Three cheers for me! Progress is being made!
After another go at practicing my squiggles, with my arms aching and my spirits in the toilet, I decided to put my researching skills to work and find out more about free-motion quilting. Care's First Quilt Ever! series is wonderful, but I felt like I needed a wider variety of perspectives on this one aspect. I read blogs, I watched videos (this one was particularly comforting for some reason), and then I went back and looked at Care's posts again.
Now, shhhh, don't tell her, but I clicked on every one of her photos to enlarge them and get a really good look at the stitches. And guess what? There were some extra-long stitches in there every so often! And some of her curves aren't as smooth as they could be! And she's been doing this for a long time! I suddenly felt a lot better about how I'd been doing! (Sorry, Care, I know you're going to find out I said this!)
The second revelation? Quilting gloves.
One trip to JoAnn's, $2.50, and I'm the proud owner of these magic gloves. I guess they don't make a difference to some people, but they helped me SO much. If you are struggling, I highly recommend a pair of these.
Now, I still have some ultra-long stitches (many of them, to be honest), and there are some curves that are less than graceful, but I'm doing it! And I'm getting better! And if you don't look too closely, it looks FANTASTIC!
One thing I am completely unable to do is sew around the safety pins. The only thing that works for me is looking ahead a bit and taking them out. I'm also finding it much, much easier to maneuver around towards the center. I feel like I have less control towards the edges.
Oh, and when I first switched from my practice pieces to the real thing? Whoa. My practice pieces were MUCH thicker than this, and I really had to work with the thread tension to get it right. Speaking of thread, one bobbin lasted me through about a sixth of the quilt. Currently I'm about, mmm, a third of the way through. I won't have a new quilt by Monday, but I'm getting there!