Wednesday, March 6, 2013


This has been my life lately.  Two steps forward, two (or three!) steps back. 
It started a couple of weeks ago.  I was having tension troubles with my machine (Davis Vertical Feed).  It's not that unusual to have a couple of problems with a machine made long before my mother was born, and I had fixed things before, but I just wasn't expecting it.
This was supposed to be an easy-peasy project.  The pieces were ones I had cut a couple of years ago when I first got my Accuquilt cutter.  Sewing them together was a piece of cake.  I used them for leaders and enders as I put my Basket of Chips top together.
I had 3 tops on my list of 6, and I decided to quilt this one first.  Again, easy-peasy, right?  The quilting was long lines from top to bottom of the quilt, following the edge of the patches, with the edge of the presser foot as my guide.  Everything was fine, quick and easy.  Then I started on the horizontal lines.
That's when the tension nightmare happened.  I was sewing merrily along, thinking about something else (probably dinner.  Or maybe chocolate).  I got to the end of the line, and saw the problem--puckering-- horrible, horrible, puckering.  I could tug the fabric and break the stitches.
So I started problem solving.  I changed just about every variable--upper tension, bobbin, bobbin thread.  I oiled like crazy.  I cleaned out lint.  And each time, IT WOULD SEEM LIKE IT WORKED.  I would say to myself, "Oh, I fixed it.  Thank goodness," and I would sew another line.  About halfway through, the puckering would start again.
This was enough to make me curse like a sailor (specifically, Captain Haddock from Tintin.  Billions of blue blistering barnacles!)
After a while, I tried a radical solution.  I decided the problem was the shuttle itself, that it was scratched or dented or something and was snagging the bobbin thread.  So I rooted around in my sewing machine stuff, and found another shuttle.  I couldn't believe it would fit, but it did.  And it sewed!  Problem solved?  Well, almost, stay tuned.  I adjusted the upper tension again, and was back in business.
I do value the seam ripper as a tool.  Back when I was first sewing, I didn't have one, and I had to pick out stitches with a heavy needle (don't try this at home).  And I will use the seam ripper for piecing mistakes without really thinking much about it.  But I hate to rip out machine quilting!  Even bad machine quilting.  I had to do this in small doses.  It might be a good thing I don't drink.
Once things were fixed, I set aside the tumbler quilt long enough to quilt a flannel charity quilt (I'll write about this soon).  The quilting was as usual with the Davis, quick and easy.  I began to relax again.
Bad idea.  I went back to working on the tumbler again, and started having problems with breaking thread.  This time, I was mad enough to say enough is enough.  The bobbin tension was too tight?  Then I would ADJUST THE BOBBIN TENSION.
Manuals warn against this.  Old Sewing Machine guys will give you a Look.  I was past the point of caring.  Plus, I had two working shuttles.  If I messed one up, I could use the other one.  I took a screw driver, and turned the screw at the point of the shuttle a half turn. (Oh, yes I did!)
IT WORKED!!!  I finished the quilting last night.  Everything is still okay.  I think.
But I have decided this quilt hates me.  No marking tool I own could make a mark I could see on the border.  Not chalk, not pencil, nothing.  It's like a black hole.  This is it, below:
I finally had to use Golden Threads paper (now who has too much stuff they might never use, oh husband dear?)  I traced the quilting stencil on to the paper with a permanent ink fabric pen.  (If you use anything else, the marks just transfer to the quilt, ask me how I know.)  Then I pinned the paper on the borders and quilted through it.  If you look closely you can see tiny bits of the paper still on the lines.  I need to get to work with my fingernail again.
So now I'm wondering what kind of problem I'm going to have sewing the binding on.  Easy peasy?  I do not #$%^ing think so.  Arrgh!

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