Sunday, February 21, 2010

Machine Quilting Progress

I recently purchased a Bernina with a stitch regulator. This foot is both a blessing and a frustration.I bought the machine because of this foot and the embroidery capabilities, which my current Babylock did not have.(Yes I know Babylock has embroidery machines).

What I discovered is the BSR will take time to get used to and will require hours of practice. Just like with any machine quilting. Prior to this, my free motion quilting was poor at best on a table top or domestic style machine, and I used a frame for most of my quilting. This frame allowed me to put my Babylock on it and use it in the same manor as you would a long arm. I was comfortable here and had started to expand my designs and skills.(But there were limits here too. As the Babylock's throat was small, and large quilts became a challenge. I had to quilt to the middle, and then remove the quilt and flip it. Now I needed to also be able to quilt upside down depending on the design. Another challenge unless I was doing a stipple or meandering which gets pretty boring. Many of the designs had to be worked horizontally (like border patterns)and my quilting area was around 6 inches or less as the quilt was rolled up inside the throat.

This is what lead me to buy my Bernina. I could have upgraded the frame and bought a machine with a larger throat, yes I know this. But for the same money, I now have much more freedom. I have embroidery, and I can quilt any pattern any size as well as do all the other basic sewing or quilting. The bigger frame and machine would only be used for machine quilting period. One other draw back was space. I found my old frame sitting in the corner collecting dust, as I just didn't want to go through the hassle of setting it up. It took up too much room and then my Babylock was out of commission for other sewing until the quilt was done. Another drawback to using your domestic machine on a frame. Unless you already have more than one machine to use.

Ok, why am I telling you all this? It is because I have now committed myself to learn how to machine quilt the right way. I also wanted a way to record my machine quilting progress. As I learn to master my machine quilting. I can do some basic quilting designs and patterns, but I want to learn more and not be intimidated or limited in my design anymore.

This is how "Sewing Sundays" started in my house. I wanted to dedicate time to improve my skills. The only way this will happen is if I work at it regularly. Now that doesn't mean I can only sew on Sundays, but I will at least commit to sewing every Sunday, no matter what! I will try to fit in more time, and want to eventually get to sew daily. But with my website, 2 blogs, and other life commitments daily is much to big a goal to consider right now.

I would also like to share my progress with you in hopes of inspiring you to work at improving your own skills. As artists the only way to improve our skills is to work at it. Wishing or wanting to improve is not enough, we must take action. We must also allow ourselves to make mistakes in order to learn. Trust me when I say you will make mistakes, but you must continue to move past them. Just keep going! If the finished quilt is just too frustrating to look at, then give it away! Make these practice pieces for charity and there will be no more guilt. 

The photos in this article were from one of my recent Sewing Sundays. This quilt has both straight quilting (with a walking foot) and free motion quilting. I made this quilt for a classroom project but never quilted it. It landed in my UFO pile shortly after I published the class. And then sat there because it seemed too small to bother setting up my frame for, and I was not comfortable enough with my domestic machine quilting. This is a common occurrence for my smaller quilt tops. But not anymore! Look out UFO's, I am going to bring you all back to life!

If you want to know how I made this quilt you can purchase the instructions for it at Quilting Weekly. The class is titled "Go Green with Selvage Quilts". There are actually 4 projects in this class using selvages.

Here is a valuable tip: The free motion quilting I did is a bit hard to see in most places on of the quilt, which was done that on purpose. I did choose a spot with the lightest of the colors so that you could see my design. but if you look at the quilt you can barely see the quilting without going up close. I used this thread which blended into the fabric because it made it harder to my mistakes! When I get more comfortable and improve my machine quilting, I will work with thicker threads and threads that stand out more.

When selecting your threads, do not just lay the spool on the fabric. Pull off a foot or more and lay that over the fabric instead. This will give you a better picture of what the thread will look like when stitched. On the spool the color is much more concentrated and may give an inaccurate impression.

I would love to hear some feed back on my quilt. Take a moment and leave me a comment. And then check back regularly for more Sewing Sunday projects and machine quilting progress.


TheaM said...

Hi Chris,
I also have the Bernina stitch regulator - it does take a little getting used to, but the results are worth the effort - you might want to adjust various settings such as speed, stitch length, and keep in mind the 2 different settings for the BSR - if one doesn't work for you, the other might be more comfortable. I used 'basic gray' for my practice scrap quilts - the medium gray seems to disappear into most colors - and try to set aside at least 1/2 hr per day to practice - it equates to about a square foot of quilting - and you will see an improvement within a couple of weeks.
Try to keep your shoulders relaxed - if you find yourself getting tense, stop and stretch. Quilt with your fingertips, and watch where you are going next, not so much where your needle is now.

Chris Dahl said...

Thanks for the tips Thea!

Chris Dahl said...

Thanks for the tips Thea!

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