I don't know how you get to Carnegie Hall but I know how you improve at free motion quilting. Practice, practice, practice.
I keep a wholecloth quilt sandwich put together all the time to practice designs, test tension on new threads and generally unwind. But I had one practice sandwich that was a little more planned out.
Over two years ago I was taking an online class from Craftsy* in quilting feathers. I quickly fell in love with the process. However, some of, well, many of, my plumes were more squared off than rounded. I needed a lot of practice. At some point I created a practice quilt with a stash of solid fabrics. It was a chance to fill a variety of shapes with features and experiment with different threads. At the time I had only my home sewing machine so I divided the quilt into 3 sections to quilt and then put together later.
Later never came. Until last Saturday morning when I walked into my studio and my eyes landed on one of the sections I had been using as a throw over my feet on cold days. Before I could get distracted, I flipped on my long arm and began finishing the quilting on a couple of sections and was soon sewing the large pieces together.
You can see from the photos that I used all kinds of threads and every feather design in the class. I arranged the fabrics so I would have a variety of shapes to fill. These are far, far from perfect. I still love to do feather work whenever it fits the theme of a quilt.
If you aren't a quilter, you might think a UFO is still a little green man from Mars. In the quilting and sewing worlds it is a Unfinished Fabric Object. I've heard the term used in papercrafting too for those unfinished scrapbook albums. I guess we should call those USA but that would really be confusing.
Fortunately the snow missed us but not the cold so I enjoyed a warm weekend putting together the sections of my practice quilt and finishing the quilting. Completing a project is it's own reward but this one gave me more practice and a larger quilt to keep my feet warm.
This weekend, I've been baking a cake and am working on some cards for a new video. Stay tuned...