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Jumpstart your free motion quilting on this elephant baby quilt


Yesterday, I showed you how I used many of the decorative stitches on the Brother NQ900 to machine applique the center of our baby quilt. I really loved how each of the different stitches looked on the applique shapes!

Today, we’re going to add the borders to the center panel!


The Brother NQ900 sewing machine.
The Brother NQ900


Piecing is a breeze!

The Brother NQ900 is great for piecing too! The ¼” quilting foot with guide is great for sewing accurate ¼” seams and the Thread Cutter Button is GREAT for when you’re chain piecing!!


Adding the borders to the baby quilt with the Brother NQ900 ¼" quilting foot with guide.
The ¼” quilting foot with guide


Adding the borders

  1. From the inner border fabric (gray), cut 3 strips 1½” x the width of the fabric (WOF). From these, cut two strips that are 1½” x 24″ and sew these to the sides of the inner panel. Press towards the borders. Cut two strips of the inner border fabric that are 1½” x 20″ and sew these to the top and bottom. Press.
  2. From each of your six border fabrics, cut one strip 5″ x the WOF. Cut one section from each that is 5″ x 15″, and cut each of these in half to make two 2½” x 15″ strips. Randomly sew these together end to end with a mitered join to make the binding.
  3. From the remainder of each strips, cut 5″ wide rectangles that range in length from 3″ to 6″. Randomly sew these rectangles together to make one long strip that is 5″ wide.
  4. From this long strip, cut two inner borders that are 5″ x 26″ and sew these to the two sides of the quilt. Press. Cut two inner borders that are 5″ x 29″ and sew these to the top and bottom of the quilt. Press.
  5. From the gray fabric cut four strips that are 3″ x WOF. From these cut two side borders that are 35″ long and sew these to the two sides of the quilt. Press. Cut two borders that are 34″ long and sew them to the top and bottom of the quilt.

Layer the quilt

The next step is to layer the quilt top with batting and backing. I used an adhesive spray to stick my layers together, but you could pin or hand baste if you prefer.


The top of the baby quilt is layered with batting and backing in preparation for quilting with the Brother NQ900.
Quilt top with batting and backing layered


Prepping the machine for free motion quilting

When you want to free motion machine quilt, you need to drop the feed dogs on the machine so that they won’t be trying to move the fabric in one direction when you are moving it another direction. The feed dogs on the Brother NQ900 are dropped by sliding the Feed Dog Position Switch located at the back of the machine.


The feed dogs on the Brother NQ900 are dropped by sliding the Feed Dog Position Switch located at the back of the machine.
Dropping the feed dogs


You also need to attach a machine quilting foot or darning foot. The quilting foot for the Brother NQ900 is great and makes free motion machine quilting super easy!


Changing to the quilting foot on the Brother NQ900 sewing machine.
Changing to the quilting foot


Now that the quilting foot is attached and the feed dogs are down, the machine is ready for quilting!


The Brother NQ900 sewing machine is all set up and ready for free motion quilting.
All ready for free motion quilting


For the background of the applique design, I decided to do a large meander throughout. I’m so used to machine quilting on my Gammill that I’m a little rusty doing free motion on a home machine!! As you can see, my stitches are not all the same length, but as I tell my machine quilting students, developing skill in machine quilting is all about practice, practice, practice!! The large extension table on the machine made the quilting experience quite enjoyable!


A close up photo of the free motion machine quilting done with the Brother NQ900 sewing machine.
Close up of the machine quilting


I did a little loop-de-loop design in the first narrow border.


A loop design is machine stitched in the inner border of the baby quilt using the quilting foot on the Brother NQ900.
Loops in the inner border


For the next two borders, I wanted to try out the walking foot on the machine. It was easily attached, and after I raised the feed dogs with the switch on the back of the machine, I was ready to try it out.


The walking foot is attached to the Brother NQ900 sewing machine.
Walking foot


I decided to quilt straight lines across the diagonal of each of the blocks in the pieced border. The walking foot worked really well, but I did increase the length of the stitch so that it’d be closer to what I’d stitched with the free motion foot. The knee lift came in VERY handy for doing this border as I could raise the foot, swing the quilt around and not have to take my hands off of the quilt!


The walking foot on the Brother NQ900 is used to quilt diagonal lines across the squares in the border of the baby quilt.
Quilting diagonal lines across the border squares


For the final border, I decided to just quilt parallel straight lines all along the border. The quilting guide on the Brother NQ900 walking foot was great for keeping my lines an equal distance apart!


The quilting guide on the Brother NQ900 walking foot is used to quilt straight lines on the outer border of the baby quilt.
Using the quilting guide on the walking foot


The quilting is done!

Now that the baby quilt is quilted, all it needs is a label and binding!! I really loved using the Brother NQ900 sewing machine to piece and quilt this baby quilt, and since taking the machine to the quilt retreat a couple weeks ago, I’ve been piecing like crazy!! I’m REALLY going to hate having to give it back when I’m done using it this week!!


This is part 4 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 3: Eye catching machine applique with the Brother NQ900

Go to part 5: It’s written in the binding! Bind a baby quilt with baby’s name

I have been designing and publishing quilt patterns for the last 16 years under the business name Fairfield Road Designs. My patterns range from fusible applique and piecing to felted wool applique and punchneedle. You can see all of patterns on my website


  1. janice

    I love this quilt and you gave me so much info! ty

  2. Sierra

    I have just started free motion quilting and I’m hooked! I can wait to explore it all! Thanks for sharing this project.

  3. Anna

    This was cool show and tell tyty..

  4. Shawna Yonts

    Love the ideas this article gave me. I have a baby quilt to quilt right now, so perfect timing!

  5. Linda

    4-3 Thank You for this neat Tutorial! Thank You too, for a pretty Northcott giveaway!

  6. Pam

    Thanks so much for this series on the elephant quilt. I know a baby who would love this!

    • You’re welcome – I hope you have fun making your own version!

  7. Lori Morton

    Loving the info you’re sharing about the Brother QN900…am looking to buy a new machine. 🙂 Also the info about the thread…and this Elephant quilt is ADORABLE!!

    • Hi Lori – there are so many wonderful machines to choose from these days! But I have to say that I REALLY loved using this machine and Brother was SO nice to let me buy it instead of sending it back! I’ve been sewing like crazy since it arrived and I can’t wait to see what other great features it has. Have fun shopping!!!

  8. Becky

    What a cute quilt! I love the loop-de-loop border. Somehow my loops never look that good. lol

    • Hi Becky – don’t worry if they aren’t that great when you first start. Getting good at machine quilting is ALL about PRACTICE!! The more you do the better you get. SO just keep quilting!! 🙂

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