I took everyone's advice and took the plunge. I rolled the top and batting on one rail and the back on the other. Got everything assembled and started quilting (machine quilting on a John Flynn frame), and it was a disaster. The two front rails with the top and backing are suppose to hang off the table and balance on these huge plastic tubes to keep it level with the sewing machine. The one with the qulted quilt on it is between the needle and the rest of the machine. I had a hard time because m wrist hurt too bad to control the quilt and manuver it around the machine. That was my right wrist, my left shoulder has bothered me for years and it couldn't take the balancing act either.
So I ripped about 3 inches all the way across this lap quilt. Then I basted 3 layers together and tried again without the frame. I couldn't get the hang of keeping my speed up versus the size of my stitches. I even put a practice "sandwich" together to get some practice in before attempting the real thing. I guess I need years worth of practice because it didn't look very good and I ripped again.
I have 2 machines, my Bernina and a Shark Euro Pro. The 2nd one is really better for free motion, but the whole bobbin mechanism pops out of place in the middle of sewing fast which is what happened before and what you need to do when FMQ. I don't have a new enough Bernina to have a stitch regulator built in. So I am going to try to fix the Euro myself and try again. I don't know what I will do if that doesn't work. There is no money in the budget to put the Euro in the shop and no money to pay to have it quilted. It may end up being a lap quilt quilted in my lap. Not exactly what I was aiming for, but better than nothing. I can machine quilt on the Bernina, just not free motion quilting. I am frustrated to say the least. The quilt is 8 inch blocks with 3 hearts sewn onto each block. Its just crying out for all the little squiggles of FMQ.
Such is my sad tale of woe.
Things can only improve from this point--right? :?