Have you tried machine quilting panels for practice? (+ giveaway!)

How are your free-motion machine-quilting skills coming along? If you need a little practice (don’t we all?), Pat Sloan has a smart little tip: practice your free-motion quilting on printed fabric panels.


A free-motion-quilted panel from
Pat Sloan’s Teach Me to Machine Quilt

Why practice on panels? In her book Pat Sloan’s Teach Me to Machine Quilt, Pat sings the praises of printed panels—the motifs are easy to follow, they’re small enough for a practice piece, and when you’re done, you have a cute little quilt to share. They make great baby quilts!

Here’s Pat’s five-step plan for improving your free-motion skills with panels, excerpted from Pat Sloan’s Teach Me to Machine Quilt (and there’s a lot more about machine quilting where that came from!).


  1. Pat SloanBaste five small quilts. Use a panel or 1½ yards of a baby fabric and add two borders: a narrow inner border and a wider outer one. This will give you quilt tops to practice on that don’t require a lot of time or work to assemble. Choose a panel or fabric that will keep your interest and give you motifs or designs to follow. Number your quilts 1 through 5.
  1. Over the next two weeks, quilt all five quilts, in order from 1 through 5. Make a promise to yourself to quilt every day, even if it’s for only 10 minutes. The repetition over the two weeks is very important.
  1. Write on a piece of paper the day you started to quilt each quilt, starting with quilt 1. When you finish it, record the date and pin the paper to quilt 1. Do the same for each of the five quilts. When you’ve finished the first one, start on the next one. Don’t stop to attach the binding until all five quilts are done.
  1. When quilt 5 is complete, get out all five quilts and compare your work. You’ll see a huge improvement from quilt 1 to quilt 5.
  1. Now, attach an easy binding on each quilt. Throw the quilts in the wash and then give them away! I’m serious. Do not keep them, because you’ll constantly compare what you did. Don’t dwell on where you started. You want that feeling of accomplishment, so you can move onto quilt 6!

Pat also made a quick video about machine-quilting on panels here:


Reading this post in email? Click here to view the video.

Sew smart! Feeling inspired? Well . . .

Pat and our pals at Moda Fabrics sent us five panels to play with—and we’d love to give all of them to one of you!

To win all five panels and a copy of Pat Sloan’s Teach Me to Machine Quilt, tell us in the comments:

How would you rate your machine-quilting skills?

  • Stellar! I’ve been practicing.
  • I’m practicing, but I sure could use some panels to practice more.
  • Still quilting by check. Help!

We’ll choose a random winner one week from today and let you know by email if you win. Good luck, and happy quilting!

Want even more machine-quilting tips from Pat? Pick up her book at our website today and instantly download the eBook for free. Take a look at all the projects you can make and machine quilt in Pat’s book!

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