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.

Practice Free Motion Quilting; A Follow-up to Speed is Relative

I'm being smashed between getting over being sick and Christmas preparations, plus working on an important quilting project so I haven't been posting like I wanted.

Practice, practice, practice also known as PPP is the best way to learn to balance hand speed with machine speed when free motion machine quilting.

Free motion quilting practice on paper
My most common practice is actually done via pen and paper. Sometimes I use the kids' Magnadoodle so I don't waste paper. Sometimes I get artsy-fartsy and get out some watercolors and a gel pen.

free motion quilting practice

I prefer to use pencil when drawing on paper, but I have found that using pencil for quilting practice results in having to stop and either sharpen the pencil or advance the lead on a mechanical pencil while in middle of doing a design. A pen works much better. Try to not get too tiny unless you like stitching very densely.

Believe me: Drawing designs out really helps. I ignored this advice when I first started. I wanted to stitch, not draw! But when I took up drawing the designs while at the doctor with my husband so much, I really improved. Can't draw, you say? Doesn't matter. I can stitch much better than I can draw. Some of the above doodles are quite rough.

The important part is just learning the design, making it more automatic and figuring out where to go next with your drawn line. You learn how to get from one area into another. It can help to draw basic quilt block shapes; square, triangles, etc. so you practice putting your design into them like a pieced shape.

How about you? Do you doodle your designs before you stitch them? I think it's fun! Try it and let me know if it helped you.

Bobbin Holders

I'd love to give credit to whomever came up with this brilliant idea I found on Pinterest, but if you follow the link back, it appears to have been pinned from instead of the original source. Hopefully, I can do a little digging and find it. It is however a great idea! Edited to add: looks like the idea may have come from here, but I have yet to find the actual picture/post.

These are those toe separator thingies for pedicures! They are made of foam so you could probably use them as a pin cushion in a pinch. I think these would be great for when you are traveling with your machine.

Source: via Anna on Pinterest

Remember, if you are pinning pictures, do it from the original site, not an index page or the main page of a blog. As the content of these index and/or main pages' content changes, the link becomes useless.