Stitch in the ditch problem
I start in the middle and stitch in the ditch, but at some point I will have to have almost the whole quilt rolled up on the right inside to continue to stitch in the ditch.
There's got to be a better way.
Do I always have to start in the middle of the quilt?
While there have been quilters who've recommended stitching out from the center of the quilt for all your lines of quilting, I'm not one of them.
As you've found, one of the biggest problems is that you end up with a whole lot of quilt underneath the arm of the sewing machine. That's a lot, too much even, to try to maneuver. Furthermore, if you stitch out from the center in both directions of a seam, your quilt is prone to more distortion. The center will form a little volcano if you're not extremely careful.
Instead, I recommend ditch quilting your quilt as I've explained on the page How to Machine Quilt Your First Quilt
. This page will show you how to quilt both straight and on-point layouts. There are diagrams for the order of quilting about half way down the page.
By going about the machine quilting in the manner described, you'll only ever have half of your quilt sandwich underneath the needle at one time.
I use this method for all my quilts. Even the Birthday Quilt shown just below.
The Birthday Quilt
A single Irish Chain quilt pattern with blocks set on point.
You might think that stitching all those diagonal rows to the right of the first line of quilting would somehow distort the quilt. However, a good pin basting job...I like to feel at least two pins under my palm after I've basted...minimizes any possible distortion.
Let me know if this helps.