Spiral quilting is a beautiful way to compliment any quilt. In my opinion, it especially resonates on minimalist modern quilts (because you can see so much of the texture) and on scrappy quilts (because the spiral brings all the elements together in a large circle).
Set Up for Spiral Quilting:
1. Pre-wind several bobbins - prevents more stopping later on. This motif uses a ton of thread so be prepared!
2. Try this on a small quilt before you "go big." A mini quilt or baby quilt is perfect (it was much easier to quilt Autumn Wind, which was 40x40, as compared to this green quilt).
3. Have your free motion/darning foot at the ready, and possibly your walking foot (see below for more info).
4. Use an extension table, knee lift, quilting gloves, and Supreme Slider if you can, though you can absolutely do this without these tools.
My Janome Memory Craft 6300, which is a professional domestic machine, came with the extension table and knee lift (which will change your life if you've never used it - push it to the right with your knee, and the presser foot goes up - you never have to take your hands off your quilt to lift the pf!). I purchased Machinger's quilting gloves three years ago and I'm still using the same pair. I love my Supreme Slider, which is a teflon sheet that covers the feed dogs for free motion quilting and makes the sewing machine surface much more slippery. All of these things make quilting on a domestic machine much, much easier! You can find any and all of these tools at your local quilt shop or machine dealer.
5. Use two tables. Almost every time I quilt something larger than a baby quilt, I set up a large portable table in front of my normal sewing table. This helps keep the bulk of the quilt elevated and allows me move the quilt with ease.
6. Spray baste your quilt. As I mentioned on my scope on Periscope, people use different kinds of basting methods and there's no right or wrong way, really - whatever works for you. I despise safety pins so I use spray. It keeps my quilt together much better than I've ever had otherwise, and it's much quicker. I use the large 10.93 oz. can of 505 spray, which goes a long way! Here's a great tutorial from Film in the Fridge for spray basting your quilts.
7. Decide how far apart your lines will be. If you want them to be equal, you'll want to use a walking foot and guide (or trace all your lines beforehand with disappearing marker, which would take forever!). If you don't mind them being a little off, use free motion the whole way. Some of my spaces were purposefully larger than others.
During Spiral Quilting:
1. Start in the middle of the quilt. To find the middle, fold your quilt in half top to bottom and mark the middle on the backing with a safety pin. You can take the safety pin out once you are all set up to begin.
On this quilt, I switched to a walking foot after about 9 circles around.
3. Every 5-8 circles around, check your backing to make sure your fabric didn't fold over on itself. You move your quilt constantly with spiral quilting, so it could happen to even the best basted quilt. If you stop and take the whole quilt off the machine, make sure you stay stitch (or stitch in place 3 or 4 times) to anchor your stitches before cutting the thread. Then you can start quilting again from a few stitches before you stopped.
4. Take breaks and drink a lot of water. Spiral quilting a large quilt is not for the faint-hearted (you'll likely have sore arms and shoulders), but it truly is a gorgeous quilting motif.
6. Have fun! Spiral quilting can also therapeutic - I can attest to that!
Halfway through writing this post, I happened across 10 Tips for Spiral Quilting over at Flourishing Palms. Linda showcases the walking foot in a very detailed and helpful manner, so before you start quilting, I suggest you check out her post, too!
With my free motion foot only, I quilted this quilt with several spirals radiating from different sides. It's an experiment that went swimmingly well. More about that when I share the finished quilt!