It's 100% necessary to do a few stitches to determine if your machine's tension is right, if nothing else. Every time I sew on a different project, my thread may react differently. I recommend doing a test run to be sure everything is working how it should. Trust me, finding out later that your bobbin tension is off, AFTER quilting for 10 minutes is heartbreaking, and picking out 10 minutes of stitching can take hours and hours.
I practiced some different filler designs to use in the background of my Flirt quilt top which I talked about basting here. I wanted something the would give some nice texture without really grabbing the eye away from the lovely Panel. I tried some loops and hearts to stay with the Hearts motif in the panel but it felt too distracting and open. Something to play with more later...maybe in the mug rugs.
Then I found Brain Coral by Leah Day at the Free Motion Quilting Project and liked the way I felt stitching it. Practice helped a lot. I was very stiff at first, but by the end, my stitches were smoother and my echos were better.
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