As least here when things go wrong -- like this weekend. I'm going to share the following story, not to criticize the piecer, but to let people know what a longarmer goes through when things aren't perfect. I should seriously rephrase that... what I go through, some other people just don't care or put the blame on someone else. Me, I usually blame myself, even when it's not my fault.
Over the weekend I loaded a customer quilt. It wasn't perfect, it had a couple of issues but nothing I was extremely worried about.
I start quilting and within seconds BAM... the craziness began. Thread was breaking what seemed like every inch. When the thread wasn't breaking, it was skipping stitches, like lots of stitches. What is going on?!! Over the course of the morning I changed needles, oiled, re-oiled, changed threads, tried different thread/bobbin combinations -- scratched my head in confusion -- changed bobbins, removed and cleaned under the plate, remove antibacklash spring and cleaned bobbin case, re-threaded the machine like a gazillion times -- cried -- triple checked my needle bar height, triple checked my hopping foot height, everything... I did it, changed it, retried, nothing helped. And I cried... again! I don't cry out of despair. I cry to relieve stress, and to not hurt people I love because they walked by when things weren't going well.
On top of all those issues the quilting design I had planned wouldn't work as the seams on this quilt were pressed to one side, not trimmed and were thick. Some much thicker than others. Needless to say upon hitting one my hopping foot moved and the needle broke... not much goodness at this point -- and more crying. STOP... regroup. Rip out all the stitches that look like crap because I can't get up to the center of the block. Try a different quilting configuration... nope -- rip it out. Cry again. At this point my stress level is so high blinking could easily cause crying. BUT... I must continue. What I'm not telling you is it is already Sunday and the only thing I have accomplished is unquilting this quilt twice! Cry again, just because that is bad! Oh, and I have also texted my bestie a bazillion times... mostly saying WTF... I'm crying again! Like I said, many longarmers would have unracked the quilt, called the customer, and said I'm not quilting this, come pick it up. This is one of my regular customers and other than the thick seams (probably from rushing to finish) and some wonkiness in the borders the rest of the issues seemed to be machine and/or thread related. Why would I make her pick-up her quilt? For whatever reason I was having extreme difficulties working on this quilt. But, I was going to finish it, tears and all!
I finally found an acceptable thread/bobbin combination that resulted in no skipped stitches, but the thread was still breaking way more than I find acceptable. My best bet for quilting to avoid all those thick seams was to do an all-over meander. Okay... I quilted, it took me all day but this quilt was finally finished. I did notice that the thread seemed to be breaking a lot while stitching through one particular fabric. Not always, but a lot. Could that have been a reason... IDK!
Whew... it was a trying experience, I still do not know what was going on... could have been the fact that it was beautiful outside and all the windows were open, could have been a full moon, could have been Mercury in retrograde... I don't know, but I was most certainly going to find out!
Today I decided I'd load some fabric and doodle my heart out to find out what was going on with the machine, the thread, everything. Well, good thing I was putzing around and didn't load that fabric because while eating lunch I had an awesome brainstorm. I should draw out a mini wholecloth quilt and stitch it out. If I have problems I'll still be able to correct the issues and if not, I might just have a Christmas gift finished!
Well, guess what... you're not going to believe this... not a single skipped stitch, not a single thread break, nothing! The only problem I had was keeping my ruler straight while doing my curve cross hatching! That's it! I used a cotton sateen fabric with the same batting as the problem quilt and a cotton backing. Why were there no problems today -- you tell me?!! It's possible because the South Florida humidity was back!
So, here's my mini:
I am really glad I stitched out something instead of just doodling. I think I really needed to prove to myself that yes, things go wrong and no, it isn't my fault and doesn't make me less of a quilter.