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Free motion quilting with a twin needle – instant ribbon stippling magic


In yesterday’s post, let your walking foot work its magic we explored some of the possibilities for quilting with a twin needle and our walking foot.


A box of SCHMETZ twin needle - join the fun as we explore quilting with a twin needle using free motion quilting.
SCHMETZ twin needle


Today we’ll have some fun with free motion quilting. Here we go!


Free motion quilting is a technique that puts us in the drivers seat to steer the fabric where we want it to go.

The feed dogs on the machine are normally dropped or covered and a darning foot is placed on the machine.
This allows us to move our fabric in any direction as well as control the stitch length just by how we move our hands.

It’s amazing what our SCHMETZ twin needles are capable of with a little help.


You can free motion quilt with a twin needle. Simple stippling takes on a whole new personality. Using SCHMETZ twin needle.
Free motion quilting with a twin needle


There are a wide variety of darning feet available for most machines.

A closed toe foot is preferred for use with a twin needle as it protects the needle better than an open toe foot.


There are a variety of types of darning feet available that would be appropriate to twin needle quilting. A closed toe foot will help protect the needles and give you fewer skipped stitches. Using SCHMETZ twin needle.
A variety of darning feet for free motion quilting


Smooth hand movement is required when using a twin needle to free motion quilt.

We must be careful not to allow the weight of the fabric to drag or twist and turn the fabric while we stitch.

While it’s easier to begin with a wide spacing between the needles for straight line stitching, the opposite is true for free motion quilting. A narrower 80 or 90 needle is the easiest to use.

For that reason it’s best to start with a 2.5 universal twin needle.

Before you begin always check to be sure that your chosen twin needle will clear the opening in the foot.


The different types of darning feet have openings of different widths. Check that the opening in your foot is wide enough to accommodate the twin needle you are working with. Using SCHMETZ twin needle.
Check to be sure your twin needle will clear the opening in the foot.


Make sure that your machine is threaded properly with any internal settings set.

The needle threads should be through the foot and laid towards the back of the machine.


Closed toe darning foot with spring and 4.0 twin needle ready for stitching
Closed toe darning foot with spring and 4.0 twin needle ready for stitching


What makes free motion twin needle quilting so different?

Circles that wander all over your fabric are called Loop de Loops.

Stitching loops is great way to begin.

Notice that when you move the fabric in a forward or backward motion the space between the stitching is consistent with the distance between the needles.

When you move your hands from left to right the two needles stitch on top of one another giving the effect of a single thread.

If you move your hands in a circular motion the distance between the needles seems to change as the threads cross over one another.

What a neat trick!


Loop de Loops with a 2.5 twin needle
Loop de Loops with a 2.5 twin needle


What is free motion quilting and can I really do that with a twin needle?

Ribbon stippling is normally created by stitching your quilt twice.

The first line of quilting establishes the pattern while the second line of quilting mirrors the first.

Crossing over the first line of stitching causes the ribbon effect.

All of this occurs naturally with a twin needle and we only have to stitch the design once.

Once you’re comfortable with your hand movement you can switch to a wider spacing between the needles.

A 4.0 twinneedle really accents the ribbon effect in many patterns.


Ribbon stippling with a 4.0 twin needle
Ribbon stippling with a 4.0 twin needle


More detailed patterns are easier to stitch with a narrow spacing between the needles.

A 1.6 needle easily stitches the most complex designs.


Detailed designs are easier to stitch with a narrow space between the needles.
Detailed designs are easier to stitch with a narrow space between the needles.


Square stippling is the more modern cousin of our traditional stippling.

Lines and corners don’t have to be perfectly straight for this playful kind of quilting.


Square stippling is modern and fun
Square stippling is modern and fun


Have lots of fun practicing your free motion quilting with your SCHMETZ twin needle.

Join me tomorrow for the modern flair of twin needle quilting as we see just how many ways we can make use of the way the back of a twin needle stitch is formed.


This is part 3 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 2: Let your walking foot work its magic for easy twin needle quilting

Go to part 4: The modern flair of twin needle quilting – embrace the zigzag

Julie Plotniko is a quilting teacher, blogger and designer from Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. Teaching for almost 40 years, recent credits include Quilt Canada 2016 and 2017, many quilt guilds and groups throughout Canada and CreativFestival Sewing and Craft Shows in Victoria, Abbotsford and Toronto. When not on the road Julie works and teaches at Snip & Stitch Sewing Center in Nanaimo, BC. Her favorite things include free motion quilting (standard bed and mid-arm machines), precision piecing, scrap quilting, machine embroidery, blogging, designing and of course teaching. Julie believes that to see a student go from tentative beginnings to having confidence in themselves and their abilities is one of the greatest rewards that life has to offer.


  1. Carolyn Langley

    I love the look of the twin needle , so many possibilities. Thanks again for another great tutorial. Now I must go and play.

    • Hi Carolyn
      You are absolutely correct, the possibilities are endless.
      I’m so glad that you’re having fun!

  2. This opens up a whole new world of WFQ for me. Thanks!

  3. Carolyn Langley

    I’m going to try this, I’m wondering what it will look like on the back?
    i Took a class from Julie at Quilt Canada 2017 and have had fun with my walking foot techniques.

    • Hi Carolyn. I’m glad you’re enjoying your quilting with a walking foot!
      Check out the post “The modern flair of twin needle quilting – embrace the zigzag” on day four of this series to see the beautiful and versatile effect created by the bobbin thread.
      Happy quilting!

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