If you are new quilter like me, the best thing that you can do to master the art of quilting is to practice, practice, practice. Today, I want to share a great way to practice longarm quilting or quilting on a domestic machine using a practice fabric quilt panel.

Finished practice fabric quilt panel
stock images for social media

In my studio, I sew on a King Quilter II Elite that I purchased from Sewingmachinesplus.com. I absolutely love it but I have been meaning to get some practice fabric panels for a while because the best thing to hone your skill is to practice.

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A practice quilting fabric panel is a great way to practice longarm quilting!!

Opening the Box

When I received an email from the Grace Frame company asking if I would like to test a new practice fabric panel, I immediately said yes.

The package was delivered in about a week and I made an unboxing video on YouTube. I couldn’t believe everything they sent me! I was super excited!!

Box of goodies from the Grace Frame company to test out
Practice panel Box

In the box was the practice panel, batting, backing fabric, 2 cones of thread, 2 rulers, some True Grips that hold the ruler still while cutting and an actual 60 mm rotary cutter!! So much fun stuff that I can’t wait to try!

Loading the Quilt

The first thing that I did when I received the package was load the quilt onto the longarm. At this point, I pinned the backing to the longarm frame and rolled it so it was nice and tight to the frame.

I received thorough instructions in the box to help with loading the quilt but I like to “float” the quilt so I did it the way that I normally load a quilt to the frame.

Practice fabric quilt panel was loaded onto the longarm and ready to go
Quilt Loaded onto longarm

As you can see, I made sure that every thing was fully rolled up and tight with no wrinkles. The instructions say to give it a penny test to test the fabric tension.

To test the fabric tension, drop a penny onto the fabric from about six inches away. If the penny bounces and fully lifts off of the fabric, the tension is too tight. If the penny only partially bounces and doesn’t lift fully from the fabric, the tension is good.

A penny was used to test the tension of the fabric.
Penny test

I thought that was a good tip that I’ve never done before.

Next, I marked the “zone” by pushing my machine all the way to the front as far as it can go before the machine hits anything. I moved the machine along the front rail and marked the path that the needle can take with masking tape.

This way, I won’t get any weird flat designs because it hit the edge of my quilt. I’ll know where to stop quilting and roll to the next zone.

The quilting was complete on the first zone of the practice fabric quilt panel.
First zone

Quilting with the Practice Quilting Fabric Panel

After loading my practice quilt and making sure that my fabric tension is good, I started quilting. For me, a practice quilt is a very good thing to start with because I have a hard time with my bobbin and top thread tension. It takes a bit of troubleshooting to get it right.

For instance, I started sewing and my thread kept breaking. I tried re-threading the needle, loosening my tension and even putting a new needle in the machine and I couldn’t get it to stop breaking.

I called my husband who was a sewing machine mechanic for years and he helped me by taking out the bobbin and putting it back in the machine. For some reason, it was catching on the bobbin case so that fixed it!

After quilting a few times, the tension was much better and I was able to enjoy the process.

The practice fabric quilt panel has blocks on it that has pre-printed designs to follow which was so helpful. It consisted of squares with the pre-printed designs, circles and triangles. It even had “sashing” between the squares to practice whatever you wanted.

At first, I followed the designs, then I decided to just have fun and do whatever designs that I can think of. I don’t have a computerized system (maybe one day) so I free motioned the designs based on what I have done in the past.

The book, 180 Doodle Quilting Designs: Free-Motion Ideas for Blocks, Borders, and Beyond, helped me pick out some designs that I wanted to practice on and I loved how the panel turned out!!

I did make one error on the panel. For some reason, I didn’t turn the backing the way that it was supposed to be so I ended up quilting the length of the panel onto the width of the backing fabric. Of course, I got to the end and I ran out of backing!! Oh well, at least it was a practice quilt.

The practice quilt fabric panel was too long for the backing fabric.

It’s a good lesson to always check the direction of the backing to the front of the quilt!!

Have you ever used a practice quilting fabric panel on your longarm or domestic machine? Let me know what you thought about it in the comments below!!

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