Free Motion Embroidery with a Spring Needle

Are you curious about free motion embroidery using a spring needle? Have you always wanted to try it, but weren’t sure how to set your machine?

Spring needles combine the function of a darning spring on the needle itself. Available in a variety of sizes, this needle is a dream for free-hand machine embroidery or monogramming in a hoop without a foot. The instructions below can be applied to any of the spring needles. While there are a variety of spring needles available, this blog will concern itself with Free Motion Embroidery using a SCHMETZ Embroidery Spring Needle.

Here’s what needs to be done to prepare your machine for free motion:

  1. Lower the feed dog as described in your machine manual. (With some machine models, you cannot lower the feed dog; in that case, you need to cover the feed dog with the cover enclosed in the accessories box.)
  2. Remove the presser foot.
  3. Lower the presser foot bar.
  4. Insert the Embroidery Spring Needle and thread it.
  5. Use a straight stitch.
  6. Start with the tension set at normal. Stitch on a scarp (the same as your project).
  7. Remove the fabric from the machine and check the tension. You should have a good stitch top and bottom as shown below. If the top thread is pulling to the back as shown, raise the upper thread tension to a higher number. Continue to increase the tension until the stitch is balanced.

Remember: You removed the presser foot and lowered your feed dog. You are now regulating the length of the stitched yourself by moving the fabric manually. Do not move the fabric too fast. The machine speed should be uniform: not too fast, not too slow. Experiment which speed suits you best. You may need to practice for a while until you achieve even stitches.

Stabilizer may be needed depending upon the weight of your fabric.


  • Always take a few stitches in place when beginning to sew until your machine reached the proper speed. Continue stitching, e.g., with stippling and other designs.
  • Try free motion embroidery with satin stitch:  Use the zigzag stitch. Begin stitching as before to get the feel for it. You have to move the fabric very slowly to form the satin stitch.
  • Use multi-colored threads for a special effect.

Click HERE to view SCHMETZ Spring Needles.


Ecclesiastical Sewing

Mary Mulari’s husband, Doug, is Mayor of Aurora, Minnesota. In February 2019, Mary went with him to a Regional Minnesota Mayors meeting up north, in a small town called Baxter.

While Doug was attending seminars, Mary was free to explore the town. Much to her surprise, she stumbled into a very unique sewing business. It wasn’t a charming quilt shop … or a sewing machine dealer. The sign said Ecclesiastical Sewing. Hmmm…

Mary’s has a pretty amazing career in the sewing industry, AND she’s a lifelong Lutheran. But she never thought about a mash-up between sewing and religion becoming a viable business.

So, whose idea was this?

The heroine of this sewing story is Carrie Roberts.

Like many of us, Carrie learned how to sew when she was a child. By the time she entered college, she was working part-time at a fabric store. She loved making display garments, and she became an accomplished seamstress. In 1982, she was accepted into the costume design program at the University of Minnesota. The classes in costume, fashion history, design, tailoring, draping, and flat pattern design took her skills to a whole new level.

Her first attempt at sewing religious vestments came during those college years. She was attending a church on campus, and the pastor asked if she could create a stole for him.

Remembering that first effort, Carrie says, I said yes, but I had no idea what that might entail. There were no stole patterns. So I created a pattern from one of his other stoles. I didn’t know what was used on the inside, so I selected a lambswool interfacing. There were no embroidery machines, no designs, and not much to work with. I saw an image of a lamb in an old vestment catalog, so I traced that lamb and using a combination of hand embroidery and machine satin stitching, created an emblem. The stole turned out okay, but I didn’t really know how it should be. My pastor wore that stole for years. Later that summer, I also created a chasuble for him. There were no clear patterns, no instructions, and finding fabrics in the correct colors was impossible. This was 35 years ago, there was no internet, no access to worldwide shopping, vintage books, designs, or patterns. I knew nothing of shoulder slant or how the shape should be.


Click HERE to read the rest of the story on

Heidi Proffetty

(Originally published in SCHMETZ Inspired to SEW #75.)


Heidi Proffetty is an award-winning quilt artist and teacher. Her quilts have been juried into American Quilter’s Society, International Quilt Association, traveled with Cherrywood Fabric’s Challenge exhibits, and exhibited in local galleries. She has been a guest on Quilting Arts TV and contributor to Quilting Arts Magazine. In 2018, she was featured on The Quilt Show with Ricky Tims and Alex Anderson.

