Eliza's First Project

Before I tell you about my day spent with Eliza, I want to be sure to link up to:

Val's Quilting Studio

This week's theme is "Halloween". Oh my goodness. I really had to dig into the archives for this one. In the same way my kids make me feel old sometimes, my blog is starting to make me feel old too. I considered linking to my Grim Ripper quilt, 

but that one was just from this past month. I decided to try to go back further...into the real archives...where the spider webs are. And I came up with this little doll quilt that I called (very creatively) "Cat on a Pumpkin".

I made this quilt for my partner in a doll quilt swap...only this was so long ago, it wasn't even my own doll quilt swap. It was the doll quilt swap from the Quilting Board. Heck, I was just a pup back then...barely blogging at all...way back in October, 2011, which for some reason seems like eons ago. Anyway...you can read my original post right here.

Okay (dusting the spiders webs off), now I can tell you about my day with Eliza. She quilted her first real quilt this morning. Things went pretty well. For one thing, I had the same thread in the needle and the bobbin, and I did notice an improvement in my tension. I still needed to make some adjustments. Also, my lesson is scheduled for Monday, and I'm thinking I'll learn something about the tension then.

Frankly, I think I need to use different thread. I've always loved the Essentials thread. It works great for piecing, and I love all the available colors. I'm starting to think, however, that for quilting, it might be a little bit fuzzy, and that I might get better results with a more, ahem, expensive thread. I've had good luck with YLI threads, but I'm guessing there might be others I would like as well or better. A few of you have made suggestions about threads, and I've written them all down. I'm going to attend the Quilt, Craft & Sewing Festival coming to Portland next month, and I'm guessing I'll get a chance to see plenty of thread there. As I've said before, I love thread almost as much as I love fabric. Here is a shot of some thread I took at the Machine Quilters Expo a few years back. I love these colors.

Besides...big bobbins require cones of thread, don't you think? 

So here's what Eliza and I talked about today. For one thing, I wound my first bobbin. That went perfectly. Yay!

Today my plan was to mess around doing a little practice, and then to stitch the Embroiderer's Blessing project sandwiched from yesterday.

My plan was to stitch close to the hand-stitched embroidery motif and to stipple in the open areas. From my experience playing with the machine the other day, I thought it would work best if I tried doing it with the stitch regulator engaged. When I was doing this the other day, I recall telling Mike that it didn't seem as if the stitch regulator was working at all. Then, I discovered that one must first actually turn ON the receiver,

and the controller. Doh.

The controller sits on the table under your quilt, and attaches on top of the quilt with a button-sized magnet. You can tell it's operational by its blinking light, shown "on" here. The light also helps one to find the controller under the quilt, although I think the magnet works nicely for that.

There's also this here little doohicky that allows you to attach the controller to the edge of your quilt so that you can stitch right up to the edge without the controller getting in the way.

I can adjust the stitches per inch (SPI) at the top there to whatever I want, and the stitch regulator will stitch accordingly.

I can also decide to use the foot pedal to activate the needle, or I can turn it on where that red button is. If I use that, it starts stitching and doesn't stop until I turn it off. 

The Bernina stitch regulator has a similar set-up, and in both cases, I prefer to operate it using the foot pedal.

There's also the ability to set it on the "Precision" setting, which means that the needle only operates when I'm actually moving the fabric. To do that, I set the "Cruise" percentage to zero as you see in the lower right of that image above. I tried that, but I didn't like that at all. I found it much easier if I set the cruise at about 30%. As I'm writing this, I think I might have made it even higher as I got used to stitching on the Baby Lock.

Another feature that came with the machine are these two Martelli Gripper Rings. They're basically a fancier and more expensive version of the Gypsy Quilter Fabric Guides. The one in the image below is the smaller 8-inch ring, and there is also a 10-inch ring. This being a small project, I tried the 8-inch ring, but found I didn't like it any better than the Gypsy Quilter Fabric Guides that currently live rent-free in the drawer of my sewing table. The only time I've ever used them was when I quilted the "We are the World" quilt using the plastic freezer paper over the top of my quilt. It was hard to grip the quilt then, even using gloves, and that was the one use I found for the fabric guides.

The Martelli Gripper Ring is a little more sophisticated, but I found that I did better with my hands closer to the needle and in direct contact with the fabric. It's a personal preference, not necessarily a commentary on the quality or usefulness of the product.

