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Ready for a Sleigh Ride?

Well, maybe it’s too cold for a sleigh ride, but you can warm up your quilting muscles and practice your Free Motion Quilting (FMQ) on a fabric panel. When you are first learning how to FMQ, fabric panels are a great way to practice.



This sleigh ride panel is a perfect example of being able to practice different FMQ techniques, like: outline, filler and detailed quilting.


In this technique, you'll learn the muscle memory of outlining your shapes with quilting. I quilted around the sleigh, horse and people. Notice how those elements will stand out when they are outlined and the space around them is quilted with a filler.


This panel also gives plenty of wide-open space in the sky, trees and snowbanks. These areas allow plenty of space to practice background fillers. Some examples of fillers that I used in this panel are:

  • Stippling in the trees.

  • Clouds in the sky.

  • Swirls of snow on the roof.

  • Meandering snowflakes along the border and the snowbanks.

  • I followed the marks in the road with straighter stiches to make the road stand out from the surrounding snow.


Detailed FMQ like the bricks and windows on the building is worth doing. It took time for me to quilt the details, but just look at how it helped the bricks to pop. The detailed quilting enhanced the building by giving each brick dimension.

Panels like this sleigh ride will give you plenty of FMQ practice with your machine. The best thing I can tell you, is just get in there and do it! Practice, practice, practice.

A note to beginners: We all judge every stitch that we sew, it’s hard not to, the stitches are 18 inches from your face. But unless you’re making a show quilt, then the final judgement of your work should be the 20 mph view. This is how it works. You hang your quilt on your porch, front door or fence, etc. Then get in your car and drive past your house at 20 mph. If you can see the mistake while driving past it at 20 mph, then by all means, take it out and re-quilt it. Can’t see the mistake from the road, then it’s perfect just the way it is!!!

Happy quilting!

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