Improve Your Quilting Through Repetition

There's an old joke, from well before my time, that is still around because it's a classic. 

An elderly gentleman is walking down the street in New York City. 

A younger man steps up to him and asks, "Excuse me, sir, but how do I get to Carnegie Hall?"

To which the older man replies: "Practice, kid, practice."

I love this joke because not only is the misunderstanding funny, but the truth of the old man's wisdom resonates with me as someone who is always trying to improve my artistic skills.

Regardless of innate talent, very few of us can design and stitch the perfect quilt the first time out, or even the fifth time. It takes practice, whether you're free-motion stitching, choosing colors, color values, creating perspective, dyeing, and so on. 

It's no fun to just repeat the same stitch or color combination over and over, though. So when I need to practice, I like to work in a series. Then, even if each attempt isn't a perfect work of art, I still have a feeling of accomplishment–and I think I learn more, too.

I have a feeling many of you feel the same, because whenever we do a series of articles on a particular topic in Quilting Arts, readers respond enthusiastically.

That's certainly been the case with the six-part series Susan Brubaker Knapp's did on thread sketching last year. In each article, she examined a different aspect of the technique, and offered a pattern on the Quilting Arts website for readers to practice with.

If you missed any of Susan's articles, now is a good time to get them, as all back issues of Quilting Arts are on sale for a limited time.

Once you have Susan's expert advice in hand, you can grab the latest pattern off our website (the snowflake at left), make your way to the sewing machine, and practice, kid, practice!

P.S. What do you do to practice? Do you have any tips to share? Leave a comment below!

Other topics you may enjoy:


Machine Quilting, Quilting Daily Blog

3 thoughts on “Improve Your Quilting Through Repetition

  1. I keep a stack of small muslin and batting ‘sanwiches’ in a drawer of my sewing machine so that I can practice free motion stitching for about 10 minutes every day I sit down to sew. This has helped me improve both my control and rythym.


  2. You just have to quilt! don’t wait for retirement, or your sewing room to be finished, or the kids to be grown, just belly up to the sewing machine and do it and do it often! and for a long time every day! You’ll get better and better and better.

    Mary Ann

  3. I make potholders. It’s a very manageable size and has been the basis for practice of free motion quilting, crazy quilting, binding/mitering in a convenient useful format. Of course, everyone I know is getting overrun with potholders and surprised when I give them anthing else! I tried making quilt sandwiches with leftovers to practice on but those end up being part of the collection of what-will-I-ever-do-with-this. At least these leave the house.

    I have started making small zipper bags for ipods, laptop cords (laptop jackets oddly fit only the laptop/netbook but you need the cords, too). I am also planning to start making quilted pockets to add to kids clothes that will look like a clever embellishment (I hope). And pockets for purses? You may not feel like quilting a whole bag or (for example) making a whole selvage-quilt handbag/tote, but a pocket is very doable. Quilting being a frugal pursuit by nature, it’s got to be practical and not just a pile of quilted bits for someone to tut-tut over when I’m gone.