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2 block styles to practice free motion

by Elaine Theriault

Hi there! Today, I’m going to provide you with the dimensions of 2 block styles to practice free motion. We aren’t going to actually put the blocks together this week. There’s a lot of cutting and quilting to do so we’ll leave the assembly until next time.

Thanks to the Husqvarna Viking Sapphire 930, the quilting part is going to be a breeze. I just love the fact that I don’t have to contend with skipped stitches and breaking threads. Remember to try out all the tips from earlier this week to get yourself organized.

Let’s have a look at what we need to assemble those blocks.

STOP the presses – before we proceed with the project today, I realized that I’ve forgotten a very important aspect of free motion quilting! I forgot to tell you how to get a consistent stitch length!

How to get consistent stitch length

This is the one area where everyone gets uptight. They’re afraid of their skills, they’re afraid of how inconsistent their stitches are and how bad the quilt looks.

Let’s back track to yesterday. Did you see my stitches? Did you see my wobbles? Did you see any errors that I made? NOPE – so if you follow the guidelines that I set out throughout the week, no one will see your learning curves either!

But here are some practice exercises to help develop a consistent stitch length. The first thing to remember is that your stitch length will NEVER be perfectly consistent. It just won’t. It’ll be close, but it won’t be perfect.

Test out the various speed levels of the Sapphire 930 so you find a speed that you can put the foot pedal to the floor and still feel that you’re in control. Try the middle speed to get started. You do NOT want to be using the slowest speed. That can mess up the tension.

TIP 1 Now that the speed is under control and all the other variables like needles, threads, etc., have been looked at – you only have to focus on ONE thing. How fast you move the fabric while you’re quilting. Yep – that’s it! One thing! It doesn’t get any easier than that.

TIP 2 Here’s another trick – don’t try doing all kinds of fancy twists and turns. Nope – just do straight lines. I’m very serious about that. ‘Straightish’ lines – back and forth, sideways, diagonal. This is an excellent way for you to get in some practice. Do it until you’re bored to death.

Is your stitch length getting better? It probably is and remember what I said at the beginning – it will never be perfect. Then turn around and do the same thing tomorrow until you’re bored to death. Do that for a couple of days and you’ll have a pretty darn consistent stitch length.

Now that you’ve practiced – you’re good to start stitching. If you don’t start somewhere, you will never advance.

The other way to practice the shapes of designs is by doodling on paper. Learn the mechanics of what you’re trying to stitch. Do you have to turn left or right to get out of that corner? Once you know that – the rest is easy.

So get those practice quilt blocks out and start stitching!!!!

How to stop and start your free motion quilting

This is very simple. Bring up your bobbin thread to the top. Then take a couple of very small stitches pretty much in place. You do want to move ever so slightly so the needle doesn’t cut your thread. Then start stitching. Repeat the process when you get to the end of your quilting.

Remember if you ask 100 quilters how to do free motion, you’ll get 100 different answers. The bottom line is that you have to learn how YOU do free motion. What I’ve offered this week is suggestions. You must experiment with them to find solutions that work for you! And remember – you can’t just read about it – you have to do it!!!!

Block Style Number 1

Feel free to modify the sizes of these blocks. They’re just suggestions.

There are two blocks – Block A has a 9 1/2″ large square of light and (4) 5″ squares of dark. I made a four patch out of the dark squares so that it measures 9 1/2″. I also cut a 9 1/2″ square of batting. Layer the three pieces. It doesn’t matter which way is up when you quilt, but because of my pattern, it was easier to quilt with the four patch up so I could center the design on the four patch.

When you quilt – choose a design that will leave 1″ on all sides. You must leave that much free in order to join the blocks together. Set them aside until we meet again.

Block B is the opposite – there is a 9 1/2″ square of dark and (4) 5 ” square of light. Made a four patch out of the light squares.

You can alter the size – use pre-cuts – whatever you please. I just wanted to have the value contrast between light and dark, but you can do what you want.

Three layers of the block are layered

Three layers of the block are layered

There are numerous ways to join the blocks, but we are going to join them with an “invisible” seam.

Two blocks are joined in this "quilt as you go" project

Two blocks are joined in this “quilt as you go” project

Oh shoot in case you’re wondering how the quilt will go together – that light block should be a light four patch. Got to fix that!

Block Style Number 2

I cut 7″ squares of flannel for the top and bottom of each block. Since I was using up scraps, in some instances, I pieced the pieces together in order to cut the 7″ squares. Perfect way to use up scraps.

You need a back and a front. Then you also need batting squares. The batting squares are cut 6″. So for each block you need (2) 7″ square of fabric and (1) 6″ square of batting.

The seams will be exposed on the front of the quilt in the raggy quilt style.

The quilt block is layered

The quilt block is layered

Center the batting square onto the wrong side of one of the 7″ squares. Lay the other square on top and quilt as desired!!!

The sky is the limit in fabric choices, piecing of the blocks. Both methods of assembly are pretty forgiving so you can get creative and do what you want with what you have. Essentially you want to practice on these blocks to improve your quilting skills.

The fabrics will alternate in the quilt

The fabrics will alternate in the quilt

I expect to hear that everyone is busy with their free motion quilting practice. Just remember it isn’t as hard as you think it is. And do not criticize your work. It will stink the first couple of times, but if you tell yourself that you’re not good – you will be no good.

I will leave you with this piece of advice – stop over thinking and just do!!

That wraps up another week with the Husqvarna Viking Sapphire 930. It has been so much fun – I hope you learned lots. I know that I did. The more I experiment, the more I learn. The more I practice, the better I become. Keep working on 2 block styles to practice free motion and that can work for you too! Have a great day! Ciao!

This is part 5 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 4:  2 styles of free motion quilting

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Lori Morton August 30, 2015 - 9:05 am

Thank you for this Tutorial!!! I have been such a chicken to do FMQ…specially on an actual quilt! lol Have several Potholders now tho! giggle… Your info here is sooo nice, sounds easy enough for this chicken! Thank you so much!! 🙂

Carla A. Canonico August 30, 2015 - 11:49 am

Thank you for your comment Lori! The trick is to practice on scraps, then when you’re comfortable, do in ‘good copy’! Also, if you’re going to do it on the actual quilt for the first time, call and it doesn’t quite come out the way you imagined, call it ‘artistic license’. There’s no such thing as creative mistakes. Have fun!


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