I thought I’d show a bit about how I like to practice my free motion quilting.
My goal is to practice 15 minutes of free motion quilting a day. Daily practice hits two things at once for me: It fulfills my need for daily creativity, and it dramatically improves my skills and confidence.
Practice is the most fun for me when I first create an interesting shape (in this case, hourglass shapes) and then fill it in with micro-quilted free motion fillers.
What is micro-quilting? It’s tiny free motion work… usually the designs are around 1/4″ in height and width. It may sound intimidating, but I actually thing smaller designs are easier on a domestic, or sit-down quilting machine. The larger you get, the more bobbles and wiggles you’re likely to see in your designs. When you are quilting tiny designs, be sure to drop your stitch length to anywhere between 15-18 stitches per inch. That will help you smoothly get around curves.
I loosely based my piece on a doodle from the sketch pages in my Quilter’s Planner:
Here’s the piece stitched out. I don’t exactly stick to my sketch. The sketch is just a jumping off point to get me going.
2 Simple Steps:
- Use a 1/4″ thick longarm ruler to quilt ruler-based designs, not a rotary cutting ruler (Note: If you’re working on a domestic, or don’t have a longarm wave ruler like the one I used in the video, you can also use a fexible curve ruler like this to create a gentle curve, and then mark your waves using a water soluble marking pen that will disappear. Then just slowly follow the marked lines. If you have a stitch regulator on your longarm, make sure use it when you quilt slowly and are trying to stitch marked lines.)
- Fill the hourglasses with any of your favorite free motion quilting designs. I’ll show how to do two of these fills today.
Simple loops: “Ls and Es”
We all know how to write the lowercase letter “L” and letter “E” in cursive. So why not put these skills to work in your free motion quilting?
Free Motion Rainbows
These little rainbows are based on the idea of the traditional Baptist Fan quilting design, but they are smaller and more free form.
If you noticed that my tension isn’t great in these close-up photos, you’re right. The top thread is being a bully and pulling the bobbin thread up to the top of the fabric ever so slightly. I need to loosen the top tension a bit here.
But when I have 15 minutes to practice my free-motion quilting each day, I don’t always take the time to test and adjust my tension, because it’s just practice. And when life is flying by at the speed of sound, just find a way to get the practice in. That is the key to free motion quilting success.