Take the drag out of free motion quilting

Dog Grooming Arm

Muslin Clamps

When I bought my Powerquilter I had to think about ways to help reduce drag on large quilts as I’d be working on them. I didn’t purchase the extension table leafs because I thought perhaps I had a better solution. My idea was partially inspired by Leah Day’s bungee cord rigging she uses on her domestic machine.  I didn’t want to drill into my ceiling though so I thought of a different way that would work with any table I had.

I have three corgis so I’m very familiar with lots of dog grooming products out on the market. One such item is something I thought might work perfectly for this.  It’s a dog grooming arm! This will clamp to any table, it’s height adjustable, the arms can rotate different directions, sturdy, and it comes with the loops attached already. All I needed to do was purchase clamps.  I chose muslin clamps that photographers use for backdrops.

Eliminate drag while free motion quilting

Eliminate drag while free motion quilting

Eliminate drag while free motion quilting

Eliminate drag while free motion quilting

My solution has worked great so far! It’s easy to reclamp/adjust quilts as I need to. The arms can be removed from the table if they end up getting in the way. You don’t have to get pink ones like I did – they come in a variety of colors and finishes.

Just call me the quilty MacGyver.


  1. NEAT IDEA! I can’t wait to see the quilt after you are finished with it.

  2. Cindynsa says:

    How smart are you!!!! Love the idea! Plus anyone that owns 3 corgis is the smartest person around! I have 2 of my own…gotta love the little guys!!!!

  3. Darlene says:

    This is a great idea!! As I learn to quilt using my embroidery machine I may need to do a similar setup. It will be a while before I do something larger then a wall hanging.

  4. thanks for the tip – i knew Caryl Bryer Fallert started this movement – she’s the one who inspired Leah Days’ setup but that method isn’t going to work for me either. i am moving my studio to a new location with 12 foot ceilings and do not want to make a setup that tall – so i knew i had to come up with a table top clamping method and your post fits the bill. thank you

  5. That is genius! I saw your clamps in a previous photo you posted and assumed they were specifically for quilters, although I was surprised I had never heard of them. This could be the next best thing since sliced bread for FMQ quilters. I am DEFINITELY getting something like this. Thanks!!!!

  6. Well, aren’t YOU the smart one!!! It amazes me how quilters will find a way to use something that is NOT quilt related in any way and come up with a BRILLANT idea! This definitely is one of the greatest ideas I’ve seen!! Genius!!! Now to find my own set!! Thanks for sharing!!

  7. Kathy In Kansas says:

    Thank you for posting this. I have been thinking about these ever since I saw these in a picture in the background on your blog. I was going to email you and see what you were using. This is a great idea!

  8. Quilting Tangent says:

    Looks good, show us pictures of the quilt in the clamps.

  9. LOVE this.. I had wanted to do this but not know about the dog grooming clamps, thought we would have to do a system that hung from the ceiling. You are an amazing smart and inventive girl!!! shelly beth

  10. Teresa in Kansas says:

    I belong to a Sit Down Long Arm Yahoo group, and there are many versions of this concept, but this one is the best. do you mind if I post a link for the group? I could probably figure this out, but are those 36 in grooming arms? again, This is brilliant, and this is a great help, even with extension side tables. Thanks!

    • Feel free to share the link with your group! I think they would find it helpful too.

      • This is genius. I shared it (based on your okay to share with another yahoo group) with the Janome group too. Thanks Mcquilter!

  11. Hay Katie, Just ordered myself 2 purple dog grooming stands and a set of clamps. Used your amazon link.
    So, now I need some bungie cords? Any guidance on what kind/length to buy? Thanks again for a great, economical, fix.

    • I haven’t needed bungie cords yet – if I got some I’d get short ones. The loops that come attached to the grooming arm have been sufficient so far 🙂

  12. Aren’t you clever, as always! It’s a great idea, thank you so much for sharing!

  13. Facepalm! I also have 3 corgis – all Cardigans- and a Sweet 16 and at least two grooming arms! Brillant!

  14. I love that the clamps are pink!

  15. Paulla Donn says:

    How clever – genius, actually! Thank you for your inventiveness.

  16. Katie, Do you have any recommendations for a source for the dog grooming arms at a good price? Love the idea of this!

  17. Oh my! How nice!
    I don’t have a big deep throat like that,, but I have 7 inches on my domestic. I got creative and built a table out of 2x4s and a piece 8 foot by 4foot OSB (cheaper than plywood but plywood would be better if you could afford it as you would not have to,sand it as long as I did the OSB) I sanded the OSB and applied several layers of shellac and then cut a hole in the OSB and mounted my machine flush with the table top (I have the machine oriented like yours, lengthwise)….talk about no drag! And all that space! Much better than one of those frame and long arm set up things so many people seem to “think” they need just for personal quilting. This project was cheap cheap cheap and doesn’t take a lot of skill. You could even just add the big top to an existing table if you didn’t want to build one. It ain’t the puuuuurdiest thing it the world but it works like a champ and I can quilt queen sized quilts plenty easy enough….just a thought!

  18. Hi Katie,

    I stumbled on your site while researching the Pfaff Powerquilter machine. Wondering how you like yours. Also love your solution here for managing the drag of your quilt as you’re machine quilting!


  1. […] sew in photos by MagnoliaFly, on Flickr I love them! They work great. See more in my post here: Take the drag out of free motion quilting | Katie's Quilting Corner Katie's Quilting Corner Tutorials, projects, podcast and don't miss Free Pattern Friday! […]