Wandaful Quilts

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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Practicing your free motion quilting

I have taught free motion quilting for about 20 years. I meet up with former students and they tell me they have never really caught on to free motion quiting. I ask them how much they have done. The answer is anywhere from "tried once" to "a few times". Do you remember how many times you had to practice multiplication tables or practice when learning cursive writing? I try to convince people that their practice is like homework. To get better at something you have to practice it.
I think the "quilting police" have so many people intimidated that they won't even show their quiting, even if it is good, to someone else for fear of negative comments. I use the sample above and the one below to show that high contrast thread is going to show up and every stitch will show. The one below has matching thread and therefor creates texture rather than each individual stitch being important.
Are all of my stitches perfect? No, no, no. I don't let the quilting police into my home and I will accept my abilities, such as they are. I have been doing free motion work for 48 years. I don't have to prove anything to anyone else. You may look at these samples and say "48 years and she still isn't perfect". Perfection isn't what I am after. I am looking for acceptable and enjoyment.
I have been asked "What are these things?" meaning they are too big for a coaster, too small for a potholder. They are my practice pieces and I keep them around to remind me of ideas for designs,
to just generally brighten my day, to be a sample of certain threads, like the variegated thread in the sample below. I know people who won't create anything at all for fear of negative comments. We all need to support the creative talents of everyone, whatever their level of achievement and accentuate the positive.


Anonymous said...

Way to go Wanda ! Practice makes perfect ! See you tomorrow.

T said...

Wanda, thanks so much for this post - it's VERY timely for me! Just last night I was approached about teaching free motion classes and I realized the reason that I haven't before is that I know that I'm not the best of the best. I also realized (and felt a little conceited) that in my little corner of the world, I am the best - biggest fish in this little corner of the pond, you know.

If I can take your words to heart, maybe I can share a little of what I know with those who want to learn and feel good about helping others 'broaden their horizons'.

Exuberant Color said...

T, you are a no-reply blogger so I hope you come back to check if I replied here.
My advice is go for it. You just need to advertise your class as a beginner's free motion class and you will get people who want to know basics, which you certainly know.

joyce said...

I like you idea of keeping practice pieces for reminders of design ideas. I guess free motion is much like learning to write. You get better as you work at it. Having taught grade 3 for years I've told that to hundreds of kids but now I need to tell myself.

Anonymous said...

Wanda, Thanks for the reminder that I need practice
(oh, do I need practice.)

meggie said...

I bought a special foot for my sewing machine, & practised on a quilt I made my SIL. I can see these bright little pieces would be fun to learn with, & I think I will use your tip. I have a LOT of practise needed!

zquilts said...

FMQ rocks - one day I want long arm - until then I content myself with having fun on smaller pieces. It's such a freeing feeling to just let your piece slide along on the machine !

Lazy Gal Tonya said...

I'm with you 100%. You've gotta practise practise practise and just be happy.

QuiltingFitzy said...

I don't fear other folk's comments, I just fear living up to my own expectations! It's silly I suppose, and I AM getting more accepting. Everyone else loves my stuff...wonder why I don't? Wicked.

Julie aka "Quilt Diva" said...

The timing for this post could NOT have been better for me... I tried the BSR feature on my new 440 Friday night for the first time and immediately realized I needed LOTS of practice... and I really love the idea of your practice pieces (using not just a square of fabric but actual bits of pieced work - and in glorious colors). Thanks ~ here's to the journey!

LC said...

You are becoming quite the mentor for me. I make practice pieces too, but haven't saved very many of them. Now I must go and find a box to label "Practice Pieces" or maybe just "Wanda Says!"

bless you,