The Free Motion Quilting Project – Practice Place Mats

Here’s a break from the food posts for a craft post! This week, I made a goal for myself to work on improving my free motion quilting skills. It’s of course an on-going process, but one that I finally decided to tackle. I love hand piecing and hand quilting, but it’s led me to avoid learning free motion quilting for a while now. As much as I love quilting by hand, it’s a slow process. I really want to improve my FMQ skills so that I can finish up some projects quicker. It also just opens up a whole new world of design possibilities!Β After going to the Quilt Fest of NJ with my mom last week, I was really inspired by all the amazing free motion quilting. I hope I can be that good someday, but it will take a lot of practice!

A huge resource in this endeavor has been The Free Motion Quilting Project. The creator of this project, Leah Day, has posted hundreds of different free motion quilting designs. You can sort them in various ways, including by difficulty level. I’ve been tackling some of the beginner ones. My stitches are definitely a bit wobbly, but you have to start somewhere! While my FMQ still needs a lot of work, I can already see that I’m starting to improve and gain more control over my stitches.

To practice, I’ve been making place mats. I bought a couple of panel fabrics to use as centers. I pretty much never use panels, but I thought quilting around the images would be good practice. I’m using up bits of fat quarters that I won’t really use in other projects. These aren’t my favorite fabrics, but that also makes it much easier to practice on them. I’m not hung up on making mistakes or messing up the fabric or quilting, since I don’t really have a strong attachment to these.

The guild that I attend has a community service project through Meals on Wheels. They deliver place mats to their clients around the holidays to brighten their day. So not only am I getting tons of practice in, but these will go to a good cause as well, and I’m using up some of my fabric stash. It’s a win, win all around!

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10 thoughts on “The Free Motion Quilting Project – Practice Place Mats

  1. Love that idea! Our guild is doing the same project and I was struggling to figure something out. This is brilliant and I so need the FMQ practice!

    • It’s great practice! I’m keeping the piecing really simple, and just trying out all sorts of FMQ designs. You can just sew the layers together as an envelope and avoid the binding too. It’s much quicker!

    • Definitely! It’s much better than jumping right into a quilt and feeling stressed about getting it right. πŸ™‚ It’s fun to try out a bunch of different designs in the process.

    • I’m not sure how they set that up, but I would guess that your local Meals on Wheels would take place mats πŸ™‚ If not, there are lots of other outlets for charity quilts that are good for practicing new techniques!

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