I had wanted to try it for years and it was another one of those not-ever-getting-around-to-it things. I like making quilts. I like putting fabric together like a collage, to make new patterns out of existing. I think mostly I just really like color and pattern and how they interact.
But mostly I'd just paid attention to the putting-together bits and not to the part about combining it into a coherent whole. I very much admire the work of other machine quilters. I know how to hand quilt, and have done so, but it's slow. I don't have a lot of free time. I know many people get satisfaction out of slow handwork, and I do too (see also the piles of knitting). But I very much wanted some things to be FINISHED. I wanted them to be DONE.
I used to dislike practice when I was growing up. But I adore it now: when I practice I don't have to be perfect. I can mess up and say "oops" and it's OK and move on. Because it's practice.
I eventually actually completed an entire machine-quilted quilt. Yes I did.
It was also practice, just a more complete one. This is a cheater cloth I've had stashed away (for practicing on) for YEARS. I don't even want to admit how many. The quilt isn't all that good, but hey, I'm new at this, and it doesn't have to be anything but a pathway to getting better. (For you non-quilters, a cheater cloth is one that is pre-printed with a design. None of that is fabric sewn together except the outside yellow border and the green binding and the backing)
Also, it does indeed help to use a back that obscures the stitches.
It took a long time to work on a quilt top that was "nice," on which I specifically wanted to do a good job. Not so much practice as performance. The first top that I felt ready to quilt, and I wanted it to look good, was Circus Tents. I remember I had a lot of fun putting the top together. The dark blue is a good foil for bright colors, and I could go pretty wild on the tent stripes. I maybe have a thing for wild prints.
I decided to do some meandering stars in the blue parts, and then whatever I felt like in the stripes. If I don't enjoy doing the quilting, why bother to do it? So I'm going to do what I like.
I'm still not so great. But I'm better than where I started. Even better, I've found that I actually enjoy the quilting. And I REALLY am enjoying actually finishing up things that have been lurking around for so many years.