Have you tried machine quilting panels for practice? - Constantine Quilts

Have you tried machine quilting panels for practice?

How are your free-motion machine-quilting skills coming along? If you need a little practice (don’t we all?), Pat Sloan has a smart little tip: practice your free-motion quilting on printed fabric panels.

A free-motion-quilted panel from Pat Sloan’s Teach Me to Machine Quilt

Why practice on panels? In her book Pat Sloan’s Teach Me to Machine Quilt, Pat sings the praises of printed panels—the motifs are easy to follow, they’re small enough for a practice piece, and when you’re done, you have a cute little quilt to share. They make great baby quilts!

Here’s Pat’s five-step plan for improving your free-motion skills with panels, excerpted from Pat Sloan’s Teach Me to Machine Quilt (and there’s a lot more about machine quilting where that came from!).

Pat Sloan

  1. Baste five small quilts. Use a panel or 1½ yards of a baby fabric and add two borders: a narrow inner border and a wider outer one. This will give you quilt tops to practice on that don’t require a lot of time or work to assemble. Choose a panel or fabric that will keep your interest and give you motifs or designs to follow. Number your quilts 1 through 5.
  1. Over the next two weeks, quilt all five quilts, in order from 1 through 5. Make a promise to yourself to quilt every day, even if it’s for only 10 minutes. The repetition over the two weeks is very important.
  1. Write on a piece of paper the day you started to quilt each quilt, starting with quilt 1. When you finish it, record the date and pin the paper to quilt 1. Do the same for each of the five quilts. When you’ve finished the first one, start on the next one. Don’t stop to attach the binding until all five quilts are done.
  1. When quilt 5 is complete, get out all five quilts and compare your work. You’ll see a huge improvement from quilt 1 to quilt 5.
  1. Now, attach an easy binding on each quilt. Throw the quilts in the wash and then give them away! I’m serious. Do not keep them, because you’ll constantly compare what you did. Don’t dwell on where you started. You want that feeling of accomplishment, so you can move onto quilt 6!

Pat also made a quick video about machine-quilting on panels here:

Sew smart! Feeling inspired? Well . . . I have 2 panels to give away for you to practise on!

To win two Christmas panels tell us in the comments:

How would you rate your machine-quilting skills?

  • Stellar! I’ve been practicing.
  • I’m practicing, but I sure could use some panels to practice more.
  • Still quilting by cheque. Help!

We’ll choose a random winner one week from today and let you know by email if you win. Good luck, and happy quilting!

Want even more machine-quilting tips from Pat? Pick up her book at our website today. Take a look at all the projects you can make and machine quilt in Pat’s book!

Until next time…


19 thoughts on “Have you tried machine quilting panels for practice?

  1. Kate McKenzie says:

    This is a great read. It’s made me aware of my threefold anxieties- 1, terrified to start quilting after putting months ( sometimes years) into the piecing; 2, terrified of the actual computerised sewing machine and 3, really scared that I’m just plain incompetent, especially when I go to quilting shows and look in quilting mags. I am now inspired to give it a go on the panels – thank you so much,

  2. Barbara Evans says:

    I have had a go at machine quilting …most times stitch in the ditch but need more practise so a panel to practise on would be great ….I enjoyed reading this article

  3. Cheryl F says:

    My machine quilting is a work in progress, its always a struggle quilting the bed quilts, the pre printed panels are an awesome idea to gain confidence. And ….just in time for Christmas !!!

  4. Denise Amey says:

    I have been quilting for about 12 years, and am still shocking!!! Trouble is I don’t practice enough I always feel that what I make should be practical, ergo perfect!!!!

  5. Jo Culbertson says:

    I am trying to practice my quilting skills everyday. Using panels is a great idea as they are all so very different and its also a smaller item so you have the “I’ve finished it” sence of achievement alot quicker!!

  6. Jenny sawyer says:

    The first fmq I did on my new sweet 16 were baby panels. With each one I gained more confidence and Babies are not quilt police. They can also be enhanced with couching which gives a different dimension. Love panels!!

  7. Gail Bartlett says:

    I am practicing, more lately but need more for sure. Stippling is my go to but would like to try the baby panels. Thanks for the chance ladies and have a wonderful day. I have a couple of cherubs that will love a quilt.!!

  8. Jo says:

    Your tip for 5 quilts and just do it – even for 10 minutes – awesome!! Yes I am still quilting by cheque!! Have one on the machine and need to commit to a bit each day. Thank you

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