Welcome to Tips and Tutorials Tuesday! The link ups for wonderful quilting ideas from this week in blogging can be found at the bottom of the post.
Over the next few weeks, I’d like to share some tips with you for free motion quilting practice. And today’s tip has got to be one of the best kept secrets in the quilting world. Or even if you know about it, most people I teach in quilting classes have never given it a try.
If you want to improve your quilting skills, it’s essential to practice your quilting for 15 minutes a day. But in order to do that, you always have to be ready to quilt, right? That means having quilt sandwiches made up and sitting next to your machine, or always having something loaded on the longarm. Otherwise, that extra hump of preparing to quilt can really slow you down, or even stop you dead in your tracks.
The second hurdle is to figure out what free motion skill to practice! There are so many books out there, and so many designs. It’s quite common to sit down, stare at the unmarked fabric in front of you, and have no idea where to start.
So here’s a small investment you can make to ensure that you’ve always got something ready to quilt, and a clear road map of what you should be practicing for the day. You can buy pre-printed panels of fabric that have the quilting designs lightly marked on them! Some wonderful designers have made panels just for us to practice our quilting! These panels work for both domestic and longarm quilters.
Here are my favorites (*these are not affiliate links and I get no compensation for sharing these…. I just really like them!) They are available for about $16 per panel at Love To Quilt.
One of the important things to remember is that you can get a lot of bang for your buck if you use a thinner thread when quilting, so you can quilt over and over on the same line (like a 60 weight thread. Superior makes one called Bottom Line that I often use in the bobbin. But it works great for this kind of practice as a top thread).
Do you need to practice your feathers? Getting the shape of the plumes just right is often the biggest challenge. This skill builder panel will help you practice the hump and dip of a plume from every direction, and you don’t have to spend time chalking them in first (or risk practicing on a top that you have spent hours piecing).
The last skill builder panel offers even more design options. I love this one because it has beautiful spiral squares and chevrons, as well as a baptist fan and some versatile wavy loops.
You can buy workbooks on the same Love to Quilt site to go along with these panels if you’d like a little more guidance.
Leah Day also makes a couple different panels that are wonderful – especially if you like bright colors. They’re a tad more expensive because they’re printed to order at Spoonflower. Here’s an example of one.
This one is just squares and sashings, with no markings, and would be a great companion for cruising Leah Day’s website to practice different fillers she has invented.
Ok, it’s time to link up! Here you go……