I worked on machine quilting the past couple of weekends. Hmmm... I think I am actually improving. I had some success with the spiral free-hand pattern I had in mind for the big dotty blocks, but found the ones closer to the center to be harder. But from a distance they look pretty cool. Then I did the border. All went well until about the last foot of the last side. ICKY blobs of fabric appeared and then there was nowhere else for them to go except into a big pleated lump near the corner. I was quite disappointed, but drh says it's not a big deal. I'm glad he thinks so, since it's his quilt.
Anyway, I have been hand stitching the binding and got that almost half done in one evening. I like it and since I unwittingly started near the lumpy corner, it is already past and I guess I can now ignore it. But I feel I learned a lot and for the most part enjoyed the whole thing. I did talk to a helpful fabric and quilt shop owner who gave me tips and seemingly measuring the borders before stitching them on will help avoid the bubbles at the ends. I will certainly try it next time.
She also gave me hope that I can do what I want with my current sewing machine, instead of upgrading by several hundred dollars.
I'm happty to say that something that turned out well so far is the mitering on the corners on the binding. All in all, it is a successful project and I'm eager to continue on the next one.