Free-Motion Quilting Tips from Amanda Murphy

Posted by Deirdre Quirk on Jun 27th 2019

Amanda Murphy is the author of the incredibly popular Free-Motion Quilting Idea Book, and today we're sharing her tips on learning how to quilt! We're also offering a giveaway of an ebook copy of Free-Motion Quilting Idea Book; scroll to the bottom to find out more.

Students in classes often ask me how I learned to quilt and I respond, “I made a lot of bags.”Why bags? Well, people are generally so delighted to receive them that they won’t even notice the quality of the quilting. And the reality is that quilting takes practice. Having to rip out stitches can make the process miserable, so why not make something where quilting mistakes are less likely to be noticed? The summer I learned to quilt, I bought yardage in a variety of colorful fabrics and got started. I made ten bags that summer. I tried allover patterns like stippling, loops, and paisley shapes. I also took some of the more interesting fabrics and tried to isolate the motifs (and learned that following lines exactly wasn’t my strong suit in the process). Sure, the people who received the bags from the fabric quilted in August enjoyed better quilting than those quilted in June, but truth be told, I don’t think anyone noticed other than me!

Another approach is to practice on 10 ̋ squares of batting sandwiched between two squares of muslin, but keep in mind that any mistakes will show more on a solid, like a muslin, so if that is going to bother you, try using blenders or subtle prints instead. Remember, you are creating a texture, so try not to be overly concerned with individual lines of stitching!

Toddler or baby quilts are also excellent candidates for practicing quilting skills, because they will be loved in rough-and-tumble ways. Small projects are also great because they are easy to move through the machine and, if you don’t love how you quilt them the first time, you can make more! If you aren’t quilting an heirloom quilt top you will be much less likely to be nervous about making mistakes. Choose threads that blend in! Aurifil is my thread of choice and they have a wonderful array of colors to match any fabric. I also enjoy Kimono Silk by Superior Threads for an even finer look.

I have to confess, even now my mistakes have to be pretty egregious to warrant their removal. This doesn’t mean that I never take out my stitching, but those times are few and far between.

Oh, and here's the giveaway we mentioned! Enter our giveaway for an ebook copy of Free-Motion Quilting Idea Book HERE

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