Monday, November 26, 2012

There is no crying in quilting!

Actually, there is a lot of crying in quilting!!

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.

Friday, November 16, 2012

...and it worked!

I know, you all think I'm nuts.  I am... but it's good!

A long, long time ago I started a quilt.  Really?  Really!

Let me start with the fact that I have learned a lot since then.  I guess that is one of the main reasons why I never finished this quilt.  Because let me tell you, I have put a lot of heart and soul into it.  It is entirely needle-turn applique.  Made drawings and doodles -- some by myself, some by others, some tweeked... and no, at this point I don't even remember which ones -- yep, it's been THAT long.  I started this while my son was in middle school - he's almost 20 now.  The applique would keep me busy while I was waiting in parent-pickup line.  That was a lot of waiting which resulted in a lot of applique....

So, what did I learn... don't use cheap fabric!  My appliques are all done in quilt-shop quality fabrics.  The background fabric is cheapy stuff... real cheapy stuff.  It almost feels slippery, like it has a waxy coating.  Fast forward... see, that's why I never finished this quilt.  BUT... I have reason to finish it now and was very unsure how this cheapy fabric was going to behave when quilted.

I just threw a scrap up on the Gammill and tried some stitches and viola... wonderfulness!  It quilts just fine -- THANK GOODNESS!  With as much time, love, effort, etc. that has gone into this quilt, it would have been a sin to just toss it.  Here's a peek at those stitches

I can't really share much more about this quilt, except that it has a specific purpose and I'm hoping to quilt it soon!  Stay tuned for details about this one!

Monday, November 12, 2012

World Quilt Show Florida IV - MCQG Challenge

You all remember me working my little heart out on Bend, right?... No?, click here for catch up on the other posts about Bend.

Well, we just had the World Quilt Show Florida IV in West Palm Beach (another post with more on this soon) -- this is where the Martin County Quilters displayed the 2012 Challenge - Scrappy Leaves.  The challenge in which Bend was born.  We don't know the winners of the challenge until the December meeting... yes, the waiting really is killing me.  So until then, here they are (in no particular order) - the 2012 Martin County Challenges:

The Ninepatchers - A Family Reunion Quilt Pattern (Giggle Leaps By Mickey Depre)

So there you have it!  Some amazing talent in this group!