I am so excited to have completed the quilting of my puzzle quilt in just one day! It was a complete learning experience – using a walking foot to quilt a spiral of stitching from the centre of the quilt outwards.
I have the post I found at Crazy Mom Quilts to thank for giving me the confidence to give it a try. Amanda Jean’s tutorial had spirals spaced just the width of the machine foot, about ½” apart. She advised using free-motion quilting to produce a small centre circle and the first few tight turns of the spiral but as I planned to leave a 2″ space between the lines of stitching I decided to take a chance and use the walking foot with a very short stitch length to stitch a larger centre circle. It’s a bit of a jerky circle but I’m happy with it, so it has stayed.
The first few ‘spins’ of the spiral were a bit tricky with half of the quilt to squeeze through the throat of my sewing machine whilst I tackled the ‘unnatural’ motion of making a tight curve with straight stitches. After these early spins though it quickly became easier to manipulate the quilt and to maintain a curve even after I’d increased the stitch length from 1.0 to 2.5. The technique did require stitching very slowly and constantly stopping to adjust the position of the quilt under the stitching foot.
Several gadgets helped make quilting more straightforward for me. I used an open-toe applique foot which gave much better vision of the position of the needle than I get from the standard stitching foot (this has a clear plastic panel which I find distorts the view of the needle as it makes contact with the fabric); a quilting guide (the metal rod sticking out the left hand side of the needle in the photo above) helped me maintain an even distance between stitching lines; and I wore Machingers gloves with rubber finger tips that helped me grip the fabric without having to apply a lot of pressure through my arms and wrists (that could have been really uncomfortable as the hours of stitching mounted!).
I thoroughly enjoyed this method of quilting. The walking foot kept the stitch size very even. My circles did flatten out in a few places as the spirals got bigger but I’m happy to include such imperfections among the charms of a handmade quilt and be satisfied with the result! Definitely a learning experience to add to my list of learning for the year.