Tuesday, February 18, 2014

My Son, the Quilter: Stitching In the Ditch with Monofilament Nylon on the Bernina 750 QE

Anders Quilting on the Bernina 750 QE
Anders finally started quilting his first quilt on Sunday afternoon!  He has officially graduated from Piecer to Quilter.  Although he pieced his first quilt top on Judy, my 1951 Singer Featherweight, I set him up with Nina the Bernina 750 QE for the actual quilting for several reasons:

1. Mine is sunk in a cabinet, which really helps minimize the drag of a heavy quilt.  Even before we layered his top with batting and backing, Anders was having increasing difficulty controlling his quilt top as it got bigger and bigger and began hanging off the edges of the diminutive machine bed on the Featherweight.

2. I have a walking foot for Nina, but I don't own one that fits the Featherweight.

3. Nina the 750 QE has a cool stitch in her quilting menu that automatically secures a line of stitching with several tiny stitching at the beginning and again at the end.  On most machines, the quilter has to remember to manually adjust the stitch length every time he or she begins or ends a line of quilting, and especially for a child who is just learning, it really helps for that to happen automatically.

You'll notice that Anders selected lime green Minky dot fabric for the backing of his first quilt, which can present some additional challenges.  I spray-basted the thin cotton batting to the Minky first, then spray basted his quilt top to the batting, smoothing out all three layers until they were ripple-free.  Then, for added insurance against shifty Minky misbehavior, I pin-basted the quilt as well, about 2-3" apart.  His quilt top is pretty stable because I had been starching each seam throughout the construction process.  I marked a 1 1/2" grid across the surface of his quilt with chalk pencils, aligning the grid with the seam lines on his blocks, so that all he has to do is straight lines for this one.  Hopefully the lines don't rub off before he finishes quilting them!

Since Anders' fabrics are such busy prints anyway, and since he is bound to have some "oopses" on his first project, I chose SewArt monofilament nylon "invisible" thread for the needle with Mettler 50/3 cotton thread in the bobbin, color matched to the Minky backing.  I wrote a post awhile back with tips for monofilament nylon thread that you can find here).  This was my first time using monofilament nylon on the 750 QE and she handled it beautifully.  With cotton thread in the bobbin, I got lovely balanced tension for this project by dropping the needle tension down to 2.0 (invisible nylon thread stretches, so you always need to lower your top tension for this specialty thread).  Normally I like to use a size 60 sharp needle with monofilament thread for the tiniest holes and least visible stitches, but I put in a 75 Quilting needle for Anders.  He gets his quilt hung up on the edge of the cabinet occasionally and is still getting the hang of letting the quilt move freely through the machine with the feed dogs doing the work.  Those skinny size 60 needles break more easily if the quilter is tugging at all, so I thought the 75 would be a bit safer.

Bernina Walking Foot #50 with 3 Soles
Anders is quilting with a special "ditch quilting" sole fitted to the Bernina #50 Walking Foot.  My walking foot originally came with two interchangeable soles, one of them closed-toe and the other one open-toe for greater visibility.  The new Bernina walking feet come with this third sole that has a metal guide blade in the center to facilitate quilting stitches that land right next to the patchwork seams, on the low side of the seam allowance.  I was able to purchase the ditch quilting sole for my walking foot separately from my Bernina dealer.  It worked really well for Anders since he was able to watch that metal guide and make sure it was following the chalk lines when he wasn't next to a seam. 

Anders managed to get the vertical lines quilted on the right half of his quilt before he was done for the day.  Since he only quilts with me every other Sunday afternoon, it will probably be another couple of months before he finishes this project.  I am SO glad I simplified what I had originally planned for him to make!


Anonymous said...

Huge accolades to Anders for quilting with monofilament and on making a quilt with Minky which I refer to as the devil's fabric. Enticing but hellish. Good job, Anders! Claudia W

Chris said...

Yay for Anders! And Yay for Ander's mom for her expertise and patience! Can't wait to see the finished quilt. Loved the snow pictures, too. :-)

Jenny K. Lyon said...

Dear Anders; Your Mom made some fabulous choices to get you started quilting. I love your color choices and the Minky on the back is another great choice. Enjoy!

Ivory Spring said...

Very cool!!