|It's the Second to Last Row of Solid Triangles! Yay!!|
I had originally planned to quilt my solid triangle/diamond rows with more elaborate ruler work like this:
|My Original Quilting Plan -- A Little Too Ambitious For a Beginner!|
|"Dear Jane" Pieced by Gwen, Quilted by Judi Madsen in 2011, photo by Judi Madsen|
So... because these triangles are so big, it was not possible to quilt the lines straight down from the tip of one triangle all the way down to the tip of the triangle below, even on my APQS Millenium that has a pretty deep throat and a larger quilting workspace than many machines. I would need the Millie 30 to do that all in one pass. So with the first row of triangle diamonds, I stitching that horizontal seam between rows in the ditch first, and then I traveled over that seam line as I stitched the "rays" of all the top triangles, then advanced the quilt, and stitched the rays of all the bottom triangles, again traveling in the ditch from one ray to the next. This worked fine on the front of the quilt, but it resulted in a lot of ugly thread buildup on the backing side:
|Too Much Traveling Over Previously Stitched SID Lines|
|Horizontal Seam From Front, SID Done In Segments Between Diagonal Rays|
|Much Better, Right?|
|APQS Turbo Bobbin Winder Plugged Into Power Strip with On/Off Switch|
While I'm on the subject of the bobbin winder, I have just a few more photos to post as reminders to myself if I spend too much time away from it and ever need my memory jogged:
|Bobbin Winder Thread Path Through Tension Discs|
|Thread Net and Batting Scrap Ensure Smooth, Even Thread Delivery|
Since my APQS Millenium has the "L" style Smart Bobbin, additional lightweight aluminum bobbins for my machine are less than a dollar apiece. (The larger capacity "M" style bobbins cost $3 each, and the large capacity ceramic bobbins for my Bernina 7 Series sewing machine cost so much that I've blocked it from my memory, like the pains of childbirth!). But at ninety cents per bobbin, now that I know how easy it is to wind my own and get stitches that are just as beautiful as the stitches I got from prewound bobbins, there is no reason why I can't stock up on a bazillion empty bobbins and wind them up as I need them in any thread I want to use in my longarm machine.
I'm also really loving my TOWA Bobbin Gauge. I am SO GLAD I purchased this little contraption! I bought six different bobbin cases for my longarm machine so I can set one to the correct tension for Glide polyester thread, one for Superior So Fine thread, one for MonoPoly Monofilament thread, one for cardboard prewounds, one for Magna Glide prewounds, one for silk thread if I'm feeling fancy... And then I will only have to fiddle with top tension when I switch from one thread to another. (The spare bobbin cases for the "L" Smart Bobbin are only about $12 each versus $54 each for a spare large capacity "M" bobbin case, so that's another advantage of going with the "L" bobbins if you're ordering a new APQS machine and trying to decide whether to order your machines with L bobbins or with M bobbins).
Here's how the bobbin gauge works. You pop a full bobbin into your bobbin case, and snap the bobbin case in place in the TOWA gauge just like you would click it into place in your machine's hook. You pull your thread tail up and over the two little guide wheels and straight across to the left, and the red dial will show you a numerical value for the amount of resistance, or tension, on your thread coming out of the bobbin case. Superior Threads has a great video demonstration right here:
|When Your Bobbin Case Tension Is WAY TOO TIGHT!!|
Now, I'm not telling you that you NEED a TOWA bobbin gauge in order to get perfect tension on your longarm machine. Plenty of quilters will tell you that they adjust their top and bobbin tension primarily by feel, pulling each thread independently, and then tweaking settings according to what their test stitching looks like. However, for a newbie like me, the TOWA gauge is invaluable for shortening my learning curve and reducing frustration when I don't yet know what appropriate tension is supposed to feel like, when my bobbin tension is WILDLY out of whack and when I crank my needle tension up enough to balance the stitching, it's so tight that the thread keeps snapping when I try to sew! The TOWA gauge gives me the confidence to experiment with ANY thread in my longarm machine. If you want one that works for adjusting tension on an "L" style bobbin case just like mine, you can get it on Amazon here.
I am pretty sure I can use my "L" TOWA gauge to tweak the tension on my vintage Singer Featherweight bobbin cases as well, but I haven't tried that yet. Please note that if you have an APQS longarm machine with the larger capacity "M" style bobbins, or if you have an A-1, Innova, Gammill, Nolting or Handiquilter longarm machine that uses the larger bobbins, there's a different TOWA gauge to fit your larger bobbin case. Use this link instead.
Ever since I started this blog in 2010, I've always included links in my posts indicating where you can find the specific tools and products that I'm using in my projects. I do that because, when I'm reading other people's blog tutorials, I always ask myself "WHERE does she get such wonderful TOYS?!""
|Unlike Batman, I Will Always Tell You Where I Get My Wonderful Toys!|
Okay, now -- back to the cool stuff I'm learning with my Tabby Mountain quilt! Once I've got my bobbin case tension adjusted just so with the TOWA gauge, I do some test stitching on a fabric scrap that I just plop down on the excess batting and backing that extends beyond the sides of my quilt top. I stitch side to side, up and down, stitch some clockwise and some counterclockwise circle loops, and a few points. It's easy to see if the stitches look good on top, but I can't see the stitches on the back of the quilt unless I crawl under the frame and look up -- and then the light shining down through the needle holes makes it really difficult to see whether the tension is well balanced anyway.
|Can YOU Tell If Those Stitches Have Perfect Tension?|
|Same Stitches, Still On Frame, MUCH Better Visibility|
By the way, I'm only using two rulers so far on this quilt:
|Hartley and Handi Quilter Rulers I'm Using for Tabby Mountain|
And once again, my "quick blog update" has grown into a monstrously long post. Meanwhile, I've got just ONE MORE ROW of solid fabric triangles to be quilted with the ruler before I can roll back up to the top of the quilt and begin free motion quilting in the print fabric triangles!
And now, for my Question Of the Day:
What is YOUR favorite notion, product or tool that you routinely use for your sewing or quilting, that is NOT intended for or marketed for that purpose? Let me know in the comments!
Today I'm linking up with:
- · Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts http://smallquiltsanddollquilts.blogspot.com
- Esther's WIPs on Wednesday at http://estheraliu.blogspot.com
- · Main Crush Monday at Cooking Up Quilts http://www.cookingupquilts.com/
- · Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt http://lovelaughquilt.blogspot.com/
- · Moving it Forward at Em’s Scrap Bag: http://emsscrapbag.blogspot.com.au/
I think you are doing great work on your longarm - learning is a long process but you appear to be getting the hang of it for sure. I can't think of any product off hand that I use that is for something else
I can think of something! You showed how you were using antique irons as weights or something once!
Your quilting is coming along beautifully. It’s a bonus that you are having so much fun. I have two things I use for quilting that are not sewing notions. First is a cookie sheet. I use it to carry pieces from my cutting table to my machine. I also use one to keep my little things together next to my machine. The second thing is a milk glass dish with a lacy edge. Scissors, seam rippers, pens, etc. go in the lacy holes and pins are in the bowl. Have a great week!
I sew a lot of garments and made my own pattern weights from old bearings from my husbands shop. I cover them with felt and they works pretty good.
My favorite tool for sewing are the bloc loc templates that I use for squaring up my half square triangles.
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