It is quite possible that I am avoiding quilting the UFO of the month by becoming obsessed with this Valentine's quilt. Am I now the Queen of Procrastination?!?
Perhaps! I'm okay with that because working on this quilt has been really fun. AND there are several more days to meet my goal this month!
I finally found the perfect heart design for the 4" empty spaces on this quilt and was eager to get going on the quilting. I started with the walking foot and stitching in the ditch around the 9 patch blocks to secure the layers together.
Then I marked the quilting designs for the empty spaces using a frixion pan and a 4" stencil that I found at The Quilt Place. There are a total of 44 hearts to quilt, which is a lot of stopping and starting. I found a way to quilt the tiny hearts with a continuous line which resulted in a total of 32 stops/starts.
I put the free motion quilting foot on my sewing machine, reduced the presser foot tension (so the quilt could be moved more freely under the needle), dropped the feed dogs, put the stitch length on zero, and was ready to go. I carefully stitched on the drawn lines. If you've never done this kind of free motion quilting before, it's a really challenging skill to get the speed and stitch length even, and to keep the needle on the line. It takes a lot of practice.
Most of the time when I am machine quilting, I start by making 3 or 4 stitches in the same place at the beginning and at end, and clip the threads as close as possible to the quilt. That usually keeps the thread ends secure. But it also leaves a little bump of thread, and I didn't want that to be visible in the solid white squares especially with so many stops/starts. So with this quilt, I left the thread tails hanging, and will hand sew the ends in when the quilting is finished. You can see the threads laying all over the place in this photo.