The Free Motion Quilting Project: Josh's Quilting Tip #6

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Josh's Quilting Tip #6

For today's beginner tip we'll talk about the absolute most important thing for a beginner to do... practice!
free motion quilting | Leah Day
A great way to practice is to stitch out the new design Leah posts each week.
This is my version of Daisy Echo...far from perfect, but it was a nice way to practice for 10 minutes.
I quilted pretty regularly through October, but the last month has been really busy and I haven't had as much time to practice. After more than a week's hiatus from sitting at the machine, not to mention free motion quilting, I quickly noticed my game was off after a minute or two of stitching.

When you're starting anything new, developing productive habits is crucial in the learning process. I'd forgotten my positioning, the best place to rest my foot against the pedal, and the way I held my hands and how much pressure to apply to the quilt block. The only thing my instinctive memory recalled was the direction I was most comfortable in when stitching.

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Leah noticed the decline in workmanship instantly. She suggested free motion quilting every day, for at least half an hour, to master the basics and build your muscle memory. Even if you have to cobble together a block out of scrap fabric, daily free motion quilting is a must in order to get better.

That said, I also found overextending yourself when you're starting out is a not a good thing. For me my absolute limit was two hours per session. Your mileage may vary, but when you find yourself getting tired and frustrated and just wanting to shotgun through a block, it's probably time to step away.

Until next week, let's go quilt!

Josh

9 comments:

  1. As a beginner myself, I have found Josh's commentary to be awesome. It really inspires me to practice more and not give up. His tips have been great! Please keep up the good work, Josh, and keep the tips coming. :-)

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  2. Sew, Josh, Sew! Dang it - I missed your tips 2-5. I'll have to go back and find them. Have a super day!

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  3. This is SO true Josh. I've been hand quilting a monster top my Sister and Grandmother pieced. I call it a monster because it's so poorly done. It's my Quilt from ...well you know where! i sat down to practice my FMQ some today and boy...my work was laughable. So bad, I couldn't even rip it out to reuse my sammie. I tossed it in the GI can. Thanks for all your help with the tips and tricks. It really makes a difference to us beginners.
    Melanie

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  4. Great advice and observation. I'm inspired!

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  5. This is why even for experienced free motion quilters it's a good idea to start with a warm-up square before quilting on your project.

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  6. A flintknapper (arrowhead maker) told me the same thing - at least 15 minutes a day to keep the muscle memory alive -- its easier and faster to lose the ability than to spend 15 minutes maintaining it -- as evidenced by Malcolm Gladwell's book "Outliers" -- it takes a ton of repetition to be an expert at anything.

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  7. Way to go Josh! It is true, the more you do it the smoother it becomes, Leah set the right tone in her Crafty class I took, made all the difference for me to just 'let go' and go smooth!

    Love FMQ because of Leah, she's simply the best!

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  8. I was new last year but free motioned quilted almost daily from July through November. Took 7 months off and it didn't take more than a 10" swatch to remember. Now, I did know how to sew already, which helped. But I think, the point is, once you get it down, you can leave it for a stretch and almost pick up where you left off, like riding a bicycle. Don't dispair, Josh!

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  9. This has convinced me that due to my 2.5 hour commute to and from work, that I will be sending my quilts out since I have no prayer of regaining and improving my current quilting skills. It's fun to watch your progress; when I retire in a few years, I'll give it another go.

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