My first step was to design a quilt top that would give everything I needed to do the assignment. I began with the striped fabric in the center of the block. I selected a simple eight point star design, similar to Leah's choice of cheater cloth. I made sure to include a solid fabric where a marked pattern could be shown off. I also selected a border fabric that would provide lots of pattern to follow with contour lines.
The Full Design
When possible it is best to start machine quilting in the middle of a quilt, so that is what I did. I quilted in the ditch around the striped square and then around the pieced star. By starting in a corner I never had to go over a line of quilting, however, once I started going up and down the stripes with my quilting line I did travel stitch along the tops and bottoms of the bars in order to avoid ending and restarting my thread.
Close-up of Border, Man in the Moon and Stitch in the Ditch
The close-up image above shows my almost in the ditch but slightly off stitching as I free motioned my way around the star and up and down the bar of the stripes. It also allows you to see the contour stitching around the flower elements in the border. I had selected a sage green thread for my quilting. In hindsight I might have opted to change threads for the border and use black in order to better blend in with the background fabric.
Close-up of Stars
The last step was to mark the open areas with a design and follow the marked lines. I chose a man in the moon pattern designed by Hari Walner. I tried tracing the image onto the fabric using a graphite tracing paper. The resulting line wasn't clear enough for me to see. I opted to draw the pattern free hand directly on the quilt with a #2 pencil. The 3 stars were also hand drawn, but I just looped them together free hand with the machine.
From a distance of two feet or so my quilting appears to the follow the lines. It is only nose to quilt where the wobbles become evident. Where my biggest struggle comes and has always come is marking the quilt. I need high contrast, strong marks to follow a line. I don't immerse my quilts, so drawing on a water soluble tear away product won't work. I've tried tracing paper, but picking out the bits of paper that invariably get left behind is a bear. Does anyone have a marking solution?
The lesson I learned from this assignment is that my stitches tend to be small as I follow a line. I worked hard at slowing my pedal speed in order to get some length to the stitches, but I just couldn't seem to go slow enough.