Building a Rock Solid Routine for FMQ–Know the Motif

Design Contrast

Good Morning, Quilters and Quilt-Lovers!

Welcome back to our ongoing series:  Build a Rock Solid Routine for Free Motion Quilting

So far in this series:

Time to stitch?

There’s just one more thing to do:  DOODLE!

Red Flower Stencil, Free Motion Quilting


Does your free motion quilting lack fluency?

Are there areas where the stitches are too long?  too short?  or lack overall smoothness?

Every time you pause to think about where to travel while free motion quilting-even for a nano-second–your stitching will lack smoothness.

These “stutter stitches”  occur when your hands are still moving, but your brain is stalled

The best way to avoid stutter stitches?

Practice the motif on paper–DOODLE!

Fabulous Flower Tablerunner, Free Motion Quilting


  • Pick a motif you love.
  • Follow the photos and draw each step-by-step.
  • Repeat several times (10x or 100x) until you don’t need to refer to the photos.
  • Continue doodling the motif until you “own it”.
  • Doodle the motif much larger and much smaller.  (See “Free Motion Quilting: Playing with Scale”.)
  • Finally, choose the size for YOUR quilt and doodle it for several minutes.
  • This whole process should take less than 20 minutes.
Free Motion Quilting

Spiral Flower


As soon as possible, test drive the motif on a quilt sandwich.

Stitch it several times.  If everything looks great–add it to your next quilt.

If not, doodle it again tomorrow and try stitching it again.

NOTE:  I have no scientific evidence, but I have noticed that sleep–sub-conscience work–helps develop muscle memory.

When I’m struggling with a motif and walk away it often “comes to me” the next day without effort.

It seems that two-30 minute sessions with a nap or night’s rest in between is more beneficial than one-60 minute session.

Has anyone else noticed this phenomenon?


Doodle AND Stitch! 

May your stitches be happy,


PS…All tutorials, information and images are the property of Lori Kennedy at The Inbox Jaunt and are intended for personal use only.  Feel free to share, re-blog, pin with attribution to The Inbox Jaunt.  For all other purposes, please contact me at  Thanks!








17 thoughts on “Building a Rock Solid Routine for FMQ–Know the Motif

  1. Thanks for your inspiration. I love to doodle and FMQ. It’s always fun to see some new designs to try and I appreciate hearing what works well for you to improve your skills.

  2. I have noticed that I’m better the next day. I also practice the design right before going to sleep. I lay on my side and draw it on the mattress. Weird, but it works for me. Just another way of doodling. When I try the motif the next morning I seem to understand it better.

  3. Yes! I often leave a piece that I’m working on at night, thinking about the next pattern and go to sleep with it swirling in my head. Next morning, it’s clear as a…..flower, bird, dragonfly, marine turtle 😉 thank you for so many ideas to borrow!

  4. Hello Lori ,

    thank you for the tip to follow this. I just found the free motion guide grip on a site in England and i order it. Know i have to wait a few days..
    I still do not get how the fabric moves so easily under the free motion foot.
    I tried to FMQ before but the fabric moves not so good under the foot. I keep the fabric between my hands to grip it if you understand.
    So i think i also need the supreme slider to.
    I work with the pfaff ambiiton 1,5.


    • Sarah, The Supreme Slider is a BIG help. Until then, try starching your bottom fabric–sometimes that makes it a bit slippery. Also–Start small. Stitch on quilt sandwiches that are 20 inches square or less. That will help you get the feeling of free motion quilting without all the extra weight.

  5. Lori, these samples are beautiful. Thank you for helping me understand that my brain pauses are causing the “stutter stitches”. I never really connected those to each other. You continue to amaze me at your ability to explain and expand our skills. Bless you!

  6. FABRIC GRIPPER INFO: Have been looking for the Husqvarna fabric gripper that you use because if YOU use it – it must be good. First 2 Joanns (WPB & NPB, Fla.) didn’t have a separate Husqvarna/Viking area. 3rd Joanns (Miami) had a separate area for Husqvarna stuff but no longer carries the grippers. At $50 I was hoping to use my 40-50% coupon but they’re a separate entity so don’t take Joanns’ coupons. Well darn. Finally a really nice saleslady pointed out a kit (included feet, etc.) that had the gripper as part of the kit. Was on sale 70% off and they only had one. I don’t have a Viking machine, but now have several feet for it 🙂

    The grippers are probably available on line so would suggest people look there if they can’t find one locally. Gloves here in hot, humid Fla. just wasn’t an option for me.

    Tavette – S. Fla.

    • Tavette, can you share with me more info on what the kit called and what feet were included. Having a Viking/Husqvarna makes this sound intriguing to me. A PM is fine. Thanks a bunch.

    • Thank you so much for the info! I hope you love it! (If not, e-mail me…I will buy it for my sisters!) Please do let us all know how you like it. I really love this product…Can you sell the feet on e-bay?

  7. Yes – they say that when something is in your subconscious (while you sleep) your mind continues to work on it and BINGO – the answer comes to you in the a.m.

    I noticed that you’ve gotten 43 new followers – just since passing your 5,000 mark. People are noticing.

  8. What you say about a good night’s sleep is absolutely true. As you sleep, your brain works diligently to take short-term memory and incorporate it into long-term memory – like moving it from your desktop to your file cabinet.

    When I was teaching (technical topics), I encouraged my students to “sleep on” what we learned each day, then I would review the lessons the next morning. They told me it was the best technique for consolidating the new information into their permanent memory.

    The doodling also helps build muscle memory so that your hands can make the design even when your mind wanders – like learning how to play a song or make a smooth backhand tennis stroke. It’s always awkward at first, but with repetition, the knowledge becomes ingrained in your mind and in your muscles.

    Thanks for your excellent advice and your terrific tutorials.

  9. I have read all your FMQ tutorials now and the advice today is really timely! I will overcome the divorce between my ‘minds eye’ and right hand and try it your way although my doodling never seems to end with anything resembling FMQ! More like a black mess… But I will try again, and again.

    Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and expertise as well as personal experience, you will never know the hope it gives me (and probably others too!)
    Fingers crossed doodling works this time, this way 🙂

  10. I didn’t get a chance to follow along with your “circle” lessons, so I’m going to do that. I want to quilt a Christmas quilt with jolly snowman and I know I’ll have to have great circles!

  11. Absolutely beautiful! I’m just taking baby steps right now and wonder if I’ll ever be able to do anything close to these… But I’ll keep trying because I love fabrics, sewing, and quilting!

  12. Hi Lori 🙂 My favorite quilter in all the world…love, love, love your blog and beautiful works…my goodness its soooo stunning….I need videos…Sadly I cannot afford a craftsy class with you…but even a few seconds of your stitchings would mean the world to me…Are there any of your videos on your blog? Can I find them anywhere for free (again…so sorry I cant afford to pay for them right now)…but it would be so awesome if you could please share videos of you talking and stitching…it would really help…pray you have many many blessings in all your endeavors and favor from God just overshadows you bringing you joy wealth health and happiness…Thanks so much for being sooooo awesome!!! Blessings, E.

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