Now that the weather is warmer and the nights brighter I thought it was time that I resumed my Friday night sew-ins and last night being the 3rd Friday in the month I was ready to go.
I have been working on a scrappy quilt and up to the point where the borders needing to be quilted and as I have been practice, practice and practicing my free motion quilting (FMQ) I was feeling confident enough to give it a go on the real deal. It was my half day of work and as hubby and I had treated ourselves to a lovely lunch neither of us wanted any dinner so I sat down about 5 to make a start. I did my warm up practice piece and all was going well - feeling relaxed, mind in a gentle meandering mood, cotton and tension all checked.
Off I go and after about 6" of meandering the top stitches look great I do a quick check of the back - WHAT POODLES - and not miniatures. Quick stop the machine and unpick. During the half hour that it took to unpick the mess I was thinking what could have gone wrong. Then I think that the practice piece was a different thickness to the quilt so I do the necessary tension adjustments and get ready for take two.
By this time I am feeling rather tense in the neck, shoulders, arms and my hands are beginning to sweat and itch in my little quilt gloves. Take a deep breath and make a start and after about 6" I do a quick check on the back and all is good. I then go along about another 6" and do another back check and it is looking rather good so then I start to relax. As I edge my way along I begin to notice a "drag" on the quilt. Quick check the back - no problem. Stop the machine and pull another chair over to rest the quilt on to stop the drag and off I go only to being to feel the "drag" again.
Now by this time I have somehow positioned my knees up around my armpits to try and lift the quilt and eliminate the weight from pulling it down and me fighting against it. A check of the back now reveals another problem - not poodles but big stitches that are about to unravel before my eyes.
By this time it is now 7 oclock and I am feeling very discouraged. I have now decided that in the morning the feed dogs will be returned to their upright position with the walking foot firmly clamped on so I can do a zig zag pattern on the border which will fit in nicely with the scrappy quilt.
I spend the next two hours sitting in front of the TV unpicking the take two mess.
In the photo below you can see what I did in four hours for my Friday night sew-in
I went to bed feeling very unhappy and disappointed with my effort. I woke about 4 and began to think about my problem, Others can do FMQ why can't I. Then I remembered reading on the internet about someone else having the same drag problem and she turned her machine side on which solved her dilema. Up I get a day break and turn the machine on it side position books and magazines on either side of the quilt table to give me a large even surface, put my little quilt gloves on and off I go.
What a difference it made by turning the machine - I found that I was not fighting against the weight of the quilt and I could guide it much easier. Now my stitiching is not going to win any prizes and practice, practice is still needed but all in all I am happy with my first effort.
There were a couple of lessons learnt last night. Firstly the "sandwich practice pieces" do not prepare you for the weight of the quilt. I had been doing these for a couple of weeks and whizzing around them with no problem never giving a thought to the quilt pulling against me and causing stitch problems on the back. Secondly quilting should perhaps be done early in day so when you encounter a problem you can think it through and do some research while you are fresh and thirdly where there is a will there is a way. FMQ is something that I have been aiming to try for sometime and I am glad that I left the feed dogs down and gave it another bash.