Quilting the Quilt: Write this down…

July 21, 2015

longarm quilting, quilt the alphabet, longarm quilting practice, dawn cavanaugh

I LOVE quilt shows! As I stroll through the aisles, each quilt draws me in to tell its story. Before I machine quilted, my eyes focused on the patchwork design and the overall presence of each quilt. But once I owned a longarm, my focus changed and I notice the quilting stitches even before I see the quilt’s piecing or color.

When I’m working in the booth at quilt shows, quilters who have been inspired by the quilts they’ve seen stop by to try a longarm machine for themselves. They are excited about the possibility of quilting their own projects like those they’ve seen in the show. Yet, once they are at the machine, they suddenly become shy and ask, “What should I quilt?” With lots of throat space and perfect stitches at their fingertips, minds that are normally filled with creative quilting ideas immediately go blank. That’s when I suggest they try something that is so natural they can do it with their eyes closed—write their name!

The shyness melts away; they gleefully autograph the practice fabric, and then they relax and smile—it’s easier and even more fun than they imagined! Soon they’re doodling leaves, stars, or even simple loops and are having a great time.

Every letter in the English alphabet can be stitched as a continuous line in lower case format. Since these shapes have been ingrained in your brain since you were young, you’ll find instant success when you try quilting the letters. Grab some lined paper and practice your penmanship, just as you did as a child. Work your way through the alphabet, practicing only one letter at a time. Fill several lines with the letter “a”, connecting the letters together. Then move on to “b” and “c”, and fill your notebook with the rest of the alphabet.

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