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Practicing FMQ

Practicing FMQ

Old 05-06-2020, 05:33 AM
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Default Practicing FMQ

Hi friends,
I know why my FMQ isn't improving. I don't practice enough.
I don't know what my problem is. I really want to get better at it but instead of taking the time I just piece and piece and piece.
I keep finding new projects to make for Arden. She's all I think about.
I've had my Bernina that I bought specifically for quilting exactly 1 year now and I've put in very few hours.

Any tips? Also anyone else like me?
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Old 05-06-2020, 07:04 AM
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You don’t have to quilt in long sessions to improve, but you do need to do it regularly. 15 minutes a day would be enough quilting time to improve. Maybe it will help you to be more diciplined knowing you only need 15 minutes of practice at a time.
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Old 05-06-2020, 07:14 AM
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SBG- that's a great tip, thank you. 15 minutes is doable for just about anything.

My quilting life has been mostly hand quilting. MQ is so different but I think I could get
better if I just got more disciplined.
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Old 05-06-2020, 07:14 AM
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That is what I have heard about FMQ is that it takes practice, practice, practice. You will get done and very well I am sure. I have seen some of your quilts here on the board and they are absolutely beautiful.
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Old 05-06-2020, 07:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Jordan View Post
That is what I have heard about FMQ is that it takes practice, practice, practice. You will get done and very well I am sure. I have seen some of your quilts here on the board and they are absolutely beautiful.
Jordan, most of the "beautiful" ones are the ones I sent out to a longarmer !!!
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Old 05-06-2020, 07:37 AM
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Also, you don't have to take the time to make quilt sandwiches if that is something holding you up. Get a big package of regular 9" x 12" craft felt from the craft store (or online from Amazon). Pin two pieces together to make a "sandwich" and go for it. That gives you really quick materials to work with and they're not precious, so you can concentrate on "playing" with your FMQ. It's a quick and easy way to get better fast and to build some muscle memory for various motifs and patterns you might want to use.

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Old 05-06-2020, 07:42 AM
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Jamie Wallen suggests that you pick one motif and practice just it during your practice time until you can do it in your sleep.

I worked on meander which I found very difficult until I watched a lady that said to key on two things...keep the spacing the same between the lines, no matter what size you decide to make it and if you get stuck and don't know where to go next, reverse your direction and draw a balloon capital letter H , F or T until you can get going again. It worked for me.

The next one I chose a Paisley because it has a rounded part and a pointed part and some practice on making them different sizes all in one motif, plus it is really versatile to fill in background space with. I made a lot of really bad Paisleys, but eventually it just clicked and I could do them upside down and backwards, so I moved onto Spirals which I still struggle with when trying to fill a background, but I'm working on it.

Anyhow...my point is, take some time...15 minutes a day is great...and pick one and work on it.

Also, I prefer to have a practice sandwich that is dark on one side and light on the other with light thread so that I can see on the dark side how things look in detail and on the light side how things would really look on a quilt if my thread and fabric colours were the same. I guarantee it looks a lot better than you think!

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Old 05-06-2020, 07:48 AM
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I found that practice on smaller pieces wasn't much help to me because real quilting includes the challenge of maneuvering the heavy quilt. I decided the only way to really improve was to quilt quilts. I practice the chosen design for a short time on a practice piece, and then take the plunge on the actual quilt. On one youtube video I watched, the teacher said you have to expect to make some ugly quilts. So start with the ones you're less emotionally attached to, and give yourself permission to 'ruin' some quilts. You'll find that after they're washed, they will look just fine.
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Old 05-06-2020, 08:12 AM
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Well me, I go to the thrift store first and start looking for ugly tops to finish, or yarn tied quilts "already layered for me to work on" and snip out the ties and go to work quilting down. Patterned sheets are good to follow the designs. You really need something at least 3 foot square for any sort of real world application, unless you will be strip quilting.

What I've found with my Bernina is for FMQ I really want the machine flush with table height, even though I'm generally pretty happy sewing with the machine just set on table top. I'm looking for an actual sewing table that will accommodate this monster footprint, I do have the acrylic insert.

So mostly I set a goal/project with something to learn on. Even though it may not be obvious, I'm usually working on something with each of my projects, whether it is construction techniques or art sense or whatever. These are different learning/donation quilts I did last year when I was learning to use my Bernina -- and before it broke down, it wasn't just a loose thread but needs a repair. Good news is the shop is open again. These are all what I would call "slice and dice" projects, minimal time piecing to get something to practice quilting on.

(1) "Daisy Ducks" was FMQ with Paper Patterns, with my vision issues I sew through paper often to get the effects I want. I bought this top for $1.99. It was layered with two thick layers of batting and had a too small not right flannel pinned on the bottom. I made a back out of stash, donated the flannel to a local preemie group, and made the next quilt with the rest of the batting.

(2) "Every Which Way" free hand FMQ, simple meander. I decided to try Superior's Military Gold thread for the quilting to echo the narrow gold line in the print and it worked wonderfully. The print fabric was given to me at my Tuesday group -- I saw this quilt in it immediately. Solids were stash. The batting was that thick one from the Daisy Project.

(3) "Pig Pen" last year was year of the Pig. This isn't technically FMQ, I was using the walking foot and doing grids, trying out my machines capabilities. Fabrics were bought a thrift store sale that supports the transitional homing shelter I will be giving most of my donated quilts. Someone had a bunch of pig fabrics, this was only a couple of them for front and back. Definitely paid under $5 for everything involved.

(4) "Seahawk Pink" again, not FMQ but learning my machine. This was my first ever serpentine stitch quilting project. All of the top fabrics came sorted together in a bag at the thrift store for less than $5. Another too thick batting, bought it at the thrift store and even though I like thick batting, I was wishing it was a bit lighter/more flexible. But simple griding with a fancy stitch was all it needed.
Attached Thumbnails daisy-ducks.jpg   daisy-paper-quilting.jpg   every-way.jpg   pig-pen-bound.jpg   seahawk-bound.jpg  


Last edited by Iceblossom; 05-06-2020 at 08:14 AM. Reason: Darn it, forgot that upload button (again!)
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Old 05-06-2020, 09:23 AM
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My machine quilting improved after I learned to let go of perfection, you are never going to get the same perfect stitches as regular sewing. With the BSR you can come close but I was still getting the occasional off stitch with it. If you have the BSR, get it out and practice writing your name on some scrap fabric to get the hand and speed coordinated. I did practice on some preprinted baby panels just outlining the motifs next. Babies don’t care what your stitching looks like.
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