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Thread: FMQ Practice - Batting and fabric is expensive, alternatives?

  1. #1
    Super Member ArchaicArcane's Avatar
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    FMQ Practice - Batting and fabric is expensive, alternatives?

    As much as I'd like to practice FMQ, I find that it doesn't work the greatest with only 2 layers of cotton, and batting is expensive. What can I use for an inside layer that won't completely break the bank, so I'll practice more? I keep falling back to swirlies, because I don't practice enough.

    I'd initially thought I'd just throw an extra layer of fabric over the used pieces, but found that the needle, and the machine didn't want to pierce the dense spots...

    Also, if one doesn't have a huge stash, what's recommended for top fabric for practicing? I found some $5/m (39") clearance fabric, and have been using that, but it feels really wasteful...

  2. #2
    Super Member nanacc's Avatar
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    I have used old mattress pads, thrift store blankets, old fleece sweatshirts! Hit the thrift shops! I have seen many fabrics at different sites online for less than $5/yd. Also, old cotton sheets or discount store sheets are some of my choices.

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    Senior Member SlightlyOffQuilter's Avatar
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    Hit up the local thrift stores and goodwill for cotton sheets and those cheap fleece throw blankets. I stocked up on the fleece throws at our local CVS Pharmacy after christmas they had them on sale for 2 dollars a piece, and not only are they perfect for practice, they make amazing batting for light weight lap quilts that I make for the nursing home !

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    Power Poster ckcowl's Avatar
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    check thrift stores for inexpensive-worn blankets, mattress pads, fleece...also, check with 'quilting friends' and area long arm quilters- sometimes they have scrap batting laying around they are willing to part with- it Is easy to piece batting (butt the edges & stitch a wide zigzag) for me batting scraps multiply like fabric scraps---I always have a large garbage bag full, and willing to give pieces to anyone who asks- as for inexpensive practice fabric- check places like Joanne's for $1-$2 a yard muslin...and it doesn't need to be (wasteful) if you do something with the practice pieces...some things we have done with practice quilts over the years----bound the edges- gave them to the kids with fabric markers to decorate-color- they then kept them to use for picnic quilts, play outside quilts, build forts quilts. zigzag the edges (or apply a machine binding) and donate to the area animal shelter- donate to the local pre-school (and/or) daycare to use for nap mats, .... all kinds of things to do with those practice pieces---some of them turn out to be pretty useful- masterpieces (in someone's eye)
    hiding away in my stash where i'm warm, safe and happy

  5. #5
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    How about using water solvable thread in the bobbin when you quilt your sandwich? You could quilt up a storm, mist it with water and let the sandwich dry and use it again. Water solvable thread is a bit pricey but a lot cheaper than making new sandwiches.

  6. #6
    dd
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    Those practice quilts could be donated to an animal shelter or hospital. They are always in need of fur baby bedding.
    Blessed are the quilters, for they are the piecemakers.

  7. #7
    Senior Member GemState's Avatar
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    You can get extra use out of your practice sandwich by changing thread color. It looks kind of messy, but the different color lets you try something else over what you have done before.

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    Super Member Murphy1's Avatar
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    When I first started fmq I practiced by making and quilting pot holders. That is a great use of scrappy batting pieces too.
    Murphy1
    For our wonderful Golden Retriever adopted in March of 2010.

  9. #9
    Power Poster QuiltE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Murphy1 View Post
    When I first started fmq I practiced by making and quilting pot holders. That is a great use of scrappy batting pieces too.
    ... or how about placemats? or market bags? or ??

    Turn your practice work into something practical and usable.

    While it's nice to find other options to use, ... just as you found that overlaying with new cotton for a clean slate on top doesn't work, it's best to learn and practice by using similar the types of fabrics and battings you will be using for "real".
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Sew many ideas ... just sew little time!!
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  10. #10
    Super Member willferg's Avatar
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    I wish you were closer, I'd give all my charity quilts to quilt, and I'd supply everything plus gratitude for your efforts. Maybe check in your area to see if you can help charity quilters by offering to quilt...
    People who start projects and never finish them are cooler
    than people who never start projects at all.


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  11. #11
    Junior Member janceejan's Avatar
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    I have been using orphan squares and leftovers with an old wash cloth in between with a layer of W/N and making some much needed potholders. Been even getting a little experimental with my FMQ. Good area to test it in.
    Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways - Diet Dr. Pepper in one hand - chocolate in the other - body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO-HOO, what a ride!!"

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    For practice, I get all those pesky little leftover pieces of batting and zigzag them together. My sister uses old bath towels. And I buy plain old muslin by the bolt, usually waiting for it to go on sale or use a 40-50% coupon at JoAnn's. Muslin is also great for making practice blocks, especially if there are a lot of pieces to it and/or I've never done the block before. However, when I am going to FMQ a quilt, I use the same fabric and batting as the quilt to practice on so that I can make any adjustments to the machine.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Stitch124's Avatar
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    That's an awesome idea! All my pot holders are looking pretty raggedy. Just knowing that I don't have to 'waste' a practice sandwich by using it as a potholder will really make me want to practice with more purpose and skill! Love it!

    Thanks Murphy! You're my hero!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Murphy1 View Post
    When I first started fmq I practiced by making and quilting pot holders. That is a great use of scrappy batting pieces too.

