I wanted to share this experience with you (especially you fellow Bernina Quilt Frame & Quilt Motion users) before the experience faded from my too busy memory these days. Up until this point, I have only used the Quilt Motion software to do quilting on the quilt frame. I wanted to try my hand at free-motion quilting.
A couple of months ago, a friend and co-worker hosted a weekend quilt retreat at her home. I was only able to go for a few hours on Saturday, but it was so much fun. I had never been to an event like this. The best part was seeing what everybody was working on and sharing experiences. I used the date to piece two quilts. The first was the Sweet Sixteen quilt for my niece that I’ve already posted about. The second one was a baby nine-patch quilt. I thought it would be perfect practice for the frame. I was going to donate the quilt, but am not 100% sure what I’m going to do with it now. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy with how it turned out (well eventually that is). Let me post a photo of the finished quilt now so you can see it wasn’t a total disaster.
OK, to get on with the saga. After looking at my notes and remembering how to load the quilt on the frame, I was ready to get started. First choice was do I used the handles and no Quilt Motion using my 830’s BSR foot, or use Quilt Motion software to direct my machine quilting. I decided on the BSR method, but that was short-lived because I couldn’t get the machine to go without the foot pedal (I did eventually remember/figure that out). I hooked up all the cables and had the machine threaded before putting it on the frame (that is very important to the story). I used the built-in stitch regulation in the Quilt Motion software. It took a little bit of getting used to how to quilt using the handles and the overall “flow” of my stitches. I was pretty happy with how the first row looked. Then I rolled up the quilt for row two and noticed a very nasty looking back to my quilt. The front thread was looping to the back and it was really messy. Since I was going to donate this quilt, I started thinking that it might just turn into a practice piece and I kept going. I decided to play with the tension and finished row two. It looked even worse on the back than row one.
I put the project on hold until I could talk to some of the ladies at my dealership. I even took some cell phone shots of the back of my quilt to show what it was doing. I got a lot of good advice, but in looking at the photos the consensus was that the thread wasn’t properly threaded through the upper tension disc. Yikes, if that was all the problem was…but I digress.
The next HUGE task was to rip out the stitching that had already been done. I wasn’t ready to sacrifice the quilt as a test and wanted to be able to use it when finished. That took a few hours. When I got the courage to “start over”. I completely unthreaded the machine both top and bobbin and threaded the machine again. My biggest lesson from this quilt was don’t thread the machine, then take down the steps to the quilt frame. Even though reaching all the parts to thread is difficult I need to wait and thread the quilt once it is on the frame and ready to go. Yes, that was the problem. The machine stitched beautifully after that. I used the BSR and completely unhooked the machine from the Quilt Motion board on the frame. It took a while to get used to “driving” the handles, but by the end of the quilt I felt pretty good about it. Here’s a close up of the block. I tried to enhance the stitching so you could see it is pretty even. My free-motion is almost exclusively made up of squiggles.
I learned a lot of things with this quilt. Most of them simple, back to basic things like be very careful when threading the machine. I used a King Tut thread for the top and a Gutermann cotton in the bobbin. Still not sure where this quilt will end up, but I’m happy with the finished project and learned a lot of lessons.
I almost forgot another “lesson learned”. When I got down to the last row…yikes…I realized the batting was going to be about 5 inches too short. Ugh, I had to think on this one for a while. What I must have done was rotated the batting 90 degrees when I loaded it onto the frame. I just ended up laying a piece the right size up against the short end and quilted over it. It worked fine and there wasn’t a lump or “empty” space. Whew, another crisis averted. Next time I will make sure and measure and mark which direction the batting goes when it isn’t obvious.
Next project for the frame is a T-Shirt quilt I made in a Quilt University class last month. I have always wanted to try one and really enjoyed this class. The quilt turned out really nicely and my mom wants to enter it into the festival quilt show in June. I need to get started soon. I finished piecing the backing today and have everything about ready to put on the frame. I need to plan the quilting first. The blocks are 15″ so I can’t do them all in one pass. I’m going to try and break it up and find a neat design to use.
Until next time, happy sewing & quilting,