totally not quilting
January 4, 2013
finding the time
January 6, 2013
Show all

free motion quilting project

Hello again. Mary Ellen back.

When talking with quilters at the demos and classes I present, the topic of free motion quilting often comes up. I consider myself proficient at FMQ but certainly not an expert. As I tell those who ask, the concept of free motion quilting is very simple but the practice of it is not. There is a long learning curve for most of us, requiring lots of time spent stitching to build muscle memory. I have never met a quilter who mastered FMQ right away.

One of the websites I visit frequently, when in FMQ mode, is the one maintained by Leah Day. Lots of ideas for designs, well explained. Her blog gives guidance and encouragement. I’m sure many of you have visited her at one time or another,  if FMQ is a goal of yours.

This year Leah will be approaching FMQ from a different tack. She has increased her goal of design ideas to 1000! But she honestly says that will not be reached this year-it is a several year goal. She has another goal for this year, to work on many of the techniques she has been meaning to try, but hasn’t gotten around to. Sound familiar? Lots of us set a goal like that for ourselves.

I plan to follow Leah’s project this year, with the hope that it will motivate me to do likewise. To try, in greater detail, some techniques that I have been intrigued by but haven’t done more than just give a whirl, or perhaps bought the “stuff” but haven’t touched it since.

Here’s a link to the video where Leah explains this year’s goal and her posting format and schedule.

This is the link to Leah’s blog. I will warn you. Leah is a bit “new age”. I don’t mean that in a negative way at all; she is very introspective and shares her feelings. Not everyone is comfortable with that. If you want to skip all the “touchy feely” at her blog and just get right to the quilting, that is easily done.

My final word: if you are working your way along the free motion learning curve, you will want to hear Leah’s advice, watch her techniques, and as the adage goes “PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!”


  1. Loretta says:

    I tried fmq several times on my domestic machine and found it to be very difficult and painful (a pain in the neck and shoulders literally). That is why longarm quilting has been the way to go for me. Having said that, I truly admire those who have mastered that method. I do think that our brains work differently, so that makes a difference, too.

    Since I have longarm quilted for over 6 years now, I think I could manage on my domestic machine if the piece isn’t too big, but, it is so much easier and faster for me to longarm (besides I have the right equipment, too.)

    My advice to either type quilter is to get a drawing pad (doesn’t have to be expensive), and no. 2 pencils and soft eraser, and just go to work. I do not consider myself to be good at drawing, but I have even improved in that area since drawing quilt designs so much in the last few years. The more you practice on paper the easier it is to “draw” on fabric. You don’t have to concentrate so much on design, but can concentrate on keeping your shoulders down and relaxing more.

    I say, “Go for it.” But, have fun, and enjoy the sense of accomplishment when all is said and done.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *