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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Free-Motion Wrestling!! and Thread Painting Experiement

Perhaps you have this same situation: quilt tops that need to be quilted. The dilemma: how to quilt them. I'd love to use a long-arm machine, but don't own one. I'd love to RENT a long-arm machine, but that's a two hour drive away. So it's time to take matters into my own hands, literally, by going "domestic," as in use my home "domestic" machine. Of course, it has turned into a wrestling match. It didn't look anything like Leah Day, believe me.
Safety-pinned and ready to whirl
I pulled out the quilt I began making for my husband back in 2007. I had it sandwiched and pinned, ready to quilt. My domestic machine does not have its own cabinet, so I use an acrylic table attachment when quilting. It's small. When machine quilting on a domestic machine, it helps to have a level surface to help support the weight and size of the quilt while quilting it. It's ridiculous, but here's what I did:
The QUEEN-SIZE quilt sandwich is on the dining room table. I decided to use the living-room throw pillows to prop the weight of the quilt up to almost the level of the acrylic table attachment. The pillows would also, in theory, be soft on the table surface and slide easily as needed in maneuvering the quilt. Clumsy, but I'm desperate.

The dining room chairs are substantially built, but they're not the right height to wrestle with this monster. Add throw pillows and practically fall off the chair.

Now I have to learn how to work with the speed and rhythm of the machine. Result? Skipped stitches, uneven stitch lengths.

The thread is also important. I used King Tut cotton in the top and The Finishing Touch polyester thread in the bobbin. Result? Broken threads...un-sew...restart...broken threads...repeat. I won't show you THAT ugly photo.

I think the bottom line for quilting on my domestic machine is to use its high speed, which is scary at first, and then the other key is: don't swirl too quickly (skipped stitches, broken threads).

I like swirling, but I think many of my swirls end up looking like velociraptors from the Jurassic Park movie. (Speaking of velociraptors, have you ever noticed that they move around and act distinctly like chickens?? If you're a chicken-lover, you'll notice it!)

I'm not done with this "monster" yet. I've imperfectly completed about a third of it. I figured that it's better to get this done so we can use and celebrate the love we share. Since it's for our use, who cares if it's not perfect?? I won't let the "quilt-police" examine it. And someday, when my children inherit it and realize it's not their style or colors, they can donate it to a quilt museum where the caption will read: "Had this quilter lost her mind??!!"

Thread Painting Experiment

During the local quilt show last week, I attended a presentation about thread painting. Of course I had to go home and try it.
My first attempt: a cup and saucer. I drew a crude picture with a Frixion pen. I used a light stabilizer behind the top fabric (an old cotton sheet) and machine embroidery thread, neither of which were thick enough for this project. I believe she recommended a thread weight of 30, but I currently don't have any. I hooped it on a wooden hand-embroidery hoop.

My second attempt: Thick, wash-away stabilizer, a layer of old cotton sheet sandwiched between the stabilizer and top fabric, raw-edge applique fabric scraps for tree trunk, tree roots and branches and leaves, multiple layers of that machine embroidery thread and varied colors. I used the wooden hand-embroidery hoop again and I suspect that it wasn't tight enough, since the fabric is rumpled or gathered. I might try my machine embroidery hoop next time and purchase some thick thread to try this out in the future.

Linking up with other creative ones like you at:

Sew Fresh Quilts           WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced          Quilting is more fun than Housework


  1. What a brave girl you are! Looking forward to seeing it all this weekend~

  2. Quilting can be frustrating even with a longarm when threads don't cooperate. Sorry for your troubles. Your thread painting looks fun however!

  3. Great work on yours quilting. I have the same challenges about manipulating big quilts and have found rolling the edges and throwing them over my shoulder helps. My quilting is slowly getting better with practice so keep up the practice and enjoy your finished quilts.

  4. Way to go with the quilting! You will get better, I promise. I don't use any sort of extension, I wish I had one but that's on the honey-do list....or maybe I should enlist my father in law.

    Enjoy your new quilt! And remember that washing, and the subsequent crinkle, hides many sins.