With so many new Moxie owners out there, I am going to start a series of tips on free-motion quilting for beginners. These tips will not only apply to those using movable machines on a frame, (like Moxie, Amara, Simply Sixteen, Forte, and Infinity) but also to stationary machine quilters. That means Capri and Sweet Sixteen owners, as well as domestic machine quilters, will benefit from the series as well. I hope you’ll all come along!
To prepare to really improve your skills will take a few steps. No worries, they are easy!
#1 – Make the commitment
I am a huge advocate of practice when it comes to quilting. The key is to practice EVERY DAY. Yes, you read that right, I said every day, (shouted it actually). I can hear you groaning. But do not despair.
I suggest you set aside 15 minutes in your day to devote to free motion quilting practice. That is not a huge time commitment. I think you can find 15 minutes in your day to do the thing you love to do and get better at it.
Don’t think of it as “practice” (like when your parents MADE you practice piano). Think of it as “Play”.
The reason behind doing it every day is that “muscle memory” thing. And building your skills little by little, consistently. There’s nothing worse than taking 2 steps forward but having to take one step back because you skipped days and forgot what you learned on the first day. So you have to go back and start over again.
So, raise your right hand and repeat after me……
“I (state your name) promise to devote 15 minutes in my day to play at what I love to do, free motion quilting, so that I can improve my skills and love quilting even more than I already do. I promise to do this every day without fail. Just like brushing my teeth, but better, because it will be fun.”
This might take a bit of time. You’ll need to find your practice materials and get them ready, so you don’t waste any of that precious 15 minutes on anything but stitching.
Prepare your fabric
If you are a movable machine quilter, load your machine with practice fabric. If you are a stationary machine quilter make up a stack of quilt sandwiches, at least the size of a fat quarter or larger. Here are some ideas of what you can use:
- inexpensive muslin
- fabric from your stash. The ones that when you look at them you say to yourself “what was I thinking when I bought this?” are perfect for practice.
- Tip: Load upside down so that you are stitching on the wrong side of the fabric. You will be able to see your stitching much better that way.
- Warning: this will take way longer than you might think. You will be looking at all your fabric, which can be super distracting. You might want to devote an afternoon, or an entire day or two, depending on the size of your stash and how easily you get distracted.
- Old sheets or sheets purchased at the thrift store
You know those strips of batting that you cut off after you finish quilting a quilt? SAVE them!
They work great for practice. You don’t have to worry about sewing them together. It’s just practice! Simply lay them next to each other on top of your backing fabric. No worries if there are gaps. It’s practice! Errr, I mean PLAY!
Here is my bag of saved strips (chair included for size):
I also use these strips on my Swiffer!
Strips laid out on top of a fat quarter:
I don’t worry about the gaps or the wrinkles. It’s practice folks!
Get out that old thread from your Grandma’s sewing basket. You probably wouldn’t want to use it in a real project, but as long as it doesn’t break every 2 minutes, it’s fine for practice/play.
The orange thread had a price of 50 cents marked on it! That’s OLD!
If you don’t have any old thread then purchase something inexpensive. Save the good stuff for your real quilts!
That’s your assignment for this week. Gather your materials and load up your frame or make up your quilt sandwiches. Next week we’ll get to stitching.
One more thing
A couple of things you might want to have on hand, but are not a necessity:
- A white board and dry erase markers
- plastic page protector
- HQ Super clamps for your movable machine frame. Be sure to get correct the size for your frame, they come in 3 sizes for the Gallery frame, the Studio frame, or the Loft frame. (I’ll explain how I use these next week)
Till then….. have fun in your stash! 🙂
by Mary Beth Krapil