Portable FMQ!

Three years ago, just after I retired, I was in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and visited the Pine Needles Sewing Center. (This place is in the top three of my favorite Quilt Shops.) I hadn’t really done much sewing since the mid-1980’s. The quilts on display were awesome. I knew right then that I wanted to start quilting. I had made a few small quilts in earlier years that were quilted with a walking foot as well as a couple other quilts which were finished by a long-arm quilter, but that was the extent of it. I wanted to learn how to quilt my own projects. I mentioned this to a neighbor who did a lot of quilting, and she cautioned me that it was very difficult to free motion quilt.

I found Leah Day on the Internet, and the quilt bug bit me. I LOVE to quilt and it is such a bonus that I can see my projects through from start to finish. I have been trying to figure out how to take my quilting on the road when we travel for long periods in our motor home. My Bernina is too big to haul along. I own a vintage 1929 Singer Featherweight that I never considered using for free motion quilting because I was always of the notion that you have to drop the feed dogs in order to fmq. When I saw a post on Facebook of a Featherweight, it occurred to me that I might be able to use my little Singer when I’m traveling. (I am now a proponent of feed dogs up. It makes nicer stitches.)

Well, much to my amazement I can free motion quilt on my little old Featherweight! I have to use a spool stand because Isacord doesn’t fit on the spindle of that tiny thing. My Supreme Slider is too big, but eventually I’ll cut down the one I have and buy a new one for my Bernina. I find myself moving my right leg whenever I need to lift the presser foot because my Bernina has the free hand system. If my hands were any larger, I would have to quilt one-handed because the harp space is so small. I could never do a standard quilt on this. I’m still working on perfecting my stitches and will have to figure out how to enlarge my work surface. It’s crude, but it’s fun! It will be perfect for small projects.



I get almost giddy thinking of how cool it is to do a relatively new process on such an old machine. I like to dream about the person who used this machine 80 some years ago and wonder if 80 years from now someone will be using my Bernina. (Hmm.)

This week, I finished the second pattern of the first block group of the Leah Day’s Building Blocks Quilt Along. The pattern is all straight lines, and I think I’m finally getting the feel of working hands and feet in concert. I am looking forward to quilting the spiral.

Block 1.2 front

Block 1.2. Markings and all!

Block 1,2 back

Block 1.2 back. Ditching is improving and I feel that using just the darning foot and not the BSR affords more control.

I’m linking up to Leah Day’s Free Motion Quilting Project Link Up.


8 thoughts on “Portable FMQ!

  1. Wow, you have inspired me to try free-motion stitching on my 1962 Singer 503!! So glad to see how well this is going for you, especially on the old machine. They are wonderful workhorses. Your stitching looks great!

  2. Wow! I have a 1936 Singer Featherweight and I love piecing on it. Plus I adore the humming sound it makes as it sews. The questions I have are: Where did you get the great little metal open toe foot? And, how do you set the stitch length to zero? What do you set the tension to? Hopefully, you can help me to quilt on my machine. Thanks! Ilene e

    • Thank you! I am familiar with Sewvacusa and have ordered things from them before. I didn’t know about that little lever on the side of the Featherweight – guess I need to read the manual. Duh…


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