After a full week off from the Quilt Along, we should have many questions for today's Question Thursday!
But looking through all the linked up blogs, we only have one question today from Pat at Color Me Quilty:
How much free motion quilting per day or week did you do to get so good so fast?
Was there a point when you had a break through (what was that?) and thought, wow, I can quilt anything? Did you take a lot of classes or mainly just practice at home? At what point did you start entering quilt shows? Did you enter local shows? Did you get any feedback from entering shows that helped you become a better quilter? I know that without your blog and videos, I would not have progressed nearly as fast as I have to this point - Thank You!
Wow! Thank YOU Pat for such a wonderful question and compliment. I'm so happy you've found the free motion quilting project to be such a helpful resource.
To answer your question simply: Quilting Daily, not really for any particular length of time, just getting on the machine a bit every day, is the key to mastering free motion quilting.
Personally, I learned free motion by mastering one design at a time. I learned Stippling from the first machine quilting class I took back in 2006, and pretty much stippled every quilt I made for 2 years.
This is a large reason why we've stuck with stippling for so long this year. I think it's a great design to start with and can cover so many bases for learning free motion.
I stuck with that single design until I found Karen McTavish's books in 2008 and learned McTavishing. I'd say that was a huge turning point - reading Quilting For Show, a book that is basically a blueprint for creating show winning quilts.
Up until that time, I'd bounced around with quilts of all styles: art quilts, bed quilts, etc, but that book really focused my attention solely on quilting for show.
I thought if I could make a fantastic quilt, it would show around the country and I'd win cash prizes and help support my family. It was my idealistic idea for turning quilting from a hobby into a business without having to actually sell my quilts or quilt for service, two things I didn't want to do.
So another turning point was The Duchess, my very first show quilt, and the first wholecloth quilt I ever tackled. Aren't you glad I didn't decide to use this pattern for our Quilt Along wholecloth?!
The Duchess is very elaborate and was a huge challenge to design and quilt. I worked on it daily for several months and, by the end of the process, I had definitely seen a giant leap in my quilting ability.
That is the nature of a challenge though - to force you to grow and change and adapt. When making The Duchess, I was still using cotton thread, still dropping my feed dogs, still doing lots of things that made quilting more difficult.
By the end, most of those habits had gone, replaced through trial and error with new materials that worked better. Trust me, you can't make a quilt like this when your thread breaks or nests every 5 seconds!
While I'd entered shows before, entering The Duchess was like walking into a gun fight armed with a Uzi. I knew she was a knock out, and wholecloth quilts generally do well because they don't have a lot to complete against.
In the three shows this quilt competed in, I did learn a bit from the judges, but it certainly didn't change my quilting. Mostly their comments enlightened me about competing and what judges see and don't see.
The Duchess wasn't perfect. I'd accidentally scorched the dead center of that quilt when attaching hot fix crystals (you can see this in the close up image above), but the first judge didn't even see the mistake. It was good to learn that judges won't see every mistake because they don't know where to look!
Of course, the real turning point for free motion quilting is most definitely starting this project. The challenge of stitching 365 designs forced me to quilt every single day, and to start playing with the designs more creatively in quilts.
I'm not being modest when I say that I wasn't that great at free motion quilting when I started this project. I really wasn't! But stitching new designs every day was a terrific way to learn and grow with this skill.
And growth never really stops! Since starting the Quilt Along in January, I've learned LOADS about free motion quilting by quilting on a larger scale. You're not the only one learning new skills here - I am too!
There is always something new to learn, and no matter what you want to do with this craft: show quilting, bed quilting, art quilting, you can always find challenges to push yourself to the next level.
So if you're really wanting to see a lightning fast explosion in your quilting ability, try quilting every single day for an entire month.
It really doesn't matter how long you quilt, or if you even get a project done. The key is just getting on your machine every day.
So that's it for this Question Thursday! Have fun preparing your Heart and Feather Wholecloth and I'm sure there will be many more questions next week.
Time to shut up and go quilt,