If you really want to DREAM BIG on a longarm quilting machine, you need to try a dream big panel. Really though, this project is AMAZING!
What is a “dream big panel?”
If you hate cutting and piecing, this is the quilt for you! Dream Big is a gorgeous, digitally-printed fabric collection by Jeanie Sumrall-Ajero for Hoffman Fabrics. Mine measures 44”x 44”. (Take a look at the sizes and prints here). Basically, you are looking at a huge, close-up print of a flower. It’s gorgeous and stunning from the beginning, but just wait until you get it quilted.
The obvious advantage of quilting a dream big panel is that you get to focus on the quilting process over piecing and design. This project is great for longarmers looking to try a new challenge. The end results are something else!
How do you quilt a big dream panel?
You can practice all the fancy free-motion designs that you have been working on to finish each petal or you can do what I did and let the computer do the work for you.
Find a quilt design company like Stitch Delight and buy their Dream Big design for a longarm. They do sell it for embroidery machines as well. It comes with 52 different designs for each individual petal on the Dream Big panel.
First, baste the entire quilt. I used 2 battings (I used Hobbs 80/20 and 100% cotton) so that the design would have more definition and puff because that is what this quilt is all about! So I really wanted the quilting to stand out.
I did start on the #1 petal, but I don’t actually suggest that. Start on #52 (the middle section) and move outward. That way any extra fabric will be pushed to the outer edges.
It takes a lot, I mean A LOT of thread. Every line is double quilted. So more thread than you think.
Plan the colors of thread you want to use and mark it on the design guide that comes with your PDF. As you roll one direction and then another you tend to forget what color you used on which petal. **This is if you are doing a multi-colored panel like mine. They do come in monochromatic colors as well so this wouldn’t matter because you most likely would use one color throughout.
Each petal took 10-20 minutes to stitch out.
Start each petal with a full or nearly fully bobbin. Do not use one that has less than half. If your bobbin runs out it is a huge pain to find your place again, especially on the cross stitch parts. I really struggled to find my new starting point because each line is double stitched. The best thing I did was put my start point where I thought the bobbin ran out and turned off the stitching on my HQ Fusion so the machine would move and show me if I had already stitched that section or not. Then if I could tell it hadn’t I would go back and turn on the stitching. This is done by touching the Prostitcher and on the right sidebar where you can turn on the pull-up thread or tie-off buttons. Above that is a stitch button that you can toggle off and it lets the machine move, but the needle stays still. Make sure your needle is up.
As you finish your first petal, leave the design open on your workspace. Then open the next petal. Pick one that is next to the petal you just stitched. Lay it right next to the last petal and it should be lined up really nice. If you need to roll your quilt do a drag and drop with your needle down in the quilt before you roll so the design stays anchored to the quilt. That way you can line up each petal quickly and precisely. Otherwise, it takes a few minutes to get the next petal lined up just right and some will look lined up but then they stitch out differently and you get some overlap. In the end, you can’t really tell where I overlapped because the overall quilt is stunning, but I know it’s there and it bothers me.
WARNING: Unpicking is a huge pain. I did one petal because my tension was off and I had loops on the back and I didn’t like the thread color at all. It took me 3 hours to unpick one small petal. It was awful.
If you want a stunning piece of art to hang or to gift this is the project for you. Even for a beginner quilter. As long as you know how to run your computerized longarm or embroidery machine this turned out to be a show stopper. I love it more than I thought I would. Take my tips and start yours.
Watch along as my longarm machine takes on this beautiful project and I walk you through my process. Head to our YouTube Channel HERE.
- Always start with a full bobbin
- Start in the middle and move to the outer sections
- Plan your thread colors before you start
- You need LOTS of thread
- Be patient