Practice with Purpose

If you’ve been following along our free motion quilting for beginners series, you know how important practice is.  And you probably have a pile of quilted fabric that you’re not quite sure what to do with. Some of them you’ll want to toss. Maybe you breathed new life into a piece by adding a second or third top layer and re-used the batting and backing. That’s a great $$ saver! Maybe your tension was so bad, the back looks like a nest. Go ahead and toss those!  They served their purpose!  You learned, you gained skills, you grew as a quilter.

Some might make a good liner for the cargo area of your car. They keep everything clean and are easily washable! Note: I did not add a binding, I just tuck the raw edges under. No one will ever know!

NEVER toss your first practice piece. It’s purpose is to remind you how far you’ve come. Put a binding on it! Hang it up! (maybe somewhere only you will see it :). Or just keep it in a drawer and pull it out if (when) you get frustrated in trying to learn a new design.  It’s good to see just how much you can accomplish with practice.

Now that you have had lots of practice, the next time you want to learn a design, you might want to think about how you could use the practice piece. Then choose your fabric accordingly.

Do you remember the echo quilting design from Helen Godden called Roadmaps?

When I stitched out a sample of that design, I thought about how I might use it.  I was wanting to do some couching with the HQ Couching feet. It’s just so addicting!

I wanted to try quilting the fabric first, then couching a design over the background quilting. My background quilting needed to be simple but interesting. Roadmaps checked all the boxes!

I thought I would make a bag out of the finished piece, so I quilted two roadmaps. One for the front and one for the back of the bag. I chose my fabric with all of those criteria in mind. The batting was also a consideration for the project.  I like using foam for my bags. It gives them good structure and crispness, while still being soft. And quilting foam really shows the quilting texture! There are many brands out there. Just Google foam batting for sewing to see what is available.

I loaded the foam just like I would normally load a backing. Then basted my top fabric in place. Using blue water soluble marker, I marked my swirls and then quilted the echos.  Go back and read the post on Roadmaps to see how to do it.

 

There was not enough of the fabric I chose, so I used a coordinating fabric and quilted the other piece in the same way, for the back of the bag.

Then life and other commitments happened. The quilted pieces rested and waited til I had some time to do the couching.

I marked a rough outline of what I wanted to couch and gathered my yarns. You can visit our YouTube channel and search for couching to learn how it’s done and get even more inspiration for projects.

 

I used several different yarns to create interesting texture.

 

Once I was happy with my couching, I trimmed the pieces and cut some lining as well.

 

You can use your quilted pieces to make just about any bag pattern of your choice. I didn’t use a pattern. I’ve made so many bags over the years, I just winged it!

 

It was a fun project that started out with a “practice with purpose”. And now I have a new summer tote!

What is your favorite way to use or re-purpose quilting practice pieces?

We’d LOVE to hear! Let us know in the comments.

 

by Mary Beth Krapil