Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Free Motion Circle Quilting FINALLY In Progress!

Free Motion Ditch Circle, Backing Side
Lars's Drunken Dragons quilt has been languishing in my studio untouched for the past three weeks, ever since my disastrous initial attempt to quilt "in the ditch" along the 11" diameter circular seamlines.  I experimented briefly with both Mode 1 and Mode 2 of the Bernina Stitch Regulator (BSR) attachment, which is supposed to make free motion quilting easier by automatically regulating stitch length.  For me, at least with the task of trying to place stitches precisely along the seamline, the BSR felt like a crazy robot driving the sewing machine out of control.  Every time I stopped to reposition my hands on the quilt, the machine started sewing again before I was ready.  Maybe I need more practice with the BSR, and the instructions that came with it are horrible -- maybe I wasn't using it correctly.  For instance, the instructions say "disengage the BSR function" but NOWHERE in the instructions does it say HOW to disengage the BSR function.  Tap the foot control?  Press a button somewhere?  Your guess is as good as mine!

Bernina Freehand Quilting Foot #29
Anyway, yesterday I removed the BSR foot and replaced it with Freehand Quilting Foot #29 to try some old school free motion quilting.  Feed dogs down, upper tension reduced for the monofilament nylon thread, and we're flying without a safety net!  There are a number of different feet you can use for free motion quilting.  What they all have in common is that spring in the shank.  Foot #29 is the one Bernina recommends for freehand quilting without the BSR function, and the clear plastic sole of the foot is supposed to give you great visibility so you can see where you're stitching.  Sounds great in theory, but when I was using this foot yesterday I found that the sewing machine light on the shiny clear plastic created a terrible glare that made it impossible to see my seamline accurately through the clear plastic foot.  I pulled out my Feetures books and discovered that there's another foot, Freehand Embroidery Foot #24, that would probably work better for this task.  Amazingly, I do not already own this presser foot.  My Bernina dealer is out of stock but expects it to come in with their next shipment in a few days, so meanwhile, I'm stuck with my clear foot.

Free Motion Quilting "In the Ditch" with Foot #29
Bernina Freehand Embroidery Foot #24
See what I mean about the glare?  The foot I'm waiting on has an open toe front, which should make it a lot easier to see the seamline I'm trying to follow.  I don't have any idea why they call it an embroidery foot -- I would think the ends of the open toe would get caught in long satin stitches if you were using it for embroidery.

Oh, and notice the gloves in the photo above?  I have a couple pairs of quilting gloves with rubber fingers, which are supposed to make it easier to grip the fabric of the quilt.  I hate wearing gloves, but I'm trying to be open-minded so I'm wearing them for now. 

Close Up of my Non-BSR Free Motion Stitching, Backing Side

The stitching itself is far from perfect as you can see in this picture from the backing side.  I am really happy with the busy print I chose for the backing, because from a distance the wobbly lines aren't noticeable at all. 

Close Up Non-BSR Free Motion Ditch Quilting, Top Side with Invisible Thread

From the front of the quilt, the mistakes and unevenness are even harder to see, thanks to the monofilament nylon invisible thread.  When the quilt is washed for the first time, it should shrink and pucker a little even though the fabrics are prewashed and the batting is a silk blend, and that will camouflage the ooopses even more.  It's not perfect, but it's good enough.  I have a feeling that each circle will come out a little smoother than the last one as I work my way through the quilt.

I don't forsee any quilting time today, though.  I have to get in the shower now so I can vote against Amendment One, even though the latest polls indicate that it's likely to pass.  Honestly, I don't see what the fuss is about.  Why do so many straight people feel threatened by gay marriages? 

After voting, I'll head straight to my piano lesson, and from there I pick up the kids from school.  We'll be rushing through homework and dinner tonight so we can make it to Night of the Arts, where Lars and Anders will be playing trombone and recorder with their classmates in their school's annual arts extravaganza.  Less than 5 weeks of school remain before summer vacation! 

1 comment:

Ivory Spring said...

Very nice!!!! It will be a stunner when it is finished!

By the way, I have been doing curved seams. ;)