I just finished machine quilting my massive Moda Building Blocks quilt! After just about having a stroke over it six weeks ago (my normal response when I first start machine quilting anything!!), I walked away from it and hadn't touched it since. I finally sat down and ripped out the initial four 4 rows of stitching Friday night, then started in on it yesterday (instead of tackling some customer work I should have been doing!), and realized it was going to be doable after all.
Initially, I was all whacked out wishing I hadn't attempted straight-line quilting such a large quilt (84x96"!) on my domestic machine; I've done a number of smaller quilts with no trouble before, but a quilt this size is a different story. It didn't make sense at that point to take all the safety pins out and send it to Kathy O. after I had spent hours on the kitchen floor pin basting it. I knew most long arm machines have a lock that allows the rows of stitching to be perfectly straight, or are computerized, giving a consistent result. Knowing that, and knowing that I could have had it long arm quilted, I was afraid I wouldn't be happy if my stitching lines weren't straight. And, I was afraid the rows would get more and more distorted as I went. Also, I was concerned that since it was such a big quilt, the pressure of the walking foot would cause the top layer to shift and distort after each 96" row of stitching. AND, I knew that maneuvering that big of a quilt with my walking foot wasn't going to be easy (FMQing would have been much easier). And, I knew it would take me 4.ever!!
I can drive myself NUTS and totally paralyze myself!
But, I reduced the foot pressure on my walking foot, and that seemed to do the trick. I spaced the rows about 1/2" apart by using the edge of my walking foot. I was able to keep the rows fairly consistent and straight, for the most part, thanks to the block design of the quilt that provides a natural plumb line here and there throughout the quilt. I marked an initial plumb line in the center of the quilt with blue painters tape to get me started, then worked out from there. It got easier and easier to maneuver the bulk of the quilt as I got to the sides. The stitching isn't perfect of course, but as always, I have to remind myself that nothing looks perfect when you have your nose right up to it. And, I have to remember - perfection isn't the goal here! I want something hand-crafted, not factory made. All those little imperfections are what gives a hand-made quilt its charm. Bottom line, it just feels right being able to say that I did both the piecing and the machine quilting.
I love the texture the straight-line quilting gives! Ever since I saw Camille's version, I knew that's how I wanted to quilt mine.
And, I love how it looks on the back, especially with this funky backing fabric that is a perfect match color-wise for the front. :)
OK, I just need to add the binding, then it's ready for the fair in a few weeks! I may rip out a few wonky stitches here and there and redo them, but other than that, it will soon be finished!
Note: Next time I think I'll use Warm and Natural batting vs. the Hobbs 80/20 just to be safe - the 80/20 has a bit more loft and does cause more shifting.