How To: Free Motion Quilting on a Vintage Tea Towel

I’ve been experimenting with my free motion quilting foot this week and I wanted to show you how fun it can be to have a little play and add an extra dimension to fabrics that can then be used in other projects. This same technique can be used on bigger projects like quilts.
I’ve quilted a pretty vintage linen tea towel and made a fun video so you can watch the whole process. If you’ve always wondered what a ‘darning foot’ or free motion foot was for, this is the tute for you!

You will need:

Darning Foot, also called a Free Motion Quilting/Embroidery Foot
You may already have one in that box of sewing machine attachments that you’ve never used, but they can also be purchased from sewing stores. Yours may look slightly different so you may need to check your manual to see how it attaches.

A tea towel or piece of fabric with large graphic flowers
Poly batting (nice and lofty)
Backing fabric (I’ve used a thin cotton voile)
Batting/Applique adhesive spray (optional)

How to:

Preparing the fabric-
If you are using a batting adhesive spray make sure you are working in a well ventilated area.
Lay down your backing fabric and spray lightly.
Lay the batting on top of this, spray then place the tea towel on top.
The idea is to sandwich the batting in between the two layers of fabric, and the spray makes the layers grippy so things don’t slide around. If you don’t have the spray, you can also pin the layers together.

Preparing your machine-
Attach your Darning foot
Lower your feed dogs
Set your stitch length to zero

Now it’s time to have a play on some scraps of fabric.
Presser foot down (although the foot looks like it is up, it moves up and down with each stitch)
Move the fabric slowly under the foot sewing at about medium speed. It takes a little practice to get used to.

Here is my Before and After:

I’ve made a video to show you how I have used the floral design as my guide for the quilting pattern.

How much fun was that?
Here is the back

And a close up of the front

Tune in next week to see what I make with this quilted panel…

Take your Free motion quilting to the next level (Affiliate link)


  • drmithome says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I purchased a free motion foot for my machine several months ago, but never had the courage to try anything. This is a great incentive to get started playing. Thanks again.

  • jennie says:

    This looks great Cintia –
    can't wait to see what you make with it!

    (i posted a free motion sewing tutorial recently too!)x

  • Rachel J says:

    I've never tried one of these fancy feet-but your video is really helpful to see how it all comes together!

  • dreamalittle says:

    A great tutorial, I'll keep trying with FMQ but I've broken SOOO many needles it's driving me mad!

    • Miss Cinti - my poppet says:

      I think I read somewhere that you need to have the machine running quite fast and your hands moving slower. If your needle is going up and down too slowly you may pull on it with the fabric causing it to break.
      Also some people use a strong/denim needle
      Hope that helps
      cheers Cinti

  • Miss Cinti - my poppet says:

    Thanks I have added this tute to your link list
    Cheers Cinti

  • Laura Bray says:

    Thanks for posting this. I just tried free motion myself. It's a little scary at first, but I do love the look!

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