Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Finished. . .Finally!

Well, my Ocean Waves quilt is finally finished and I am really happy with how it turned out and ready to move on! 
I still have lots to do as far as decorating/re-decorating our bedroom goes, but this quilt was probably the most labor intensive part of the project, so now I feel like I can officially BEGIN with the rest of my to-do list now that this is done.  I started this quilt in mid-December and have put off so many other things these last few months in order to stay focused on this quilt.  But now I am really ready to play catch up, including a major spring cleaning of our house.
I did get my Bernina 710 back in time to finish the quilt.  I had probably done about 80% of the quilting with my old 440 and it worked great through the entire process.  But having the 710 and the extra space under the arm made a world of difference!  I could easily quilt the feathered wreaths in the center of the quilt without cramming the rest of the quilt under the machine.  It was wonderful!  And between free-motion quilting and straight line quilting with the walking foot, I had no issues with the Invisafil thread shredding this time around.  Hooray! 
For those of you that are curious, the upper thread is Invisafil (100% polyester, 100 weight, very fine) and the bobbin thread is Mettler Metrosene (100% polyester, fine).   The batting is Hobb's Heirloom 80% cotton/20% polyester.  I use this batting predominately because I really like a flat, crinkled, vintage look.  I did wash the quilt prior to binding it.  I know many quilters have made the transition over to the wool battings but I have yet to do so.  Something about wool in Florida just doesn't sound appealing to me!  But I do think the quilts that are quilted with the wool battings are just spectacular and I will probably eventually try one just to see if I like it.
All the straight lines, the two cable borders, and the straight lines behind the large feathered border were done with a walking foot.  The feathered wreaths in the white squares and feathered border were all free-motioned.  I did use the Schmetz #75/11 quilting needle and I did slow down my quilting speed.  I also lowered my tension even more than what my dealer suggested.  Part of the reason for this is that I used a pale pink thread in the bobbin to match the backing and with the tension set at 3.0, I could see little pink dots of thread coming to the top of the quilt in the holes the needle left behind.  So for free-motion quilting I set the tension down to 2.0 and for walking foot quilting, I set the tension at 2.25.  The stitch quality looks fine on both the front and back and this eliminated any bobbin thread from showing on the top side.  I did not have a single thread breakage!  Back to being a happy quilter!
And I just want to thank those of you that cheered me on for my perseverance!  I appreciate the support!  I'm sure you've all been in a situation at least once where you keep asking yourself, why the heck am I going to so much trouble and aggravation??  But the extra effort is generally worth it in the end and I will admit that I really am happy with the way this turned out.
And one last thank you. . . .I LOVE all of the comments and e-mails you all are sending me and I am just so overwhelmed at the response I've gotten from all of you!  I know I don't blog nearly as often as many popular bloggers do, but I really do appreciate your loyalty and sticking around in spite of that.  You really have no idea how broad of an audience you have when you blog, there are stats you can check to see how many hits a post gets, but as far as readership, I am truly clueless as to how big of an audience I have.  Sometimes I wish I could take a roll call!  But it is just so reassuring to have real live feedback from you and it lets me know that I am not just writing to some void in outer space!  So again, thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading, commenting, and for your support!  Hugs to all of you! 
I may be gone for a bit longer between posts since I have tons to catch up on, but don't worry, I will update you as soon as I have something to show you again.  Happy Quilting. . .

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