Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Progress on Practice Wholecloth

My practice project is coming along. However today, when I finally sat down to continue we had a power outage, so I did not get as much done as I would have liked.

I have been stitching this wholecloth to practice a number of things
- to try my new circle and arc rulers
- to try a new thread - Magnifico from Superior threads
- to continue to explore the HQ Sweet 16, i.e. how different will it be to stitch something that is quite familiar to me but obviously will feel completely different on the Sweet 16

and then I added to the list
- used the wave ruler to put in a spine line for my feathers
- stitched my feathers freehand around just for fun

This is how far I got today

The thread continues to give me trouble...I used Bottomline in the bobbin. Funny enough the yellow thread is no problem but the blue and the red appear much more fiddly to me. Periodically throughout the piece I have had moments when I had to adjust the tension and literally go through the whole process of testing and re-testing etc. In between also watched several YouTube videos on tension. I think I know how to set the tension correct but for that blue thread, it just wants the bobbin tension so much tighter than I thought.  I will take the thread to my HQ group and asked about this. However I also have discovered that a different thread in the bobbin, something like SoFine 50/3 or Rasant  (i.e. something closer to the weight of Magnifico) works much better for me...the stitches look better and I get the correct tension without much trouble. So that is something for me to remember. If it does not work so well with one combination of thread, try another...
For this piece however I continued with the Bottomline...also a very good exercise for me personally to have something that is less than perfect. The feathers were a lot of fun to quilt. I felt in a pretty happy place with the machine...still going snail pace (how slow did I stitch on my DSM?) but getting into the rhythm of this machine. Stitching the feathers completely freehand was great. I used the backtrack method even though the bump back method would have probably been more appropriate, but I like backtracking...this worked very well for me at a slow speed and I was able to keep my feathers more or less consistent. Lesson learnt...the corners should really be marked in! I did them also freehand thinking that I could just have a little look of how I did them in the first corner but by the time you concentrate on your stitching, that reference point is gone and you are locked in fitting them into the space you are quilting. Let all of this go and was pretty happy with myself. Still looks quite respectable. Once I echo around that a few times the differences will not be that noticeable. Also did some in-lining in blue and practiced some speed. What a hoot! Made it up to 20% and had a laugh as I am very far away from being able to do them properly, even though the feathers are easier to quilt at that speed, i.e. they come out a bit smoother but my stitches were way too short at that speed for the time being. Will have to continue at my snail pace for a while.

From here the plan is to do a bit more filling in the center and to put some background quilting around the center and then I am thinking that I might put some piano keys as an outer border using my favourite ruler, the Line Grid ruler. I love this about wholecloth quilts...there is always something more you can do. However for this one that will then be the finish. I had ordered some fabric from the Fatquartershop for my next wholecloth which has already arrived, so I am already thinking about the next quilt.

Linking up to Let's Bee Social over at Sew Fresh Quilts.


Sunday, 14 January 2018

Patsy Thompson's January Online Workshop

Patsy has packed a lot of thought and valuable information in her posts about quilting with rulers (I have her Feathers DVD series and it absolutely changed my quilting...learned so much from that). We are in the second week of her Ruler Work Winter Course and are learning about curved channels.

With my newly found confidence in rulers I thought...yep, let's whip this up quickly and the result was this
Looks ok, but if you look closely, the channels are drifting and are not centered. Why?...because I thought I could hurry this along and by not having placed some grips on the newer rulers they obviously started sliding.
So the next day I did it again, but this time properly with grips in place and paying a bit ore attention to center the rulers. I used the Slice ruler for the first curve and the Handiquilter arc set for the second and third curves. I find curves actually quite hard to do and while I did not have my stitching trail off the ruler anymore, I did find that I needed to stop in the middle of the curve and re-position my hands again to hold the ruler in place.

Much better!

On Friday then Patsy demonstrated some arcs and how to stitch some tapered channels into them. That was much easier than the above curves.
Here are my arcs
I did play around with this a bit and filled in some areas...lots of possibilities.

Wondering what we will be doing next😎

Friday, 12 January 2018

Practice Wholecloth

I am making progress and learning a lot by my mistakes, mainly to do with my lack of planning with this little quilt. Absolute must to put your framework in first before filling anything else! I am sure I have said this before somewhere but obviously have not committed this to memory. Maybe it will stick after this time ☺
Decided my wreath needed something else and ended up putting another circle in underneath the arcs. Must say that this got a bit messy because of the compaction already happening so this is not going to be a 100%. However I did want to have a look what that looked like. Yep, like it!
Now, back to the filling.


