4/19/10

Rainy weekend and quilting secrets

Saturday, there were flash floods. Of course, we didn't know that because we decided to take a drive because we couldn't work in the yard or clean the carpets. But, when we got home, we had our own little downpour, complete with booming thunder and a lightening show. Rained like that for almost an hour and then it was over as quick as it started. By Sunday, the weather was cool and dry and we cleaned carpets and worked in the yard, both. This is a picture of some wildflowers we drove past.


And, in my spare time, I decided to work on putting this little BOM together. This is from Block Central and was their last year's quilt. During the year, she had us build sections for the sashing and borders, but there was still a lot of work just to get me to this point. I have the rows together, but haven't joined them. There are three pieced borders and 2 solid borders that go on the outside of this. All the pieces are made, but are not put together into their rows yet. This pattern was for a queen sized quilt, but I don't need another of those right now, and made it half size. It should come out about 45 inches square. Each block is 6 inches finished and the sashing finishes at 1 1/2 inches wide.


After the pictures of the fancy quilting last week, Christine asked what tools I use. I'm using a 20 year old Bernina 930. This gear driven machine is powerful, heavy and quiet, so I can sit for hours and quilt and listen to TV without turning it up and waking up the house. I have a custom machine table with a fold up extension arm and I put another sewing machine table folded up at my left elbow to carry some of the weight of my projects. I've been free-motion quilting on marked tops for 4 years and got into free-hand free-motion in 2009.

The first thing I learned that helped me be a better machine quilter was to make sure the tools were set up right. I regularly got birds nests on the backs of my work when quilting, even though tension was great when sewing on this machine. Turned out I was using the wrong bobbins for my bobbin case. They were the right bobbins for the bobbin case that was installed in the 930 one year before mine was made, but not for my machine. I think the bobbin had just enough room to tilt and jam and that caused the top thread to wad on the back of the quilt. Changing to the right bobbin helped that part, but I still couldn't get my tension just right and I ended up with either bobbin pop-up or top thread pop-down, or both. Thought I was destined to use the same color thread in the top and bobbin forever, but then I bought a quilting kit that included the Magic Genie Bobbin Washers and that problem was solved. Now, I get perfect tension so long as I use the same weight thread in the top and bobbin, and rarely have to adjust my tension.

In that quilting kit, I also got the Supreme Slider. The 930 is metal and the bed is finished like a car, so seems it would be very smooth, but it had a drag to it, even when I used car wax on it to make it smoother. But, the Supreme Slider gave me just what I needed. My machine doesn't allow me to drop the feed dogs, so I keep a piece of post it paper with a hole punched through under the slider mat to keep the dogs from eating through the rubber mat. The slider is teflon and slick as a whistle and my quilts just glide on it. Now I can lay both hands on the quilt and use them like a hoop instead of using my right hand to grip the edge of the quilt and pull it along.

The last thing in the kit was the Machingers gloves. I'd used F&P gloves before, but the XL size was still tight, and they were sweaty and the seams gave out. They were okay, but I have to say that the Machingers are like not wearing gloves at all. They're only sticky on the ends of the fingers and they're thin enough that my hands don't sweat. I was worried about how long they'd hold up because they are kind of expensive, but they've done great so far and I've used them pretty heavily for about 6 months and they're still in terrific shape.



All these things are available in a package from Day Style Designs. Leah is also the quilter in the links I posted last week for the free hand motifs I've been using in the quilt. Leah is terrific. She shows a video of how she creates the motif and I can copy that. She's creating 365 motifs and while not all of them would work on this quilt because it needs rounds and curves, many will and I plan to imitate as many as I can. As far as machine speed? I cannot run my machine as fast as Leah and that explains why I can't get a good circle and my curves aren't always smooth. But, I'm practicing and this morning, noticed that I was able to go faster than I could last week. But, it's still slow progress.

Progress is progress, tho.

Take care and have a great Monday. Lane

6 comments:

Susan Entwistle said...

Keep an eye on JoAnn.com. Last week they had Machingers gloves on sale for $3.99.

lw said...

Did you remove the spring from your bobbin case before putting in the teflon washers? If so, how hard is it to put back?

Elizabeth said...

Thanks for sharing your process for free-motion quilting. I've always taken quilts to the long-arm quilter because I was afraid to try, but recently took a beginning machine quilting class and loved it. I'm learning as much as I can and every little bit helps. Love your BOM, the colors are fantastic!

Esteemarlu said...

What a great post Lane. I just bought the Supreme Slider and will use it as soon as I get back from the trip. I also have the Machingers and I do like those too but what the heck are Magic Bobbin Washers? I just machine quilted my first quilt and loved doing it but I'm still afraid of going too fast. Everyone in my household couldn't believe I finished a quilt in one day.:)

Jeannette said...

Are you sure you can't drop the dogs? My 930R has a double dial at the bottom right that lets you drop the dogs with the outer dial and run some extra fancy stitches with the inner dial.

Jeannette in CO

Reagan Fox said...

Supreme Slider and Machingers...AMAZING! love them both, but I am having the problems with the tension also. Its either the tension is so tight, I break top thread, or so loose, Im not sure how the thread even stays on the machine!!! Always looking for that happy spot. But I think that im going to break down and get the teflon bobbin thingies. I hear really good stuff about em! Cant hurt I guess.