary Spray Adhesive, and SCHMETZ Quilting Needles. Join me as I share tips for success and 3 beginner free motion designs to draw and quilt. These tips and designs will ensure that you start your free motion pathway to success.

This is part 1 of 5 in this series

Go to part 2: 22+ essential TIPS for free motion quilting success [beginners]

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