Phew! This donation quilt turned into a long, longterm project for me. I pieced the top on a quilting retreat in the spring, using all green prints from my fabric stash. And I decided to machine quilt it myself. This was a big decision since I quilt small projects myself, but usually send larger tops to a longarm quilter. Quilting friend Jean calls this "quilting by check." I've only machine quilted one or two larger quilts on my own. So it's still relatively new territory, and I truly admire those who accomplish beautiful, award winning quilting on their home machines. I'm improving, but still have a long way to go.
I learned plenty of things about machine quilting while completing this project. Some of them I'd read or heard, and my experience confirms them. Others were simply discoveries I made. Here are the top five:
1) Set up is important- I used a countertop behind the quilt, a long table to the left, and the Gidget II sewing table from Leah Day. All of this supported the quilt nicely and kept drag to a minimum.
2) The right tools help- the machine quilting gloves... I used Machingers... are comfortable, lightweight, and give the necessary grip for manipulating the quilt.
3) Don't worry about the whole quilt, just focus on what is under the needle- things had a way of working out well when I did this. As long as I kept the small area where I was sewing under control, the entire project fell into place nicely.
4) Stay relaxed- while I like listening to recorded books, trying to follow the narrator while quilting just didn't work out. I kept missing sections of the story. So instead, I streamed the "easy listening favorites" from Tampa's station The Dove on my desktop computer. Nice!
5) Make a new plan- originally I'd planned on making one of these quilts from each colorway of fabric in my stash. The idea was to use up fabrics, and to make quilts that will be used by those in need. Our quilting guild actively supports several charitable organizations with lots of quilts every year. But I can't say I enjoyed the machine quilting experience, nor was I fully happy with the results. Plus, I'm very s-l-o-o-w. So maybe I'll make quilt tops, and have them professionally quilted. Or maybe I'll bring fabric to the free table at guild. Quilt small projects? yes... quilt larger ones? Not so likely. The fabric stash of greens is nicely reduced though.
Here's one reason I was so slow... Lily. I see blog after blog which shows quilters' cats, and even dogs, hovering around the sewing room to offer advice and assitance. Lily is no exception. What a great helper! Quilt comes out... she gets on! She even made a cocoon for herself out of the quilt while I tried to sew on the binding! To say nothing of the biting of batting. All work comes to a halt when it's her nap time. She can sure wreak havoc in the sewing room.