100 Hours, 1000 Hours, 10,000 Hours


Doodle Quilt, LKennedy

My First-Ever Doodle Quilt, 2011

In my first free motion quilt class (circa 2001), I remember the instructor telling us that when we’d practiced for 100 hours, free motion quilting would start to feel more natural.

In her book, The Creative Habit, Twyla Tharp contends that it takes 1000 hours to get good at any skill.


And in the book,Outliers: The Story of Success
Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell writes about the “10,000 Hour Rule” to attain mastery of a skill. Outliers: The Story of Success

I don’t know if it’s 100, 1000, 0r 10,000 hours…

But I DO know this:


Poinsettia, Free Motion Quilting, Quilt

Poinsettia Quilt, 2014

YOU can do this!

Happy Stitches!


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 re-blog, pin or tweet with attribution to The Inbox Jaunt.  For all other purposes, please contact me at lckennedy@hotmail.com.  Thanks!

PS..Both quilts were stitched on a domestic sewing machine:  Bernina 150.   The Spiral Flower Quilt is stitched with Aurifil 50 wt cotton in both the top and bobbin.  The Poinsettia quilt was stitched with Sulky Rayon thread on top and Aurifil cotton in the bobbin on Robert Kaufman Kona fabric with Warm and Natural cotton batting.



30 thoughts on “100 Hours, 1000 Hours, 10,000 Hours

  1. !!!! Really? I wish, not sure I have enough hours left to get that good!

    I read that it was 80 hours and that frightened me. But… Lori, you have me convinced that following you will get me FMQ this year. And my goal is to be more accepting of what I achieve and far less ‘picky’ 🙂

    • Yeah, Toni! You can do this! Perfection is NOT the goal. Improvement is the goal. Personality is the goal…Having fun, challenging our brains…all side benefits to learning this new skill.!

  2. Wow I love the little red quilt! I think with a good teacher (that’s you) to show you the how to’s encorages practice too. I’m not near as hesitant as I was a year ago.

  3. I am so happy to have discovered your blog since I my goal is to begin to work on mastery of machine quilting and I am the proud owner of a Virtuosa 150, too! Your work is absolutely beautiful and provides wonderful inspiration

  4. Thank you for being so encouraging. I get so discouraged at times and nearly give it up. I’ve copied your post and plan to re-read it each day to get that idea into my head. I do think it’s going to take me longer as I struggle every time I sit down to FMQ – I may have to increase that to 500, 5000, and 50,000!!!

  5. Eighteen months ago I found you and Tuesday is always a great day because I know that I will find something from you in my email. Thank you, I have learned so much. I have quilted for over 100 hours but I know it has been your lessons that have helped me improve my quilting. You explain it so well that even a very complicated design can be mastered by a novice. I can’t wait to buy your book. Thank you again.

  6. I’m sure that that advice is accurate but may be a titch overwhelming to the one who is just beginning this journey (although, I did hear the same thing years ago!). Your admonition to practice, practice, practice really can’t be stressed enough and the best routine would be, as Victoria Findlay Wolfe advises, 15 Minutes of Play a Day===doing a little each day to get the mind/hand/ear connection solidified and continually “warmed up” to the quilting process/movements. Your smaller projects/tutorials are so excellent for this needed routine!!!!

  7. Now Lori, please tell me, how to I get over my fear so I can just get started? It’s unbelievable regarding FMQ. Seriously, where does one start on the project, middle, corner, where?

    Thanks for your posts. Happy, healthy NEW YEAR!!

    • What are you fearful of? There’s is no grade, or judgement, or even competition. You can even throw away your practice pieces so no one will ever know. Learning something new is a gift you give yourself. Start anywhere on your practice piece, just start. Youll be showing off in no time!

  8. So I am inspired to set up a daily or at least weekly schedule to get to 100 hours for a start. Although I like your first quilt, I am very encouraged by your poinsettia quilt and really love it too.

  9. I love FMQ and am SOOO love your encouragement. Haven’t gotten to the great yet,but am working on it.Thank you.

  10. Dear Lori. Thanks for all your inspiration. It is helping. Regardless of the endless hours spent!!!!!

  11. I used to take karate and the instructer always told us that a move had to be done 1000 times before it was mastered. This weather is great for one thing…time to stay in and enjoy sewing for hours. Enjoy everyone.!

  12. I’ve been teaching myself through blogs like this, videos, craftsy classes but I am still stumped when it comes to thinking outside the box for a FMQ idea. I just don’t see it when I look at my quilt and think how I want to FMQ it. Then I look at blogs w/pics of beautiful FMQ and say to myself “this is creative, why didn’t I think of that?” I am getting bettter as I do see patterns on rugs and floor tiles that look like good quilting motifs – LOL. How do I get myself to see a FMQ design on my quilt?

  13. Hi Lori, I made a scrappy little 30×30 quilt for Christmas, and in each of the 4 patch blocks I tried different patterns like the ones you have been teaching us, well….the poinsettia one wasn’t to bad, and the trees were okay, my pinecones looked like weird cookies, and several others I tried were, well to say the least, not so hot, I have stippling down pat, and have for years, but I feel like I am starting all over with these new designs, sooo, even though I have quilted 100’s of hours stippling, boy this is gonna take some practice to make them look good, lol. Thanks so much, I’ll keep trying, and find some one who wants a wonkie Christmas quilt!

  14. The year my dad passed away I was heartbroken and took a break from work. In the 9 weeks I was off I made and quilted, stippling only, 8 quilts. Ladies u can do it. My husband laughed at me for moving my tongue as I stitched. My tongue was so sore and I eventally only moved the quilt but I learned to fmq. I now have a long arm and am learning to quilt on it. My dream is to have a shop to sell machines and fabric and teach others to sew and quilt.

    • It’s interesting to me that quilters have stitched away their sorrows for hundreds of years…

      The image of you stitching with your tongue “steering” is very funny! Thanks for sharing.

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