Hopefully after yesterday's post you have accepted that it's OK to practice on some of your real quilts. Today we are going to talk about some tips to make practicing as stress-free as possible and we are going to start with my personal quilting motto.
Crappy quilting, done consistently, looks great!
I know that sounds funny, but it's true.
Let's say that you are practicing spirals but your spirals are more square than round. No worries. If you will follow these simple tips for your practice pieces your quilt recipients will never know that you were learning on their blanket.
Pick a thread that blends and start with "easy" threads
When you are first starting out and practicing on your blankets, don't make the thread a feature of the quilt. Select a thread color that blends so that when the quilt is washed you will just see texture. Also don't get carried away trying a lot of different kinds of threads. Remember, your focus is on learning the machine and building brain and muscle memory. Don't add any other unnecessary complications like finicky threads. Great threads to start with include:
Polyester threads don't break as frequently as cotton threads and a thinner thread will not be as visible.
Don't rip out mistakes, no one else will notice them.
Unless you can see the mistake from 5 feet away no one else will notice it.
For the first 5 years of my quilting I ripped out every tiny bobble. You can imagine how long it took me to quilt a quilt! After giving away a few quilt blankets and hearing what people said about them I realized that no one looked at my quilting. They cared about the color and snuggle-ability and that's it.
You already know how to rip out stitches so unless the tension is way off or the mistake is an accidental 10" line across the quilt, leave it and continue working on what you wanted to learn.
Add a skill with each quilt.
Don't try to learn 15 new things with every quilt. Add one new skill with each quilt so you can focus on that particular skill.
Let's say that your first quilt was straight lines and now you want to start moving the machine diagonally.
Then for your next quilt you can add some diagonal lines to the straight line. This pattern is really simple and is a great one to practice diagonal movement, getting sharp corners and meeting lines at a point.
Think about the "real" quilt that you want to do first, identify all of the skills you will need to quilt it the way you want and then plan enough blankets to build the skills to quilt that quilt. Once you and your longarm have become one with each other you might want to do a quilt with stitch in the ditch and feathers. I'd apprach that by loading one quilt that square and SID the whole thing. The load another quilt and feather it to death. In both cases pick threads that will blend and don't sweat the mistakes.
DO NOT POINT OUT YOUR MISTAKES!
Yes, that's in all caps and I'm yelling it. Do not ever give a quilt to someone and start pointing out all of the things that are wrong with it.
Mom and I made this quilt for a wedding gift for my nephew and his new wife. When I quilted it I did a poor job of basting and wound up with 2 big pleats in the back. I did not rip out the stitching. I hand stitched down the pleats and gave the quilt to the young couple. They loved it. Maybe they will someday find the pleat, maybe not. It doesn't matter. By then they will have turned it into a blanket and it will be like my blanket that I shared Monday. They will love it flaws and all.
Don't point out your mistakes at guild Show-And-Tell either. Tell people why you quilted it and what you learned and be proud of a finish.
8/23/2017 11:14:17 am
All of these are great for any kind of machine quilting--longarm, sit down or domestic machines. Actually I haven't seen much in this series that isn't useful to any quilter. I have both a sit down and a domestic machine. Tried learning a long arm but I couldn't get close enough to see what I was quilting.
8/23/2017 01:49:58 pm
I quilt all of mine on my domestic machine and I promise - unless the quilting is designed to stand out - no one really notices.
Mary L. Bolton
8/23/2017 03:55:47 pm
8/23/2017 05:12:56 pm
In support of your thoughts on NOT pointing out flaws -- for those who have read my book BUILD A BARN, you already know that the cover quilt developed a godzilla sized pleat in the back that my quilter tamed by hand tacking it into submission. No one affiliated with any of the shows where the quilt has been displayed nor anyone involved in the book's publication ever said one word about it. They just raved about the barns.
8/23/2017 10:02:56 pm
I don't have a long arm either, and quilt on my domestic machine. But, all your advice so far is applicable to me as well. It's wonderful encouragement and great tips. Thanks!
8/24/2017 09:51:33 am
These are great posts. I don't have a longarm, but the principles can be applied to quilting on a domestic machine. And I'm afraid I point out the flaws on my quilts - I need to stop doing that!! Why are we so critical of ourselves? Perhaps insecurity is the root of it, and perfectionism.
8/24/2017 11:50:26 am
very Even though I am not a longarmer, your advice is still on point. I remember when I worked at the shop that made custom clothes for people who showed Western horses one of the ladies was all concerned with small goof on a jacket. I took the jacket across the room and moved it up and down. I asked her if anyone in the arena would see this when the girl showed her horse. The light bulb when on that quality workmanship was important, but perfection wasn't necessary the goal.
8/24/2017 11:46:00 pm
This is absolutely excellent advice Vicki! It is so true!
8/25/2017 07:05:51 pm
A friend showed me a quilt and pointed out a 'mistake' ... she entered it into a judged show and it won, but for me, everytime I see the quilt I see the 'mistake' she pointed out to me.
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I'm Vicki Welsh and I've been making things as long as I can remember. I used to be a garment maker but transitioned to quilts about 20 years ago. Currently I'm into fabric dyeing, quilting, Zentangle, fabric postcards, fused glass and mosaic. I document my adventures here.