I spent 6 hours with some amazing ladies in Fountain Inn, SC this week. We worked our way through my Improve Your Practice: Free-Motion Quilting class, and I have to say, they blew my mind. This was a great group of ladies, eager to pay attention and soak up everything I had to say. By the end of the class, we were laying their first quilt sandwiches next to their final sandwiches and the improvements were drastic! Why such a change?

I was telling my mom about the class.

“What made them so successful?” she asked.

“Well, first, because they listened to me. We worked on one thing at a time until they felt more comfortable with that thing. And, I find that I can look at their quilting and tell them what they are doing wrong…then give them that one pointer to correct it. Breaking it down into small movements or concepts advanced their skills quickly. It made me really proud of them.”

My mom was quiet for a bit.

Then a little while later, this image popped up in my text feed. “What’s wrong with my quilting? – Help!”

This was how the class went. I would visit around the room after some instruction and review their quilting. Some of them were struggling with speed. Speed is super important to learn how to control. You need mostly your ears to hear the machine and you need to be able to FEEL the pace with your foot and hands working TOGETHER.

“Try taking your shoe off,” I suggested again and again…often followed by skeptical looks. But they tried it! Makes a teacher proud.

On my next pass around the room, their speed would be more under control. “The shoe thing worked!!!” They would share with smiles on their faces.

I wanted to share this image from my mom with you as well, because a large number of my students struggle with one of the same things that she struggled with…

See the small areas I have circled?

This is where my mom (love ya mom) was lifting her hands to reposition before her machine had stopped. It is perfectly fine to reposition your hands while the machine is going, but as a beginner, I fully recommend bringing the machine to a stop – and THEN reposition your hands. I also recommend, if at all possible, not to reposition in a key curve (like the loop)…often it is difficult to begin again.

There are some other things going on here in this quilting as well.

Some of the lines don’t feel as fluid as others. Instead of a smooth curve the curve looks “sorta wobbly or jagged.” That often comes from not moving your hands in time with each other. Try thinking about your hands in “tandem” with each other. One hand can’t (shouldn’t) move without an equal response from the other hand. Like a dance…If your hands are fighting to take the lead or one decides to “sit a beat or two out,” then the quilting will look a little jagged. It creates “slack” in the quilt sandwich and that slack can get caught under the machine. It can lead to subtle or drastic wobbliness.


  1. Let your needle/machine come to a complete stop before repositioning your hands – at least until you get more comfortable with the motions.
  2. Imagine your hands are strapped together and they need to be responding to each other.


If you would benefit from a one-on-one session with Mitzie to evaluate your quilting and receive tips to improve and grow click here to learn more.

You’ll also find more information to improve your quilting practice in my book. Check it out here.

Thanks for stopping by!



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