Wednesday, March 28, 2018

YAY!!! I DID IT!! I WOUND MY OWN BOBBIN with my APQS Turbo Terror!

This is going to be one of those posts where you all get to shake your heads and have a chuckle at my expense.  When I brought my APQS Millenium home in early April of last year, I stocked up on a variety of colors of Fil-Tec Glide thread cones and Magna Glide magnetic prewound bobbins to get me started, and there was a Magna Glide prewound already in the bobbin case on Day One.  Of course you don't HAVE to use prewound bobbins in APQS machines -- in fact, the Millenium and Freedom models both come standard with a stand alone, $325 industrial Turbo Bobbin Winder for winding your own bobbins.  And I have been so afraid of that contraption that I've just been limiting myself to prewound bobbins for the past year... That's right -- I'm not afraid of the long arm quilting machine.  I'm afraid of the BOBBIN WINDER!

I Cannot Begin to Tell You How Proud I Am of This Bobbin (But I Will Try Anyway)
Until Tabby Mountain...  I have thread colors that I want to use on the top of this quilt, but I do not have prewound magnetic bobbins in those thread colors, and I don't have prewound bobbins in a shade that would match the backing for this quilt, either.  I don't know of any local retailer where I can bring in my fabric swatches and match up the colors I need, either.  It was time to wind a bobbin.

Now OF COURSE my APQS dealer demonstrated how to use this intimidating beast of a bobbin winder at my new owner class, but that was a year ago and all I remembered was the tip about plugging the bobbin winder into a power strip with an on/off switch to control the machine without having to stick your fingers near moving parts.  I went to the Internet, to the trusty APQS blog and YouTube channel, and found only ONE video demonstrating how to use the Turbo Bobbin Winder:

The only problem I had with this video is that Angela's fingers are in the way when she's threading around the tensioner and through those little guides, so I wasn't 100% sure of the thread path.  I went back to the Internet, this time to the APQS Facebook group for tips, suggestions, and moral support.  Armed with my newfound courage, I faced off with the Turbo Terror and found...

They Left a Thread Trail For Me, Like In Hansel and Gretel!
...That the nice folks at APQS had already wound a bobbin for me and taped the thread tail down at the factory before they shipped my Turbo Terror, so I would know EXACTLY where the thread was supposed to go!  Isn't that sweet?!

It Worked!  And It Was Easy!
I didn't have a cone of Glide in a color that I liked for my top row of pink triangles on Tabby Mountain, but I did have exactly the right shade of pink in a Mini King cone of Isacord polyester embroidery thread -- which looks and feels a lot like Glide.  Since it's made to withstand high speed embroidery, I anticipate that it will behave just fine with my longarm machine. 

So, my final assessment of the APQS Turbo Terror Bobbin Winder is that it is a lot like the Rottweiler in my sewing room -- he might LOOK ferocious and intimidating, but he's actually pretty sweet!  :-)  I feel foolish for avoiding it for so long!!

I Might Look Scary, But I Am Really Just a Sweet Baboo
Up next for me today: Now that I've wound a pink bobbin, I need to change back to a size 4.0 needle (I went down to size 3.5 for the monofilament thread) and readjust my tension (which I had loosened A LOT for the invisible thread) until I get a nice stitch with my pink Isacord thread.  I did a lot of research yesterday on quilting designs for the pink triangles.  I was planning some "simple" ruler work in all the solid triangles using straight lines and a couple of circles here and there, but now I'm getting nervous because the quilting is really going to show up on the solid fabrics, even with matching thread colors.  Can I really execute my design well enough to be happy with the results once I'm finished?

Original Quilting Plan
Late last night, I curled up in bed with both of Judi Madsen's quilting books.  Judi Madsen, a.k.a. the Green Fairy Quilter, is my hands-down, all-time favorite longarm quilter and I have been following her work for years.  Judi inspired me to buy the longarm machine in the first place, and I aspire to develop the ability to do custom quilting similar to what she does.  

