Thursday, March 29, 2012

Free-Motion Quilting Challenge for March

SewCalGal's Free Motion Quilting Challenge is turning out to be lots of fun (as well as challenging!).  This month's free-flowing, whirling, swirling fill patterns from Anne Fahl gave a nice balance to last month's improvisational but precise and technical feathers.  
Clockwise from upper left - loopy loops, loops and stars (it's funny how easy it is to forget which way your line needs to go on a star!), sproingy spirals, and loopy flowers.  It's a treat to loosen up and to be a little whimsical and care-free.

Well, not entirely care-free!  I've been wanting to try those multi-colored threads, and this seemed like a good time for it, so I got some Sulky Blendables 30 weight cotton (this is #4117 Fall Holidays) and a 90/14 Topstitch needle, and this is what happened on the back (weirdo pulled stitches on the lower left):
It actually looks kind of cool and makes me wonder if one could use this as an artistic effect somewhere, but really, it is a tension issue, and needed to go away.  I was also having trouble with the thread breaking - frequently.  Adjusting the tension did almost no good at all, so I went back to Leah Day's Question Thursdays  and trolled for questions about thread and tension issues and this is what I found (and tried).

#1.  Re-thread your machine - this actually helped a little, so I did it every time things went worse instead of better.
#2. Check your needle/try a new needle (sometimes they are defective) - voila, thread stops breaking so much (only happened once on my final sample block - still want to get that down to never breaking - more investigation needed).
#3.  Go back to what has worked before, look at what you've changed, and check the changes one-by-one - obviously the thread changed, but that needs to stay changed, and also the needle, but I also changed the tension and the stitch length -so I went back to "auto" tension and normal 2.5 stitch length, and things got even better.
#4. Use the same thread in the bobbin - well, I was still using my regular sewing thread in the bobbin (trying to use up random bobbin colors, I confess), so that got changed, and la - it's all good now (you can see things get a little better in the middle with the tension and stitch length change, and all good at lower right with the thread change)!

I still get some thread dots on top and bottom occasionally, but I think that may be due to getting so in the swing of the curves, that I put a little swoop in my sewing instead of keeping the speed of my hands in harmony with the speed of the machine (can't have too much fun, I guess - or maybe I just need to swoop with both hands and foot pedal equally . . . ).

In other FMQ news, although I am hopelessly behind, I am still following Leah Day's Quilt Along Wednesday  projects, and finally finished lesson #3 - playing with scale - and combined it with a little warm-up for the current lesson (# 12!) on micro-stippling
Started with something around 1/2 inch, and went in stages down to something close to 1/16th inch!  The 1/16th inch stippling gets a little wonky, but the others are coming more easily, mostly.
Used the Sulky again (in color #4113 Country Decor) with what I learned on the March challenge, and had no tension problems and no thread breaking!  Yay!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

More Rigid Heddle Weaving Classes

Just a quick note about the next series of classes I'm teaching on Vashon (we had so much fun in the last classes and my students made such lovely scarves):

Beginning Rigid Heddle Weaving
Three Scarves
The Rigid Heddle Loom is a simple but versatile (and very portable) little loom.  In four sessions, students will weave three scarves - learning how to warp the loom, how to weave plain weave, how to select yarns for weaving, how to use stripes and plaids and checks, how to include yarns of various thicknesses in “stashbusting”, how to finish the ends of a scarf with various fringes, how to wash and care for handwovens, and how to plan future projects.  
$80 for 4 sessions@ 3 hours each
Saturdays – March 10, 17, and 31, and April 7 from 1PM to 4PM 
at Island Quilter 17639 Vashon Hwy SW, Vashon, WA
To sign up, call Island Quilter at 206-713-6000

Intermediate Rigid Heddle I
Pick-Up Lace
In three sessions, students will learn pick-up stick and hand manipulation techniques to weave a lace sampler scarf or wall hanging.  Sampler includes Leno Lace, Mexican Lace, Norwegian Lace, Karelian Lace, Peruvian Gauze, Spot Lace, Tarascan Lace, Brooks Bouquet, Honeycomb, Danish Medallion, and Spanish Lace, as well as weft floats and lattice hemstitching. 
Pre-requisite: Students must know how to warp a loom and weave with plain weave.
$60 for 3 sessions@ 2 ½  hours each
Saturdays – March 17, and 31, and April 7 from 10 AM to 12:30 PM
at Island Quilter 17639 Vashon Hwy SW, Vashon, WA
To sign up, call Island Quilter at 206-713-6000