In the past, I’ve always hand-quilted– probably because my grandmother taught me, and that was just the way I have always done it. It was even a stretch for me to start machine piecing at a certain point. I felt like a sell-out not doing it my grandma’s way. To be perfectly honest, I kind of turned up my nose at machine quilting because I viewed it as being so much “easier.” Well, let me tell you, it’s not! It’s just a different skill set. After hours spent drooling over quilts online, I’ve realized that machine quilting is an art in itself.
Anyhow, after seeing some of the stippling tutorials on pinterest, I was intrigued. My main problem with quilting in recent years is that it takes too long to complete a whole quilt. I’m not the kind of girl who just has one hobby and does it all the time. I tend to flit from one thing to another, and while I always come back to my old projects, I don’t always work on them start-to-finish without interruption. At this rate, I had been quilting a queen-size quilt for well over ten years, and I was totally sick of it. I decided that if I was going to make quilting a viable hobby, I needed to figure out a way to quilt faster– enter machine quilting.
I was so out of touch with machine quilting, that I didnt’ even know that one needs special feet until I’d done a few hours of online research. I have a Viking, and supposedly you can’t use just any old generic foot; you have to buy from the Viking dealer. In retrospect, I’m not sure if this is true, but I shelled out the $100 for a darning foot and a walking foot and got down to business.
After I got my walking foot and darning foot, though, I needed a good practice quilt, and becaue everything I had read said that the first free-motion quilted quilt is usually horrendous, I decided I needed something I didn’t care about so much. These pinwheels came in one of those precut kits that I had bought on clearance for around $10. I’ve had it lying around for well over a decade. The fabric was just “okay,” so I never got excited enough about it to sew it up.
Since this was a low-risk option, I decided to throw it together. I used the walking foot to stitch in the ditch on the pinwheels, and then I did a stipple pattern with little flowers added in on the border. Overall, it came out great, I think. I was especially proud of the free-motion part since I have never even attempted it before. My stitches were nice and even, and by the end I even worked up a good speed. It did help that it was only around the edges, though, so I didn’t have to fight with the drag of the quilt. At this point, I had a poor quilting setup with little table space.
One thing I found particularly cool about free motion quilting is that one can sign her name right in the quilting. It’s a little hard to see, but I did that below. In fact, this is my new favorite thing to do, and I also “write” messages on the quilts if they’re gifts. I think the messages in the quilting were one of my mother’s and my mother-in-law’s favorite things about the quilts that I gave them each for Christmas this year.
Even though my first machine project was a success, my eyes have been opened wide to the artistry involved in machine quilting. Yes, I did find stippling-type patterns to be quite easy to master, but most other attempts I’ve made to do different patterns since then have utterly failed. I need lots more practice, and I have a whole new level of respect for machine quilters. Hand-quilting may take more time, but it doesn’t require more skill- just a different kind.