In case you think I've been slacking, here's where I am with the machine quilting of my little quilt. To give you a sense of scale it's about 50 inches by 35 inches, so not huge but not tiny either. Below is the portion I've managed to do so far.
I've never done machine quilting before so this is all a learning experience. To do the sort of freestyle quilting I'm doing here, you drop the feed dogs on the machine, then move the fabric about under the needle, smoothly and methodically, so that you stitch the lines you want to stitch. You hold it taut with each hand spread in a sort of C shape around the area you're stitching, so they act like the embroidery hoop in machine embroidery, providing both frame and tension. This makes sure the three layers, already safety pin basted, don't slip about and cause puckers in the quilting. Sounds simple right? Ha!
The first thing I learned was that this is impossible to do when you've lost the bobbin plate cover of your machine and are making do with a bit of card taped over the space above the bobbin! The cover was the only thing that went missing in our move of 2010 and I'd been making do, due to my terminal inability to remember to sort out small problems. It was fine with machine embroidery; it was fine with piecing, but quilting is another story altogether. Once I'd sewn the card to the back of the quilt twice and managed to get a birds nest of looping thread on the back, all of which had to be unpicked, I realised that I'd have to sort this issue out before doing any more. I ordered a new one from the shop where I'd bought the machine and, once that arrived, returned to my quilting . Hurrah, I thought, off I go. I began with some straight lines, quilting "in the ditch", that is, along the joins. Then I began to branch out into some shapes. Much harder I can tell you. You have to mange three things at once; holding the quilt taut, moving it about in all directions, not just straight, and working out where the hell you're going! Even worse, as you start to stitch your tension increases so your foot presses down on the foot pedal and suddenly the machine is racing along all happily to itself with you trying to control things! Rubbing your tummy and patting your head at the same time are nothing compared to this! However, I've persevered and have been having great fun in short bursts. I've found if I stitch for too long my hand and arm muscles get rather painful and refuse to work, which is no help at all. So, am stitching for a bit, then stopping, clearing all the stuff away and starting again the next day. This is all happening on the dining table here, hence the need to clear away. The pink gloves are quilter's gloves, an enormous help as they give a better grip than plain skin.
Barbara's to discuss the next stage of our City and Guilds adventure; a level two certificate which should take us about two years.
I'm very excited!