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 work for Janome & Elna Sewing machines in Canada and LOVE to sew. I have been employed full time in the sewing industry for over 20 years so I do 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. Sonia says:

    Is it work with S3? and I am a beginner too😀 … can you tell me which no from the stitch machine i have to choose ? Thank you sooo very much.


  2. Carol says:

    Will this work on a 4120 qdc . Not at home but think that is the model I have.


  3. I have a Singer Quantum Stylist 9960 and I have this hand quilting stitch on my machine. I’ll have to try this out. The one time I did try it I did not care for the results. I cannot seem to regulate my stitch length however. Not sure if I’m doing something wrong or if I just can’t change it. Thanks for the instructions.


    • lizafrica says:

      Hi Cindi

      Different machines work differently so it might be wise to contact your Singer dealer for help with getting good results with this stitch.



  4. Donalda says:

    I think I understand now. This is done so the back of the quilt looks like it was hand quilted and the top has invisible thread. Am I correct?


    • lizafrica says:

      No, again. Best you follow the instructions on the blog post and try it out. You will soon see what I explain. The bobbin thread comes up to the top and together with the invisible thread looks like hand quilting – on the top. But you need the blue dot bobbin case and settings I suggest in the blog post to get the best results.



  5. Donalda says:

    Hi. I was wondering do you put the wrong side of you quilt facing up? If so how do you follow the pattern that your squares make?


  6. Gina says:

    Although i do not recall that exact stitch i can combine stitches on my machine so i know i will be able to program a triple stitch followed by a straight stitch. But could you help me understand the purpose of the clear thread? I just do not understand how that combination of stitches gives this look but i need to figure it out. It will make the perfect yellow like on my dark gray border around my son’s car play mat panel/quilt


    • lizafrica says:

      Hi Gina,

      The thread (invisible) in the needle is not the only factor. The other points I explain in this post are crucial as it is tension and the use of the blue dot bobbin case which make the bobbin thread come up to the top and lie flat on the triple stitch while the single stitch does not show or does as near invisible….which is why it looks like hand quilting. Top tension is higher and bobbin tension is lower plus stitch length is important as well as speed of stitching. All factors work together. Give it a try as per this blog post instructions.



  7. Ida says:

    I find your info very informative! Even though I do not have a Janome sewing machine, I am thinking that I can apply your thoughts to my Bernina sewing machine, or Brothers sewing/embroidery machine:) thank you so much for your information, Bev! thank you so much for sharing with all of us:) Happy New Year !!


  8. yunia says:

    hello Liza, i am new use Janome machine, i have janone dc 7100, can i use it for hand quilting like sashiko stitch? thank you


    • lizafrica says:

      Hi Yunia,

      Yes, you sure can. You would need the blue dot bobbin case (optional accessory which does not come standard with your DC7100) and the stitch on your machine is #30 on page 58 of your manual. Also page 24 refers tO this stitch as saddle stitching. That is one use for Stitch #30. Another is what I explain in detail in this blog post: Use stitch #30 for the hand look quilt stitch and follow the instructions in the blog post. Have fun!



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