Choosing A Free Motion Quilting Foot and 5 Options To Consider

How To Use Quilting Templates And Stencils

The first version was made in the 1970s by hand-stitching with a foot attached to the machine. There are now many different types of feet available from simple straight stitch feet to more complex designs.

This guide will help you choose the right type of foot for your needs. So, let's take a look at free motion quilting in more detail, and the 5 options to consider.

Types of Feet

There are two main types of feet used for free motion quilting:

Straight Stitch

These are the simplest feet and allow you to sew along a line on the fabric. They can be used for appliquéing, piecing, patchwork, and other techniques where you want to sew along a line.

The advantage of these feet is they don't require any special settings so you can start sewing immediately after setting up your machine.

Continuous Stitch

These feet have a continuous stitch which means there's no gap between each stitch. They're best suited for quilting, embroidery, and other projects where you need to keep the stitches close together.

The disadvantage of this type of foot is that you cannot adjust the tension as easily as with some other feet. You'll need to set the tension before starting to sew.

You can buy feet separately or as part of a kit. Kits usually include all the parts needed to make the foot work correctly. Some kits come with extra needles and thread too.

How Do I Choose a Foot to Use?

When choosing a foot you should think about what you plan to use it for.

For example, if you want to quilt, then you may prefer a continuous stitch foot. If you want to embroider, then you might want to try a straight stitch foot.

Type of Stitch

Choosing a free motion foot for your machine is basically about deciding which type of stitch you want to use.

There are five basic types: straight line, curved line, wave, zigzag, and wavy line. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages.

For example, the straight-line foot will produce a very crisp, clean edge with no waves or ripples. However, it can be difficult to control the width of the lines as they move across the fabric.

Curved-line feet have a wider range than straight-line feet; however, they tend to distort the shape of the curves.

Wave, zigzag, or wavy-line feet allow you to create a variety of different effects on your fabric, but they may not give you enough control over the edges to achieve the look you desire.


The next thing to consider when selecting a free motion foot is how much tension you need.

Some machines require more tension than others, so make sure you know what kind of tension your machine requires before purchasing a foot. If you don’t know, again, ask your local dealer or manufacturer.

Different Types

Once you decide on the type of stitch you want and the amount of tension required, you should choose between two options: a standard foot or a free arm.

The standard foot attaches directly to the needle plate of the machine and provides a steady base for the foot to sit on. This makes it easier to keep the foot level and stable while creating stitches.

The free arm, on the other hand, sits on top of the machine’s presser foot and moves up and down independently of the needle plate.

This gives you greater flexibility and freedom to move the foot around the fabric. You can even change the height of the foot at any time during the process.

Free arms are fairly simple to install and remove. All you do is push one end of the foot onto the needle plate and tighten the screw until it clicks into place. Then just loosen it again to take it off.

When choosing a free arm, there are several factors to consider: the size of the foot, whether it comes with a guide bar, and how easy it is to attach and detach the foot.


There are three sizes of free arms available: small, medium, and large.

Small feet come in either right- or left-handed versions. They measure about 3 inches wide and about 2 1/2 inches tall.

Medium feet are slightly larger than small feet and measure 4 inches wide and about 2 3/4 inches tall.

Large feet are about 6 inches wide and about 3 inches tall.

Right- or Left-handed

Most manufacturers offer both right- and left-handed models of their free arms.

Righties generally cost less than lefties because they are smaller and lighter. However, if you prefer to sew with your dominant left hand, then go ahead and buy the lefties version.

Guide Bar

Most free arms come with a guide bar that slides into the bottom of the foot. This helps ensure that the foot remains flat against the fabric and prevents the foot from moving out of position.

Guide bars are usually made of plastic and slide easily into place.

Some free arms include a guide bar already attached to them. To remove the bar, simply pull it out.

Some free arms also feature an adjustable clamping mechanism that allows you to adjust the pressure of the foot against the fabric. These clamps are useful for making adjustments to the foot’s position without having to remove it completely.

If you plan to quilt by hand, you might find that some of these features are unnecessary. However, if you plan to use your machine exclusively for sewing, then you probably want to invest in a quality free arm.

Types of Stitching

The next thing to think about when selecting a free motion quilting foot is what kind of stitching method you will be using. There are five basic types of free motion quilting:

Straight Stitch

A straight stitch is used to create horizontal lines across the fabric. It works well for borders, but not so much for piecing.

Zigzag Stitch

A zigzag stitch creates diagonal lines across the fabric. This is great for piecing, but not as good for borders.

Reverse Stitch

A reverse stitch is similar to a zigzag stitch except that it goes backwards instead of forwards. It creates vertical lines across the fabric.

Wave Stitch

A wave stitch consists of alternating forward and backward stitches. This type of stitch creates waves along the seam line. It is best for creating decorative designs on fabrics such as damask, batik, and silk.

Chain Stitch

A chain stitch is like a straight stitch except that it has a longer length. The resulting stitch looks more like a traditional needlework stitch than a straight stitch.

Each of these methods have advantages and disadvantages. For example, a straight stitch can be very precise, but it tends to leave visible marks on the finished product.

On the other hand, a zigzag stitch produces a smoother finish, but it is harder to control.

It all comes down to personal preference. Some people prefer one over another, while others may favor one over another depending on the project at hand.

5 Different Foots Options to Consider


[amazon fields=”B07BHLPLVF” value=”thumb” image_size=”large”]

This foot is designed specifically for patchwork projects. It includes a clear ruler that makes it easy to measure accurately. It also has a low shank design which means that it won't move around too much during the stitching process.


  • Easy to use
  • Accurate measurements
  • Low shank design


  • Not suitable for all types of stitching
  • Expensive


[amazon fields=”B00G6TYQMM” value=”thumb” image_size=”large”]

This foot is ideal for embroidery or darning projects. Its unique design allows you to make small adjustments to the distance between the needle and the presser foot. It also features a low-shank design that prevents the foot from moving around too much.


  • Accurate measurement
  • Low shank design
  • Easy to use


  • Not suitable for all types of stitching
  • hard to keep clean


[amazon fields=”B077XR3LND” value=”thumb” image_size=”large”]

This foot is made with high quality materials. It features a ruler guide which can be applied to any part of the fabric. It can also be used for top stitching, as well as decorative stitching techniques. 


  • High-quality construction
  • Adjustable ruler guide


  • Difficult to clean


[amazon fields=”B07CVBW9SL” value=”thumb” image_size=”large”]

This foot is designed for sewing by hand. It features a clear ruler that provides accurate measurements. It also has a rubberized bottom sole that prevents the foot from slipping.


  • Accurate measurements
  • Rubberized bottom sole


  • Not suitable for machine quilting
  • Not recommended for beginners


[amazon fields=”B07D7TMZ6Z” value=”thumb” image_size=”large”]

This open toe presser foot is designed specifically for applique projects. It features a snap in design so that it can easily be removed without damaging your machine. It also has a soft cushion that reduces friction against the fabric.


  • Easy to remove
  • Soft cushion


  • Expensive
  • Not suitable for all types of projects

Final Thoughts

There are many more options available in the market today. You just need to do some research and find out what works best for your needs.

If you're looking for a good quality free motion quilting presser foot, then this guide will help you choose the right one.

Happy sewing!

Sarah Maine
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