Thursday, 27 November 2014


One thing about long arm quilting, there is never a time when you are not learning.  Each quilt talks to you; really.  What you do in one part of quilt can help you understand what other parts want.  The variables are numerous; the quilt style, the quality of the fabrics, the piecing skill of the maker and the final use of the quilt along with the batting.  And of course there are the many varied threads and embellishments that can add interest and effect.

A big challenge doing a quilt is to get  the tension right.  Although I have tools for this, they are just markers like on a race marked at various points but exactly how each runner will take time to get between markers is different and so tension varies with fabric, batting, how tight the quilt is rolled and the workmanship of the piecer.  So how do you test the tension on a quilt someone else has made when there is no extra fabric?   Well here is how I have discovered works best after trying several ways.  Put a different thread in the bobbin; preferably a contrasting as possible.  Right now I am doing a quilt that has black and colours and the black is too black for the colours and the light thread is too light for the black.  This lead me to try to gauge the tension but using the light colour in the bobbin.  It worked.  On both sides you can clearly see if there are 'pokies' i.e. stitches of the opposite colour poking through.  A few wavy lines and you can see how the tension is doing. Curved lines behave a bit different when being stitched and show more quickly if tension is not right; those pesky pulls on the top tension showing on the back.   It is then simple to snip out the test stitches.

But what this allowed me to do on this quilt because the back is quite dark is to do the whole back in the black thread and parts of the front in black and parts in the light thread.  What fun to see it happening.  Often quilts have highly contrasting areas, especially panels which are fun to add trapunto to or to quilt in various stitches to give the panel a 3 dimensional effect.  I have often mused in my head about the ability to use contrasting threads on the front and back and now I can.  It means carefully testing at the beginning of each roll of the quilt to ensure you are still maintaining the same tension as this tension on the quilt from the rollers can vary with the day and the weather and how tight you think it is.  A bounce test with the hands does have some limitations.  

So, learning is a daily joy.  So is having fun doing something you love.

Keep warm and dry on  this nor'easter day which is wet, wet, wet in the Annapolis Valley.

No comments:

Post a Comment