Monday, July 07, 2008

Novice Machine Quilter seeks advice

Since the weather was quite uncooperative this weekend with rain off and on all weekend, I decided to load a baby quilt onto my Gracie frame for quilting. I have used this machine frame and my Janome 1600 for a few quilts over the last couple of years but have not used it extensively and I have only done a meander/stipple type stitch on the few quilts that I've done (mostly charity or kiddie quilts since they don't care about some uneven stitching) and this is part of the problem. Every time I decide to use it I have to reread the directions and/or watch the DVD for loading the quilt and threading the machine etc. and that is what I did Friday night when my DH was at a concert with an old college friend.

I finally got the quilt loaded and the machine threaded and decided to just do a meander/stipple on the body and then do a little something (yet to be determined) on the borders and four cornerstones. First problem I had was with the top thread breaking (this I anticipated as my Janome can be a bit finicky) so I changed it out to a different thread and fiddled with the tension and that seemed to work. Overall, it was not too frustrating and I have completed the meander. I have to say that my meander/stipple is pretty good. I think it is more a stipple as the quilting is pretty compact. I'll have to post a picture so you can see it. I think of a meander as more open. The stitches are pretty uniform, there are no crossovers, well maybe a couple, and no crazy angles. I want to use a panto for the borders and blocks. Not sure if I should have done this first or last!! I've never used a panto, well I have but not with the laser attachment for the machine which I got for Christmas and have yet to take out of the box and I'd like to give that a go this time around.

I have promised myself that once this quilt is done I will immediately load another so that I can get better at this and more comfortable. I do have another quilt with backing and batting all set to go!

So I thought that I would post a few questions to see if any of the more experienced machine/long arm/midarm quilters out there might have some advice or tips to share.

Here are just a few thoughts/questions.. but feel free to lay your wisdom and experience on me!

1. THREAD - Do you have a favorite?? I have some Superior which I have used but it's not as fine as I would like it to be. On this quilt, I used Metzler, since I had it and I was happy with it once the tension issue was ironed out.

2. Should I do the borders or the body first?? Do you start from the center and work out or go edge to edge?? I did edge to edge which seemed to work fine. Should I be basting my quilt first? The few times I have done it I haven't basted

3. Since my Janome only has a 9 inch (?) opening I am limited in the area I can quilt, I am planning on doing the top and bottom border and the corner stones then taking the quilt off and reloading so I can go the length of the side borders. Does that make sense? I'm not sure since I've never done it. My plan is to get more quilting under my belt and then decide on a possible upgrade on a machine, maybe a midarm with a larger opening like an HQ Sixteen.

4. PANTOS - any suggestions such as some easy ones out there for purchase. are straight lined easier than loopy??

I have to say I enjoyed doing the quilting on the frame and would like to become semi proficient at it. I certainly don't think I'd ever take in someone else's quilts since I have many tops that need to be quilted and would like to do them myself. I know that a big part of it is PRACTICE!

But any advice would be sewww appreciated.


Joyce said...

A Lot of your questions are answered in this group.
They mostly use Pfaff machines but the frames are similar and the problems and decisions are also similar. I have had untold help from them.

Tricia said...

Welcome to the group! I totally agree with Joyce, spend some time in the files and such on the group home site. There are wonderful women (and men) here that have lots of experience and advice. I will try to answer a couple of your questions. Question #1: No I don't have a favorite, I tend to use what I can find on sale and what matches my project. Some machines can be hyper sensitive to thread, so if you find something that works best to stick with it. If you are experiencing breakage it could be your needle, check the site for messages and info on Thread breakage there is a ton of info. #2 I tend to work edge to edge, but I just did my gs quilt with a panto in the middle and free motion on the borders. I did the middle first and then the borders, it worked fine (not positive if I was just lucky or if that is the proper know we all worry about the quilt police...LOL!)#3 Turning your quilt is something you sometimes have to do and what you are suggesting makes total sense and you will have good luck doing it that way. There are files on turning your quilt may want to baste your borders some before turning them. You don't have to baste to quilt, but if you are going to turn your quilt you will want to baste the unquilted portion before turning it.Question #4 Pantos seem to be a like or dislike among quilters. I personally like them. You can use them for borders...loopy are easier than straight. In fact I feel like the simpler they are the harder they are in the sense that you can't hide your mistakes as easily.
So Annie, I hope this long post helps in some way (sorry I got carried away I think)...practice and try it out, if you have other questions post them on the site and someone will generally answer fairly quickly. The board has been a tad quiet lately, I think lots are on summer vacation. It is a friendly helpful group. Glad you can join us.
Quilt hugs
(I just started my blog ;)

Libby said...

I wish I had suggestions . . . I just meander/stipple on my Grace. Looks like there's a lot more that I can do - I'll be following along. When the Princess is on her own again, I can reassemble it and get busy *S*

Kay said...

This was an interesting post and comments were so informative, even though I don't do this kind of quiltijng. Enjoy your short work week!

Debra said...

I'm going to spend the fall months working on my Janome setup (like yours) so maybe we can compare notes then.

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