Monday, February 25, 2013

Quilting on a Home Machine...

Well, I'm making progress. Yay!!

It's not been without its challenges, that is for sure. Yesterday while quilting I had my Free Motion Quilting foot break, then ran out of thread and the only other thread I have in the right color is on a cone, not a spool. My little machine is a horizontally loading machine, not a vertical loading/threading. Hmm.

I had my husband super-glue the FMQ foot, while I tried other feet to no avail.  I tried doing a bit of quilting with the foot in the up position, only to have loose stitches and such. My quilting mentor explained that when the foot is raised, the thread is not on the tension discs. That explained the sloppy stitching. Drat. I was thus forced to take a break while the glue dried on my foot, and then hope it held well enough that I could keep going.

Meanwhile, I hopped on-line to figure out how I could use my cone of thread with my non-cone-ready machine. Most of the suggestions I found were for vertically-loading machines, and I wasn't sure if they'd work or not on my machine.

I finally found a suggestion for a machine almost identical to mine --- put an empty small spool of thread (the skinny 100 meter size spool) on the extra little spool holder, the one that is mostly used for holding the thread with which you wind the bobbin. Then put the cone down over the empty spool and thread like normal; the empty spool helps hold the cone.  I've quilted two more blocks with it threaded this way, and it seems to be working. Whew!  The now dry FMQ foot seems to be holding up, too, so I'm back in business. Thank goodness!!
working on the quilt....

After I had figured this out, I received an email from my quilting mentor about this problem; to adapt the common suggestion of "place the cone of thread in a coffee mug and set it behind your machine, then thread like normal..." to work for machines with horizontal spool holders, she suggested taping a closed safety pin to the top of my machine, next to the spool holder. Place the safety pin so that the hole is facing towards the cone-in-a-cup, then when I bring the thread up from the cone, thread it first through the hole in the safety pin and then thread as normal. Genius! If I start having thread issues, I'll switch to this method. So glad to have another option, just in case!

Despite these bumps in the road, I still got a lot done yesterday. I had already done the vertical stitch-in-the-ditch quilting, and two rows of the horizontal ditch work. Yesterday morning I finished all the horizontal rows of stitch-in-the-ditch and then -gulp!- started the hard part --- free motion quilting in the center panels, to outline the comic strips that are the star of the quilt.

the best one (also, the first one)
I am just doing lines around the outside of each comic, and across the page breaks
and when the comic is large enough, like this one, outlining the mountain as well.
It was both harder and easier than I thought.  Harder, because I keep forgetting how much more difficult it is to move a huge bed quilt around under the needle vs. a small little baby quilt or a pot holder or something. This quilt is heavy, and with all of that bulk everywhere, it's not so easy to push it and pull it to and fro. Front to back is easy enough, but sideways, especially when pulling left to right (thus creating more bulk in the small neck of the machine, which is already rather full with nearly half the quilt shoved in there....) was difficult. Near the end I decided I could do zig zags, which were actually much easier than just dragging a straight line. I'll be doing that more and more on the remaining comic strip squares, I'm sure.

next-best. this smaller one wound up a bit more poofy
.....and a few squiggles and wiggles and bumps....
On the other hand, it was easier than I thought. My only foray into FMQ'ing prior to this was trying to do cute, decorative, scrolly hearts. FMQ'ing straight(ish) lines is much easier. Much. Not that my lines stayed straight, at all, but then since I'm going to use decorative stitches for the main quilting, I'm hoping the lack of straightness won't be a huge deal. I hope.

took this one at an angle, sorry; this shows the zig-zags.
Much easier to do. Much. 
Forced breaks and all, I managed to finish 7 of the 14 comic strip blocks. Wow!! I feel like I am making really good progress on this quilt, and I'm excited and more confident now that I have those blocks done. Instead of dreading the rest, I'm now looking forward to it. Yay! Maybe a finished quilt by the weekend, depending on whether or not life allows me sewing time this week.

Can't wait to show off the finished quilt!

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