I promised last week I would explain how to do hand-look quilting by machine  once I my samples arrived back from Saskatchewan.

pin cushion showing hand look quilting with pink bobbin thread and smoke or grey invisible thread in the needle.

The idea is to see stitches on the top of the quilt or similar project that look just like HAND QUILTING stitches BUT  have actually been done on the sewing machine. NO thimble, NO tiny hand quilting needle, NO pricked fingers, NO hours and hours of tiny hand stitching on a huge quilt.

Hot pad with purple bobbin thread and clear invisible thread

You need a few things to achieve what is shown in the pic’s above:

  1. You need a sewing machine that has the hand-look quilt stitch. Most (though not all) of our Janome sewing machines have it as we know you just love having this time-saving option!  It is the stitch that has one triple straight stitch followed by a single straight stitch – repeated over & over.
  2. A GOOD quality invisible thread. Some folk call it monofilament. I like Sulky, YLI, Invisifil – any of the reputable brands. Avoid the no-name bargain bin options as these will more than likely be cheap quality nylon which will stretch and not give you the results you require.
  3. Bobbin thread: select a colour that you wish to see as “hand quilting” on the top of your work. My pin cushion has pink bobbin thread. My hot pad has purple bobbin thread. Using a 50wt cotton thread is just fine. You do not have to use fine bobbin thread for this technique.
  4. Janome has an optional accessory: the blue dot bobbin case.


    This comes in 2 types as can be seen in the pics. You will need to choose the one which is recommended for your sewing machine: Notice in the pic where both bobbin cases are shown: the left hand one has a little mechanism in the upper right of the bobbin case. This is the mechanism which is necessary for sewing machines which have a thread cutter built into the machine. However, it ALSO fits some machines which do not have a thread cutter such as the Janome MC10000. This bobbin case is for most Memory Craft machines. The other bobbin case on the right in this pic is for all of our other top load bobbin sewing machines.  Please see your local Janome dealer for more information. We refer to this optional accessory as the BLUE DOT bobbin case; QUILTER’S bobbin case or LOW TENSION bobbin case – all the same thing:  great results for this hand look quilting stitch as well as for FREE MOTION QUILTING.

  5. A sewing machine which allows you to adjust speed control and stitch length.


  1. Exchange the regular red dot bobbin case for the correct blue dot bobbin case for your machine. Remove the needle plate screws with a screw driver to do this. NOTE:  the new JANOME HORIZON  MC 12000  does NOT require a screw driver and screws: it has the wonderful one-step-needle plate conversion button. See your local Janome dealer today for a demo of this incredible time-saving feature!
  2. Thread up with invisible thread in the needle and cotton thread in the bobbin.
  3. Select the hand look quilt stitch on your JANOME machine.
  4. Adjust the needle tension by increasing by 1 or 2 numbers: eg if it was 4, make it 5 or 6. Before we had this blue dot bobbin case, we had to increase tension as far as it would go to 9 and then often the invisible thread would snap as the tension on it was so high. That was annoying…… more frustration for us now that we have the blue dot bobbin case as it releases the bobbin thread much easier as it is factory set at a lower tension. Hence we only have to increase needle tension 1 or 2 notches.
  5. Adjust stitch length: I usually increase the length of the stitch to 3.5 or 4. I find this gives me a result I like.
  6. Adjust the speed at which you sew: if your machine has a speed control knob, reduce to slow. Sewing slowing will give a much better result with this technique as it gives the triple stitch time to form correctly and bring the bobbin thread to the top of the fabric. If you sew too fast, you may not be happy with the results.
  7. That’s it: mark your fabric if required and stitch away…… will see just how fast your quilting gets done. Let your JANOME sewing machine work for you!

close-up of the hot pad hand look quilting

close-up of pin cushion hand look quilting













(Deb adding on to Liz’s post…) Users of other Janome machines have asked what the stitch number is for their machines. Hers is a copy of the 6600 stitch chart. Stitches 22, 23 or 24 will work, albeit somewhat differently, for this technique. Some folks know this as the ‘sculpture stitch,’ ‘reinforcing stitch,’ or ‘hand look quilt stitch.’ Whatever you call it – we hope you enjoy the technique! ~ Happy Sewing ~

Try stitches that look like 22,23 or 24 (mode 2) to achieve the hand look stitch effect.

About lizafrica

I am the National Education Manager for Janome & Elna Canada (including Artistic Creative products) and I LOVE to sew! I have been employed full time in the sewing and quilting industry for almost 30 years so I bring a wealth of sewing knowledge & expertise to this blog. I enjoy all forms of sewing from quilting to sewing garments to machine embroidery and software. Pretty much everything in my life is seen through the eyes of a passionate sewer! I am constantly on the look out for fun, innovative and inspiring ideas to share with you all on this blog. I also love to read, knit , travel and spend time with my family and friends.
This entry was posted in Creativity, Decorative stitches, Horizon MC 12000, Janome Accessories, Janome Quilt and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Kelly Mertz says:

    Hi. I’ve been working with it and I am having tension issues
    It seems to be gathering it . Is this normal? Would prefer it didn’t. I have the janome 6600p. Withers blue dot bobbin case, stitch #23, 5.0 stitch length. I also have the walking foot on. Thanks in advance. Kelly


    • ymenear says:

      Kelly–What kind of tension issues are you having? Bobbin or upper thread issues. Also, don’t use the walking foot. The stitch needs to go forwards and backwards and the foot only wants you to move forwards.


  2. Dianne Nolan says:

    hi, I am having trouble doing FMQ with the blue dot bobbin on my 6600, trying to do ” hand look ” can you help please.Your info is unreal and inspiring.Thank you


    • ymenear says:

      Hi Dianne–You don’t say what kind of trouble you are having. Can you give me a little more details as to what it happening for you?


      • Dianne Nolan says:

        Hi,very very small stitches,my settings are #23 and 5 on tension,I have the speed set very left.hope this helps.Ta


      • ymenear says:

        Adjust your stitch length to a longer length. Upper thread tension should be all the way up and the blue bobbin case used with the thread you want showing on the top of your work. Use a regular stitching foot, not a Acufeed flex foot (walking foot). Give that a try.


  3. Kerryn says:

    Hi, can I get the blue dot bobbin for my 7700 and my older 4800


  4. Kat says:

    OMG I hard hgeaed añouy this but never know what they were talking about! It
    S it mandatory to get the blue bdot boibbin holler? If I don’t will it Stoll work with the kind of threadbi have on hand?


    • lizafrica says:

      Hi Kat

      We recommend the blue dot bobbin case. You will have to use a very high thread tension setting is you do not use the blue dot bobbin case. And invisible thread in the needle is essential.



  5. Sharon B Hicks says:

    I have an older Janome Memory Craft 8000. Will my machine do this?


    • lizafrica says:

      Hi Sharon,

      I don’t have a MC8000 with the flip top lid showing the stitches so I cannot say for sure but I would be rather surprized if it did not. Please refer to the stitch chart pic in this blog post and look for that same stitch on your machine: triple straight and straight stitch alternating.



  6. Carol Webber says:

    I have the 4120 QDC. Can I get a blue dot bobbin case for this machine and what
    stitch do I use. Looks like it may mode 3 02 or 03.
    Thanks for your help


    • lizafrica says:

      HI Carol,

      Yes, you can get a blue dot bobbin case for the 4120. Your dealer will be able to order it for you if they don’t have it in stock. The hand look quilt stitch is also called the sculpture stitch. Check out your manual or ask your dealer to show you the stitch: triple straight stitch + single straight stitch.

      Janome Canada


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