Quilter's Academy - Volume 2 - Sophomore Year

Vol 3 - Junior Year

Monday, December 20, 2010

Vol 2 - Projects 5 & 6 - Quilting

Hubby John selected his quilt from the book ages ago and has been asking why his chosen fabrics aren't 'quilt shaped' yet.  His quilt is the next project so I thought I should hustle and get onto it.  But first things first, I have 2 projects waiting to be quilted, so have to make a start on these first - patience John!

First up I needed to get the 4 patch lattice off the design wall (finally!) and into a sandwich.  As Harriet warns, those bias edged side triangles can easily stretch out of shape so it's best to prep for quilting asap after finishing the top.

It's been ditch-stitched and is now awaiting it's turn for quilting.  I always forget how long ditch stitching actually takes to do.  A few long straight seams should be done in a snap, but the reality is it took me roughly 8 hours over a couple of days to do it.  Lots of aching muscles too.  I don't really trust the pins to hold everything together nice and firmly, so there is lots of block flattening and gently pulling at the seams to ensure it's all flat and straight.  I also ditch stitch slowly, to avoid bumping out of the ditch (which still happens anyway, but not as much as if I sew fast).  My arm and (surprisingly) bum muscles are feeling the after effects today.

Ditch stitching done and dusted!

Unlike Julie's modern style quilt - the first one of this design I made - I wanted this quilt to have lots of texture and a design appropriate for a 1930's style quilt. 

I chose a simple feather wreath for the blocks and a feather/cable design for the border.  Time to prep for work!

First up - a tension check.  I'm using Sew Art International invisible nylon through the needle and Presencia 60/3 (white) in the bobbin.  A bit of tension fiddling was required.  I also changed the needle to a 70 Topstitch titanium - I just bought these and wanted to see how they went for quilting.

Next - warming up on a sample.  The needle seems to be fine.

Next - more warming up on a bigger sample. I put to use the cot sized quilt I made up from scraps. It certainly makes a difference from practicing on a small sample square!

Ready to quilt and as usual, I'm experiencing problems.  This time it's drag.  It really is quite bad, I can't get the quilt to slide around under the needle at all.  I checked and double-checked for hang-ups - nothing.  The block to be quilted is formed into a nice little puddle under the needle and the edges of the quilt aren't getting caught up anywhere.  I'd polished the cabinet surface with my usual product and the fabric should slip nicely.

The set up seems to be fine.  The thread tension is perfect.  The drag got so bad, the needle broke!  So much for titanium which is supposed to last 3 times as long as regular needles - lol.  Stitches are tiny in places and huge in others, as the quilt sticks and releases as I sew.  I can only conclude that it's the backing fabric.  This puzzles me as the backing is just white quilter's muslin - there is no print on it and I can't understand why it won't slide.  The samples I quilted earlier were on standard calico (muslin to you USA followers) with no drag problems at all.

I'm not going to let this bother me, I'll just get some experience working on less than ideal fabric.  The print is busy, the design is simple and the cotton fabrics and batting will shrink up quite a bit, so perfect quilting is not essential here (although it would be nice :)).  Be that as it may, I am still going to try and do the very best quilting work that I can manage - after all, I'm gifting this quilt and want it to be a nice as possible.

A simple feather wreath design works beautifully on this 1930's style quilt

Halfway though the quilting and I'm already loving the texture I'm getting.

 The back - plain old quilter's muslin which refuses to behave nicely!

Ok - halfway though with quilting the top.  I hope to finish it tomorrow and maybe even get the borders done.  If anyone has any suggestions about the drag - how to work with it or maybe a different cause to what I've concluded, I'd love to hear them.


  1. Hi Lesley
    Check your throat plate is flat and no needle punches as this is a main problem I have with the work industrial and it drags badly if it is even slightly bent in the centre

  2. Try a teflon sheet (pressing cloth?) under your machine. they make pricey things that you can put under there, but the $20 teflon sheet should help w/ the drag.

  3. Hi Lesley,
    Long time no talk. Life is busy but I am on holidays now. Love this latest quilt even though it is being a bit difficult for quilting. Hope to get into a quilt during the holidays. love and kisses

  4. Lesley, something I've been doing for a while on most of my quilts is to starch the backing before basting. It really makes a difference when everything else is equal. And the size 70 needle is not as strong as the larger 80 and 90 you are probably used to working with, titanium or no titanium, so if you are dragging the quilt and the needle will of course move with the quilt if it is down when the dragging occurs, it is likely to be bent to the point of snapping or hit on the side of your straight stitch needle plate on the Pfaff.
    I have found the Titanium needles are brilliant and do last longer but only if you don't do anything that would normally snap a regular needle of non titanium coating type-such as sew slowly and pull the quilt rapidly so the needle will hit the throat plate or presserfoot. They're not indestructible. They're still made of the same metal stuff in the core after all and no needle I know likes to sew on metal, lol!
    I am very interested to see your quilting progress, its such fun to watch you grow as a quilter!

  5. Thanks everyone for the input.

    Ali - the throat plate looks flat and other fabrics glide ok, so I don't think that's the problem.

    JVC - a Supreme Slider is now on my wish list.

    Susan - We should catch up - I still have your book!

    Steph - the backing heavily starched, and so is the top - Harriet style! As I mostly use invisible nylon for quilting, my usual needle size is 70 - I switched to a Schmetz Microtech and had no more needle breaks - lots of thread breaks though :).

    No matter, my lesson for today was how to cope with un-cooperative fabric - it's all part of learning to quilt and dealing with problems as they come up.

    Finished all the block and triangle quilting today - I'm very happy with it, despite the problems. Border quilting tomorrow and hopefully it'll be ready for gifting on Saturday!