I did a happy dance last night, completing quilting on my largest quilt to date - so I must share with you :)
I also think that I will most surely remember whatever important thing I have figured out, but learned that it's way easier to just note the details down so I don't have to experiment again the next month.
Last night I started and finished free motion stipple on a large full, 3 hours total! - it's about 82" x 92" (that's the back of the quilt - can't show you the front)
The largest I had done in the past was about 75x75 and that had seemed super, super hard on my old Brother. I actually got my ruler out and measured that there are exactly 11 flat inches to the right of the needle on the 7700. The point at which I was quilting in the exact middle of this one, the only trick was keeping the weight from catching on the outside lip of the extension table.
Hurray that I didn't have to WILL the time/space continuum to compress my quilt as I squashed it into the machine!
Knowing that I would need to wrestle the weight of this quilt a bit, I dragged a Lifetime table up from the basement. It's a perfect size for the space I normally have open.
At 4 feet long, I just pushed it all the way against the window and up to the lip of my dining room table.
And as much as I love sitting at the dining room table, I'm going to look into getting the Gidget 2. I'll probably rearrange the room a little bit so I have just my ironing and cutting on the table and then set my machine down into the Gidget. It got pretty annoying every time the quilt bound up by getting caught on one of the Horizon's extension table edges.
These are my machine settings for Free Motion Quilting. Leah Day's information was a fabulous place to start! I tried the D3S stitch, which makes a nice knot at the start and end for you, but found that whatever the machine does to make that knot, while nice and strong, was a little tricky to bury.
Stitch length = 0. You can't see it here, but I changed my thread tension off of the Auto setting (which is about a 4, I found out) and set it at about 5. I always do a quick practice sandwich and that tension is where I got the most wonderful stitch on both the top and bottom. My feed dogs are still UP, and I didn't change the presser foot pressure, as both of those things are compensated for ......
...... by the Supreme Slider - which I honestly didn't expect to be SO HUGE a difference. Seriously. If you haven't tried one yet, get one! Besides that super awesome, slippery surface, it covers those feed dogs.
The choice of stitch D1S automatically gives me the single hole plate. I found the single hole made a big difference during FMQ. With the regular slot, the thread would sometimes catch or break down inside the machine.
The green bit on my needle is the nice color that Schmetz gives to their Stipple Quilting needles. I make sure to use a new one for every quilt.
If you haven't seen the quilting foot on a Horizon yet, that huge thing is it! The little open-toe on the bottom can be swapped out for 2 other choices, but I like the open toe best. And that big double spring contraption on the right is actually super awesome. You can twist the rightmost one to raise or lower the hover height of the foot, so that it perfectly skims your quilt top. No need to change the machine's foot pressure.
Finally, the thread - I usually quilted with Gutermann and was super happy with it. But based on Leah Day's rave of Isocord when free motion quilting, I thought I would give it a try. Plus, the store I work at has what seems like a million rainbow rack of colors! Not knowing much about it, I found out that it is used for embroidery - hence the million colors.
I picked eggshell white #101 - it was a perfect match for the Kona snow. One spool has 1000m, and I started with a new spool for this quilt. I didn't use all the bobbins I wound, but you can see about how much thread I used. I did a medium to large stipple, which seemed to fit the scale of the large improv design of the quilt.
I wound 6 bobbins and only used about 4 1/2! The Janome bobbin is a little bigger - taller - than my old Brother. Plus, the Isocord is fairly fine - so those bobbins went a long way. My quilt retreat friends will remember my neurotic need to know when my bobbin was low, as I always start and stop on an outside edge. But since giving the whole tail-burying thing a try, I've been liberated. Hurray!
Oh, I used 505 to spray baste this huge quilt. So glad I have the large size spray cans. Anyway, happy to report this large-full quilt is completely pucker-free. It's wonderful to be free of unpinning all that basting as you truck along on the quilting.
Between the beautiful stitches, bobbins holding a ton, not worrying about when they would end, and easily pushing all that fabric through my machine, it was a total zen quilt night!