Dream Big quilting
When I first saw those fabulous Dream Big panels - you know the ones with the enormous dahlia in - I was mesmerised and literally wanted one soooo badly. There was a BIG reason why I didn't get one though - I only hand quilted at that point and the thought of quilting in that big space filled me with dread.
Move on a couple of years (full of yearnful gazing at all the Pinterest photos) and I'd moved on from hand-quilting to a rough experiment in free-motion quilting on my domestic machine. I very quickly realised that a domestic machine would not do justice to that panel - correction - I could not do justice to that panel on my domestic machine. My sewing machine only had a 6 inch neck space. I went ahead and purchased both a panel and a long-arm. No, I didn't get a long-arm because I wanted to quilt the panel; a large amount of my gazing had been at long-arms anyway.
So ready with a panel and a long-arm - yes. Did I quilt the panel? - no. Now I wasn't that bad as a beginner on the machine, but there was no way i was going to quilt that panel straight away. So I waited and my sister wanted a quilt for her spare bedroom. Specific colours of purple and teal. Hmm, I though this could be it - showed her the panel, discussed about making it bigger and went out to get the fabric. And left it, and left it, about 6 months of leaving it until - argh Christmas was just around the corner. By the 8th of December I had pieced both the front and back and was ready to put them on the frame.
But what to quilt on it. There is an absolute plethora of quilting designs that can go into the petals. My sister had said random was good - but that didn't narrow down the choice any. I needed a strategy or I was in danger of 'randomly' choosing any old pattern and it being too time consuming to complete properly or end up looking odd - not that any of them do, they all look beautiful - but there's that fear.
So I narrowed it down to doing something I can do pretty reasonably and something I'd done a course on at the Festival of Quilts, in the summer, with Sue Patten from Sue Patten Quilts. Feathers! And different shaped feathers at that. It'd add interest and I could up the randomness by adding in a border around the petal shape with wishbones, ribbon candy or circles. Each 'layer' of petals had a different type of feather. Do this right and the petals really show how they are layered.
I only had to think about the thread colour, as I knew I'd be using glide 40wt on the top. 14 colours in total I used. Actually I only used about 8 in the panel itself, but I think that really helps the quilting become part of the design, rather than stand out. One thing I didn't want to do was to distract from the dahlia on the panel.
So I think the message is to try and set yourself limits: how much time do you have; what are your capabilities/limits; are there any 'requests' etc. That way it becomes less of an overwhelming task and more enjoyable.
This wan't just a panel I quilted and I did have to hold the whole quilt together with quilting that looked good all together. My sister had requested random designs which I interpreted as 'not knowing what was to come next'. Well in the panel that would have been very time-consuming. But in the strips at the top and bottom I could carry on with some of the patterns from the panel.
The real randomness happened around the border. This is where I let go and put in any shape and design I wanted to. Seriously, it felt like I was taking so long to decide what to do next - a part of the problem of 'going with the flow'. However, it did turn out really well and my sister loved that part of the quilt.