Saturday, August 3, 2019

Machine Applique Progress and Continued Long Arm Tweaking

Testing, tinkering and troubleshooting makes for boring blog posts, which is why I haven't posted in awhile.  Last night I took a break from all of that and spent some time playing with the machine appliqué project from Karen Kay Buckley's workshop.

Leaf By Leaf, KKB Workshop Project Coming Together
I'm enjoying the prepared edge, invisible machine stitched technique and the prep time really is minimal compared to other methods I've tried.  The reason this project isn't finished yet is that I've been having so much fun (and wasting so much TIME!) digging through scrap bins to find the perfect fabric for each little leaf.  But then, once I've preturned the edges of each piece and glue-basted it in place on my background fabric, the actual stitching part is a breeze.  Since I brought my Bernina 475QE Goldilocks machine to the workshop, I've been continuing with that machine now that I'm working on this at home.

Bernina 475QE Settings for Invisible Machine Applique
I have YLI Wonder invisible monofilament thread in the needle as well as in the bobbin, and I'm using a size 60 Microtex needle.  I am using a modified version of the Invisible Machine Appliqué stitch found in my machine's Quilting menu, with the stitch width reduced to 0.7 and the stitch length reduced to 0.55.  With monofilament thread in the top AND bobbin, no tension adjustments were necessary.  Once I got the length and width dialed in, I saved the altered stitch in my Personal Programs folder so I can get to it quickly whenever I'm doing this technique.  For this project, since my background fabric is very dark in some places and very light in others, I'm alternating between the Clear and Smoke monofilament depending on the background fabric in the area where I'm sewing down each shape.  I'm using Open Embroidery Foot #20 to give me a really clear view of where every stitch is landing, and of course, since this is a sideways motion stitch, I've got the regular 5.5 mm stitch plate on my machine rather than the straight stitch needle plate that I like to use for piecing.

Open Embroidery Foot #20 for Great Visibility
Meanwhile, on the other side of the studio...

The fine-tuning and tweaking of my APQS Millennium longarm quilting machine continues.  My husband Bernie gave her a thorough maintenance and cleaning as per APQS Tech Support instructions and she's moving more smoothly along the rails.  Upper tension adjustments are working much better since he disassembled and rebuilt the tension assembly.  And the erratic motor speed issue has improved since he replaced a cable, but I'm not sure it's completely resolved.  He replaced my L "Smart Hook" assembly with the larger M Hook assembly and retimed the machine, and I'm still deciding how I feel about that.  I feel like there's more noise under there now, like rattling operation, but when I take out the bobbin case and check for any play in the hook collar area everything is tight and rock-solid, just as it should be, and the timing is perfect.  So now I'm wondering whether a brand new hook needs more oil right out of the gate and that's why it seems loud or whether I'm paranoid and imagining things now??  I'm hoping to get a charity cuddle top on the frame this afternoon so I can see how the machine does quilting an actual project rather than a sample sandwich of muslin.

Another thing I'm still on the fence about is the Texas Hold 'Em Bracket I got so I could remove the quilt top roller from my frame.  Here's what Millie looked like before, with the top roller in place:

My APQS Millennium with Quilt Top Roller in Place
The quilt top roller is the one with blue painter's tape on it.  I've experimented with pinning my quilt tops to that roller versus doing a full float method where nothing gets attached to that roller at all, and I've found that the full float method is working better for me.  Since I'm not using that roller at all, it's kind of in my way when I'm quilting, and the Texas Hold 'Em bracket was designed to preserve the functionality of the hand brake with that top roller removed:

APQS Texas Hod 'Em Bracket, Place Holder for the Quilt Top Roller
What's going to take some getting used to is relearning how far I can keep quilting before the throat of my machine hits the pickup roller.  Just because the top roller is gone doesn't mean my machine can reach farther forward than it did before:

This Is the Closest the Machine Reaches Before the Pickup Roller Hits the Machine Throat
See what I mean?  It's not that I actually have less workspace, it's just that I was using the quilt top roller as a visual reference before and, now that it's gone, it LOOKS like I should be able to quilt another 6" closer to my tummy.  So that will take getting used to!  The quilt top roller was really annoying me on the Mission Impossible quilt, when I was quilting all those horizontal lines with rulers and I had to reach my hand over the quilt top roller and hold my wrist in weird positions to use the rulers.  I'm also thinking that it might be easier to work with wool batting and double battings without that bar there, since I'll be able to lift the quilt top out of my way and visually check that the batting is smooth and even each time I advance the quilt.  But it's easy enough to put that quilt top bar back on the frame if I ever decide I want to use it again.

So anyway, I have two possible outreach cuddle quilt tops that I could load today, one that is just giant checkerboard squares in Christmas prints and the other is the purple novelty fabric I Spy  top that my mom pieced a few months ago.  A friend from my quilting bee loaned me a set of Groovy Boards to try and I was thinking of using those on one or both of these tops, but with so many new variables at play I'm not sure I'm in the right mindset to learn how to use the new tools, if you know what I mean.

Meanwhile, we're moving my oldest son into his college dorm for the first time in less than TWO WEEKS!!  I'm not going to really believe that until we're driving away from the college, leaving him behind.  Weird, weird, weird!!  And then we have a family wedding the following weekend, and then school starts up again for my youngest son, the rising high school Junior.  Summer goes faster every year, doesn't it?

I'm linking up with:


·      Oh Scrap! at Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework


·      Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts 
·      Main Crush Monday at Cooking Up Quilts
·      Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt
·      Moving it Forward at Em’s Scrap Bag:
·      BOMs Away at Katie Mae Quilts: 


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

pretty applique but absolutely no help to you on the long arm :)

LA Paylor said...

I like the graphic pattern in the applique... and your fabric choices. Really cool, different from KKB's usual work to me. There's something to be said for living with your mechanic, lol.

Caryl @ cinnamon holiday workshop said...

such fun fabrics for your applique....AND lots of info to help others in that situation! Thanks for commenting on my blog.

Kathy S. said...

Your applique project is gorgeous! My husband is my long arm mechanic too.

KaHolly said...

That looks like a fun project...the machine Applique, not the long arm rebuild!