machine quilting, quilting, Teri Lucas, tutorials

What do I do with all my practice pieces?

Aurifi LinoEach blog I write gets posted on facebook through Networked blogs allowing the simplicity of posting. Sometimes quilters post comments here on the blog and sometimes on facebook. Every once in a while a quilter will comment and I know a wider response is needed and this is one of those days.
SI: I so appreciate your encouragement in regards to fmq. I too enjoy this process greatly but I struggle with what to do with the practice pieces. The utilitarian side of me wonders how to make this useful. What do you do? How do you reconcile using fabric and batting for practice? I too have a STRONG desire to create…going to follow your lead and just do it, and leave the result/purpose to the Lord. Thanks for the idea..what do you do with your pieces?

NOTE: I will be doing a blog post on how to end free motion stitching soon. I just need about 30 to 40 minutes with aef so I can take pictures of the process.

example of awful machine quilting
actually i did this on purpose for an article in Quilting Arts Magazine
It was a challenge to do this

These are great questions and deserving of some good answers. When I first started machine quilting I made totes of varying sizes. Wanting designs of my own I used the various rulers to cut the shapes of the pieces and when I make totes now I follow the same process. I still have one that gets shows in class as an example of  how awful I was when I started learning how to machine quilt. I was awful, awful.
Did I mention it was awful?

Practice pieces have multiple purposes.

quilt demo 2 colorPractice pieces are usually fat quarter size with pieced batting and the good thread. These often start life as a way to see how thread, fabric, and batting will work together. And truthfully as a practice piece sometimes the quilting is just not all that good. I’m okay with that as I’m trying to figure out what will work and what won’t or how to stitch out a new motif.
As I got more and more comfortable with machine quilting and really started developing an understanding of how to change tension, pair needles and thread the practice pieces became class samples. I have a few of these.  I realized two weeks ago that I lost somewhere along the way. Gina Perkes demonstrated this curve technique on The Quilt show and I had fun showing my guild members how to do this and a few variations on that theme. I’ll tell you what – I see a huge difference in my quilting from then (2010) til now.

Sometimes the practice pieces just sit in my sewing room with no purpose or intention other than being a practice piece. And please, please do not freak out. Sometimes they go bye-bye. I only have so much space in my quilt room and go they must.  I recently added binding to one piece because it was quite large, and as soon as I see Victoria Findlay Wolfe it will be given to a charity she supports in a neighborhood in the Bronx where I worked for nearly 15 years.
I can see the possibility of making quilt as you go quilts. Goodness knows I have enough bias binding. But there is no will. I had thought of making a book with samples showing thread weight/brand/type, needles used, tension setting, if there was a particular fabric line and I may still do that. Maybe. We’ll just have to see.
The practice piece at the top will eventually wend it’s way to Aurifil when I get it bound as a Thank You to Alex Veronelli for sending me the Lino (linen) thread to test.

Happy Quilting!


11 thoughts on “What do I do with all my practice pieces?”

  1. I was at a gallery recently , a one woman exhibition of “Art” quilts. On a table at the front was a table filled with journal covers and evening bags (purses) made from her quilting samples… Fabric dying, quilting and ebroidery thread work. They were fabulous, reasonably priced . I wished i could be as disciplined enough to pracice with intent to use my practice pieces.

  2. My practice pieces stack up, too. I have made them into a variety of objects….most recently, microwave bowl holders/hot pads. But, these samples do get created faster than I can find a use. I have cut them into placemat sized pieces, serged the edges and use them at our camper, where they get a bit abused, but that’s ok cuz then I just toss them. The idea of totes, etc, is a good one but by the time I get finished/fill up a sample sandwich it is oversewn so much that tossing it is the only solution!!!! Your early stitch sample has a twin in my stack of class samples!!! LOL! It’s how we learn and share with others the process. Hugs…………………….

  3. I know of several people who take their practice pieces and give them to animal shelters to use as bedding. If they are large that can be cut smaller and the fat quarter pieces you discussed are just about the right size for cats.

  4. Thank you Teri! I didn’t expect such a quick response! As I have been thinking about this, I’m thinking about keeping to the size of a fat quarter, and perhaps leaving an inch space around the outer edge in case I do want to incorporate it into something more. Perhaps making a comfort quilt of sorts…I find that if I focus on the utilitarian use, I can’t focus on learning the techniques! So I somehow just have to learn that its okay to just practice and learn….

  5. My practice pieces are somewhat larger. I had my vet give me the dimensions of the cages that her animals stay in. When I’m finished with my practice/doodling, I cut the practice piece into cage-liner sizes, bind them and give them to my vet.

  6. I have signed up for an FMQ on line class and some people are donating their samples to animal rescue leagues. Other are putting them together and donating to charity quilts. It’s just a thought.

  7. I saw a tv program yesterday that dealt with this…making a ‘book’ out of practice pieces for future reference for the quilter in helping them to determine what pattern they may want to use for a future project. A tutorial for this book is online, however, I am unsure if I am allowed to put a link on here, so if someone could let me know, if I can post a link I will post a link to making this ‘book.’ Thanks

      1. Thanks Teri…

        This is a link to a a download. I haven’t actually started fmq yet, but I was delighted to see this idea that Candy Glendening had for her samples. This was shown on show #1306-1 if someone wants to look it up and watch her make it. Thanks…love reading your blog. Thanks

  8. I just trim the edges and zigzag round then these are the pieces I pass round a class so people can feel and get up close and personal with the work.

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