Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Sewing Frenzy

I am trying to finish two quilts for my two sister-in-laws for Christmas (yes...THIS year!).
I am also trying to do it in a relaxed manner so that I can enjoy my pre-Christmas sewing. But I am remembering why many quilters chose to "send out" their quilts for the actual quilting part...the physical challenge of pushing the entire quilt through that small space (called the "harp").  The harp on my Brother 1500 is about 6" x 8", which is relatively larger than other domestic machines, but still not big enough to eliminate the struggle. 
But it is a good upper body workout...hard on the shoulders, but still manageable for me at this stage of my life.
I finished all the stitch-in-the-ditch quilting to stabilize the vertical and horizontal seam lines. Then I did a second stitching line with the walking foot around the inside of each of the coloured diamonds, which is where I struggled with the bulk of the quilt. 
But I persevered and finished those lines and moved on to the border quilting.

Then I have remembered another reason why quilters don't like to do their own quilting...technical challenges.
My current challenge is that the thread keeps breaking. I have been up against this problem many times before. I struggled with the Presencia threads on this quilt and this one, but I on this quilt I was using a Sulky Blendables thread because I love the varigated colours.
My usual remedies for fixing thread breakage (change needle, clean and rethread machine, loosen tension, use Magic Bobbin Washers, stitch slowly, etc) did not stop the problem. I went to the Sulky website and they recommended a 14/90 topstitch needle. I tried various 14/90 needles... embroidery, quilting, microtex, and universal, and also 12/80 in topstitch needle. Nothing worked. So I went out and bought a package of 14/90 topstitch needles (because having 20 different kinds of needles to chose from at home was not enough! LOL) and this made the thread breakage less frequent but did not eliminate the problem. I would have gone back to using my favorite thread (Aurifil) because it never breaks when quilting at high speeds, but those threads don't have the wonderful colour range that other threads entice me with. Maybe it's the dying process that those varigated threads endure that makes them susceptible to breaking? 
Anyway, that's enough procrastination with complaining on the blog...time to get back to quilting!


Libby said...

Oh how frustrating this can be. I'm with you, Aurifil is my favorite thread *s*

The Cozy Quilter said...

Keep going! Your sisters-in-law will be thrilled with their quilts!

Marge said...

When my machine keeps breaking the thread I oil the bobbin casing. Works everytime.

scraphappy said...

The quilt looks fabulous. Hopefully the thread breakage won't get too frustrating. It makes sense that the dying process on the variegated thread has something to do with the thread being more delicate. Still, it is pretty enough to be worth it.

Mary said...

I admire you for tackling the project so close to Christmas. Quilt Kathy Quilt!! Hear me CHEERING you on from across the Blog-o-sphere??? Is the same thread in both the top and bobbin? That sometimes makes problems for me and my machine...

LesQuilts said...

Hi! Do you have a horizontal spindle for your upper thread? This would make less pull on your top thread. Also, maybe check your upper tension, maybe clean around and under the bobbin case, sometimes certain threads, like Mettler, will give off a lot of lint. Cotton thread does too, so does the batting, and in general, cotton fabrics.
My machine repair person states if the top thread breaks, it's about bottom tension, and vice versa for the bottom thread.
When my threads break, I make sure the fabric isn't caught on the edges of my sewing table, or pulling against the work of the machine.
I read somewhere, someone throws the bigger portion of the fabric, over their shoulder to take the weight away from the machine, or could you extend your table top with the ironing board. I have done all of the above. Sometimes, it is just the will of the machine to make your life difficult, especially when you have a deadline! LOL
Best of luck, Happy Holidays
Take care, Leslie

Susan said...

I really admire anyone that can machine quilt. I do hope to learn to do at least a little this coming year.