Friday, June 14, 2013

My learning curve

New machine, new learning curve.
   It was time to change the needle in the quilting machine---she needs a name, but I haven't found it yet.  Easy, I thought, just pop in the needle.  And immediately I began to get a lot of skipped stitches.  This I was sure was operator error.  I checked my threading and noted that the front--facing me-- of the needle was correct with the groove.  Note---on the quilter, the  needles do not have a flat side.  They are completely round at the top.  The long groove in the shaft faces the operator and the scarf indent faces away.
   I re-read the book and saw a mention about the "eye being at 6:00".  I found a video that showed a slick trick--at least to me--on how to set the needle eye correctly.     By inserting a flower head pin into the eye, I quickly saw that the eye was not quite at 6:00.

   By simply loosening the screw, I could twist the needle to exactly 6:00. more skipped stitches.  Such a little tiny adjustment made a huge difference.
   So back to stitching--a little outlining and loops, a few leaf shapes thrown in.   I was getting a little tired and felt like the quilt and I were in a tug of war.  Nothing was moving like I wanted.  Sir Old Man to the rescue with his special car wax that he uses in the shop on the table saw table.   Improvement!!  He has promised another one or two coats to make it slick.

    I got brave enough to try a few feathers afterward.   And then I added some stacked teardrops and before I knew it, half of this quilt is quilted.  
    I am counting myself fortunate that I have had absolutely---knock on wood---no problem with tension.  The bobbin winder works great and I am winding on a medium speed to ensure evenness.  

   One thing I do for large quilts before they are quilted is to stabilize them into sections like Leah Day recommends.  She suggests to machine baste with wash away thread after pinning.  
(Note:  Once the quilt is completely quilted, the basting  thread will dissolve when washed or spritzed with water.)   Then you can begin to stitch any where in the section without the worry of any shifting.    For this quilt with 2 columns  of  applique, I did two basting rows vertically and one across the quilt to create 6 sections to work in.  

  Lastly.....there is the bobbin.  After changing bobbins about 6 times now, I finally have the hang of it I think.  It is the one back-breaking, knee-killing, on the floor to see contortion that is required.  While I can remove and insert the bobbin by feel, I have to be able to see where to clean and to oil.  That means being down on the floor low.  Note to self----pick up a small stool to use in the sewing room for this task.    Believe me, if a real woman/real quilter had designed this, she would have included an auto-clean/auto-change cycle!  
     Insight:  Watch the videos to learn the proper way to do things.... like change a needle!
Happy stitching.


  1. Looks like you've made a new friend. Thanks for pointing out what can go wrong with the machine. Funny how it was just a small thing with the needle.

  2. You are doing beautifully, Debbie! Are you using quilting gloves? When I have those on I don't feel the drag and pull.
    I agree on the bobbin changing thing. You have to get down to clean and oil--and you've got to have a good light handy that can go down there with you!

  3. Love your description of cleaning and changing the bobbin. It's not easy to recover from that little chore!

  4. Wow! Looking good! What fun!

  5. Don't you just love learning curves??!! They really aren't bad once you scale them and it sounds like you are well on your way. I like that flat head pin in the needle trick. Your quilting looks great! ~Jeanne

  6. That needle thing would have driven me crazy, thank goodness for videos. I'm a little surprised that Sir Old Man hasn't started building you a hydraulic lift to raise the machine to eye level when you need to change bobbins, LOL.

  7. Dana...I was thinking the very same thing about a lifter from Sir Old Man! LOL...Debbie, you are just growing by leaps & bounds on your knowledge of your new machine. Sounds like you are having a good time learning all about it. I'm going to have to get some wash away thread...that sounds like you would not have to use so many pins.

  8. I'm afraid to go to my LQS because the Tiara keeps calling my name. Except for some minor bumps in the road, you seem to have gotten into the swing of the new machine very quickly.

  9. That is amazing that the needle position changed everything. What a lovely quilt you are working too!

  10. Oh, wow - I've never seen a needle that was all round on the top. Great problem-solver with the pin. Your feathers look great. :)

  11. Sounds like you're on a pretty steep learning curve at the moment! I need to use my quilting frame to learn how to use it!


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