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 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|
|Quilt top. Spiral attempt.|