Thursday, September 3, 2015

Avril and I Aren't Speaking

So, please, any help or advice to help mend our rift is much appreciated.  Here's how it ended:
The cause: Sulky; the possible solution: Isacord and Coats and Clark
I have quilted on my Bernina, and before her, on my Elna, for 20 years.  For most of those years I have used a variety of cool threads, and as you know, I love love Sulky threads, Holoshimmer and Blendables in particular.

Apparently Avril does not.

This is Wings, supposed to be on and off the longarm in a day, easy.  Use the KISS rule, Sandra, (Keep It Simple Sandra).  Uh huh.

Until I thought, well, okay, simple, fairly open FMQ... a meander... but those wings wanted a little definition, so I thought, "I'll FMQ with Sulky Blendables on the wings in different colours!"

Then I thought, "Those wings do need a "leedle" definition."  So I got out the vinyl, whacked off a hunk, traced one set of wings, thought hmm, how about a diagonal line from the edge of each 'log' to emphasize the diagonal flow?  Started to draw that with water-soluble marker (which does not adhere well to the vinyl btw).  I was holding the marker as you do when you are practising the flow of the FMQ, at the end of it, perpendicular to the vinyl, with thumb and two fingers.  Well, my straight line from one log to the other wobbled a bit...and lightbulb! Cue the choir!  SCALLOPS!
Thus was born this idea.  I know, really simple and open, right?
I laid the vinyl over the block to see the effect:
Yes, oh yes I'm liking it!  Might omit the feathers...
Pulled out my Sulky threads, got even more excited as I saw how many of them will work on the 12 wings blocks I have...

Here's the thing about the issues that arose:

It might have to do with having Shannon Fabrics' Cuddle (a Minkee type gorgeous fabric, cannot wait to show you what this looks like) on the back.  I have The Bottom Line in the bobbin.

I started with my own wound bobbin.  Then I switched it to a pre-wound one, thinking maybe the tension was off on my own.  No difference.

I have used King Tut variegated thread on Avril, 30 weight, and she loved it.  100% cotton quilt. The Bottom Line in the bobbin.  Granted there was a lot of fuzz to constantly clean out.  Still.

The meander you see on the neutral sections was done with So Fine on top, The Bottom Line on the bottom, and quilted out beautifully, both front and back.  Size 18 aka 110 needle, up a size from the usual.

The screwdriver is in the first photo to show you how often I was adjusting the bobbin tension.  More than I ever have.  Don't worry, tiny increments.  I was adjusting the top as well.

On my Bernina and Elna, I had to lower the top tension a LOT, like from the normal 4 down to 1 or 1.25.  So I have kept the top tension quite loose.  Still tons of top thread breakage, and being yanked down to the back of the quilt.  When I finally had some success with the top thread holding up, and this was now quilting with the 12 weight on the red wings, the back tension was horrific and will have to be ripped out.

I thought of these solutions after I walked away from her, giving her the "talk to the hand" treatment.

1.  Up the size of the needle again to 125/20 that you see in the first photo.  On the DSM, in the threads class I took that spurred me on to using these beautiful threads, we were told to use a Topstitch 90/14 needle and they work beautifully.

2.  Quilt my scallops with an Isacord or So Fine in the top, and then go over them on the Bernina when the quilt is all done.

3.  Use Isacord, period, where I have the colours to match, Coats and Clark variegated where I have those colours.  However, I think it's either outline all the wings with variegated, or not.

Other than those ideas "I got nuttin'".  So any advice or help is much appreciated from those who use a thicker-weight threads such as these on a longarm.  I don't have any issues on the DSM.

So yesterday afternoon, my beloved Bernina and I (12 years now, and our love affair has never wavered) whipped up this charity quilt, for a senior in a wheelchair, in less than 2 hours from fabric pull to cutting to flimsy finish:
Chinese Coins.  Rather manly, yes?

This is #3 of my wheelchair quilts and will be used at the September meeting when I do my demo.  I added in 3 fabrics of my own to those that are in the guild's charity stash. That gorgeous yellow is some my Auntie Phyl, recipient of Blue Ribbon Stars, sent to me.  It gives it a nice pop.

I'll have a tutorial for this easy peasy little quilt up shortly.  And one for Blue Ribbon Stars too, I promise.

It's the fourth day of the New Block Blog Hop sponsored by Fabri-Quilt, so head on over to Terri's blog, Childlike Fascination, where you will find about 15 brand new blocks, many with full-quilt design ideas!  And don't forget the giveway!

In case you missed Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday blocks and giveaway chances, pop in to these three hosts,
Yvonne at Quilting JETgirl
Stephanie at Late Night Quilter
Cheryl at Meadow Mist Designs
where you will see the links to all the other blocks.  Over 60!  I know I now have, ahem, a few more on my to-do list!

I'm linking this post up with Kelly at My Quilt Infatuation


  1. Oh man, I am sorry to hear about the issues with Avril. I have to admit I looked for a thread my long arm liked and just stick with it, so I don't have a ton of ideas for you. I did find that my machine was not a fan of pre-wound bobbins, but it looks like you've tried using your own wound bobbins, too. Good luck!

  2. I LOVE the scallops. I would try a larger needle, and if that doesn't work a different thread. Sorry I'm not much help.

  3. Beautiful wheelchair quilt!!!
    Can't help you're the one in the family who got all the talent so I know nowt!!

  4. Sorry I can't offer any solutions to your thread issue, but I sure hope it resolves soon, because the quilting you have planned for your butterflies is out of this world good! And I really want to see it when it's finished :)

  5. Sorry to hear about your troubles. It's very frustrating when things don't go according to plan. Good luck.

  6. I feel your frustration Sandra. I have been through the same issues and have wanted to scream. My machine seems to like Glide thread and when I change the tension issues start. I have just done a quilt with Minkee on the back and used the same needle and tension settings as with cotton. Did you try more than one spool of thread-it may just be a bad spool? Your drawn out design looks great.

  7. This is way out of my element Sandra, so I have no advice for you. I do think it is really cool how you use vinyl to get an idea of what your quilting will look.

  8. Hope you get this sorted, I'm tempted to say change thread but I've had issues on my small home machine and even that didn't solve things for me!

  9. I'm a hand quilter, so absolutely no idea! But I really love those variegated threads in the second picture down :) Hope you find a solution!

  10. I had the same problem with Sulky variegated threads this week. The thread broke every six inches or so, no matter what I did! Didn't have that problem with the Connecting Threads variegated I used on another section, but I didn't have the right colors in the CT thread for the other sections. I HIGHLY recommend Glide thread - it's inexpensive, runs like a dream in both top and bobbin on my long arm, and comes in a BAJILLION colors! You can find it at bobbin And do you have a TOWA tension tester? I got mine from Superior Threads and it really helps with bobbin tension when you change threads. And I love your scallops - have you tried Press & Seal (the food wrap) to test your quilting patterns on? It sticks to the fabric while you doodle!

  11. Afraid I can't help either . When tensions need changed I put my head in a bucket and scream or rather I stomp off in a huff and hope it rights itself overnight