I am not an accomplished quilter. To be honest, I do not find quilting to be particularly relaxing. However, I really like making fun blankets for my family. I say fun, perhaps I really mean nerdy. The last quilt I pieced was a Star Wars quilt. (The quilt kit was available from Keepsake Quilting. They are clearly licensed for Star Wars, so while this particular "Force Awakens" quilt is no longer available, they have more Star Wars fabrics and quilts...right now the kit is for "Rogue One.") I chose a red minky fabric for the back to make the quilt extra snuggly. My oldest son and my husband use it as their "lounging around on the couch" blanket. My mom was generous enough to quilt it for me on her longarm...which turned out to be WAY easier than my latest endeavor, which naturally was supposed to be really quick and ended up taking forever. FOREVER. But in the end, it was well worth it.
I felt a little bit like a cheater getting my mom to quilt the top for me- even if she was excited to use her longarm. My mom is a very accomplished quilter: she gets excited over quilting like I get excited over knitting. To each their own. I decided that my youngest son also needed a fun blanket and chose a panel quilt thinking it would be very straightforward to piece and I could focus more on the quilting. I wanted to stretch my horizons on my little sewing machine and do something new...but not overdo it. I wanted to quilt this one myself.
Well, right out of the gate, I completely messed up cutting the border fabric. It was a directional fabric and I cut the short piece before the long piece and then didn't have enough. So, I decided I could make some small adjustments to the pattern and keep on. Adjusting the pattern turned out to be a little trickier than I thought, but I managed to make all the borders work (and go in the right direction) by adding little orange accent lines.
The top was pieced, the bubbles cut, all I needed to do was quilt the top. I have a picture of what the quilt was intended to look like once quilted- I pinned the fun bubbles on the border to get an idea of palcement before I quilted the blanket. I watched an online course by Jacquie Gering on creative quilting with a walking foot. She did a really wonderful job with her lessons and should you be interested in walking foot quilting, she would be a great resource to look up.
I learned that slow and steady wins the race. I like slow. Slow is nice. However, I moved very, very slow. Like a knucklehead, I decided it would be fun to try multiple techniques on this quilt, one of which was a curved echo with the walking foot on the ENTIRE border. I am very pleased with the results, but man did that take a long time. My biggest struggle was with quilt bulk management as I quilted. There is a lot of fabric that has to be hauled, pulled, squished and turned as you go. Walking foot quilting, unlike free motion quilting, is a one direction operation. You travel in straight lines (or slightly curved lines) but the foot itself only trudges forward on your quilt with a double feed-dog system to "walk" your quilt on both the top and bottom. It produces very nice, consistent stitches, but that foot knows what it likes and you would be silly to try to convince it otherwise.
When I finally finished the quilting, I decided to leave off the bubble flaps and simply appliquéd a few accent bubbles in the corners. It felt cruel to put so much work in the border quilting and then cover it up with a bunch of circle flaps. With that said, it is safe to say my quilt looks nothing like the quilt I thought I was going to make when I started. And what I had intended to be a quick, throw together panel quilt took months for me to finish. The important thing, though, is that my son loves it. I backed it with a nice bright orange minky. (Minky is really very soft and my kids really enjoy its texture. It also washes really well. The Star Wars quilt is over a year old and has been washed many times. It has endured the best efforts of a three-year old to snuggle it to death and it is still a nice bright red. I have high hopes for the orange, too.)