Monday, December 17, 2012

Practice Free Motion Quilting: Another Follow-up to Speed is Relative

So you've practiced your FMQ by drawing the designs; getting that muscle memory going and figuring how to get from one area to another by adjusting your design.

 Now it's time for a practice quilt sandwich. Nobody wants to waste too much time, fabric and batting on a project you can't really use, but you certainly don't want to have a major thread issue or ugly stitching on a good project.

This is a great time to use up some ugly fabric. We all have some. Maybe it wasn't ugly when we bought it in 1980-something, but now, well, time to put it to use. Try not to stray too far from the type of fabrics and batting you use in your quilting projects however, so you can get a good example of how your threads will work on the good stuff.

 In the pic above I'm using plain white Kona cotton and a freebie fabric that someone passed along to me. I used blue thread too, so I can see my stitching better on the white and also see how the stitching will look when it blends into a similar color fabric.
These practice sandwiches have been used to get my tensions just right with different thread combinations. I write notes to myself so I won't forget what the tension settings were or other issues. These are true practice pieces and I can stitch all over the previous stitches without regard to the final product. Once these sandwiches are filled up, I can put another layer of fabric on top and start all over again! These make great insides for pot holders too. I have some I save as a record of different thread and tension combinations.

When getting ready to quilt on a project that I want to be at its best, I make sure to have enough extra batting and backing on at least one side of the project so I can put a scrap of the top's fabric along side my quilt and practice just off to the side of my quilt. It's a great way to get the tensions just right and to warm up before quilting on the real deal.

The next post in this series on practicing FMQ will be the last part of it. Making things we actually use or look at as part of our practice.

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