Mastering the Craft: A Step-by-Step Guide to Attaching a Free Motion Quilting Foot

Whether you’re a quilting novice or an experienced stitcher, learning how to attach a free motion quilting foot can upskill your quilting mastery. In this guide, we’ll demystify the process for you, breaking it down into easy-to-follow steps.

Quilting is a generations-old, cherished craft that has withstood the test of time, and for a good reason. It allows us much-needed creative expression while producing functional and beautiful goods. The more intricate our quilt designs become, the more we need to adopt advanced techniques and tools. One of these essential tools is the free motion quilting foot.

The free motion quilting foot, also known as a darning foot, offers quilters the ability to create exquisite, intricate designs by stitching in any direction without turning the fabric. But to take advantage of its quirkiness, you first need to understand the steps to attach and use it. Let’s dive in!

What is a Free Motion Quilting Foot?

Before we plunge into the how-tos, let’s clarify what a free motion quilting foot is. This specialty foot is an add-on for a sewing machine that acts like a puck moving easily across an ice rink. It doesn’t feed the fabric with the machine’s help; instead, it lets you steer the fabric manually beneath the needle.

How to Attach a Free Motion Quilting Foot

The process of attaching a free motion quilting foot might vary slightly from one sewing machine model to another. However, the fundamental steps remain the same. Note: always consult your machine’s manual before starting.

Gathering the Necessary Tools

You will need:

  • Your free motion quilting foot
  • A screwdriver suited for your machine

Removing the Regular Foot and Shank

First, let’s ensure your sewing machine is prepared for the changes:

  1. Turn off your sewing machine. This step is crucial to avoid any accidental injuries.
  2. Remove the existing presser foot. Usually, this involves pressing a lever at the back of the foot, allowing it to drop off.
  3. Loosen and remove the foot shank. The shank is the part that connects the machine to the presser foot. Use your screwdriver to loosen the screw securing the shank, then remove the shank.

Attaching the Free Motion Quilting Foot

Now, let’s attach your new foot:

  1. Position the free motion quilting foot over the hole where the needle goes down.
  2. Align the bar of the foot with the place where you removed the shank.
  3. Using your screwdriver, fix the screw back tightly to secure the free motion foot in place.
  4. Lower your feed dogs. These are the teeth that move the fabric along under the foot. You’ll typically find a switch or lever for this on the back or side of your machine.
  5. Lastly, perform a test stitch on a scrap piece of fabric to ensure everything is functioning correctly.

“A test stitch is like a safety harness when trying a new quilting foot. It’s better to see problems on a scrap fabric than on your precious quilt project.”

Troubleshooting Tips

Despite following these steps, you might find your foot isn’t working as expected. Here are a couple of potential issues and their solutions:

Skipped Stitches

If you notice skipped stitches, there might be an issue with your needle. Please replace it with a new one.

Loops on the Underside of Fabric

Loops on the underside could indicate a tension issue. Adjust the thread tension as per your machine’s manual and see if that resolves the problem.


Learning how to attach a free motion quilting foot can vastly improve your quilting capabilities. It may seem intimidating at first, but with committed practice, this tool can become your loyal ally in your quilting adventures. So, take it one step at a time, practice on scrap fabric, and before long, you’ll be creating breathtaking free motion masterpieces of your own.

Whether you’re just starting or taking your quilting to new heights, we’re here to guide and inspire you. Tell us about the intricate designs you’ve created with your free motion quilting foot, or share any tips or challenges you’ve faced. Together, let’s keep this beautiful craft alive and thriving.

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