I learned how to machine quilt quite a few years ago, but I never really felt comfortable deciding how to quilt it. When I finish a top, I layer it with batting and backing fabric, pin it, and then I go brain dead.
I hang the top on my design board and stare at it, waiting for an image of the perfect quilting pattern to appear. Well, let me tell you, it never appears. How should it be quilted? What will it look like? It seems the fear of choosing the wrong design is enough to paralyze me.
Usually a looming deadline kicks me in the behind and forces me to take the quilt to my sewing machine and start quilting it, whether I have a plan or not. Once I get started, I relax and the quilting design works itself out. Most people are amazed when I tell them that I have this internal struggle, because it doesn't show in the final product.
I've heard of all sorts of ways to test out a quilting pattern, but they're too structured for me. I started asking the best quilter I know, Susan Italo, lots of questions. She's been really generous with her knowledge and quilting library (thanks Susan). I'm hoping that some of her quilt magic rubs off on me.
I've been making a lot of quilt samples on plain muslin, practicing different patterns, searching for the ones that are comfortable for me. I decided to paint one of my quilting samples with textile paints and here's a portion of it. What will I do with this? I don't know, but it still doesn't feel finished. Any suggestions?