Am new to LAQ and have made some progress on FMQ. I tried to quilt from a panto and find it very difficult to get the swirls even. Maybe I am not using the right pattern for a beginner. What pattern do you suggest to start with and what hints can you offer to quilt better?
You talk about LAQ and FMQ. If you mean quilting with a long arm, IMO, Chantilly Lace is a good panto for a beginner. It has loops but no straight lines. You have to get a rhythm and don't try so hard to stay on the lines. You do not need a death grip on the handles of the machine, either.
What I found helped me most when doing pantos was NOT to stand directly behind the machine with one hand on each handle. Instead, I stood off to the left and held the left handle with both hands. (This is assuming you are working from right to left when standing at the back of the machine.)
Tuck your elbows into your sides and don't move your arms, but sway your whole body. Look ahead to where you are going next instead of directly at the laser. Don't worry about staying exactly on the line, but use the line as a general guide to get from one point to the next.
No one will ever know if you strayed from the line, if you can keep your motions smooth and even. Aim for points if the pattern has them, and hesitate just a tiny bit (not too long or you'll make a knot) before switching direction to get a nice sharp point.
And if all else fails and you are still kind of tense, have an adult beverage first - that should loosen you up a bit!! LOL :-)
Thanks for the advice. How long does it take before one is able to make smooth, clean lines? I am only on my 3rd panto (of course I had to try each new one) and think I am expecting way to much of myself.
If you can't make a really smooth line just don't jut right back onto the panto when going off Gentley come back to the line. no one will notice if you go off the line only u
A little tip that I got when I first started was to use a lighter grip on the handles. My mentor told me to drive the machine using my fingertips and not my whole hand and for me, that worked. As I got more comfortable with pantos, I resumed my regular grip. And don't forget to breathe. Our movements tend to get uneven if we hold our breaths. Some quilters even pace their breathing with their stitching.
Don't get discouraged. As you get more comfortable with the process, you will like your work more. And remember, the only person who sees the line on the panto is you. If you get off a little, no one will know.
And I agree with the previous post --- Chantilly Lace is a great pattern to try.