Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Plaids Galore

This is Lori's quilt. She got the pattern from the Quilt Maker magazine and called me to ask if I would quilt it. "Bleached muslin and Cheap Walmart plaid fabric" is the way she described it. Wow, what longarm quilter wouldn't jump for joy to get this quilt. 9 17-inch block made in a checker board pattern alternating the muslin and the paid fabrics and 6 inch sashing, plus 3 borders. Yeah, it was wonky, not square. When I see lots of straight lines, I try to soften them with flowing lines, like curls, swirls and circles.

I quoted 2 prices; one for custom involving lots of circles and one for edge-to-edge using the Circle Lord SwirlZ template. Lori chose the Swirlz.

The backing was a Moda wide back and no it was not square matching selvage to selvage. I'm finding more and more of these widebacks are not square. Thank goodness she bought a bigger back because I had to square it and lost as much as 3.5 inches getting it square. It was one of those white on white with HUGE flowers, like Hibiscus painted on.

So I wanted to be very careful when quilt this one. Make sure I don't run out of thread or break thread. Needles holes do not heal when you have to remove stitches from this painted backing. Think "Minimize your stops and starts". Then I examined the top and realized that there was no way I would be able to quilt this from the back of the machine because of the fullness in unexpected places on the quilt top. So no panto and no templates. I would have to swirl in free motion. That's cool, I love to work from the front of the machine.


So within the first 8 inches, I started to have problems. The machine would skip 5 or 6 stitches and then it would resume quilting before I could stop and check it. It did it twice. I put a pin thru the quilt and looked on the underside. I figured that it was the painted backing. RATZ! It looked like it lined up with a big painted flower. Of course, there were painted flowers everywhere. Some of hte petals were almost an inch wide. I went back and fixed the bad spots, of course, making additional holes in that painted back. RATZ! I forged ahead and it happened several more timew on the first row.

I called the quilt shop to rant about %#*@$ painted fabric. The owner, Martha, is a friend. So she listened to my sad story and suggested that I change the backing. I wanted to get it done now, not have to stop, wait for permission, replace the backing, yada, yada. So I checked everything. I changed the bobbin, the bobbin case, another cone of the same thread and got the same results. I put on a practice piece and crap, I still had skipped stitches. The light bagan to dawn. The painted backing is not the problem. RATZ! I have to time my machine. My husband just timed it last week-end. I needed to take a break because I was crying on the quilt. Not really but you get the idea that I hate to time my machine. Too many tools, flashlight and squatting to make sure this lines up with that.

OK, I took Steve Anderson's Timing is Everything class at MQS in May so I should be able to do this. My husband Terry took Rick Taylors Gammill Maintenance class at MQS. So I'll just let him time it. But that meant I would lose the whole day of quilting waiting for him to get home from work.

(resigned) Oh, alright, I'll time it myself.

Gammill makes a great Maintenance book. Well, maybe I should have said "good" instead of "great". The book would get my "great" rating if it said things like "rotate the freewheel clockwise only" and "after timing the hook, use the holes on the side of the machine head to reach the set screws in the bobbin race without rotating the hook and tighten the 2 screws in the hook race". Those were key phrases to me. Well, they were key phrases that I got from my Gammill dealer, Barbara, after 4 unsuccessul attempts to re-time. I penciled those tidbits in so the next time I will know.

So why wasn't this key information in my book, my notes from Timing class or Terry's notes from his Gammill maintenance class? I don't know. But then the light bulb went off. My machine worked fine last week. I had Terry time my machine this past weekend because I ran over a couple of pins and well, he needed to practice timing. This was the first quilt since he re-timed. When I explained this new info to him, I could almost see the light bulb go off above his head. Ah-HA. I coudn't be angry with him, he had followed the same procedure in the book that I had. Live and learn.

Back to Lori's quilt. The quilting was smooth after the machine was re-timed and I continued quilting without major problems. I kept pulling the quilt up to clean up bright threads under the white muslin. No matter how much I trimmed, there were more. I used the #14 crochet hook to grab a couple of the stray threads but there were too many. I used Quilter's Dream Puff batting and Superior So Fine thread #401 Snow on top and in the bobbin.

I trimmed it, got some photos and called her at 8:30 PM. She had just gotten home from work and wanted to come right over and pick it up. She loved it. OK, mission accomplished.

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My life has changed in the last couple of years - some bumps, I retired from quilting, and then I moved to Texas. I'm anxious to see what new adventures await me in the next phase of my life.

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Ramona, California, United States
I started quilting when a quilt shop opened in our little town in January 2004. I have been hooked ever since.

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Books I"ve read lately

  • The Help (Kindle)
  • The Appeal by John Grisham
  • Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
  • Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
  • To Kill a Mockingbird (again) by Harper Lee
  • Bleachers by John Grisham

This is called Fruit Cocktail

This is called Fruit Cocktail
It is all batiks