Welcome to week 4 of my Machine Quilting 101 Series! If you'd like to check out the previous weeks, click away:
Week 1: Introduction
Week 2: Pre-basting Prep
Week 3: Basting
There are two kinds of practice that I will talk about today.
1. Practicing on a swatch before each quilt or project.
2. Practice, in general, that helps you improve your skills.
Before you start quilting your main quilt (or project), make a test swatch. Make a small quilt sandwich out of the same exact materials that your quilt is made from, including the batting. This is the perfect place to try out your quilting design, marking tools, thread color, tension, stitch length...all of it.
shimmer feather pillow. It doesn't have to be big....this one is only about 6" x 7.5". This swatch was so important because I went out on a limb by using purple thread and I used a new to me chaco liner in BLUE. I didn't plan on washing the project after it was finished, so the test swatch was crucial. It also allowed me to test out my stitch length. If you are free motion quilting, this an excellent time to check your tension. Making a practice swatch only takes a few extra minutes, but it's invaluable.
Now, let's talk about practice, in general.
My husband is a musician. Last Tuesday night when he and I went out to dinner with some other musicians we were talking about "putting in your 10,000 hours". (Studies show that 10,000 is the amount of practice time one must put in to become an expert at any given skill.) I dug up this article on the same subject. Very interesting, isn't it? I'll be mulling that over for the next several days!
Ok, so my advice...
Start small and work your way up! You can practice quilting on so many different items. Think of it as a 12 step program, if you will. :)
1. Coasters or pin cushion
2. Mini Mat
5. Throw Pillow Cover
6. Pillow Sham
7. Wall Hanging
8. Baby Quilt
9. Lap Quilt
10. Twin Quilt
11. Queen Quilt
12. King Quilt
(I added the links just for fun.)
As you build your confidence, increase the size of your projects. Or else you could make a million quilted pin cushions. Ha!
Ok, so now, as if showing my ugly practice swatches hasn't been revealing enough, here is my first ever free motion quilted quilt.
I hope this has been helpful to you! If you have any practice tips to share with others, feel free to leave them in the comments. I love hearing from you!