Thursday, 11 January 2018

2018 Finish-A-Long: First Quarter

Marci Girl Designs
Can't believe we are again at the beginning of the year and a new Finish-A-Long. If you want more information follow the link above, but basically this is an event where quilters all over the world outline what they hope to achieve over the next 12 months, split over four quarters. I participated last year however had to drop out in the middle of the year when I got the new machine as nothing got finished or planned, other than getting used to the new machine.
Here is my list for the first quarter (repetition from previous post, but the rules state that you need to write a new post about this):
#1 Finish off Practice Wholecloth
This is a practice piece trialing some different thread to what I normally use and also getting used to some different rulers that I purchased recently
#2 The 1000Pyramid Quilt
I am half way through and had another burst of energy in the last half year but motivation has come to an absolute zero again. Hoping to knock off the last few hundreds of rows...this seems really unsurmountable, but we shall see.

#3 The next Wholecloth
Fabric coming from the US from the Fatquartershop...planning to stitch this out on a blackish type fabric (think it was called charcoal gray). 

#4 Another baby quilt like this in a different colourway
This is a must as I bought some Accuquilt dies for this to make the job quicker

This is my list...not very exciting and seems very small but this is all I can work on in 3 months and I actually seriously doubt that I will achieve all of them. But like last year, if I only finish two things I shall be very happy.
Linking up to shecanquilt for the 2018 FAL Proposed Finishes for Q1

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Tension Trials and Tribulations - Part 2

Before I continued on my wholecloth I stitched out Patsy Thompson's little task from her online January Ruler Workshop.
Patsy shared a stack of information both on Monday and Friday last week talking about the two different channels that give some life to otherwise pretty simple shapes. Don't be fooled...while this may look basic I did pick up a few hints (like you need to have a plan!) and definitely found out that I need to do some more work on parallel channels, particularly the 1/4in ones. While I stitched them with no problem they all are slightly different widths and this problem occurred seemingly always on the right side. Maybe the way I align the ruler on that side? Need to explore this a bit more.

I hope we don't need that sample for anything else as I then used it to trial a different colour for my wholecloth. Still Magnifico 40wt but this time in red. Strangely enough this had a slightly different tension and I had some difficulty working this out.

As you can see there is some red poking through on the back. I spent some time again going through the process of adjusting the tension. This was not easy and I think in the end I actually had the tension a tad too tight but I then went onto the wholecloth anyway to put in a featherette. Did not want to obsess about this as this thread is obviously a little bit difficult for me and for now this is good enough. 
Looks ok from afar, but I must say I do not like the stitches. What is it with the colour 'red'. I know I cannot blame the machine for this as I also have difficulties stitching with darker colours on my DSM. Just does not look that great. Anyway, I continued with hyperquilting with some blue Magnifico thread in the outer feathers.
Bit out of practice with the hyperquilting. Looking at the photo now realise that the heart shape in the feathers leaves a lot to be desired...I reckon that they should have been a little bit bigger, filling out the space a bit better, but so be it...not too fussed as this is just for a bit of fun/trial with rulers and some different thread. Was happy to get back to the yellow colour for the outlining which does not seem to give me the trouble that I had with red and to some extent with the blue as well. Incidentally I did try the Magnifico thread also with a different bobbin thread using So Fine 50/3 and liked the feel with which it was moving along much better. Seems that a thread closer to its weight might be better. Unfortunately I do not have So Fine 50/3 in a cream colour, so I continued with the Bottomline thread. 
I am going to stitch some feathers around this and I might try to pair the Magnifico with a cream Rasant thread (Tex 24) which is similar in weight and have a look whether this is less fiddly. Anyway happy with my efforts so far...not sure I will use this Magnifico thread on another wholecloth. While the thread is beautiful, I don't like its slippery nature. Just not used to it and had some trouble with the locking of stitches. But then again that might just be me at this point in time.
A little bit more filling as this looks way too naked and then I will stitch the feather border. 


