Friday, February 5, 2010

Quilting the Plaids

With such a busy week, it's been good to have a relaxed, fun project to work on. Over the past weekend I pin basted and managed most of the machine quilting. Snatching some time one weekday evening, I finished it up.
The quilting really brings it to life and also softens the transitions a bit. Here's a close-up:
I had a few glitches here and there, but overall, this was the easiest and best-looking free-motion quilting I've done. With the spectacularly poor start to my machine-quilting efforts a few years ago, I've since tried to give myself every advantage. I can say that gloves with those little grippy dots, a teflon mat on the machine bed, a set-in table (giving a wide, very flat surface), and plenty of flat table space to the left and the back really help. Still, my Bernina and I were not working well together. I just couldn't get reasonably consistent stitch length. The cramped bed area was annoying. Never knowing when I'd run out of bobbin thread add more frustration. Every project was a high-stress affair, with aching back and genuinely bad quilting. I dreaded doing more. And frankly, that was one reason I started hand quilting.

It was also one of my motivations for getting a new machine, and this is my first free-motion quilting project using it. My Viking Sapphire 870 has five speeds, and speed 3 (a little faster than half) seems to mesh really well with how I move the quilt. It's such a relief to not have to pay attention to foot pressure on the pedal. I just press slowly (the machine has a very smooth start and acceleration) to do a neat start and then put my foot all the way down and concentrate on moving the quilt. Also, I like the spring-action foot. I set the foot lift to it's highest level and increase the tension well above (5.0) what the machine sets as the default (3.0). I love hearing the beeps to let me know I need to shorten my stitches before I run out of bobbin thread! The huge bed space really makes a difference. I actually enjoyed the machine quilting, and the lack of pain in my back was so nice.

It's a good thing this was a quilt without expectations, though. When I had an area just 6 inches by 9 inches to go, I ran out of thread. Completely out. My first reaction was "Oh no!" But then, I thought, "Oh well, what other thread do I have? How about the lavender?"

Works for me.

Next: I have the binding cut. Just need to find time to apply it.


Library Gal Quilts said...

This looks really good! Glad machine quilting is going better for you! Have you ever tried the Supreme Slider that you put on your machine bed? Once I got that it was just the best improvement ever!

take care, Pam

Meg said...

Thanks! Yup. That's the mat I use. It really does help free the quilt to move more easily.

Lazy Gal Tonya said...

ooh, maybe I'll have to get a new machine someday if it makes me actually like machine quilting and not have to pay in pain... if that made sense. congrats - it looks great

Marit said...

Love the looks of your quilting - very nice. So happy to hear the quilting was a bit easier with your new machine. And thank you for sharing all the tips on how to make improvements on the quilting experience. I think I need some of that Supreme Slider...

Quiltdivajulie said...

I actually really, REALLY like this plaid quilt ~ especially because it is not a precisely-pieced plaid (love, love, love the carefree wonkiness).