Today’s Topic: FMQ-Quilting Exercises for Better FMQ
Welcome to Lesson 7 of our 2021 Quilt-a-Long, Even Better Machine Quilting
This FREE multi-week tutorial is based on my books available in my Etsy shop: LoriKennedyShop
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Good Morning, Quilters!
Earlier this week, we reviewed the Best Stitch Length for FMQ (and longarm quilting). The best stitch length is subjective and variable with the overall goal of being even. (Read The Best Stitch Length).
The week before, we discussed the importance of balanced tension for a quilting stitch.
The BEST looking quilting stitch is a combination of the proper stitch tension and a pleasing stitch length.
Proper Stitch Tension + Pleasing Stitch Length = Best Quilting Stitch.
Creating the Best Quilting Stitch
In order to achieve the Best Quilting Stitch, we must make our sewing machine do its job, then train ourselves to create even stitches.
It takes a lot of practice to create even stitches, but take heart–that’s only one small part of the equation. Even if it takes months before you achieve even stitch length, your quilts will look beautiful throughout the process as long as your stitch is balanced.
I’ve developed a few “Quilting Exercises” that help quilters find their best stitch!
Exercise One- (To the Tune of the Electric Slide)–The Quilting Slide
Create a quick quilt sandwich and thread your sewing machine with your favorite thread.
Place the quilt in position, but do not bring up the bobbin thread or lower the presser foot.
Turn on your music…
- Glide the quilt away from you.
- Glide the quilt toward you.
Relax your shoulders and sit up tall.
- Glide the quilt away. Glide the quilt toward you.
- Now to the beat-half glides-away, away, toward toward. Away, away, toward, toward.
Roll your shoulders…beat…beat…
- Glide the quilt to the left and back to center.
- To the right and back to center.
Now here comes the tricky, Boot Scoot Boogie….
- Keep YOUR fingers facing away from you
- and circle right (clockwise)
Check YOUR hand position,
Boot Scoot boogie to the left (Counter-clockwise)
Lessons from the Quilt Glide Exercise
Okay, okay–that was a lot of typing…but I hope to make a few points:
Your hand position does not change no matter what direction you move your quilt. (See Hand Position)
Quilting should be rhythmic and relaxed. (Music helps many quilters)
Watch your shoulders. If you notice your shoulders are hunched–you are too tense. Take a break!
Quilting should be fun!
Quilt Exercise Two-Fast, Slow
This is one of my favorite warm up exercises. When I’m feeling rusty this works for me.
Prepare a quick quilt sandwich and thread the machine for quilting with your favorite top and bobbin thread.
Bring up the bobbin thread and tie off somewhere near the middle of the quilt sandwich.
You may stitch any simple motif like wavy lines or messy circles, and change motifs at any time.
This exercise is similar to HIIT (high intensity interval training.) You will stitch fast and slow in intervals.
- One minute–stitch at your normal speed
- One minute-Stitch as slow as you possibly can
- One minute-Stitch as fast as you can. Don’t worry about your motifs–your machine should be loud!
- 30 Seconds-Stitch as slow as you can.
- 30 seconds-Stitch as fast as possible.
- One Minute–Stitch at any comfortable speed.
- Rehydrate with
Lessons from the Fast-Slow Quilting
SPOILER ALERT–It is best to try the test before reading this next section…
Most people find they like my version of HIIT way better than their trainer’s torture.
Most quilters find that it is easier to stitch fast than slow (though extremes are difficult).
They also realize they are probably stitching too slow.
After completing this exercise, most quilters have a new “normal” speed.
Some people tell me moderate amounts of wine help them quilt better–results may vary—and I’m not advocating or prescribing….
Perhaps a double-blind study is in order–
Well maybe not double-blind…(I was half blind for several weeks and my quilting did NOT improve–with or without Chardonnay.
What about YOU?
Do YOU listen to music when you quilt?
What are YOUR favorite upbeat songs?
Do you ever notice hunched shoulders when you quilt?
How long do you quilt at one sitting?
We’d LOVE to hear!
PS…All tutorials, images and information are the property of Lori Kennedy Quilts and are intended for personal use only. Feel free to re-blog, pin or share with attribution to LKQ. For all other purposes, please contact me at Lori@LoriKennedyQuilts.com. Thank you!
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