Thursday, 4 January 2018

Tension Trials and Tribulations - Part 1

I spent the last 2 days trialling a new thread on my Sweet 16. I have had the machine now for just about 6 months and after my initial meltdown over the adjustment of tension (see this post) have settled in to the new machine. It is starting to feel better but I am by no means as comfortable as I was on my DSM. Still struggle with speed, locking stitches in a tidy fashion and in general not being ‘in sink’with the machine.
But it’s getting better...I followed Jamie Wallen’s advice on one of his videos and stuck to just one thread for the last 6 months. Aurifil, of course! It’s the thread I love, I know how it behaves and I was able to get that to work most of the time on the Sweet 16. However, when I got the machine I also got a box full of thread from Superior...yummy colours, all sorts of types of thread, so I finally found the courage to give that a go. I chose Magnifico to start with...a 40/2 trilobal Polyester thread. The sheen on that thread is just out of this world. Very beautiful.
Looked on the Superior thread chart which gave me a Towa gauge number (find information about the Towa gauge HERE) to guide me in the right direction. Those numbers are measured with prewound Superbob bobbins. As I had some of those, tried that and got my first taste of how finicky that thread is...must emphasize that it is finicky to me and that is probably because I have only rarely used Polyester thread. Not sure I like the feel and how slippery they are.
I then used my (not prewound bobbin) Bottomline thread as I needed a cream colour for my practice wholecloth. Here is where the Towa gauge becomes particularly useful. My wound bobbin behaved quite different to the prewound one, i.e. I needed to tighten the bobbin severely on the one that I had wound on the bobbin winder (I did not question my bobbin winder as I feel it is set quite right - the bobbins are not spongy but also not super rock hard, so I did not adjust this as I feel the bobbins are wound correctly). So I started at about 200 on the Towa gauge...should have taken photos of the next steps but it was one of those slightly frustrating processes. However I got through that in about an hour...a huge improvement in contrast to my earlier experiences. It went something like this:

- bobbin thread poking through the top, so reduced top tension
- bobbin thread still poking through, so reduced top tension to a level where it was just too loose (was pleased as I definitely can feel that now by pulling the thread towards me above the needle)
- tightened bobbin tension, however still being pulled to top (how strong is this thread?)
- looked at my thread path; the Superior guide talked about a thread net-tried this but this increased the top tension even further
- decided to only guide the thread through 2 we were getting somewhere. Here is a bit of a practice run using the different colours (blue, cream and red Magnifico), but more on the colours later.
Can you guess which web site I have been looking at recently?

Over the next 2 days I did manage to get the tension acceptable and started my wholecloth with my new toys, the circle and arc rulers.

I must be the world's worst marker...a plan would have been good, but I am a bit hopeless when it comes to marking. Always start off really tidy (marked the main frame on the fabric and attempted to mark the arc in) and then the creative mind takes over and ...oops, this needs to be different, let’s just draw over this or even better, wipe away with some water etc...always end up incredibly messy and the need to put in special marks to work out where I am going. Hilariously annoying!

The wholecloth is a practice run for the different thread, but also to
- try out my rulers and I mean really try them out, i.e. explore the markings, look at how to best hold them and generally getting a feel for them
- work on a more puffy quilt scenario (used cotton and a thin layer of wool on this piece)
- continue to work on more tidy beginning stitches and backtracking over stitches when doing the feathers
- try to find a comfortable speed level for the feathers.
Maybe a bit too much all at once...maybe just a little😜

My rulers worked well, except I did not consider the puffiness and subsequent compaction. First learning! As I did stitch out the inner feathers after the first circle I had enormous problems with the next circle. Yep, pays to think this through a bit. Frame first, and then the filling in of detail!
This looks very much like one that Patsy Thompson had on her blog recently...did not mean to copy, sorry about that, but as I had not pre-planned the arc that I had wanted to do, it did not work out...should have made the inner circle a bit smaller for that, so ended up just doing a normal, straightforward arc around it. Haha...then realized if I wanted to make a channel, I should have stitched the inner arc first, then aligned the ruler and did the channel. Obviously did it the wrong way around and ended up with a tapered channel. Also looks good so I was not too worried about that. Here is a close up of the stitches.
Not too bad at all. I thought that the arcs would be difficult to do, but they went in quite easily. I stitched this with a needle size 14 even though the thread guide says to use a needle size 18. I figured that it probably needs a stronger needle when used on a longarm with high speed, but seeing that I rarely go over speed 20, I thought a smaller size should accommodate the thread just fine. A needle size 18 is just too big for me...I have stitched with a 70/10 or smaller needle on the DSM for the last 5 years or so, so that needle 18 looks like a big nail to me. Had no problem with shredding or breakage and while I feel I am making this up a bit as I go along, it seems to work, so why not.

This has been good fun until I changed to a different colour, but more of that in the next post...