Monday, 30 March 2015

The struggling quilter

Quilting should not be all easy, should it. I’m not going to lie to you, I don’t get that struggling feeling too often when it comes to quilting. I think it may be because I really enjoy working things out and get them right, and don’t mind spending time getting there. There are some things that make me grind my teeth though, and sewing machine issues are on the top of that list.

I started on a new quilt two weeks ago, I should probably call it The procrastinator. All the bits and pieces have been ready in my mind for a while, and they came together really fast as soon as I stopped procrastinating. I have been digging into my extensive thrifty stash for the background. A blue 60-ies polka dot skirt from MIL’s friend and a green tablecloth from the thrift store. Add the magic of sheer bits and bobs and some strings of yarn, and there you go. After laying it all out on the work table, I cut it into three panels to be quilted separately as I want them to be different and yet the same. Does that even make sense? I’ll be quilting them the same way, but with different threads, and I want the lines between them to be visible. How I’ll stitch them back together has yet to be decided, but first I need to quilt them.

(Two panels in progress)

I started with the yarn covered part as I love working the twists and turns. My initial thought was to outline each thread like this

but the painterly effect got totally lost, so I tried to quilt the negative space only which worked quite well. The middle panel has variegated green stitching and the side panels red/brown. 

When I got bored of quilting negative space, I moved on to the blue on blue on blue.

It started so well, curving this way and that around the polka dots, and I didn’t really notice how often the thread broke until it happened like every 6” or so and I had replaced the needle four times. I figured it had to be the thread that was causing the problems, and moved on to the second panel and a different thread. Same thing, over and over and over again. I should have checked the quality of the stitches too, but I was almost half way before I realized that the quilting lines looked awful on the front as the thread got thinner and thinner before it broke. Bummer.

I did a quick search on the Internet and found that the problem might be a nick or a burr in the thread plate. Sure, there were even two nicks (or burrs, I don't know), how did that happen!

(Same nicks (or burrs), different angle)

By this time I was ready to scrap both the quilt and the sewing machine, and went to the store to buy a new thread plate or a new machine. They did neither have the plate nor the machine I wanted, so I returned rather disappointed back to the studio with a nail file and some very fine sandpaper as recommended by the staff to try to fix it myself.

I cannot feel the nick anymore, but the thread is still breaking while free motion quilting. My sister suggested that I put nail polish on the edge to smooth out any tiny leftover burrs, so I’ll do that. After a few days away from the quilt, I have now installed my on-the-go machine in the studio. Did you know that 10 minutes of free motion quilting takes like an hour to remove?? 

It took a while to remove the offending stitches on that second panel, but now all is well in procrastinator quilt land.

How the store staff did not smell my frustration and offered me deal on a different machine I don’t know, but the nail file and sandpaper sure were much cheaper...


  1. So much work to remove! Hope you can get your sewing machine back up to optimum working condition soon.:) I hate the 'fix-it' part of quilting!

  2. I am so sorry! And I know exactly how frustrating that frogging can be. I HATE ripping out quilting- it always takes 10x longer to take out than in and yet usually has to be done otherwise the yucky stitches seem to stare at me mockingly. Good luck!!!

  3. Cheaper is better, if it works now. Sorry you are having that trouble.
    Love the sneak peeks at your project. It looks lovely, and from here, the stitches look wonderful.

  4. oh dear!! I hope you ordered a new stitch plate and are back up and running. So awful to unpick all of that work. And I have to say, such gorgeous work it is!!! Can't wait to see the finish!

  5. ohoo! its really a bad thing happen.If you have some time Please visit my site also Yahoo Forgot Password Help

  6. Love this even though you had to rip some stuff out. Nice work my friend. How is the house coming? xox

  7. Lykke til med seamriperen, Nina Lise! Flotte ting du jobber med. God Påske til deg og dine :-)

  8. I agree.......if the machine gives me trouble I feel like hucking out the window! At least you can figure out how to fix. I just sit and stare at it like that will help!

  9. How annoying!!! I cannot stand thread breaking while FMQ. In fact, it is my #1 frustration with any quilting work. Sometimes certain thread brands, while FMQ, seem to actually unwind as they move through my machine, so eventually they show up in stitches as separate strands, instead of the twisted thread....and eventually they just fray and break. I cannot figure this out.I often try different types of needles: topstitch or quilting, or increase/decrease the size of the needle eye to try and reduce friction. It's a mystery! I hope you've worked it out now that the burrs are sanded off.