The Free Motion Quilting Project: Get a Grip!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Get a Grip!

Recently I've noticed a lot of questions about stitch length and stitch quality - how do you maintain even stitches and how to get them looking good all the time?

Part of this is simply down to practice.  The more you quilt, the better "feel" you will have for free motion quilting and the more consistent and even your stitches will become.

But there is a tool that can help you gain better control over the quilt which will instantly improve how your stitches look and how you feel moving the quilt over your machine.

The tool is Machingers Quilting Gloves.

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Machingers are lightweight nylon gloves with rubber tips designed to lock onto your quilt top and help move it smoothly and evenly over your machine.

A super nice feature about these gloves is that they're double sided - you can wear out one side, then switch hands and wear out the other side!

Without gloves, your finger tips will be unable to gain purchase on the quilt surface.  Fine movements and delicate control will be quite difficult to achieve when you can't get a grip on the quilt..

Worse still, you might get into the habit of clenching the quilt with your hand closed in a fist.  This is not a good way to quilt as you still won't be able to achieve good control over the quilt, and you'll probably end up with aching hands and wrists in a very short time.

Unlike gardening gloves, Machingers are designed to fit snugly against your skin, but are made of a thin, breathable nylon, so your hands won't sweat when you wear them.

The closer fit will help you grip the quilt with the palm of your hands, which can be very helpful for large scale quilting.

Personally I've used Machingers since my very first quilting class back in 2006.  I tried to stipple on a 12 inch practice sandwich and felt very frustrated by how little the quilt moved when I pushed and pulled on it with bare hands.  My hands just seemed to slide right over the surface and the quilt sat still!

The teacher offered many tools for us to try, including hoops and rings designed to aid with moving the quilt.  These tools just seemed to get into my way and obscured my vision from what I was stitching.

Finally I slipped on a pair of Machingers and felt like I had control at last!  Now when I pushed on the quilt, it went somewhere!  It felt much less difficult to get it where I wanted it to go, and I no longer felt like the my hands were sliding uncontrollably over the surface. Even now, 6 years later, I still wear these gloves for free motion quilting every day.

free motion quilting | Leah Day
The level of control, grip, and movement they will give you will dramatically improve your free motion quilting ability. 

If you're interested in trying a pair of Machingers, click here to find them in our Quilt Shop.

You can also save $5.00 by bundling Machingers with the Supreme Slider and Magic Bobbin Washers in the Ultimate Quilting Kit.

Let's get a grip and go quilt!

Leah Day


  1. I had a lesson today in just how much I love Machingers. I went to my guild's sewing afternoon, but forgot my gloves at home. What a struggle! You can bet I won't forget them again!

  2. These gloves are the best!!! I have tried many other solutions: garden gloves (way too bulky/not 'grippy' enough,hot), purple nitrile "barney" gloves (suffocating!!!), finger "cots" (don't really stay put!!) and, finally, bought these gloves from Leah..awesome. Can even thread the needle when needed! They fit! Cool! To "launder"...just put them on and add a couple of drops of dish soap (ex.Dawn) and rub hands together. They dry very quickly/overnight. Couldn't have done the FMQ Whole Cloth QAL without them!!!!!! Hugs, Doreen

  3. I also go these from Leah, after starting to try to FMQ my first quilt. I waited as I was trying to save money, but man or man these make it possible to concentrate on the designs and not be all tensed up. I keep them at the side of my machine with the clover needle so they are always there when I need them!

    At first my son thought I wore them to protect my hands from the sewing machine needle! : )

  4. Thanks, Leah for this tip. I am so trying to improve my free motion quilting. Maybe these gloves will help. Have a super day!


  5. I'm a big fan of these gloves. Coming from Adelaide in South Australia where it gets very hot in summer I really love that they are so comfortable to wear in summer. My hands don't get overheated, they fit so well and don't move around on your hands and best of all you can move your quilt around so much easier. Love them!

  6. It does make a huge difference in FMQ by using the Machingers gloves. Its just awesome!
    Can't quilt without it :-).

  7. I'm going to try those when my Fons & Porter ones finally crap out. While I am happy with these, I just want to try others to see if I like them better. I find that the sizes though are more for women than men. Large for me is different than large for females. I have started to bust out of the current ones I have, but I just run it under the FMQ needle and it's fixed :)


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