I have now confirmed that no amount of practicing freemotion skills on a small practice sandwich can prepare me for quilting anything larger than a table runner. I’ve started quilting my Christmas quilt and I am learning to wrestle the quilt into submission.
Surprisingly it was the straight line quilting with the walking foot, which I thought would give me an easy start, that gave me the most grief. Despite my best efforts at folding and rolling and supporting the bulk of the quilt it kept catching on the edge of my extension table. That resulted in tiny stitches when the feed dogs just couldn’t compete and the fabric didn’t advance much, or jogs and wiggles in my straight lines where I stopped to adjust the quilt.
At first I got discouraged and gritted my teeth and wondered why I was machine quilting in the first place when I could have so much more control hand quilting. Then I remembered exactly how long it takes me to hand quilt a quilt. I told myself it wouldn’t be perfect but at least it would be done. I also reminded myself that I have to start somewhere! It looks OK from a few steps away. I’ll just practice not looking too closely :)
So, all the straight line quilting is done, and about one third of the freemotion motifs. The stencil I have has options for much more detail. I was getting pretty good at them on my practice sandwiches, but when I started wrestling with the whole quilt I opted to leave out the details. I need more practice on large pieces before I can do a decent job with fiddly details. It works out well though. I think the size of the motif without the extra details gives me a pretty good match with the density of quilting on the rest of the quilt.
I’ll try to finish the centre of the quilt today. The next question will be “What to do in the borders?” I’m thinking about treating the inner border and the pieced outer border as a single border and doing a large feather all around. That may be a little ambitious at this point. We’ll see how I feel when I get to it!