A lot of research has been done about muscle memory. It refers to your body’s ability to continue to develop cells in your muscles, based on previous use and training.
So, an athlete trains to do some heavy lifting using barbells for the first time and it feels clunky and uncomfortable. Yes, if you overdo it, you’re also gonna be in a lot of pain on day 2. But consider how this applies to quilters. The first time you attempt to quilt, it feels awkward and difficult, as if your hands and arms don’t want to cooperate and do what you want it to do. The same applies when we learn to drive or ride a bike. The first few times it feels sort of impossible and as if it shouldn’t be done, right? But as you practice these things get more normal, and eventually you don’t need to concentrate to release the clutch and hit the throttle at just the right spot to pull off.
Now, very interestingly, I read an article that stated if an elite athlete takes performance-enhancing drugs to put on muscle bulk, their muscle may retain a memory of this prior muscle growth. If the athlete is caught and given a ban – it may be the case that short bans are not adequate, as they may continue to be at an advantage over their competitors because they have taken drugs earlier in life, despite not taking drugs anymore.
Isn’t that interesting?
Right, so apply this all to quilting. The more you quilt, the more your muscles get used to the motion, and the better we get.
Does this mean that we can do something to train our muscles to move in the right way, without wasting fabric and thread? It most certainly does, and here is where our doodle practice comes to action. And my other passion, stationery, suddenly has additional meaning. Like collecting fabric, I loooove stationery. Drawing paper, notebooks and every conceivable pen or pencil. But I now understand why – I need it, yes, I need it to improve my quilting. (And so do you, in case you needed any more reasons.)
Here are a few doodles that I did in an Instagram live to show you how I do this:
You can practice your doodling on fabric with thread, using one of our printed quilt panels. No need to take time creating a pieced gem, when you’ve got patchwork blocks ready to go and you’ll have a functional quilt when you’re done.
Have a good time doodling your way to better free-motion quilting!