And then it was quick work to stipple around the open areas of the quilt and to stitch up close to some of the embroidery designs. 

As I said earlier, having the same thread both top and bottom made a big difference with the tension problems I was having the other day.

And then, what could I do but take the quilted project downstairs for binding. I haven't fired up Big Bertha for quite a few days because I've been playing on the Baby Lock or else doing fusible applique. I think her nose was out of joint a little about the interloper upstairs...kind of how Gracie feels about Smitty.

I used this scrap of red binding left over from another quilt, and I had that baby bound in no time.

There isn't really any red on the front of the piece, but there is on the back. I kind of like how it brightened it up a little bit from all those pastel floss colors.

So there you go. A project quilted and bound in an afternoon.

After I finished quilting the piece, I tried again stitching without the stitch regulator. I actually think I'm going to like it better without. The stitch regulator might have a place in my sewing, and I always use it with the Bernina. Still, it seemed to get in the way on the Baby Lock, and I wasn't sure it helped keep my stitches any more even than I could do on my own without it. I'm still learning, and possibly I will decide to use it for some things and not for others. It doesn't have to be a black and white decision.

So that's all the sewing I'm going to do today. There are other things on today's to-do list, and the hours in which to do them are growing short if they're going to get done today.

15 comments from clever and witty friends:

Lisa Marie said...

I use the Essential thread for piecing. It's much more economical than other brands and my Janome is fine with it. For quilting on my Tin Lizzie though, I always use King Tut on top. Often I use the Essential thread in the bobbin. I try to match my bobbin thread as close as possible to my top thread, because it just saves headaches. I use the King Tut variegated colors about 95% of the time, so the bobbin is not an exact match to each shade in the top thread, but close. Have fun with your new toy!

Vicki W said...

Oh you are going to love buying cone thread! The one lesson I've learned on that is to buy one cone of a new type first and try it out before buying more. Fortunately they all work on the new machine but I had a couple that were a problem on the APQS.....King Tut was one. But I can use it now!

SewCalGal said...

Wow, did a light just go on. I love the detail and creativity in this design. But somehow I always looked at it by either hand stitching/hand embroidery or machine embroidery (digitized), but never thought of doing it on a machine like free-motion quilting? Or did I misunderstand? While I hope to clarify with you, either way, I'm totally inspired. Beautiful.


Brown Family said...

You are moving along very well!

Karen said...

I use Glide thread on my Gammill and find that it works best. Tension is great using in both the bobbin and on top. I have also used it when doing free motion on my DSM. The price is right and the thread really sinks in.

Have fun with your new machine!

Vroomans' Quilts said...

I love what you did with your stitchery and the red binding, I think, really sets it off wonderfully - that little POP.

liniecat said...

Grim Reaper reminds me of Sue Bonnet Sue gone bad lolol
Thats such a pretty embroidery piece, such a lovely sentiment and looks superb finished up

Diane Wild said...

Oh, Barbara, you're venturing into "Complicated Land" when it comes to quilting gadgets. But, I like your progression and the fact that you're teaching your blog family. Sew on, girl.

legato1958 said...

What an interesting post! So interesting to see how much you and Eliza have learned together... before your class! And we get to learn a bit about the midarm.
I love your quilting, both by hand and Eliza , on your Embroiderer's Blessings quilt!
Thanks for sharing your earlier work. I think it is good to step back and see where we all started from, in this quilting journey!

Jacque said...

What a droolworthy post...first the yummy threads, and then all the bells and whistles on your new baby. Wow!
Love the pop of red binding on your project -- perfect!

Lynda Halliger Otvos (Lynda M O) said...

The red binding is perfect. Eliza sounds like a lot of fun in your future. The project looks super.

quiltzyx said...

Looks like you & Eliza did a wonderful first job on the stitchery! And the red binding was the perfect touch - did you sew it on completely by Bertha, or did you hand stitch the back?
I remember the cat on the pumpkin! Don't know if I remember from the board or your post, but I remembered!

Kate said...

The stitchery turned out beautifully. You are moving right along on figuring out your new stitching partner.

Michele said...

Yeah for you for your first finish with Eliza.

Valerie Reynolds said...

I'm a king tut and so fine gal. Thanks for sharing at Tuesday Archives.