Free Motion Treadle video

I made a video of myself free motion quilting on the Free treadle machine.

Before the video here is a bit of what went into getting the treadle to work for free motion quilting.

The machine didn’t fit singer style feet so I couldn’t get a free motion foot for it.     I tried making my own with a paperclip which worked pretty good but kept bending out of shape.

DSCN8918 (2)

I tried putting a singer 127 presser bar in the machine but it didn’t fit correctly and was wobbly, it worked but not the best solution.

I bought a spring needle which you use without a foot….. (in this picture the wobbly singer presser bar is still in the machine)


It worked pretty good but I kept getting skipped stitches and loops in the thread if I went too fast.   I decided I needed to modify the presser bar to fit a standard low shank  foot.

Here is a picture of 2 presser bars. The bottom is a singer , too long and too narrow for my machine but with a side attaching set screw that fits many different feet like a walking foot and a darning foot.  The shorter is one that fits my machine, with no quilting feet available.


I bought another presser bar that fits my machine so I can put back the original if I want (you can find anything on eBay) and used a grinder to reshape the end and then drilled a hole for the screw and a tap to add the right sized threads.


It worked and I can now attach a regular short shank darning foot to the machine.


It really is amazing how much better it works when the presser bar fits the machine.

I tried out a tool to help hold the quilt and move it while quilting ( The Gypsy Quilter fabric glide)

It has rubber fingers on the back to grip the quilt.


It works pretty good but I found that I do better with just my hands (hate to wear gloves but might try some quilting gloves at some point)

So that is what went into it the last several days.    This is the block I quilted in the video


and here is the video

Happy Quilting


49 thoughts on “Free Motion Treadle video

  1. carolsteffensen says:

    Unbelieveable! I would not have the know how or patience to do that. You are a saint!

  2. Lynn Clark says:

    For those of us just venturing into the world of free-motion quilting, that was educational. Thank you, Tim.

    • timquilts says:

      Thank you! I tried a few times before but never like it at all until I got this treadle machine……and what I learned is that it goes easier at slow speed (and speed comes as you practice)

  3. Karleen Miller says:

    Enjoy your blog. In watching your video I was wondering if the machine was sewing sideways as it did not look like you were moving the fabric that much?

  4. katechiconi says:

    I think the key thing there is the speed control you have. I’ve tried treadle machines in the past, but can’t get them to go slowly or stop fast enough because the treadle seemed to have a mind of its own!

    • timquilts says:

      I think you are right, and I think different machines preform differently…..I can get a start and stop on this one easily….but haven’t tried any others to see the difference

  5. Tina Williams says:

    Very informative. I’m so glad you made this video.

  6. Angela says:

    Tim, thank you for showing us this video. I would really like to see your feet on the pedal. As for the fabric glide, I don’t like it either, as I don’t like the gloves, but I found that using rubber finger tips in my fore and middle fingers help me have a good grip on the fabric without the inconvenience of the gloves. Rubber finger tips can be found at your office supplier. I have a box of 12, Swingline brand, and they come in different sizes.

  7. Cathie Lanier says:

    Hi, Tim! I also had tried a couple of different quilting “hoops” to do free motion and didn’t like them. I found it’s better to just use your hands, but I use gloves and like them. I also use the Klutz glove from Fons and Porter. Too many friends have cut themselves with the rotary cutter. I should try the glove out sometime with something else in the glove like a small sponge or something and see what happens. Glad your new machine is working out well. I have an old one, but haven’t tried it out yet. I had it overhauled so I know it works. Say hi to Teddy! He’s doing a great job!

  8. Diana says:

    Very nice video. What did you use to mark the quilt? What is your experience with a ponce pad?

    • timquilts says:

      crayola washable markers… have to wash the quilt when you are finished but they come out no problem and are easy to see. pounce pads I dont care for…..the chalk wipes off before I get to quilt it

  9. Cheri Dawn says:

    Wow! I am so impressed with both your engineering skills a bd your free motion quilting – on a treadle no less. Thank you for doing the video. There’s hope for me. 🙂

  10. Karen says:

    OMIGOSH!!! I have a Free #5 also! I have despaired that I would not be able to quilt on it… Is there any chance that you would make the quilting foot that fits this machine? I would happily purchase it if this were available!!! Thanks for a WONDERFUL video!

    • timquilts says:

      Hmmm…..I think there is a need for them….but I really don’t have a shop set up to make them …..( in addition to the free there are lots of other brands that have that same problem, western electruc, graybar, old kenmores, white, westinghouse, franklin, the list is long!

