It is easier for me to FMQ without trying to follow lines exactly. I use the golden threads or tissue paper if I want a certain design placed just so. It allows you to kind of follow the pattern but you don't have to be too careful because you are going to tear off the paper. If doing feathers I mark the spine and do the rest freehand. It also helps if you can do a certain design following the seams as a guide like orange peel pattern.
Are you practicing on an actual quilt or sample sandwiches? Small samples about 15 to 18" square are great to start with. Start on paper and just repeat drawing circles and curves. It is a hand - memory skill which takes practice. No one is born with this skill. It is learned.
Draw lines right on the fabric and work to stay inside the lines just like learning to write when we were kids.
Once you feel okay with how your curves look on paper go to the machine and practice there. SLOW YOUR SPEED DOWN. No need for a heavy foot. As you get comfortable just moving the fabric around start doing loops and smaller curves, waves, figure eights are great for practicing. There are many places to get ideas for quilting patterns to practice on. do a search.
Slow, relax, breath, shoulders down.
Take a few slow small stitches as you start and stop. Just like driving, you don't start out at 60 mph.
Practice doing a straight line and then put a loop it one direction then the opposite.
The one thing I learned is to have paper to practice any design on before going to the machine. Any paper will do even old news paper. It is all to get the hand memory going.
Hope some of this stuff helps you to keep going. I've been there so I understand. It can be discouraging but don't give up.
You are all great, i think i need gloves as i found moving the fabric around was an issue. Also, when trying to turn it seemed like the needle would jump to a different spot.
also just using some ugly fabric sandwiched into a placemat size to practice on. I would never even think of practicing on actual quilt.
Yes, it takes lots and lots of practice. And even more practice, but all the practice isn't wasted, because you keep getting better. And more comfortable with it, and learning what techniques work for you. Don't give up!!
My first effort was just loop-de-loops and then I went to a simple jig-saw meander. After my fourth effort my meanders are starting to look pretty darn good. If you're trying to do feathers then you're way beyond me and should congratulate yourself on having the courage to leap in and try. As every poster before me has said, it just takes practice and pretty soon you'll do great.
You have to practice,practice,practice. Think how long it took you to learn to read, ride a bike,drive a car. Everything new requires practice. You should have seen me the first time I learned to drive a manual transmission. Ouch! There were some grinding of gears, let me tell you. But, you should see me now,it has become second nature to me.I don't have to watch the tach to when to shift, I am listening for the change in engine,even while I am driving and talking to someone else. The point is, if you try anything for a short time and quit,how will you ever know if you can do it or not.I guess I am just to stubborn to quit until I have mastered whatever task that is before me. Keep trying!
Don't give up......I started two years ago and started with Quilting Made Easy stippling patterns. Once I got that figured out I moved on to circles. Meandering came next. Now I combine the three and will practice something new next. It really does take a lot of practice but don't start out with something difficult or you will get frustrated.
I really like this book: One Line at a Time: 24 Geometric Machine-Quilting Designs Made Easy
The book explains how to use the walking foot to make designs including circles and curves.
There is a lot of variation from SID. You can also do echo.
I am in the same boat meldmac, I find FMQ soooo hard to do, but like a lot are saying practise makes perfect, grrrrr!