SATURDAY SEWING WITH JANOME: make a cute pin cushion using the hand look quilting stitch

Did you know you can do “hand quilting” by machine? Yes, you can……in a fraction of the time it takes to put your thimble on your finger, run your thread through bees wax and then try to do that rocking motion to hand quilt.

So how do we do this great labour saving technique on our Janome sewing machines?

First of all, you need a Janome machine with the hand look quilt stitch. I think almost all our models from the Janome 2030QDC upwards have this stitch. It looks like this on your flip top lid or stitch chart: triple straight stitch + 1 straight stitch repeated as you sew.


Your stitch may not actually be the same # across machines but many of our machines have this stitch and the little stitch icon/diagram  (above) is always the same. Just look on your stitch chart and if it is there, you will find it.  You may also look in your instruction manual where it is referred to as the sculpture stitch.

If you do not have this stitch on your Janome, you are welcome to ask your local Janome dealer to show you a model which does have this stitch and to demo how to do it for you.  I will show also you how to do it in this post as well as in this post some years back.

Secondly, you will need the Janome blue dot or quilter’s/low tension bobbin case. Now I had forgotten mine at work a few weekends ago when I made these little Maker pin cushions and I had no option but to change the tension on my regular bobbin case with a tiny screw driver. Many people are justifiably afraid to do this and I must admit that I had to be very careful so that I could return the tension setting to exactly where it was before I used my little screw driver.  So it is much easier and less nerve wracking  to just have the Janome blue dot bobbin case available, all set at the perfect tension for hand look quilting and for free motion quilting. Notice the blue marking on the bobbin case below – different to the red marking on the regular bobbin case so you won’t mix them up – Janome sure makes things easy for us!

Next comes the thread:

  1. You will need to thread up the NEEDLE with invisible thread. Yes, the needle, not the bobbin!
  2. The thread in the bobbin is regular sewing or quilting thread in the colour you wish to see on the top of the fabric as the hand quilting.  In this next pic, my bobbin thread was pink and you can’t see the invisible thread because it is…well invisible.  Sew a grid of hand look quilting on your fabric and then cut a back for the pin cushion (same or different fabric); place right sides togther &  stitch all the way around leaving a smallish opening to stuff with fiber fill, toy stuffing or something similar. Turn out to the right side and gently poke the corners. Stuff with filling & Slip stitch closed.


A couple more things to note:

  • Use this stitch for great top stitching too. Some people call it the seed stitch as it looks like little seeds strung together when you just stitch as a top stitch and don’t use invisible thread.
  • Increase the needle thread tension a little ; maybe 2 numbers so from 4 to 6. Test sew and adjust a little if necessary.
  • Lengthen your stitch. It won’t work nicely if you leave the stitch length at 2.0 or 2.4. It needs to be longer  – at least 3.5 or 4. Most times I actually use 5.0mm.
  • Do NOT sew fast. This is a process which requires slower stitching so set your speed at no more than medium speed.
  • Test sew a line of this hand look stitch and make some adjustments if necessary.
  • If your stitches do not look like the pink ones in the pic above or the charcoal grey ones in the pic at the top of the post, check you have done all the steps I outline here. Did you change to the blue dot bobbin case? Try increasing the needle tension a little more, or sewing slower or making the stitch length longer. Are all the threads properly in the thread guides and tension discs? Don’t frown at me or tell me indignantly that you have been sewing for 40 years! We all get side tracked or lose concentration from time to time when threading and it is very easy to lapse and not thread up properly…so check it…. Happens to me more times than I would like to admit!
  • It is NOT necessary to use a thick thread. In fact, I would not suggest it as the triple stitch makes the stitch look pronounced enough without adding a thick thread into the mix. Just use regular quilting or sewing thread.
  • Try a metallic thread in the bobbin for a real luxurious looking result…..and I sure would not ever have attempted to actually do hand quilting with metallic thread – that would have driven me bonkers!?


This sure is a very popular technique.

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11 Responses to SATURDAY SEWING WITH JANOME: make a cute pin cushion using the hand look quilting stitch

  1. mamamartz says:

    Hi Liz…my request today is unrelated to your project post here today. Browsing through the archives and came across the post from January 24, 2020 referencing the ITH zipper bag design digitized by Ann Hein/JANOME AMERICA. Just wondering if I would be able to still receive this design & instruction. Thanks so much in advance.


    • Liz Thompson says:

      Hi Barb,
      I am retiring on Wednesday this week and have a lot of things to do before I leave. I will try to find the design to email to you otherwise I will pass this request on to one of the Education team. You could also ask Anne Hein of Janome America and the Artistic Digitizer Facebook Group as she initially digitized this design. But please give us a few days this week – hopefully we can attend to this request.



  2. chris mcguig says:

    Hi Liz,
    When sewing is it necessary to sewon the wrong side of the fabric to achieve the right look for this stitch.


  3. Catherine Kelley says:

    Hi Liz
    I have the Continental M7 and have been told that the blue dot bobbin holder will not fit my M7. Is that correct? What do you suggest instead? Thanks!


    • Liz Thompson says:

      Hi Catherine,
      There are 3 different blue dot/ quilters bobbin cases. It depends on your model as to which you need. There IS a specific blue dot bobbin case ONLY for the M7. Please ask your dealer to order the correct one for you. These have been available for quite some time.



      • Catherine says:

        Thank you! A bit frustrating in that it was my dealer who said the M7 doesn’t have one! I’ll try again.


  4. Glenda Valair says:

    Cool, I look forward to trying this and thank you for encouraging us to more fully use your great product. 😄


  5. Mary Ballard says:

    Oh, my word! I have had Janome machines with decorative stitches for many years and never knew how to do this. What a game changer! Thanks for this post!


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