Thursday, March 6, 2014

Practice Makes Better

I am practicing free motion quilting. I'm putting in multiple short sessions each day. I was trying designs that were beyond my skills and getting frustrated. I went backwards down the skill ladder to the basics. Instead of trying to put together sets of small squiggles to create leaves, I just worked on squiggles in different sizes and directions.

The tutorial blogs are not useful for an absolute beginner.  They assume a pre-existing skill set. The ease of each design is not correctly rated as a result of this assumption. There are some things that are difficult, like restitching on top of an already stitched line or precise angular changes of direction. Some designs are easier when larger, some are easier when smaller. All designs are easier with guide lines chalked on the surface fabric.

Today, I was practicing spirals. First, I practiced drawing them on paper. Then I drew them on my fabric and stitched over my guide lines. The most difficult part is changing directions smoothly from spiraling inwards to spiraling out. When I got it right, it felt easier than it was when I got it wrong. The positive reward for success was a reinforcement. After many failures, the frequency of success increased quickly.

Do I find it embarrassing that I have had to drop to such simple designs? Nope. I understand that if I can't do these, I won't be able to ever do a more complex design. Mastering the building blocks first will create a skill set that will allow me to manage the more difficult patterns later. The simple designs, well executed, will be effective on a quilt. They are certain to look better than a more complex design poorly executed. 

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