I went to the source of never ending quilt wisdom, the Quiltart online group, and asked for suggestions and I got several. So today I went to the store and purchased Sewer's Aid (a silicone coating for the needles), several different types of needles, and polyester thread (I had been using rayon). I will start anew tomorrow and hope for the best. I had envisioned myself rusting more fabric and making more of this type of quilt so I hope that I can solve this puzzle.
Wish me luck and stay tuned.