Tips to Improve Your Machine Quilting

Here’s some tips from blogger Cheryl Sleboda to improve your machine quilting at home!

Originally posted on April 4, 2018 by Cheryl Sleboda

At some point every quilter wants to improve their quilting.  Whether it’s for personal aesthetics or to enter a show, increasing your quilting skills can help you be happy with your final result. While it seems that some people are born with the natural ability to quilt at “best of show” level from the day they begin, rest assured that everyone starts at the beginning and increases their skills as they go. Here’s some tips to help improve your machine quilting skills!

Doodle your way to better quilting.   One of the best ways to increase your free motion skills is to practice the designs as doodles.  Think of the needle in your machine as a stationary pencil that never lifts up from the paper.  By making continuous line doodles, you will develop a “muscle memory” on how those designs are formed.  Things like feathers and swirls get easier over time by practicing them on paper. Use squares on your paper or paper copies of your quilt to doodle some filler designs too.  Drawing quilt designs is super portable and easy to incorporate into your daily life.  Doodle while on the phone or while waiting for an appointment using a sketchbook or on scraps of paper.

Make practice “quilt sandwiches” to play with.  If you have fabric in your collection that you haven’t used in a while or don’t have a project for, you can make small quilt sandwiches to practice with. The size of a fat quarter is the perfect size to practice with on your machine, and the pattern on the fabric can help you dream up filler ideas.  Make a bunch at one time so you can grab one and practice when you can.  The best part? A practice sandwich can be bound and sent off to the animal shelter as a mat for inside of cages.  The dogs and cats won’t know if you made any quilting mistakes on them.

Repetition is the key.  Malcolm Gladwell wrote in his book Outliers that it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill.  Professional golfers got to where they are through hours and hours of practice.  Quilting perfection is the same, you have to practice it to get better at it.  Professional quilters win those amazing awards because they have been quilting for a long time and on many many quilts.  Even if you have been quilting for years, there’s always something new to learn.  New techniques come out every day.

Quilting inspiration is everywhere, but here at Machine Quilting Unlimited, we have lots of instruction and inspiration for you to increase your quilting skills.  Take a look at the latest issue or any of our back issues to spark your creativity to start practicing your quilting.

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