Making a quilt for the car so I could practice machine quilting seemed like a form of procrastination. I have multiple bed-sized quilts that need to be finished, including my king-sized maple leaf quilt . Shouldn’t I just dive in and get sewing?

Nope. Despite being a proficient quilter in the past, I’ve had to re-learn machine quilting from the ground up.

It reminds me of returning to the gym after a long break. I always approach the lat pull thinking of the weight I last lifted. If I’ve been away for a while, then the chances are I won’t be able to lift the weight I did in the past. I need to start lighter and re-train my muscles and work my way back to the weight I remember.

The exact same thing is true with machine quilting. I’ve made dozens of quilts as well as attended multiple classes to improve my skills. Theoretically, I know how to quilt. But I’ve done almost no quilting in recent years. On top of reactivating the muscle memory that makes free-motion quilting possible, I’ve had to remember how to set up my machine, adjust the tension, and manipulate the fabric.

Unintentional folds stitched into the top… but it doesn’t matter.

The beauty of the car quilt is that it’s all about practice. I don’t care about the wobbly lines and puckers made permanent by my quilting. Visible mistakes that I would normally make myself fix are not a problem. I just keep moving forward, and re-learning how this whole process works without worrying about how the finished product looks.

Some of my way lines are more jittery. Don’t care.

Thanks to all this machine time, I will be more confident working on my “fancy” bed quilts. As an added bonus, I will actually have something, however imperfect, to show for all that practice.

What things do you have to re-learn after a long break?

4 thoughts on “Imperfect Practice”

  1. Oh, so many things! There is a quilt I want to make as a thank you gift, but getting started is hard. Think your idea of a practice quilt is a great idea!! Thanks!

    1. It was really freeing to make an “ugly” quilt that didn’t have to be perfect. Now I’m feeling more willing to do something fancier, and guessing that I will be more forgiving of the mistakes I make.

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