This is a quilt I made about 30 years ago. The pattern is Shoofly Star, and is from Marsha McClosky's book, A Dozen Variables. This book (and Marsha's style in general) are what got me hooked on quilting all that time ago.
I wanted this quilt to be thick and warm, and sort of puffy, so I used a double thickness of Mountain Mist 100% polyester batting. Which of course needed to be hand quilted. Well... apparently I didn't baste it good enough, as the top wanted to slip around and bunch up on itself as I quilted. To get it to lay flat I ended up adding more and more quilting, and eventually the bunching "all quilted out" as we like to say.
Enter my current Flying Geese project.
My intent was to hand quilt this, after machine stitching in-the-ditch down the vertical rows.
The hand quilting was really tough going. And because I wanted this quilt to be thick, maybe a little puffy, and drape nice like the Star quilt, I used a double thick batting, this time 100% bamboo. Well, the needle doesn't float through bamboo the same as that fluffy Mountain Mist! And, I wanted a "big stitch" look, so used a #12 perle cotton with a #24 Bodin chenille needle. Aaak.. my poor hand! I managed to do one row plus the "squares" where the geese change direction before calling it quits on that method.
On to Plan B, which was the "Hand Quilting" stitch on my Janome. This went well and I got about ten rows done. I really love the look of the (fake) "hand quilting" but I wasn't happy with the overall look of the quilt. I kept telling myself I want that puffy look, but it just was looking ... sloppy. I had to take a break and figure out what I needed to do.
Meanwhile, with the "hand quilt" stitch still set up on my machine, I went ahead and finished the quilting on these two small quilts, which have been languishing in my hand quilting basket for far too long.
That done, I set up my machine for regular, plain, machine quilting.
Starting from the other end of the quilt, I started quilting across the middle of the geese just using a plain stitch, which did give it a nice flat result. But I thought it looked rather boring. I really wanted the "hand quilt" look! Before commencing to rip out the previous rows though, I decided to sleep on it.
Now I should mention, I recently discovered a new (to me, anyway) quilting thread by Superior Threads, called Micro Quilter. Its two-ply, 100 wt. poly, and literally disappears into the seams, making ITD quilting nearly invisible, and less stressful to do. It also blends right into the fabric when quilting over the top of multiple light and dark fabrics.
Now I know many of you are dyed in the wool 100% cotton purists, and I abided by this for years, but I no longer feel that is necessary. Heck, my old quilts (such as the star one above) were pieced with Dual Duty poly/cotton thread, and I've never had an issue with the thread cutting through the fabric or whatever its supposed to do. I believe my quilts will wear out with time anyway, as the intent is that they will be used. Anyway, you might want to try out that thread sometime.
OK, enough for now... time to get back to quilting!