One of the questions I've been asked a lot is how do I quilt a large quilt on my machine. What most people actually want to know is where to start and how to proceed with the quilting when using an overall quilt design. When I first started quilting I was hand-quilting and the common method was to start in the center of the quilt and work toward the outside evenly. When I started machine quilting I used the same method, but found this problematic because when you do this, how do you hide your starting position?
I've developed my own method of quilting with overall designs like stippling, swirls or hearts and loops. First of all you have to make sure your quilt is well basted. I pin baste, aiming for a grid of pins 6 inches apart at the most. I start on the right side of the quilt, toward the center of the side.
Usually this method works perfectly for me. As long as I baste well, I seldom get any puckers or pleats on the back. I do make sure to check the back from time to time. I hope this helps you with your quilting. This really helps keep most of the bulk either in my lap or to the left of the needle, so it makes it fairly easy to handle a large quilt. I just puddle the extra in the arm of my machine with no rolling. I always feel like I can see where I am going as well as where I have been using this method, and it works quite well.
I only have one more side and the last half side to finish on my Grand Illusions quilt! Looks like it will be a finish tomorrow, I'm excited to bring it to my Guild meeting on Thursday to show it off!