Sunday, June 22, 2014

I HAVE HAD MORE FUN....

...doing other things: vacuuming, swabbing a toilet, shaving my legs, cooking supper.   Just the same, I finally managed to install the quilt on the frame today.  I made several mistakes with this quilt.  Perhaps only one.  I washed the quilt top after I pieced it.  The seams unraveled and created a mess on the back.  There were multitude thread nests.  I spent over an hour last night trimming them off.   I don't think the Bailey would tolerate them.

It took me about an hour to sew the zip leaders on to the quilt top and back this morning.  Prep work is crucial; not unlike a nice paint job.  Spend the time prepping the quilt for installation on the frame and your time actually quilting is more enjoyable.  I am still intimidated by this process.  I had cut up an old sheet and used the strips for "leaders" for the zippers.  I sewed the zipper onto one edge of the strip and sewed the edge of the sheet to the quilt top, thus preserving the zipper tape.  I found that I was not so accurate when I cut the sheet.  Other quilts have not mounted to the frame evenly.  I spent some time yesterday making a new leader from a "striped" sheet.  The stripes were woven into the fabric and difficult to see.  I had planned to make new leaders for all of the zippers from this sheet but changed my mind after the first one.  I ordered some cotton ticking instead and will use that to upgrade the zipper leaders. 

I panicked a bit this morning when I zipped the quilt onto the frame.  The back was way out of square, or so I thought.  I thought that I would have to remove the zipper from the back and acutally square it up by cutting it.  Bull shit.  I was not undoing work.  Instead I wound the back and top onto the take up rail and found that it was not out of square at all.  The center of the quilt back is pieced and it has much less "stretch" factor than the rest of the back. I had washed it after I pieced it, too. Same mistake.  I think that created some shrinkage.  I wound the back onto its take up rail and stretched and smoothed the center part as I did so.  This took additional time but the result was worth it.  The quilt back is tidily wound onto its rail and the quilt top "floats" on top of it and the batting.  Next quilt I will take photos,  I promise.

While it is true the TBHITW (The Best Husband In The World) recently returned from a trip to California and is about to go off to Vermont for a few days, he did take the time yesterday to make blocks for the frame so that it is 3 1/2 inches higher.  I am 5'7" (I am probably really 5'6" but at 5'7" my BMI is lower) and I would have to bend over or really spread my legs out to get a good view of the needle  The additional 3.5 inches makes a huge difference.

Steve cut a 4 inch block of pressure treated lumber into 4 inch high blocks.  Then he drilled out a hole in the center of each about 1/2 inch deep so that the feet on the frame would sit inside.  We had to adjust for level and that, my friends, was a PITA.  I had glued some felt on to the bottom of each block.  This was good for floor protection but bad for frame stability.  We had leveled the frame together.  Steven lifted the frame while I adjusted the feet.  According to the 6 foot level, all was good.  I discovered, however, that a couple of feet weren't even touching the bottom of the hole.  I adjusted them (finally figuring out how to get a little wrench in there to do it).  Steven proclaimed that I was creating another problem and putting the frame out of level. 

"The only way to do the fine tuning is to have the machine on the frame and do it then."

"I don't think so.  I don't see how I can adjust these with the machine in place."

I hate it when he is right.  I moved the machine down the frame and found that it wanted to list toward the back of the frame in one spot.  Damn.  I had to adjust that foot (opposite the one I had raised up earlier).  Of course, could I remember which way made the stupid foot go up?  Nope.  I had to ask T and E (Trial and Error) to help.  Now I know;  righty higher, lefty lower). The frame wobbled too much, too. It was sliding on the floor.  I thought the rug anti slip material was a brilliant idea.

I took my first stitches this afternoon.  The machine is working well and the stitches look even.  I don't see much tension problem. I am winding my own bobbins on my favorite machine; Kenmore 158.1760.  It seems a shame to relegate this lovely machine to bobbin winding only.  For now, though, it is the best solution.  I need a perfectly wound bobbin for good stitches.  I could use pre-wounds but the color choice is limited.  When I get some time I will set up a 15-91 and see how it does.

I am not an expert machine quilter.  I am not an artist.  I don't doodle well.  I can meander quite nicely but other designs defy me.  Somewhere I learned about muscle memory as the key to being a decent quilter.  I believe it.  I have quilted several quilts with the random, meandering design.  I feel comfortable with it.  I would like to learn spirals and flowers and, of course, feathers.  Some people use pattern boards.  I don't see the point.


Back of quilt.  Meandering design
Do you see the lighter thread poking through?  Likely those stitches will nest into the batting when the quilt is off the frame ( I hope, I hope, I hope).
Quilt top. Spiral attempt.      

  
Top stitches look fairly decent
I was heading in to the house to have a glass of wine when I looked back and saw this.  You can see how I am improving even with the little bit of practice.  Now that the quilt is on the frame I can have some fun.  I guess it was worth the effort, albeit challenging.  I must remind myself that I am yet a novice. 

Onward





13 comments:

  1. Ohhhh - that looks lovely!!

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  2. Wow, what a lot of work to get to the stitching! Hope now that it is set up, you can just fly through it. I can see improvement in your stitching. I have a pile of quilts that I need to dive into. Figuring out the designs is the most time consuming part for me.

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    1. Yes. BUT I figure if I had to put the whole thing on a table to safety pin it before I could sit down to FMQ it would be more work. My poor thumb couldn't take all that pinning. I am still struggling up the learning curve. If I were an artist it would be better. I just don't know how to draw or doodle. So I keep practicing with pencil and paper. I won't ever be terrific, I just want to have fun.

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  3. Lookin' good Elizabeth! You have A LOT more patience and persistence than I have.

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  4. You will be a pro in no time. The 3rd picture of your meandering stitches where you pieced that is amazing.... great job!

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  5. Even if your readers don't leave tons of comments, know that we appreciate and enjoy your blog.

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  6. I can see the improvement, have fun playing on your new toy!

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  7. It looks really nice and you ARE an artist!

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  8. The quilt is already looking so nice. What a wonderful set up. If I had the space I would really have to get a long arm. Keep at it you are doing great.

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  9. Dear Elizabeth: I found your blog from another blog and I really love it and have it bookmarked and added my name to the Google Friend List. I have started learning how to fix sewing machines and your blog has become a valuable source of information and easy to follow. Thank you. I am also a sewist/seamstress and enjoy sewing my own clothes and making home décor. Right now I'm working on some chair covers. I am also thinking of making a quilt for a great nephew but I just know the block pattern so I think I will go with that and add a nice ruffle to the edge. I've never really got into quilting but I like the way you quilt with all the different size blocks. Take care and keep up your great work. Sincerely, Lamar from Houston, Texas

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    1. Lamar, I lived in Houston in the mid 70s. Lasted a year. Humidity and heat are not my friends.

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  10. Dang! What a lot of prep work! It's looking beautiful!

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    1. But I still think it is better than pinning the whole thing and trying to FMQ on a table top machine. I have done that. BTW, as of today, 7/2/14, the quilting is complete. I just have to trim it and bind it.

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