Big-Girl Panties

Yep, you read that right.  My mom, along with telling me to with straight-line quilting also told me to put on my big-girl panties, suck it up, and learn.  She’s always been one to push me to try, and I’ve always liked safety nets.  But, I have to say, she’s always right.  Like mothers are.  So anyway, I’ve taken two free-motion quilting lessons.  With my instructor Kay I said, “But do I have to do it with the FMQ foot? Can’t I use the walking foot for that?” and she said, “Ashley, I want you to be a quilting goddess, let’s go.”

Alright, then.

Kay also told me after I practiced with her for 3 hours that it takes about 60 hours to be mediocre at FMQ.  Oh, alrighty then.  So, this weekend I set out to practice.  I bought a ton of sale fabric and batting at Wal-Mart for 1.50 a yard.  Basically I searched a FMQ image, tried to replicate it, and then moved on to another one.  This is great for my Quilting ADD, but I know I need to pick one and really practice it.  I will.  But this was all about fun and seeing what I could do.

Oh, and don’t forget to drop the feed dogs.

Because I did on the first one.



Um, you love the flower.  I know.

Then my husband tried to act unimpressed and said I couldn’t write his name.


Say I won’t, I will.


Then I wanted to practice the design I want to try on this quilt:


I need a lot more practice before I do it on a full-sized quilt, but I love it!

Then I tried to channel my inner Renee.


Let’s just say, I’m no Renee.

Then I tried the Dogwood.  I LOVE this.


Definitely check out this tutorial!

Which leads me to this: help a sister out.  What tutorials do you use?  How did you improve with FMQing? I would appreciate any advice!  I had so much fun trying these designs, but I wouldn’t put any on a quilt yet.  Well, except for that flower.  I love that flower.


23 thoughts on “Big-Girl Panties

  1. The flower is awesome! Keep it up. I’m so impressed. The furthest away from straight line quilting I’ve gotten is echo quilting. Still technically straight lines. 🙂

  2. I’ve been watching a lot of Leah Day’s tutorials and checking out her designs for FMQ. She makes it look so easy!

    And I really do love your flower!

  3. A get going hint: do some quilts for charities with thread that blends in. This way you get lots of practice, less stress and most people don’t mind/notice a few bumps here and there.

  4. Oh and … it seems like everyone has a basic shape they prefer – a bit like the golf club you learn on is the one to go back to when you are having a bad day – so keep trying different shapes til you find a favorite and then put it everywhere. You try some of the FMQ links on my (Bert Collections) Free Motion Quilting board along the way too.

  5. OK, Girlie. Let me just tell you…I am getting ready to start practicing FMQ this week (I’m waiting on the foot to arrive from Amazon). If I do as well as you’ve done so quickly, I might just have to break out the tequila shots and do a happy dance. You got this.

  6. You are doing great! My FMQ has bee mostly hit or miss. I just kind of go for it. I have Angela Waters book and tend to just google videos for patterns I want to try.

  7. Looks great!! I have just started this year and bought sheets at the thrift store for $2. I made several mini quilts and just practiced. I found picking 1 design to master at a time works for me. And I started just quilting small sections on a quilt vs. the whole top. (too overwhelming!) Like just the borders. Now I feel I can FMQ loopdy-doos pretty good over the whole top–for a beginner 🙂 I’m ready to move on to stippling!!

  8. Looks fab. I wish my attempts were half as good. I’ve not managed to master an even stitch length yet never mind attempting a design. I can defintiely see some classes in my future.

  9. I bought the Angela Walters book, but I actually find that there’s a 2 or 4 page section of Elizabeth Hartman’s Modern Patchwork that I find much more helpful for FMQ. It’s short. I’m more likely to actually read short.

    I really like wonky squares a la Elizabeth Hartman. To me, they are easier than curves, because I am a type-a jerk-things-around-too-fast person. I’ve done two quilts with it and I’m a FMQ dope and I think those two quilts look fabulous.

    You don’t need all that much help anyway. Your samples look fantastic! Just think how good they’d look if you washed them.

    I’ll stop in a minute, because I’m a total spaz, but I a) love your post over at MS today, and b) love your note, and when it came, Nate was like, “who is this,” and I was like, oh it’s ASHLEY YOU KNOW ASHLEY. Truly, you quilt people are the best. 🙂

  10. Dang, girl!! Day 1 of FMQ and you’re whipping out words and flowers and feathers and paisleys?! Yeah, there is a quilting GODDESS inside of you, seriously starting to break out. Honored you were trying to channel your inner me, haha. Leah Day has been a HUGE inspiration to me, and she has hundreds of designs, with videos! I choose something, practice a few times, and then go for it. I think your chevron lines are already quilt worthy–and nothing gets you proficient at a design like doing all over a quilt! Ivory Springs is an inspiration too, she does amazing things with her domestic machine! Lots of info on FMQ. I pretty much think you’re doing all the right things to get better at FMQ–diving in, experimenting, finding tutorials and new patterns to challenge yourself, and not giving up! Too many are intimidated to the point they never try, or never do anything beyond stippling. I’ve never heard the 60 hours thing–I can’t even imagine how many hours I’ve spent FMQ! I know that the larger quilts take me 10-20 hours each, depending on the design(s)…and some of the small quilts take at least that much time too! So I’m happy to say I am past mediocrity! 😉 I am quite confident that you will surpass that point well before 60 hours!

  11. I want an instructor who pushes me to become a quilting goddess 🙂 I definitely chuckled aloud while journeying through you commentary on your designs. Keep up the experiments; they are so fun to see. Carry on with those flowers 🙂

  12. Ashley, your FMQ look fantastic! I love that flower, and you KNOW your husband was totally impressed that you FMQ’d his name! You are rocking this! by the way, I like Leah Day’s tutorials. And I baste up some little quilt sandwiches (about a FQ size) and practice that way.

    Happy FMQ’ing!

    🙂 Kelly

  13. Oh my gosh, GO YOU!! I have got to get over my fear of FMQing! That flower is amazing, and even your writing looked fab!
    Beautiful work. 😀

  14. I think you are off to a great start! The flower is superb. I am trying to become a mediocre long arm quilter, it is so much harder than I thought. I am a teacher too, so come check out my blog. Bummed that summer is over, it is really going to cut into my quilting time!

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