Having been given a jelly roll and a quilting book for Christmas 2010, there is no excuse not to get on with quiltmaking.

Here's what happened next...


Sunday, 21 August 2011

Musings of a Free Machine Quilter!

Thoughts following this evening's progress:

-I've broken two needles (something to do with the quilting foot - the plastic presser is very close to where the needle strikes down - I may have to do a little 'adjusting' with a file)

-I can only do about ten mins at a time before the shoulders ache

-the pickup on the needle is not smooth when you apply your foot to the pedal. This is not an issue when piecing, but it is when quilting - I'd like a needle speed of somewhere in the middle of 'needle stationary' and 'needle doing a million stitches per second'. Not sure if this is something that would improve if I had the machine serviced (something long overdue, I'm sure).

-the thread breaks too easily (the top tension seems to have to be twanging tight in order to keep the bottom thread from looping)

-It is much quicker to free machine quilt than ever I had thought - I was surprised to find that this evening's session has seen about a quarter of the body of the quilt complete

-I am seriously less than smooth in manouevering the quilt over the plate - stitch consistancy does not bear close scrutiny!

-I've not made a good choice with the quilting thread - I've used a varigated copper/green which picks up the darker colours really well, but this shows up far to strongly on the pale colours. Cream would have worked better, I think.

But as a first effort this is not too shoddy, though - and although I'm mulling over the latter two points (not ruling out unpicking and starting again), I am actually very pleased with the overall look of the thing.

On balance, a good night.


  1. You're right on track with your musings. Breaking needles happens - some of it will be because even though you don't realise you are doing it, you'll be pulling/pushing/moving the fabric whilst the needle is down and that causes deflection and THAT contributes to breaking.

    10 minutes is all most people can manage!

    Quilting is HARD on machines - yes, get yours serviced and you should notice a huge difference.

  2. Ditto everything Bilbo says. The only other thing I'd suggest is putting a little spray polish on your machine bed, which, I'm told, helps the fabric to glide smoothly. I'm sure Sewali will have some helpful suggestions for you, but I think it looks great.

  3. Another thought (sorry, you know I am full of them).

    If you are unsure of the quilting thread now, you will not like it any better when you have quilted more but you will have HOURS more unpicking to do .... you can guess how I know this.

    Sometimes, contrast between quilting thread colour and fabric is what you want, sometimes it's too much (and at this stage in your quilting career, a colour which blends more with the fabric is a tad more forgiving of any stitching irregularities). A good way to audition thread is to unwrap a metre or so off a spool (don't break it off) and gently lay it over the quilt top (make it a squiggly line which emulates your quilting pattern). Do this with three or four spools of thread and you can usually tell immediately which is the right one for you.

    Sorry, feel free to delete/ignore this comment. After all, it's YOUR quilt and YOUR opinion is really the only one which matters.

  4. Thank you for the advice, girls, always welcome, as you know.

    Collegue Rita has told me to get a grip and find the Singer manual to do oil points/brush lint out before I go squandering my hard-earned on a service - she says that is all the chap at McCalls will do anyway, and charge me 30-odd quid for the privilege!

    I've polished the plate, Sue (although that was when I started out) - although Bilbo recommends a silicon based polish, which I can't find at the mo. More research needed! 'Sticky' gloves are proving invaluable - another Top Tip there!

    I have to agree that you are right, Bilbo - it's lovely thread but it's too 'heavy handed' for the design and takes it over - and that is before you look closely at the quilting and see that it is a bit - er - first time, if you know what I mean! Just nipping to HC now for something that will blend and not shout!

  5. I think Mr Sheen used to be silicon based - don't know if the Health & Safety elves have made them change it.

    If you haven't been brushing lint out of your bobbin area EVERY TIME you change the bobbin then you deserve every skipped/uneven stitch you get :} (sorry, being stroppy now). You could probably find a Singer manual online but I'm afraid I will have to disagree with Rita and say that 30-odd quid would be money well spent. Whenever I have a machine serviced I always notice a huge difference in stitch quality and how nicely it sews.

  6. Just catching up and not sure I can add much to the previous comments. The breaking needle is almost definitely due to you jerking the quilt, don't worry, smooth gliding comes with practice. Don't try to go too fast to start with. I agree with Bilbo, a machine service is definitely worth the money, particularly if it's not been done in ages. They can get to all the bits you can't reach without taking the thing apart.

    A quick way to unpick without using the seam ripper (which risks cutting the fabric) - find yourself a rubber finger tip like the bank tellers used to use to count money. Put it on the middle finger of your dominant hand, then take the top thread and wrap it round the rubber finger - pull until the thread snaps. Turn the quilt over and do the same with the back thread. Keep going from front to back, pulling and snapping the thread - you'll be surprised at how quickly your stitching pulls out. It's a tedious job, but worth it in the end. If you're not happy with the quilting for whatever reason, it's all you'll see when you look at the quilt. The time spent unpicking is soon forgotten!


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