  14. #14
    Super Member DOTTYMO's Avatar
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    Old sheets pillow cases..
    Finished is better than a UFO

  15. #15
    Moderator Jim's Gem's Avatar
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    When I do put together a "practice piece" I will keep using it again and again, changing out the thread color to see what I am doing. I have also put a new piece of fabric on the top and bottom and practiced again when it got too full to see what I was doing. I use old fabrics that I found cheap, old sheets, muslin etc, but have warm and natural in my "sandwich" cause that's what I use in my quilts and I want it to "feel" the same.


    My newest Grandson, Caleb Austin, was born May 29th. I am now Grandma to 4 precious babies. I am so blessed!!!!

  16. #16
    Super Member FancyFoot's Avatar
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    I practice on quilted Muslin...It's cheap at Joanns & Hancocks. http://www.hancockfabrics.com/Unblea...VVviewprod.htm
    FancyFoot

  17. #17
    Senior Member malindaann's Avatar
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    Ikea sells really inexpensive fleece throws

  18. #18
    Super Member JulieR's Avatar
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    Three things...
    1. Practice with scraps and no batting -- often it's the movement itself that is difficult to master, and you don't need batting to do that!
    2. Practice with batting scraps that have been pieced together -- because eventually you'll do this on a real quilt anyway
    3. Quit practicing and just go for it! If it doesn't look quite right, wash the quilt and then dry it on high. All sins will be forgiven, seriously.

  19. #19
    Super Member petthefabric's Avatar
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    These are great ideas. I think first I'll get out some orphan blocks, use the batting for heat and make pot holders. I need some decorative pillows for the living room, maybe these could be fancy quilting practice with couched yarns and decorative threads.

    Love the thrift store ideas.

  20. #20
    Super Member charsuewilson's Avatar
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    Use anything from your rag bag, old sheets, old towels, worn out clothes. Old t-shirts would work for batting, maybe 2 layers.

    I also practiced on pot holders and hot pads.

  21. #21
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    I've used felt squares to practice fmq on when I didn't want to make practice sandwiches.

  22. #22
    Super Member Gannyrosie's Avatar
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    All the replies to this thread is giving me some confidence, and also, I never would of thought of using fleece throws for batting ( go figure ). Take these ladies advise, they've been there and done that. I've just started to try FMQ'ng myself and the comments here are being noted.

  23. #23
    Super Member ArchaicArcane's Avatar
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    I took a snoop at the thrift stores today, and was finding $8 - 10 sheets, and left a little disappointed. It occurred to me later that the sheets were equivalent to more than a couple meters of fabric. Duh! Perhaps I will go back and grab a few then.

    I love the IKEA idea, I will check them out. I usually avoid the bedding section, the feathers freak my lungs out, but maybe I will send DH in with a description and stand in Kitchens and shop,.. I mean cheer him on.

    I sure wish Fabricland had Muslin for $1 -2 a yard. It was $12 a yard today. Even with the 20% off for members, I still felt ripped off, and I didn't even buy any.

    I had a brief idea today on the way home though. Edmonton has a "reuse center" where you pay $5, and leave with all you can carry, and one of the things they have donated is fabric..... mmmm. potential.

    I have pieced batting in the past, but I'm a little embarrased to say that my "stash" of batting was used up with a 21" x 30" sammy... it's less a stash, more a stashette.... I really need to start quilting some more, so I'll have more scraps.

    I will see if any of the shelters around here want any. The one closest is the town vet, and they're... uhm... not very good with our animals... but the others may be good. There's a rescue about 100miles away though I'm thinking of, they're always short, aren't they?

    I've been using all sorts of colors. It's actually how I empty old bobbins of their thread, and with my sewing machine addiction, I have a lot of old threaded bobbins.

    Tartan, I LOVE your idea with the water soluable thread. I grabbed some today on the way home, you're right, not cheap, but I think it may go further than the fabric and especially batting if I can't reuse it. The lady in the quilt store asked what I was using it for, and she loved your idea too.

    I've been making draft catchers and stuff, I guess I'll outfit the trailer with a full set of pot holders and placemats too, then start making fur baby blankets with the other sandwiches. I hadn't thought of the market bags, that would make a ton of sense. The bought ones just don't hold up, and if I'm not allocating (unused) stash to them, they're not that expensive to make.

  24. #24
    Super Member ArchaicArcane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by willferg View Post
    I wish you were closer, I'd give all my charity quilts to quilt, and I'd supply everything plus gratitude for your efforts. Maybe check in your area to see if you can help charity quilters by offering to quilt...
    Oh! this is a fabulous idea! I like the quilting better than the piecing anyway.

    Quote Originally Posted by JulieR View Post
    Three things...
    1. Practice with scraps and no batting -- often it's the movement itself that is difficult to master, and you don't need batting to do that!
    2. Practice with batting scraps that have been pieced together -- because eventually you'll do this on a real quilt anyway
    3. Quit practicing and just go for it! If it doesn't look quite right, wash the quilt and then dry it on high. All sins will be forgiven, seriously.
    When I try to fmq without batting, I find often the machine skips stitches (more than one machine, so it's likely my technique, but it doesn't happen with batting in place. weird. So to date, it's always had batting in place for practice.

    Check... been piecing the batting. Ran out. Again.

    I know I should just go for it, I just find it funny when I want to try something new, then "fall back" to the safety zone (swirls) and do it on one quilt (or in my case, more often a smaller quilted project)

    Do any of you find that even the washed worn sheets at the thrift stores are harder to pierce and a little weird for FMQ as a result? Or does it not matter because it's just practice?

  25. #25
    Senior Member petpainter's Avatar
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    I have been using fleece remnants since I live in Florida and don't use it much but buy it on sale just because it's so pretty and cozy looking!

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