Thursday, 17 October 2013

Quilting and Blogging Challenges

Time is essential to both quilting and blogging.  In the case of blogging it is fun to post on a blog but it takes time to decide what is worth writing about and if the topic might be interesting or helpful. So posting takes time.  

Quilting is also time consuming depending on your addiction and committments and your seeking as close to perfection as you get.  So in September and October all of this coincided and now I can write about something I find interesting and to let you know what has been
consuming my time.

1.  This quilt needed to be finished i.e.  quilted for a show in Middleton, Nova Scotia.  It is heavily quilted with cascading rose petals and some holly and full blown roses on the border.  Making quilting designs is such fun.  Seeing them come alive is euphoric.
2.  The show had to be set up and I was a 'goefer'.   It was fun but lots of work.  Out of this will come a small movie  for our guild of the behind the scenes of setting up.  (memo to self- add to list of to do's on computer)
3.  I have been working as well on my Celtic Quilt which is approaching the finish line.  It will be a stunner.
4.  I have been working on a paper pieced mystery by Carol Doak.  (Told you quilting is an addiction) And I am half finished another Christmas scrappy quilt which I just love. (These are not all that is currently on the work list.)
5.  The pesky contractors have been completing their work and boy can the dust fly and the house be upset by the lovely things they are doing.
6. Sick doggies  and pill pushing and taking for tests and a cat which decided to steal a dog's pills and had to have emergency treatment.  A dash through the night countryside was required. Boy do things like that ever drain you.  Now I know just how much cats like dog pill pockets.  They will even eat the pills. Dogs now well and pills almost eliminated and cat is well and happy.  Pills for an 86 lb. dog are not inconsiderable in effect for a 6 lb. cat.
7.  A chestnut tree which explodes with leaves and nuts all over the patio and needs to be tidied up if one does not want to walk on the ball bearings of nuts.  The dogs love to chase the nuts after they explode on the patio surface but I keep my head covered under the canopy.

Hortense did a great job on the quilt above but I was not happy with how the frame was operating.  I just knew it was not behaving as the unit as a whole should.  Knowing your equipment is an important aspect of quilting and can be quite daunting. You can hear and feel something that is not quite right. It is not all easy stuff in long arm quilting like doodling designs and cruising over a lovely quilt top as they show on commercials.  So thanks to a knowledgable neighbout the frame is totally level and  Hortense is moving smooth as silk.  But now I had to adjust some tension settings.  

Ok if you have a home sewing machine you can dial the tension fairly easily.  On a long arm there are variables which have to taken into account.  Getting the perfect stitch feels like going on the Crusades for the Holy Grail. Or at least that is what it has felt like.

How many remember your algebra and solving for X?    For example
2x = y/4 where y is specified as some value.  Pretty easy.

Well on a long arm the formula is much longer.  And the formula has components that vary widely.   Here is a list.
Y.  Bobbin tension - change the thread; change the tension
     This includes type of thread and weight
A.  Machine tension - change the thread; change the tension
     This too includes type of thread and weight
B.   Bobbin winding tension - if too tight it binds the bobbin tension.
C.   Fabric weight - type of fabric
D.   Backing weight - type of fabric
E.   Batting - cotton; wool; mixed; synthetic (some still use it)
F.   Tension on the rails - too much can cause the stitches to sag when taken off the frame. So what is right?  Trial and error and that  feeling stuff again.  
G.   Height of the machine foot.  Too high makes the stitches loopy.  But the height can be impacted by thick or unpressed seams.
H.  You can add in moisture in the air and hence the quilt fabric will react differently with moisture or dryness.  Most wet than dry here these days.

Ok so that is 8 variables (and a lot of the aphabet) at a minimum to solve for x - the perfect stitch.  Of course A and B are always doing a dance as they push and pull each other to see where that locking stitch is going. And H can vary during quilting and from day to day and since quilts are not done in a  day, unless you have teflon feet, this can be significant.  So I have been spending 'quality' :) time with Hortense trying to get a perfect stitch with the current combination of top and bobbin thread.  Note the word current combination of thread.  This too is can be like playing on the computer; time goes much faster than you can imagine.  There is that time thing again.   Am I crazy?  Yes I think sometimes I must be but it is a fun crazy and I like perfect stitches.   I do not always get them but ........................ 

So blogging and quilting have been doing a dance like the machine and bobbin thread and I am the unwitting knot in the fabric.  So  today the blogging won out as I am too pooped to look for perfection or load a quilt or stitch.  Exercise class here I come for some uncomplicated movements and a bit of stretching out my body and perhaps my mind.

Thanks for reading.  More quilts to come.  By the way I love long arm quilting.  When things align it is like skating on ice to a waltz of your own making.

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