#DDCraft How To Do Free Motion Embroidery

#DDCraft free motion-2

I have been trying to feed my sewing obsession and get my fix with new sewing projects at home when I am not working.

You may have seen photos I have posted on my Denton Drapes social media platforms recently of a couple of Free Motion Embroidery courses I have attended.

With my new found skills I have been experimenting with different designs and techniques and have found that it is totally addictive! I have officially caught the free-motion bug.

So, I thought I would share with you a really simple project I completed recently that will definitely appeal to all my fellow-crafters out there.

It is a nice versatile make – pick your subject matter, select your fabrics and once you’ve sewn your picture you can decide how you’d like to display it – in a frame, on a cushion, as a tea cosy, as a sewing machine cover…the possibilities are endless!

You will need:

Co coordinating cotton remnants

Plain cotton backing fabric


Iron on interfacing (optional)

Greaseproof paper

Plain paper


Paper Scissors

Fabric Scissors

Black, grey or brown thread

Sewing machine

Open Toe Darning/Embroidery Foot

Steam Iron

How To Do Free Motion Embroidery

by Penny Bruce

Step 1


Step One

Find an image that you would like to use to create your picture. I found this really simple shape of a sewing machine online. I enlarged the picture to a size I was happy with (roughly A4).

Step 2


Step Two

Cut your backing fabric to the desired size and press to make sure that it has no creases. If the fabric is thin and lightweight you may want to add some iron-on interfacing to the wrong side with a steam iron to add stability, especially if you are going to frame your picture.

Step 3


Step Three

Decide which shapes of your image you would like to cut out and use as a pattern for your fabrics.

Choose your fabrics to create your picture.

In my case I only used two quilting weight cotton fabrics.

Step 4a


Step 4b


Step Four

Place each pattern piece wrong side up on the wrong side of the fabric and trace around with a pencil or disappearing marker pen. Cut out each pattern piece.

Step 5


Step Five

Once you have cut out all of your pieces assemble your picture to make sure everything is correct.

Step 6


Step Six

The next step is to place all of the fabric pieces wrong sides down onto the adhesive side of the Bondaweb. Cover with greaseproof paper and press with a steam iron for a few seconds.

Step 7


Step Seven

Cut out each fabric piece from the large sheet of Bondaweb and peel the backing paper away from the back of each piece. Position onto your backing fabric.

Press each piece into place on the backing fabric with a steam iron for around 5 seconds to ensure it adheres properly.

Step 8


Step Eight

Use tweezers to help position all of the small fiddly pieces into place. I used a pencil to lightly draw the cotton reel on the top of the machine and the thread passing through the machine.

Step 9


Step Nine

Once all of the pieces are stuck to the backing fabric you are ready to embroider them into place. Now this is where the fun begins!

Step 10a


Step Ten

Prepare your sewing machine for free motion embroidery by inserting a new sharp needle and threading with black, brown or grey sewing thread. I chose to use a grey thread for this project.

Drop the feed dogs on you sewing machine. This switch is usually at the back of your sewing machine. If you do not have a button to drop the feed dogs you may have a cover that fits into your needle plate to cover them.

Remove the straight stitch foot and replace with a darning/embroidery foot. A darning/embroidery foot usually comes with your sewing machine accessories. I used an open toe embroidery foot, the open toe foot just gives you a better view of your work.

(Please refer to your individual sewing machine manual for instructions.)

Step 10b


Step Eleven

You are now ready so sew. Free motion allows you to move the fabric freely through your machine: using your needle as if it were a pen and your fabric the paper – you can draw freely using the thread to create a picture.

It’s a good idea to practise using your sewing machine for free motion embroidery before stitching your project as the stitch sizes are determined by how fast or slow you move the fabric under the needle.

There are plenty of YouTube videos showing you how to do this if you have not tried it before.

STEP 12 a b c d


Step Twelve

You are now ready to start to stitch your picture!

Place your presser foot down – you will find that your presser foot does not actually go completely down unless your needle is in the down position.

*A great tip is to make sure that your needle is in the needle down position every time you stop sewing if you have that option on your machine.*

Start by inserting your needle into you fabric and bringing it back up again. This will bring the bobbin thread up to the top of your work, hold onto the two ends of the thread.

Insert the needle down into your work again and start to stitch. Do not sew too close to the edges of your work as you will have a tendency to slip off of the edge.

Stitch around the edge of each shape by following the edges to add definition to your picture. The lines do not have to be perfectly straight, in fact, if the lines are not straight it adds character texture and individuality!

You will get a feel for what feels right for you as you go along.

Stitch around each edge at least twice.

Step 13


Step Thirteen

Carry on stitching around the edge of each shape until you have completed defining the edges. Make sure that you stitch around the shape of the cotton reel on the top of the machine and the screw that sits on the left hand side of the needle…

step 14


Step Fourteen

Change the colour of the thread in your machine to fill in the thread on the cotton reel and the thread passing through the machine.

Make sure that you leave a couple of centimetres of loose thread at the end of the needle to make it a little more authentic.

I stitched a slight curve on the thread on the reel to add texture.

step 15


Step Fifteen

Add a slogan.

This is completely optional but I added the slogan “Love Sewing” to my final piece at the end. I used a pencil to lightly draw in my slogan on a slight curve.

*A good tip is to practice writing your slogan a few times on a plain piece of paper before you actually draw it on to your project.*

Once you have drawn in your guide for the slogan in pencil, stitch along these lines with your sewing machine, going over them several times to add definition.

And voila…you have completed your picture!


Your free motion embroidery picture is complete!

If you do not want to frame your picture you could use your piece of fabric to make something else.

For instance a cushion cover, a shopping bag, a tea cozy, or a sewing machine cover (see picture below).

#DDCraftHow To Do FreeMotion Embroidery

^^ Pin this for later ^^

The possibilities are endless…!

The main thing is to let your imagination run riot, have a go and enjoy it!

For loads more Free Motion Embroidery ideas and inspiration take a peek at our Pinterest board…

Happy crafting my lovelies…

Penny x


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