Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Fledgling Attempt at Machine Quilting

I wasn't quite ready to tackle machine quilting the Scrappy Bargello yet, so I decided to start with a small quilt top that I finished last year. Simple pattern, composed of half square triangles, a pattern called Ric Rac. Our local quilt shop conducts Project Linus drives periodically, so all the fabrics for the top were donated; and each quilter was given a package of squares, border fabrics, and the directions to create a quilt.

I used 505 spray adhesive to secure the layers of the quilt, with a few flathead flower pins thrown in for good measure. Although I've been warned not to use pins like this, naturally I had to give it a try. It actually worked out okay, and I only stabbed myself once. It helps to be wearing two layers of long sleeved clothing and machine quilters gloves, so there's no flesh exposed.

Next time, I think I'd like to try using a fusible batting. The spray adhesive seemed to work pretty well, but it's a chore to spray baste a larger quilt. If anyone has any experience with fusible batting, I'd appreciate hearing from you.

I've only made one pass down the length of the quilt so far, quilting a three-block width at a time, and I sure learned a lot. Big difference between manipulating an entire quilt top and the small 8-1/2 x 11-inch sandwiches I've been practicing on. I had to reposition my hands every three or four inches, and every start and stop is visible to me, either because the stitches are very tiny, or because the quilt pulled against the needle a little bit when I was repositioning, and the needle jumped when I started quilting again. As I went along, I gradually relaxed and slowed down a little, which gave me better control. By the time I got to the end of the row, I could see some small improvements in the consistency of the stitch length, and the starts and stops.

I have a Bernina stitch regulator attached to my machine; and while it is a huge help, it functions best if you can maintain a fairly steady pace. If I jerk my hands for some reason, the stitch regulator responds by creating a toe hooker; and I had some big ones in this first pass.

I was delighted that there were no tucks on the back. I thought I smoothed the layers out well; but yet when I machine quilted down to the end of the row, the backing was bunched up at the end. I ran a basting thread around the whole outside edge of the quilt, and the backing bunched up against that basting thread. Removing the basting thread will alleviate the problem, but I'm wondering now what will happen when I quilt the rest of the quilt. Will it be out of square? Will one section shift more than another? I'm exhausted after all this, so only tomorrow will tell.

Credit where credit is due:
Ric Rac quilt design by Debbie Mumm, Aug 2001 Quilting Project of the Month


Anonymous said...

Looks like you are off and running...I am amazed at all you do..it truly is your passion...good job and it will get easier..Marg

Pat said...

The stippling is looking good, Sue. The bigggest hurdle is just starting free motion quilting! you'll get *into your groove* and will wonder why you were hesitant!WTG :)

Dobbie and Papa said...

Hello! I am a from Indiana and I am setting up a quilt shop in my cabin.I have a longarm already; I was thinking of giving a client a lesson to learn basic operation and then renting it out or use..can I ask you what you would pay to rent hours on a longarm...I need input from a "customers" viewpoint! I have found 20$ an hour so far or 100$ a day...I am also going to offer quilt retreats and thought the gals would like to be able to longarm while here for the days they pay to stay..Any information you can give is important to me! Quilted Blessings! Kari..I have site at oldgloryquiltshop.com and a blog at oldegloryquiltshop.blogspot.com....you can email your opinion at ksflick@gmail.com! Thanks..

Exuberant Color said...

I use the Hobbs fusible batting on small quilts and am happy with it. the quilt should be nice and square to start with though. You will want to wash it afterwards to get the glue out and make it soft.