Roses on Blue

Monday, March 9, 2015

Quilting Frustrations

Happy March to everyone!  I am STILL working on quilting this Ocean Waves quilt but I am finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.  I'm sure you are all sick of hearing about it, too!  I really hope to be finished with it by the end of this week if all goes according to plan.
Speaking of which, the original plan I had for this was to quilt it with my new Bernina 710 and really put the machine to the test.  I bought this machine last fall mainly for one reason and that is for the extra room under the arm to the right of the needle.  It has about a 10+ inch span, versus 7-7 1/2 inches on a regular machine, like my old Bernina 440.  Since I don't see a longarm machine in my future, this was supposed to appease me for the time being.  The quilt I'm working on is a king size and was going to be the perfect way for me to test the new machine and practice free-motion quilting on such a large scale.  Well, my plan didn't work out as I had hoped!

Bernina 710
Bernina 440
I started out with the walking foot and quilted in the ditch and straight lines in the body of the quilt.  After about an hour into quilting, the Invisafil thread that I use for quilting kept shredding.  I've used this thread by Wonderfil for eight or more years and have never, ever had issues with it previously in my 440.  However, I have heard from a couple of you and also read on various blogs where many people cannot sew with Invisafil on their machines and the 710 popped up repeatedly in these discussions.  I couldn't understand why!  I e-mailed my Bernina dealer several times to see if we could come up with a solution.  One was to switch to a different needle, a Schmetz 75 quilting needle.  This helped a little bit at first.  I also lowered the tension to about a 3 and at some point, even down to 2.75.  But once again, I began having issues and I couldn't go longer than 15 or 20 minutes without the thread shredding.  Frustration and several favorite expletives took hold and at that point, I decided to give up.  I put the old faithful 440 in its place and took the 710 to my dealer, where it still is today.
In the mean time, after finishing up all of my straight lines with the walking foot, I began to notice that all the areas where I had used the blue pounce powder with the feather stencils had almost faded away to nothing!  I was not a happy quilter!  I guess due to the time that had lapsed and so much handling of the quilt, it just didn't hold up like I had thought it would.  So I had to go back and spend two days remarking all the feathered wreaths and border with a blue water soluble pen.
In the mean time, my Bernina dealer called me and said my 710 is fixed and ready to pick up.  He replaced the thread guide on the needle clamp because the old thread guide wouldn't hold the thread in place.  He also did a lot of sewing with Invisafil, getting the same results I was.  He spoke with the Bernina people and they told him a lot of this issue is due to the rotary hook feature in the bobbin.  I don't know the technical reason why the thread shreds because of this, something with the way the needle goes down into the bobbin, I think.  But he said to use the #75 quilting needle, a lower tension, around a 3, and to sew at half speed.  He said once he did that, he didn't have the shredding issues.  So we will see, I am anxious to see if that makes a difference once I quilt on it again.
So I am still chugging along on the 440, fighting with perfecting my free-motion skills in a tight little space on a huge quilt.  Challenging doesn't begin to cover it!  All I can think about is how those amazing women whose work I admire, like Diane Gaudynski and Sue Nickels, can do such incredible show-stopping quilting on a home machine and stick with it for such a long period of time on one single quilt.  You don't realize the amount of mental concentration and physical ability it requires until you are actually doing it yourself.  It ain't easy!  But I will be sooooooo happy when this is done and I cannot wait to show you the results after the quilt is washed. 
And one more thing I would like to mention.  I recently realized that in my last post about our bedroom, I unintentionally made an oversight and failed to mention that my friend, Susan, was the one who influenced my making of the nine-patch quilt on our bed.  When I wrote that post, I was in such a rush to meet a deadline for Parachute Home and was caught up in answering questions about the bedroom, I wasn't thinking!  She had made hers from a pretty line of fabrics by Moda several years ago called London Lawns (her quilt is the photo above) and when I saw the colors and softness, I knew it would be the perfect look for our bed, too.  I added another 25 or so fabrics to the same fabric line to coordinate with our comforter and made a king size version.  Ours is so faded now, some of the prints have almost disappeared, not to mention I've had to repair it numerous times from our dog's nails ripping the fabric when he jumps on the side of the bed.  Not always a good thing!  But anyway, I wanted to credit Susan for being the original inspiration, she is always full of wonderful ideas for quilts.

Hopefully I will have more pictures of my quilt to show next time around.  Happy Quilting!


  1. What a shame about your frustration with your new Bernina and the disappearing quilting lines, but I know once you have finished it will be gorgeous and you will have a great sense of satisfaction.Hang in there, you are almost done.

  2. Wow! 10 out of 10 for perseverence! The quilting you have completed looks great. It is a very physical activity pushing and pulling a big quilt through a domestic sewing machine and then trying to relax and get the FMQ action going is really hard work. Having the frustration of a machine that's not working well on top of that is enough to have anyone using a choice word or two!

  3. OMGoodness. I envy your preservence and patience with your new machine. Wise to take it back to dealer and kudos to him for obtaining support from manufacturer. Luckily, you have machine quilting experience so you know the difficulties are not your skills. Good luck!

  4. I admire your perserverance! I am saving up for a Bernina , preferably one of larger ones (even though that involves a lot more time saving up for one). Currently I have a Pfaff Expression 2.0 which does have the wider space so I do not want to miss that with another machine. But I would use it mostly for quilting, so am very interested how this all works out. Thanks for posting and look forward to reading about you experiences once the 710 is 'back in business'. The quilt is beautiful btw!