  11. Amy L says:

    Love your story for this treadled quilt. It is fascinating, and makes me want to go out there and find one of these beauties. I do wear gloves when free motion quilting, but I use tight fitting gardening gloves, the kind with the rubber palms. There are cheaper than the quilting ones, and work great.

  12. susie Q says:

    I use brand new rubber coated gardening / work gloves when I free motion quilt.

  13. Suze says:

    fascinating video, Tim! I love seeing the things that can be done with the older machines…
    I have done FMQ on my 1926 Singer 66 with no foot, using Octi-Hoops to move the quilt and a Supreme Slider on the treadle bed (to help the Octi-Hoops not get caught on the hinges)…I like it…I am looking into getting the adapter for the back clamping model that I have to make it a normal short shank…and then I could get a proper FMQ foot to see if that works any better..I would not try going without the foot and just using my hands – that would be way too scary!!.

  14. darlynn says:

    Tim!!!! you did awesome. not sure that i would have had your perseverance in getting the pressure bars and feet figured out. you continue to amaze. d

  15. Rose in Vt says:

    Great video Tim! I do a lot of machine quilting and am always surprised when at a workshop and people comment that they didn’t think I quilted so slowly. I don’t pay any attention, it’s just the speed I’m comfortable with. Not to mention when the ‘underneath’ fingers are raw from hand quilting, machine quilting gives them time to heal…hee hee. Am really glad you’re teaching us to take second looks at our oldest machines.

    • timquilts says:

      I think a lot of people have seen videos of long arm quilting and assume that free motion machine quilting should go as fast as that….an yes it sure is a good break from hand work ….. sometimes it is just good to have a change

  16. Louise C says:

    Thanks for this video. That is exactly what I needed to see.

  17. Marci M says:

    Thank you for the video. What talent you have! I have an older long arm that I do my quilting on, but with bad shoulders it is immensely painful, and sometimes impossible, to move my machine around for very long at any time. I’ve been considering using my treadle Singer 66 to try my free motion quilting on. Is it hard on your shoulders to move the quilt around at the machine? Again, thanks for sharing your handwork!

    • timquilts says:

      it is not hard on my shoulders, but that isn’t to say it is not hard …..I think it depends on the person and the height of the machine ( I think a taller person has it easier on the shoulders) and also the size of the quilt…..the bigger the harder to maneuver……but the 66 should be a good one to use , its a great machine and large enough to fit a good sized quilt under, you should try it and see how it works for you

  18. Sandra Henderson says:

    Wow! Very impressive! When I bought my treadle, it was refurbished and I paid a lot of money for this. I didn’t mind because I’m not mechanically inclined. The lady told me I could drop the feed dogs and even gave me a foot to use, but I’ve never tried it. You’ve encouraged me to give it a go! Great video! I still think you should do a video thing,,,

  19. Rhonda Casey says:

    Love it!

  20. Sara says:

    Wow, awesome job!

  21. jes says:

    I love your video; I am inspired to go out and look for a treadle machine! I would have never guessed a treadle machine would work for free motion quilting. Just wanted to mention that an alternative to quilting gloves is to cut out two hand sized rectangles of rubberized shelf liner. You just rest your hands on top of the liner pieces and they grip the quilt perfectly. Walmart sells a brand called Super Grip Easy Liner. But I found a similar brand at the Dollar Store.

  22. San says:

    Thanks for sharing this neat idea. I’m constantly amazed at how quilters are adapting tools and techniques. Have you tried blue nitrile gloves to help hold the quilt layers? They work well for me when they fit snugly and have just enough grip.

  23. Susan Steele says:

    Great job are definitely getting the hand of it. You’ll find every treadle has a very different “feel”…some are jumpy and tempermental and others are smooth as butter and will glide at a very smooth rate! I like that you realize that faster is not better..I know many machine quilters who think it it looks better if they are racing along, but all that means is that they are making too many stitches, the back will look terrible and the quilt will be stiffer from too many stitches! If you decide to try other machines some of my best for quilting are my Singer 115, a really ancient 1872 Royal which as sooo smooth, and my White Rotary…but overall so far the Singer 115 is my fav as it uses regular bobbins and not shuttles and is east to regulate for speed….Happy Quilting!

  24. […] I finished the treadle quilting on the last quilt (  I began thinking of the hundreds of quilt tops I have.   Some of them are really great and […]

  25. Nancy says:

    Fascinating! AND you quilt in a direction going behind the needle. I’m so impressed. Crayola markers- interesting. So much to learn here.


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s