Improve Your Free Motion Quilting by Drawing

I've said it before and other teachers of free motion quilting have said it too:

draw out those free motion quilting designs

 Drawing will improve your FMQ skills! I ignored this advice at first because I wanted to get to stitching. But then I had a bunch of down time while the hubby was sick and I took to drawing the designs.

Did you know this is one of my most pinned images on Pinterest? Of all the things?! Funny.

 Before doing much drawing, dated March 12, 2011:

Add caption

Not too horrible, I know, but below was just a few months after starting to doodle those designs:

free motion feathers

Much better, I think you'll agree! Then I started drawing designs whenever and wherever I could! (Gee has it only been 30 months ago?)

drawing quilting designs

Oooh! Touch screen tablet with a drawing app. Fun and with special effects too!

edrawing free motion quilting designs

edrawing free motion quilting designs

 Big dry erase board for homeschooling and notes and such? Mine!

Drawing free motion quilting designs

 And you'll find that you actually stitch better than you can draw. Trust me.

Drawing free motion quilting designs

Not only do you build up muscle memory for the motions of the designs, but you also learn how to work yourself into and out of different sized areas and corners and such.

Check out this video from Dusty and Stephanie Farrell. My hubby once asked (before seeing this tool) if I should draw using something like this and I thought it was a good idea, but never followed up on it.

You might find it handy. But no matter how you do it, just draw out those designs! I guarantee you'll see an improvement in your quilting.


  1. I can see by your results I need to start drawing before I begin quilting my next quilt.

  2. Hi Amy, I always look forward to reading your newest posting. I am just getting ready to do my first FMQ and thought I better do some practicing on paper. I watched the video on the Scribbler and it is a good idea. Thanks for the information however, if I can find a long pen I may just hold it in my mouth and do the same thing....well maybe not, I may get cross-eyed and could drool on my design. Another idea for practicing...(maybe I read it on your site?)... was to practice by sewing around the designs on printed fabric. I'm sure we all have fabric laying around that could be used. I suppose you could slip a piece of paper under the practice fabric and free motion without using thread, then hold your paper up to light to see how you did. Not the best method, but saves on thread. I am waiting on what you find out about the rulers and would like to purchase a foot like you have. I own a Bernina 180 and haven't found anything I can use, not even a short-shank adaption.

    1. Althea! The image in my mind right now....drooling down the pen....LOL!

      You could maybe try taping a pen to the side of your machine and slipping a piece of paper under, but the issue is having some downward pressure on the pen to actually write. The scribbler's design addresses this with a simple rubber band tensioner.

      I have mentioned before to stitch without thread on a tightwoven fabric sandwich (like batik) using a larger needle. I think it works great!

      Yes, you can follow designs on a fabric as practice, but I find following lines to cause more tension in my shoulders, so I'd rather create my own designs.

      I don't know much about Berninas, but I am trying to find ruler foot options for all the machines out there. No fair to keep all the ruler foot fun for just us Janome folk. But I know there is some sort of a Bernina shank or foot adapter (from Bernina) to let you use other style feet on a Bernina.

  3. Hi, I came back because I forgot to mention what I found particularly interesting in the Scribbler video. Stephanie stated it takes 3 hours of practice to build muscle memory for each design (maybe for beginners). Still, it is good to hear it said in "hours", approximately how long it's needed to get proficient. We are sometimes too hard on ourselves for seeming to be slow, old or whatever. Of course, everyone learns at different speed, but it's a ballpark time. This is the encouragement you give repeatedly, plus your advice to practice and practice and it will pay off. You haven't been doing the FMQ more more than a couple of years I gather, and look at your's inspirational! I appreciate your free spirit. By being free to flow, using your own designs, I understand how it would be less stressful. Good day.

  4. Neat! I love to draw so I'm in complete support of this. :D