Judi Madsen's Quilting Books, available on Amazon here
I have to confess that, as much as I adore Judi's quilting style, her piecing designs for her personal projects are not as appealing to me as the more traditional pieced and appliqued quilts that she has quilted for many of her customers.  Both of her books are project based, and I am fairly unlikely to want to recreate any of her very modern projects.  They are gorgeous; they just are not "me," if you know what I mean.  However, since Judi is a master quilter, she includes very detailed, step-by-step instructions for her quilting process with each project rather than the dreaded phrase "quilt as desired" that you see in most books.  And that information is GOLD to me as a new longarm quilter who dreams of someday quilting like Judi!  She tells you exactly what kind of batting and threads she used, which quilts have double batting and how she does that, where and when she stabilizes, how and why she marks her quilts...  As you read through her quilting directions for all of the projects, you will discover a wealth of information about Judi's custom quilting process that can be applied to ANY quilt project.  I would love to see a process based book from Judi rather than another project-based book next time, where she walks you through the quilting process from start (loading) to finish (trimming) and incorporates photos of lots of different types of projects (including customer quilts) to explain which methods she prefers for the whole gamut of quilt tops she has encountered throughout her quilting career.

Judi's Wide Open Borders Class Sample on Left, Judi's Quilting on Traditional Client's Quilt on Right
See what I mean?  Both are jaw-dropping gorgeous, and the one on the left has a very cool Art Deco vibe that would translate well to my triangles (if I actually had the skill to execute it, that is!).  But the one on the right, on Judi's client's pieced and hand stitched applique quilt called "Sweet Surrender,"  I just drool over!  You can salivate over even more photos of this gorgeous quilt on Judi's blog here.  

So, in a Quilter's Quandary about my proposed ruler work for Tabby Mountain, I asked myself "WWJD?"  (That's "What Would JUDI Do" -- Jesus wasn't a quilter!).  And it turns out that what Judi would do is mark references for the ruler work designs with a purple temporary fabric marker rather than relying on the etched lines on her rulers for spacing.  Hmmm...  That WOULD make it less intimidating, wouldn't it?

In all of sewing and quilting, there are almost as many ways of doing things as there are quilters.  Whether you're looking for help at your local guild, from books and magazines, or in online forums, you're going to find quilters who are advocating wildly different methods and it can be difficult to know who to listen to when you're a newbie like me!  I've found the most success when I follow how-to advice from the quilters who excel at the kind of quilts I most aspire to make, since what works well enough for one style of quilting does not necessarily yield the best results for EVERY style of quilting.  With that in mind, even though I've never really been much of a class person, let alone online video class person (still have not watched the Craftsy class that I purchased 2 years ago!), I am seriously considering purchasing AND WATCHING Judi's online quilting classes to learn more about how she does her Green Fairy magic.  Incidentally, Judi will be teaching her classes IN PERSON at MQX in April.  I wish I was going!  Maybe next time.

Computer time is over!  Back to my studio!!


Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

glad to hear you are getting your machine all figured out. Judi is a divine quilter isn't she - puts more quilting in then I would want on one of my quilts as some of them look like they stand up without anyone holding them up - but to each there own - it is excellent quilting - so glad though that you are getting your beast figured out

Lynette said...

Judi is also the primary inspiration for my own quilting journey! There are two others who have been incredibly instrumental, but she was the first, and probably the strongest. I actually sent a quilt to her several years ago, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE it! I need to get it out and up on the wall again for a while. So, hey - It's good to hear that the bobbin winder is a sweet thing instead of the rotweiller I've been thinking it is, too. I haven't touched mine, yet, either. Sure, the prewounds are convenient as all get-out, but it would be a lot more economical if I would just get over myself and start using the winder!

Nancy @ Grace and Peace Quilting said...

I have a turbo winder also and was scared by the speed of it at first. Now that I'm use to it, I love it. No need to buy those prewound bobbins when I can wind them so quickly myself, and get the right number of bobbins wound. One thing I would recommend is to tuck a small piece of batting in the guide that's up in the air. That keeps the thread from moving around. I also recommend a small piece of batting in the first thread guide on your LA, for the same reason. (Maybe you're already doing that? I can't see a photo of that part of your machine.)

Our LA group had Judi come and give us classes for 2 days and she is an amazing quilter. That's funny that you say WWJ(udi)D. I'm always thinking WWAD--What would Angela do?!

Happy Easter!