Small, consistent steps over time can make a huge difference!

Want to improve your piecing, free motion quilting or other quilty skill? Keep a project ready and practice for 15-20 minutes per day.

Want to learn applique? Commit to learning one applique method a week – fusible/raw edge, needle turn, Lori Holt, prepared edge, invisible machine, etc. In about a month, you’ll know which method you prefer. Try both hand and machine methods. Experiment with different machine stitches for your applique – straight stitch, zigzag, blanket, pin stitch, satin stitch. Which look do you like best?

Want to improve your free motion skills? Use leftover layer cake pieces (ugly fabric also works well for this!) and batting scraps to create a stack of 10″ x 10″ quilt sandwiches that you can use for practice. Spray baste those sandwiches and stack them by the machine you use for quilting. Practice a FMQ stitch on at least 2 sandwiches every day. 25 Days to Better Machine Quilting by Lori Kennedy is a great resource. I found this at my local public library and liked it so much I bought a digital copy from Amazon that I can reference on my iPad. Here’s a link to 365 free motion designs from Leah Day to provide inspiration for your FMQ practice. Also be sure to check out YouTube videos from Angela Walters.

Want to improve your piecing skills with HSTs and FG? Find a quilt block that has lots of them and spend 15-20 minutes a day piecing blocks. HSTs: Carpenter’s Star block (video) Flying Geese: Dutchman’s Puzzle block (video) You can also try different methods for making HSTs and FG. There are numerous tutorials available online. If I am making tons of HSTs and FG, I prefer to cut the patches using my Sizzix Big Shot Plus machine and the appropriate dies. If I can’t access my die-cut machine, then it’s 8 at a time HSTs and no waste (4 at a time) Flying Geese for me when I need to make numerous HSTs and FG from the same fabrics. I sew patches together using a stitch length of 2.0 and my needle position one click to the right of center needle position. When sewing blocks together, I often move the needle one additional click to the right (W= 3.5 for 5mm wide and 4.5 for 7mm wide machines) and place the side with the most match points on top for easier viewing while sewing.

The takeaway here is to practice the skill you want to master. Teachers stress 20 minutes a day of reading as one of the best ways to improve reading skills. This also applies to quilting, sewing, embroidery, cross-stitch, knitting, crochet – basically any other craft out there.

Given our current heat wave, I can think of nothing better than to schedule some Crafternoon time in your nice, air-conditioned sewing space.

Keep sewing and stay cool!

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