|Some of my earlier practise pieces.|
Years ago, when I first started quilting, I taught myself how to quilt on a home machine. The most critical thing I learned was that you need a walking foot for the straight aways, and a hopping or darning foot for the curved bits. My first couple quilts had long straight stretches of stitch in the ditch and some motifs that I quilted by hand because I didn't know how to free motion.
I learned free motion the long way. I made about 30 pot holders and practised on them first. This allowed me to perfect the motions I needed and to learn to coordinate the machine speed with the speed I moved my project. Being small, there was no need to worry about excess quilt getting in the way. Next, I made myself place mats. I bit larger for the project, but not too big to be really difficult. Then came table runners, wall hangings and finally a quilt. It was a long way to go, but I learned something each step of the way.
Now, when I have time I play around with practise squares. I made some practise squares about 12 inches square. I layered them with batting scraps. (I have boxes of these.) Each square gets used several times. I used a plain fabric because thread shows up best on plain fabrics. I quilt in a contrasting fabric because the point of this is to perfect my technique and I need to see what is going on. Often, I will reuse a square by quilting over what I have done in a different thread. I'm not worried about perfection because I know this is a scrap. These squares are also handy for testing new stitches and adjusting your tension. Running a test drive before starting your "real" projects will save you a lot of grief.
I've also found that this practise transfers to the long arm machine with is an added bonus. I think the mind remembers the motions and knows to transfer moving the fabric to the head of the machine.
Making the squares: I love 505 basting spray for this. Cut a pile of 12 inch squares. (Or what ever works for you.) Cut one batting square for every two fabric squares. Protect you table with scrap paper. (I use examination table paper from the medical supply store.) Put one square of fabric wrong side up. Spray LIGHTLY with 505. Place a batting square on top, spray again, place the second fabric square on top (right side up.) Check that it is all smooth and you are all set to go.
|You can see that this is being re-used.|
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QUESTION OF THE DAY: Do you quilt your own projects or do you hire a quilter? Why?