Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Stardate 2016.13.1

Free-Motion Quilting: Getting to Know a New Machine

“Being challenged in life is inevitable, being defeated is optional.”   - Roger Crawford

With the New Year brings new challenges.  That’s okay.  After all, it’s the challenges of life that build our character and force us to learn and grow.  So, here I go growing again…

Over the holidays, I finally dove in and purchased a Handi Quilter Sweet 16 quilting machine. Well, now, I’d gotten to where I’d pretty much mastered free motion quilting on my Janome 6600P machine, but this new machine is a learning curve in and of itself.  The machine is not hard to use, it’s just taking some time to get used to moving the quilt underneath it, getting used to the machine’s own nuances (including adjusting tension), and getting used to how to maneuver all that fabric under the throat. As always, just moving a fabric “sandwich” is easy; moving a full-sized quilt is a bit tougher. 

I’d played with the quilt sandwiches and I finally decided it was just time to sandwich a quilt together and dive in.  Face your fears, right? 

While I have at least four quilt tops that are in the queue to be quilted, I decided to pick up the One Block Wonder quilt and start in on it.  Two reasons why I picked this quilt to start:  
1.  The One Block Wonder quilt has a fascinating way of hiding flaws, and,  
2.  I need to get this one done for a friend hitting a milestone birthday this year.

An unquilted portion of the OBW quilt...

I’m using King Tut thread, 40#, on a 2,000 yard cone of thread.  This quilt should take roughly half of the thread to quilt the whole thing.  But, I may change colors of thread when I get to the border as I don’t want the black thread to stand out like a sore thumb. But, that’s just a rule of thumb for how far the large spools go.

I’m doing an overall, modified fan pattern for the quilting.  Funny, my grandmother used to quilt the fan pattern on her quilts, back in the day.  Of course, then all of her quilting was done by hand and she used wooden horses to hold her quilt while she quilted it in the evening hours.  Her quilting was precision – to this day I still don’t know how she did it.  

Here’s a close up of one of her quilts…you can see the quilted fan pattern she did..

Here’s the quilt I'm working on, and yep, that's Star Trek fabric backing the quilt. She's a Trekkie, so it fits her well.

You can see some of the quilting in the foreground part of the quilt.  As you can see, the quilting blends in well, which is what I wanted as I think the beauty of the one-block-wonder design should show through.

Here's the back of the quilt...the quilting shows up better from the back side.  It's not perfect, but it'll get better as I go...

One thing I’ve learned so far is that while you have the large throat space (which is really nice!), you still need to think within your workspace.  In other words keep your design in check and don’t try to bite off more than you can chew.  My brain thought, “Oh, you have all this throat space; it’ll be super easy to quilt big designs, now”.  While the throat space does help, you still have to move the weight of the quilt around and you still need to do it as smoothly as possible to keep your quilting lines as smooth as possible.  I think I took LARGE steps at first when I probably should have just taken MEDIUM steps. But, so far the quilting is turning out okay.  Like I said, this pattern hides a multitude of sins, and I figure the more I practice, the better I’ll get at it...    

Linking up with Lorna -  Lets Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts.