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. Kelly says:

    Can I do this on my Janome Magnolia 7330? thank you

    • lizafrica says:

      Hi Kelly,
      You will need to ask your local Janome America dealer for this information. We do not carry Janome Magnolia machines in Canada so I do not know the spec’s of these machines.


  2. Toni Haukom says:

    Since I have a MC11000, I guess that means I need to get the blue dot bobbin case too, right? I also have a MC10001 that I could get a Blue Dot bobbin case for too but I was also wondering can I do bobbin painting with this type of case ie., using a heaver thread or even ribbon by hand winding the bobbin itself and stitching very slowly. Both of my machine have built in speed controls. Thanks in advance for and information you can provide. Toni

    • lizafrica says:

      Hi Toni,
      The same blue dot bobbin case is compatible with your Mc10001 and your Mc11000:Part # 200445007. Yes, you can do bobbin work with this bobbin case although – depending on the thickness of thread you are using in the bobbin – you might still need a lower tension on the bobbin case. I think it would be wiser to buy a regular bobbin case and play with the tension on that one rather than changing the tension on the blue dot which is set for free motion and hand look quilting.

      Have fun!


  3. Lisa Gregg says:

    Just wondering…what is the purpose of the blue bobbin? I have a Memory Craft 8900QCP and my stitch would be D98. Also, does the invisible thread take the place of the “single stitch” after the triple stitch? Thanks so much!

    • lizafrica says:

      Hi Lisa,
      The blue dot bobbin has a lower tension that the regular bobbin case and is specially designed for free motion quilting, acufil quilting ( embroidery machine) as well as for the hand look quilt stitch. Yes, the invisible thread is not seen when it stitches the single stitch and th blue dot bobbin case with lower tension allows the bobbin thread to come up onto the surface of the fabric to form the hand look quilting stitches. Very effective.

      Janome Canada

  4. Jeane Walker says:

    Wonderful tutorial,. Can’t wait to give this a go. Thanks you so much. Jeane

  5. Josie Bass says:

    I have a Janome 8900 can I do this on my machine?

    • lizafrica says:

      Hi Josie,
      Yes, you sure can. It is the 3rd or 4th stitch in your Quilt Menu. Please refer to your flip top lid and instruction manual. It is referred to as the sculpture stitch.


  6. daphne siseman says:

    I have just bought the MC 4900 will this work on this machine, such a great idea. Thankyou

    • lizafrica says:

      Hi Daphne,
      YES, it will. Check out he manual fo rthe machine, our blog instructions as also ask your local Janome dealer to help you find the correct stitch.
      Have fun!

  7. Kim says:

    Curious if this would work when sewing Faux leather?

    • lizafrica says:

      Hi Kim,
      I don’t see why not. I have not tried it myself but perhaps you could & let me know how it goes. Use the same principle as outlined in this post.


      • Kim says:

        Thank you! I have the Janome MC 6300 and it looks like it will be stitch #30 for me. Just waiting for my “blue” bobbin and I’m going to try it out.

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