Tips for Free Motion Quilting on a Juki



I get a lot of questions every time I free motion quilt (FMQ) one of my quilts on my home machine. I have a Juki 2000 and I love it soooooo much. It was definitely the right choice for me. When I upgraded earlier this year, one of my main reasons for doing so was so that I could learn how to FMQ. The Juki 2000 has an enormous throat space and makes doing so a breeze. I have learned a few helpful tips that I’ll be sharing today if you are interested in doing FMQ on your machine.

1- ALWAYS, always, always start with a brand new needle. Make sure you insert it allllll the way in. If you have problems with your thread shredding as you quilt, double check the needle is in all the way. 9 times out of 10, that’s what my problem is. It’s horribly frustrating to get going on your quilt just to have problems from the get-go.

2- Always oil your Juki before starting and every 2 bobbins as you are quilting.

3- Take off the plate and de-fuzz your machine. Once again, it is a little bit of time invested up front that helps immensely in the end.

4- If you spray basted your quilt, take the time to iron over the whole front and the whole back. It makes a huge difference in the final finished quilt.

5- Before I change to my FMQ foot, I like to sew a very scant 1/4″ (sometimes just 1/8″) around the entire perimeter of the quilt. I then trim off most of the excess, just leaving about 1-2″ around the entire perimeter of batting/backing. If you do this, you don’t have a huge wad of backing to accidentally sew over without realizing it. I’ve done this every time I haven’t trimmed and it is NOT fun to unpick.

6- Change to your FMQ foot.


7- Change the pressure on the foot. Turn the dial and make sure the mark is all the way up beyond the square on the top.


8- Drop the feed dogs.


9- Set the stitch length to 0.


After you’ve set up your machine for success, it’s just a matter of practice. There are so many wonderful youtube videos and lessons out there you can watch for free. The best thing is just practice. Don’t put it off too long before you just go for it on a quilt. It is so satisfying to take part in every step of the quilting process and while none of my FMQ attempts are perfect, it is such a fun thing to do!!

#jensfillerblocks Butterfly Charm

Butterfly Charm

I am so sad that this will be my last #jensfillerblocks. This has been such a growing experience for me. I have learned SO much and gained so much confidence as a quilter by working through these 6″ blocks. Today’s block is from the ever so talented Nicole Young (aka Lillyella). It finishes at 5.5″ so you’ll need to add a small border to make it fit in your quilt. She has provided 3 different styles of butterflies and the paper piecing PDF’s are all free on her site, Keep tagging me on instagram and using the #jensfillerblocks hashtag. It truly brings a big smile to my face any time I see one of these blocks.

Star Sashing Tutorial

Star Sashing

I have known for months and months that this is how I wanted to finish my Simple Star blocks from a swap in which I was participating. Adding those 9 cute, little stars in my sashing totally MADE this quilt for me. It took it from a cute, simple top to an adorable, fun top. I apologize for a lack of photos. It was raining all morning long so I couldn’t get any decent photos. I felt a need to get this top ready as I’m looking at my schedule for the next few months and panicking a bit.

Before you begin, you’ll need to draw out a very rough, simple diagram of your quilt so you can count out how many pieces of sashing you’ll need. I needed 24.

Cut your sashing 2-1/2″ x the length of your quilt blocks. Mine here were 12-1/2″ so my sashing was cut at 2-1/2″ x 12-1/2″.

For the star pieces, cut your squares at 1-1/2″ x 1-1/2″ for the star points and 2-1/2″ x 2-1/2″ for the star center.

Star Sashing 1

If you look at my finished quilt, you’ll notice that some of the sashing pieces end up with star points on just one side while others end up with star points on two sides. Count up how many need just one side and how many need them on two sides. I ended up needing 12 of each type. Do some simple math to figure out how many 1-1/2″ squares you’ll need.

12 single sided x 2 star points = 24 squares

12 double sided x 4 star points = 48 squares.

I ended up needing (72) 1-1/2″ x 1-1/2″ squares for my star points. Draw a line down the center diagonally, then attach one square at a time to each piece of sashing, trim, press, and repeat with the second square. Repeat this process for the sashing pieces requiring two sides. You are now ready to layout your quilt and sash it. Add in the 2-1/2″ x 2-1/2″ squares in the centers of the sashing pieces and assemble your top.

I love, love, love how this turned out and I know I’ll be using this method again soon. I have also seen a friendship star sashing, which you can easily find on Missouri Star Quilt Company’s blog.

Star Sashing 2

So now I’m interested to know, are you pro sashing or is it just one more step you dread before finishing your quilt? I can wholeheartedly tell you that I do NOT like sashing or borders. I find the process to be painful, but having such a fun outcome as these cute stars has made that extra work seem worth the effort!