Saturday, February 26, 2011


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!


  1. Congrats! You have done a great job for your first try at free motion. I agree the small sandwiches aren't the same as a large quilt. I find it very frustrating. Good Job, my first try didn't look that good. Connie204

  2. I've had trouble with quilting straight lines on my little machine, too. The same problems, actually. (Making me wonder at the actual effectiveness of the walking foot!) The designs look amazing, so I'm betting everyone will be focusing on those and never even notice the straight lines (or their problems). If you choose feathers for the border - good luck! I understand you get better at those with practice, as with all else.

  3. Wow, it looks great! I had the same problem with my first attempt at machine quilting yesterday. I decided to start with the walking foot and do the straight lines first. I had the same experience, the bulk of the quilt started hanging up at the front and pulling. I finally rolled the part that I had in my lap up and balenced it against my chest. That made a big difference. I'm working on my Snowbound quilt, so it is not a huge quilt, makes me wonder how people quilt a large one by machine. I'm not ready for free motion yet so I am thinking of hand quilting around the applique blocks just to get this quilt finished. I am also hand quilting a queen size quilt, I just have two borders to go. The speed of the machine quilting is something to think about. Progress is made so much faster. I still like the look of hand quilting though. Have fun with your quilt, I will be anxious to see your progress.

  4. I only straight line quilt. Stitch in the ditch and nothing fancy. I have found that rolling the quilt up and supporting the weight on a 6 foot table is very helpful. But the only thing you can really do is take your time. BTW I don't have a quilting foot! No one will notice your little slips and even if they do, unless they are a quilter or sewer, you can always offer to let them do the next one for you, LOL! The quilt looks great!


  5. Your quilting looks great! I really think straight line quilting is almost harder than free motion designs because you need to keep it straight or it is more noticeable. Actually, any of it takes a lot of practice. I sometimes wonder if I will ever get comfortable with it.

  6. First off, you know that I've done "very little" machine quilting, and none really successfully. However, I have been watching a lot of "how to" videos lately as I try to get my courage up to try it again.
    You've probably seen the one below, but watch the second one on the link again, about quilting BIG quilts. I've yet to try it, but it makes sense to me. I'm thinking about ordering Leah's DVD set. I don't know how to make reference from her website to this comment, so you may have to copy and paste, but check it out. Maybe it will help you.
    I'm sure you will get it done! I think your quilting looks great; wish I could do that well!

  7. I think that you are trying is great;) So often we want to perfect a skill right off the bat. It all takes practice;) Machine quilting has its place, and so does hand quilting;) Keep up the great work, and you will be happy when you have accomplished quilting the whole thing;)
    Happy Quilting!!

  8. I am sooooo impressed.

    I put the ironing board next to the machine and if it falls over to the side, I try to find something to support that...makes it much easier.

    You are right tho, nothing prepares you for a full sized quilt.

  9. I'm always so impressed with your natural ability to quilt by machine or hand. Your quilting looks amazing. I always struggle with the walking foot straight lines too, especially with larger quilts. Keep at it, it's going to look wonderful when it's done.


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