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What Is a Stitch Regulator?

Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Debra Roby

A stitch regulator is a tool used in quilting to ensure even and accurate stitches. While many quilters are accustomed to making the stitches without the aid and guidance of a machine, this modern feature helps many quilters enjoy the experience of quilting with ease and allows them to concentrate upon the pattern they are trying to achieve. The use of a stitch regulator allows for many more options in the positioning , shape, length and the style of the stitches. All of this determines the uniqueness of the quilter’s work.


Stitch regulators come pre-installed on many machines, but if yours does not come with one, or you are not happy with the one you do have, you can purchase one. They are available in a range of brands. The regulator is easily installed on various machines and is designed to take advantage of the machine's specific capabilities.


The stitch regulator on a quilting machine allows the quilter to have free motion and work at her own speed, whether it be fast or slow, and still have even stitches per inch of fabric.


Depending on the brand of your stitch regulator, it may have different modes such as, constant speed mode, stitch regulation mode, cruise mode or baste mode. In constant speed mode, the motor runs constantly, letting the quilter control stitch length by how fast the head is moved. In stitch regulation mode, the machine will change its speed automatically consistent with how fast the quilter is working. In cruise mode, the machine matches what you have already done. If you come to the end of a pattern, the machine will recognize it and slow down, allowing you to make a change in direction (often resulting in a long uneven stitches). In the baste mode, the machine will only fire one stitch every half inch. The machine also may have a single stitch positioner which will allow the quilter to create a single stitch by pushing a button. If desired, half a stitch can also be done by stopping the needle when it is the opposite position of when it began.


Quilters can use the stitch regulator feature on a quilting machine to position stitches in any pattern. Stitches can be four, six, eight or 12 inches apart. The size or thickness of the fabric is not an issue. Typically, the machines are made to accommodate any fabric desired.


The stitch regulator will prevent tearing of fabric as long as the quilter avoids jerking or pulling at an unsteady pace. The stitch regulator will only fire the amount of stitches into the fabric, per inch that the quilter has pre-set, and the needle is always positioned in the up or down position away from the fabric at the end of a stitch. As the quilter moves the fabric into the machine, it will stitch according to the inches, not according to the pace of the quilter. This allows the quilter to achieve unique patterns and custom work.

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