I'm not proficient at machine quilting. But I do want to improve. This baby "See and Say" quilt seemed like the right size for me to practice my machine quilting skills. The quilt will go to my niece in Tulsa. She and her husband have three children now, and are adding another member to the family. Mom, Dad, and oldest son Jordan are in Korea right now to meet and bring home their newly adopted son Kiefer. So this little quilt, made from some puppy prints and farm prints along with the Fast & Easy Border strips shown in a previous post will be on its way to Oklahoma very soon. I'm envisioning Kiefer's older siblings making up stories about the animals, and helping him learn vocabulary with the quilt. And this little spotty guy is going, too. A new soft and cuddly buddy for Kiefer.
But I digress... getting the machine quilting done successfully was my goal. And I'm not above using "training wheels", so to speak. So I employed several accessories, shown below, that are designed to help when machine quilting. First, I placed the Supreme Slider on the bed of the machine. The material on the bottom side clings to the machine while the Teflon coating on the top side allows the quilt sandwich to move freely while you're stitching. That worked nicely!
Second, I used Sharon Schamber's Quilt Halo. This circular tool is placed on the quilt sandwich to provide weight and traction, and hold the layers tight. I think of it as a little steering wheel. Its surface is slightly tacky to give some grip, no slip. And you can guide the Quilt Halo lightly as you control the direction of stitching, moving it as you need to. There's a good demo for it on You Tube. And finally, I used gloves with gripper dots. They would be more important to use if I did not have the Quilt Halo, but even with it I used them.
Oh, and did I forget to mention? The Bernina 440 QE has the device known as the BSR, or Bernina Stitch Regulator. It's on the machine in the photo above. That attachment has really boosted my machine quilting confidence. I should have mentioned it first! I was so excited to get this machine to have the BSR.
At a workshop I heard this tip from Libby Lehman: place your sewing machine at an angle when machine quilting. It offers a bit more space to accommodate the bulk of the quilt. The picture shows the machine angled as she suggests. It could probably be angled even more. It feels strange to be sewing in that set up initially. I kept trying to scoot my chair over to be in front of the machine. But it actually works very well, and I got used to it.
I'd rate the results on this project as "moderately successful." But I learned a lot, and will continue to practice. One blog I follow is Leah Day's 365 Days of Free Motion Quilting Filler Designs. She has instructions and video for each exercise. I've got my practice pieces underway!