I recently took a course at MQX 2007 from Jamie Wallen. I have tried to combine what I learned from Jamie with what I have learned earlier from Linda Taylor's "Fancy Feathers". One of the hints that Jamie mentioned was to practice with your machine set to a slow stitch speed. If you set the stitch speed up high, you tend to try to quilt fast to keep up with the sound of the machine. A slower, relaxed pace is better for practice. Yes, a slower machine speed creates long stitches, but who cares, its only practice. Click HERE to see my practice piece.