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Sewing and cooking are two of my favorite things. In the past, I often found myself searching for pictures and details of projects I have done, without success. So I decided to start documenting my creations. Then my son suggested I add my recipes to the blog so that they are documented also.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Free Motion Quilting on the Pfaff Quilt Expression 4.0

Well I have had my Pfaff Quilt Expression 4.0 for about 6 weeks now and finally am comfortable with free motion quilting with the Sensormatic foot.  Originally, I thought I would use the spring free motion foot but actually like this little Sensormatic foot.  I had great difficulty at first and I am not happy there is so little instruction in the manual.  I have searched the web and sewing forums and as usual have found several places with comments and recommendations.  I found that the Pfaff Quilters Forum  http://www.pfafftalk.com/chatroom/mvnforum/index was most helpful on this topic. I took advice from these sources and here is what works for me.


Sensormatic free motion foot

I had trouble putting on the foot at first.  As shown below the top plastic hooky thing goes in front of the needle bar.

 Feed Dogs:
Lower the feed dogs by pushing the feed dog lever on the front of the machine to the left.


Under the Settings Menu (the button with the tool icon) I turn on the Sensormatic Free motion.  I change the Pivot Height to -3 and I turn off the Auto foot lift. This will automatically change the thread tension to 5.2 but on my machine I need to increase it to 5.4 or 5.6 depending on the thread that I am using. This will also automatically set the stitch length to 0.0.


I have experimented with embroidery thread, King Tut Quilting Thread and Coats and Clark All Purpose thread.  All have worked well as long as I have the same thread in the top and bobbin. 


I am using a 90/14 Organ needle; I had been using a 75/11 and experienced thread shredding and since changing to the 90/14, all is well.

So now I am quite happy with FMQ on my QE4!!


  1. I love that you shared your settings and pics here. I also have this machine but have been having some looping problems on the bottom underside of my FMQ work. I think I have too much top thread coming down to the bottom and looping loosley there. I don't know how to change the top tension (because it is so automated on this machine and also I want to avoid breaking top threads. I will try a few of your other suggestions. I totally agree that there is not much out there for videos and manual help or even blog help for this machine. AEven the Pfaff website does NOT have an english translation button! LOL Hello! Please keep sharing your progress and projects. Kathy Aho

  2. Rockester, I have found that if I use the spring motion foot I have no tension issues. You can change the top thread tension by selecting the tool icon and the tension setting will be the top item. A Pfaff educator told me there are less tension problems with the spring foot because it actually holds the fabric down when the stitch is being made.

    1. Hi there. I am a newer sewer, and am trying to find the difference between the spring foot free motion and the sensormatic free motion...I have the foot shown above but also have the open toe free motion foot...I tried to use the spring foot and have the machine set to do it but all it did was skip stitches, and (I) made very uneven stitches...

    2. How do I use the spring one correctly, should I even bother? I do get decent results with sensormatic...

  3. The pivot height at -3 worked for me too. I had the 4.0 and I upgraded my machine after a year with a great dealer trade-in program, to the 5.0 and never have to readjust the pivot height. I am surprised that Pfaff, a quality company, would have produced a "quilting" machine that requires adjusting of the presets for free motion quilting!

  4. I've had the QE4 for about 3 years now and still haven't been able to free motion quilt with it... always problem tension. I've tried several feet, underwent several classes ( all on different machines unfortunately), followed umpteen online courses, went to my Paff representative who always showed me on a different model, had my machine checked and re checked and wasted so much time digging into the
    Net for information.
    Does my machine have a bug? .... i am so disappointed with my machine and i have developed a fear of
    free motion. I also have a few quilts that need quilting in my trunk.
    is there any fellow quilter out there with the same problem with a Pfaff QE4.0??

    1. Are you using the straight stitch plate? Also are you changing the pivot height and tension?

  5. I am so glad to find this site. Anonymous June 28 comment, I have the QE 4.0. I also have had problems with attempts at free motion. The user info from Pfaff is beyond terrible, nearly useless. But I love my machine for all other stitches. I work on quilts most every day. So, Jul Kane, are you suggesting a different stitch plate as well as adjusting pivot height? I am Anonymous EC

  6. Thanks so much! I fiddled for an hour trying to get the foot attached. The "owner's manual" is no help at all. You just saved me a trip to the dealer. lsuzyf

  7. Suzy glad you got the foot on. I agree it is hard to figure out with their manual. Were you able to change pivot height and get a good stitch?

  8. After using the forum and collecting clues along the way, I finally made an index card that notes all the changed I must make to FMQ. For me, the top tension must be lowered a great deal. I have to use Aurifil thread to keep from shredding. Of course, I use the larger needle. It took me a year to finally get this machine to sew in the FMQ mode.

  9. Thank you SOOOO much for this! I got my Pfaff Quilt Expression 4.0 as a Christmas present in 2010. I could NEVER free motion quilt with it from the start - the top thread would break after just a few inches of quilting. It was so frustrating! (Esp considering how $$$ the machine was!) I read the manual. I searched their website. I Googled it. I took it in and took it in and the dealer kept trying to tell me it was my fault: I was moving to fast (I wasn't), I was using the wrong thread (I tried diff ones and they didn't make a difference), I was using an old needle (was a new one) yadda yadda yadda. I got SO frustrated I packed it up and put it in the corner for a THREE YEAR time-out! Recently I set broke it out again and had it tuned up by a different dealer (Viking) who showed me a few things I didn't know. The anxiety of trying to FMQ with it was terrible, totally disabling...until I found your blog! I have to agree with the others here, the manual does NOT explain much. In fact, in the manual it lists what's called "P-foot Pressure" but on the machine it's called "Pivot Height"(pg 2:16). How confusing!!! Your steps were just what I needed to get back on my machine and tackle FMQ again. And it works! FIVE YEARS LATER!!! Thank you again for taking the time out to walk your readers thru the steps and please know that even years after your post, you are helping ppl out.

  10. Oh my goodness! Thank you so much for sharing this information. I've had my QE 4.0 for about 4 years and just got the nerve to try FMQ a couple of years ago. I have had so many problems with thread breaking and looping...it was very discouraging. Until now. I used your settings and--- Voila! I just need to practice making my stitches a consistent length. I love my machine again. XOXO