While I was busy pondering the problem of the uneven quilting on the Japanese ladies, I popped the Tokyo Subway under the needle and got a few of my orange peel/melon shapes stitched out.
This is the same quilting as per the pattern, and I don't see any reason to change it. This is a FMQ pattern that I love, but not enough that I would mark out a grid to complete. The Tokyo Subway with it's million and one squares is the perfect match for this pattern... and it's pretty straightforward too! This quilting pattern is described on Oh Fransson!'s blog in her tutorial listing.
Then back to The Ladies. After a bit of analysis with Monika, we figured part of the problem was that the quilting on the printed fabrics literally disappeared into nothing, with the quilting showing up much better on the white sashing areas. The next problem being, that sometimes the bulk of the pattern was on the white, other times the bulk of the pattern was on the print (which you couldn't see) so it looked like that area wasn't even quilted - even when it was relatively even! A solution of sorts was to beef up the quilting on the white areas in particular to give the impression of heavier quilting.
This is so hard to capture on camera. But I do think you can see the silver lining in this cloud... the heavier quilting gave it a much more textural effect - probably what I was trying to achieve in the first place, without really knowing it. The textural quilting doesn't detract from the fabrics in the way that the open vine did. Quilting is all a huge learning curve, regardless of your expertise and experience.
I still haven't 100% solved the density problem - but I'm pretty happy. I think that the 60/40 cotton/polyester batting has effected the overall look too, I'm more comfortable and used to the 100% thin cotton look.
I'm going to finish the stitching on the binding of this one... and then see how I feel about it. Sometimes you need to step away, and look at things with fresh eyes.
Back to the quilting...