In 2018, Heidi Proffetty’s mosaic quilt, Is She Ready Yet? won first place in the People, Portraits and Figures category at the 2018 International Quilt Festival in Houston, TX and in 2019 it won first place in the Small Wall Quilts-Pictorial at AQS QuiltWeek in Paducah, KY. These huge honors are even more remarkable when you consider that, until about 2012, Heidi didn’t even know there was such a thing as an art quilt.

So, who is this new Quilting-Artist-phenomenon Heidi Proffetty? Where did she come from, and what is her secret sauce?

Because Heidi had a few of those AH HAH MOMENTS, she developed a new quilting technique that combines inspirational photography, mosaic design, machine quilting, and a digital die cutting machine. Yes, you read that right. A digital die cutting machine.

But, here’s the thing. Never in her wildest dreams did Heidi Proffetty believe she would one day become a celebrated quilt artist.


Click HERE to read the rest of the story on

The Art of Homemaking Exhibit

(Originally published in SCHMETZ Inspired to SEW #73.)


Every month, Rita Farro gets to write for SCHMETZ Inspired to SEW. She loves telling other people’s stories. The whole point of SCHMETZ Inspired to SEW magazine is, of course, to revel in this hobby we love . . . to inspire YOU to sew!

In this issue, Rita shares her own story, a remarkable exhibit, and a thoughtful look back at the homemakers who came before us.

Here’s the press release she sent in November 2019:


Homemaking: A mostly North American term to describe the creation and management of a home, especially as a pleasant place in which to live.

In 2002, Rita Farro turned her love of vintage bed linens into a book, Dress Your Dream Bed (Vintage Linen Inspirations for Today’s Elegant Bed). Rita is an avid collector of many things. Besides bed linens, she also loves (and collects) aprons, spooners, toast racks, embroidered linens, cookbooks, Singer Featherweight sewing machines, 7-Day-a-Week Dishtowels, napkin rings, quilts, cross-stitch samplers, and, well, you get the idea.

What began as a love of vintage bed linens became an obsession with homemaking arts. Through the end of January 2020, Farro will curate an exhibit of her personal collections at the beautiful library in Bettendorf, Iowa. She is calling her exhibit The Art of Homemaking. Her intention is to fill both floors of this stunning library building. Every showcase and/or blank wall space will be celebrating The Art of Homemaking.

Farro says, This exhibit is about what women have done, through generations, to make their home a welcoming haven for their family and friends. It’s about the love they put into setting the table or making the family beds. The traditions they create by using Grandma’s soup tureen on Christmas Eve or Aunt Rozella’s silver for Sunday dinners. Every homemaker hopes their personal family traditions will create lasting memories for their loved ones.

Homemaking is an art, and every woman has her own way of doing things. This exhibit features some ordinary and extraordinary handiwork of mostly anonymous homemakers.


So, you might be asking yourself, “how on earth did Rita come to own all those tubs full of vintage linens?”

To answer that question, she has to take you back to 1996.

Click HERE to read the full story at


Eleanor Burns – The Most Famous Quilter of Our Time

(Originally published December 2019 in SCHMETZ Inspired to SEW #72. Article written by Rita Farro.)


Eleanor Burns, SCHMETZ Inspired to SEW #71

Eleanor Burns is, arguably, the most famous quilter of our time. Eleanor has taught thousands of students, written over 100 books and her unique quilting methods revolutionized the quilting industry. She has received every accolade or honors any professional quilter could hope for, including being inducted in the Quilter’s Hall of Fame.

Her business, Quilt In a Day (QIAD), is an American success story . . . but it didn’t just happen.

After college, Eleanor became a Special Education teacher, a job she loved. She taught for six years in the Pittsburgh, PA area. She married her college sweetheart, and they moved to California so her husband could attend law school. They had two sons, Grant and Orion. Those were some lean years, and Eleanor needed a job. She didn’t have a California teaching certificate, so she went to the Parks and Recreation department and offered to teach a Stretch & Sew class.

That wasn’t possible because Stretch & Sew was a trademarked business, and their techniques were proprietary. But it was 1976, and it seemed everybody wanted to make a commemorative quilt. Parks and Rec asked if she could teach a quilting class.

Eleanor eagerly said, “YES, I’D LOVE TO.” She had never actually quilted, so she immediately went home and made two pillows. That’s when Eleanor’s experience in writing Special Ed curriculum came into play. She broke the daunting, complicated quilting process down into small steps. Her directions were concise and easy to follow.

Although she didn’t know it then, Eleanor Burns was about to revolutionize the modern-day quilt industry.


(Click HERE to read the rest of Eleanor’s story.)