Saturday, June 14, 2014

It's Electrifying!

If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you may have noticed my many posts complaining/worrying about my Davis Vertical Feed treadle.  It is a wonderful machine, and we have made many quilts together.  However, it has just been impossible to quilt on lately.  With a big backlog of quilts both for charity and just for fun, I finally did the unthinkable--I bought an electric machine.
This was a big step for me, and I didn't take it lightly.  I've been using people-powered machines exclusively for over twelve years, and I love them.  There's just something about the combination of history and function, the beautiful iron ladies, the wood cabinets, and that tick-tick-tick sound when they're sewing.  I'm not giving that up!  My piecing will still be done on my treadles.  And I'm confident I'll get the Davis going again eventually.  But I've got a lot of quilting to do, and this new machine will help me do it.
As you can see, I bought a Pfaff.  This machine is a Select 4.2, which is a mechanical machine, not an electronic machine.  The main reason I chose it was the built in walking foot.
My first projects while learning this machine were some baby quilts for charity that I had already pieced, layered, and basted.
Here's what I've got done so far.
This is the first quilt I worked on with the new machine.  I came home, set it up, and went right to it.  Unfortunately I didn't read the directions first.  Even though I had worked with the machine at the shop, I didn't realize that you had to engage the automatic dual feed.  The quilting was a nightmare of tucks and pleats.  I'm not even going to show you how bad it is.   I don't think I can donate it, it's just that awful.

The next quilt was better.  Most of this one was quilted already.  I had unearthed it from my seriously old UFO pile.  You might be able to tell from the fabrics that I started it more than 20 years ago.
I did the quilting on the heart blocks with invisible thread using a different electric machine, back in the day.  I was almost done with the quilt when for some reason I lost interest in it.  Maybe it was when we were moving?
Sadly, this is another fail.  I'm not sure if you can see the reddish discolorations in the blue border.  Those are rust stains.  Yep, I left the pins in it for all those years!  I've tried a couple of rust stain treatments, with no luck.  So I can't donate this one either.  Sigh.
Finally, success!  Well, mostly.  There are a few little pleats in this one, but nothing truly terrible.  I saw a picture of a quilt like this somewhere in the vastness of the internet, and figured I could make one like it.  I think I made it a lot harder than it needed to be. 

I used 3.5 in. squares (cut) to make 4 patches, and made the square in a square blocks with white squares cut 6.5 in. and more 3.5 in. squares on the corners, sewn on the diagonal.  I had to make half blocks for the sides and top and bottom.  If I was doing this again, I'd just make stars.
The back is a dinosaur print.
As I was quilting these quilts, I found that the new machine is really not as good at quilting as the Davis.  I almost never had any pleats or tucks with the Davis, no matter how I basted.  I think this is because the Davis is sort of unique, with not having any feed dogs and just the foot advancing the fabric.  Some things were definitely better in the old days.
I bound this one day before yesterday.  The pattern is one I call Evelyn's Quilt (named after my granddaughter), and you can find my tutorial for the pattern at this link:  Evelyn's Quilt

I quilted a 2 in. grid on it, about half with a decorative stitch.
Who knew decorative stitches were so much fun?

Here's a little rail fence, to finish up the pile.  I'll be squaring it up and binding it later today. 
The blue print is the binding.

Overall, I'm satisfied with the new machine, at least so far.  On the plus side, it's really fast.  It takes me about an hour to quilt one of these little quilts.  And you should see how many bobbins came with the machine!  (I only have 4 for my Davis.)  It's fun to have a few decorative stitches, too.  One of the best things is the foot--it's the same size on either side of the needle, which is great when you're using the presser foot as a guide.
On the other hand, it's loud!  I had forgotten what sewing with a motor sounded like.  I'm learning to have more control with the foot pedal, but it's not like the control you have with a treadle.  I was warned at the shop to plug the machine into a serge protector like a computer so lightning strikes can't fry the pedal, which is something you never have to worry about with people powered machines.  If anything goes wrong with the machine, I am going to have to take it to the shop.  With the treadles, I can solve many problems myself.  There's just less to go wrong.
I hope all my friends in the treadling world won't think I'm a traitor.  I'm considering myself more of a hybrid.  A blend of old and new, to get the job done.
Happy Quilting!


  1. I occasionally pull out a vintage electric (or use the Necchi BF at church for our prayer quilts). Not as much fun for me--I think because my body prefers to use hands and feet at the same time.
    Do you have any idea why your Davis isn't doing so well?

    1. Hi, Dora! I think the Davis needs a new shuttle. I tried an extra one I had, and it sort of worked for a while, but not any more.

  2. I understand, I prefer my treadles too, but use my electric when I make clothes. I do my treadling on an industrial Singer 16.


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