Friday, January 21, 2011

Quilting Advice

I received several helpful comments on my last post and answered several of them in the comments there. But rather than answer another one in the coments, I decided that since the conversation was a bit long, I might as well post it here!

Liz A. commented:

>>are you using batiks? I've found that the tighter weave of the batiks tend to cause me to have some issues when quilting them. I usually use a larger needle.<<

Liz, with your batiks, do you use a needle larger than a 100/16?

I considered trying an 18, but I don't have that size on hand...not sure they are even available locally!

I DID look around and I found a small package of ORGAN needles, so I pulled out a size 100/16 to compare and try.

The Schmetz Topstitching needle was actually a tiny bit longer than the Organ, and the eye was much larger.

I turned both needles sideways and poked them through a small piece of fabric to hold them in a position to allow a side-view.

It seems that the Schmetz needle has a larger, deeper scarf on the back...hard to evaluate for sure. I am not sure what that means...perhaps the smaller scarf would be less likely to skip?

Who knows.

So I put in the Organ needle and tried it.

This needle made absolutely NO DIFFERENCE as far as I could tell. So I went back to the Schmetz needle with the larger eye.

>>I also like Superior Threads So Fine on batiks.<<

The Superior Threads So Fine...what size is that? So far, I have had the best luck with Gutterman Cotton thread, which is 50 wt. (the C~n~C polyester thread I tried was 40 wt.). My mind tells me I want to be using a larger thread so the work will show...but maybe not?

>>as for how taut your quilt should be on the frame, we generally say you should be able to grab your fingertip when poked from underneath. on batiks this is especially important. you don't want to be able to bounce a coin off the top -- that's way too tight. <<

Thanks! I need a guideline/rule of thumb, and this will help.

>>also, is it better going one direction than the other? sometimes some threads will only seem to quilt going from left to right and break when going other directions.<<

Yes!!! Yes, definitely the breaking thread is more likely going backwards and away from me. I am not sure about the skipped stitches though. I kind of think the larger needle is breaking the thread, but the larger needle is needed to pierce all the layers!

>>if you're using a very thin batt AND used batting spray, it could possibly be contributing to the problem. the thicker batts help give the batting spray someplace to go as the needle goes thru. I've had some brands gum up my needle and others not back when I used basting sprays and my sewing machine to quilt.<<

I definitely think the basting is a contributing factor to the skipping stitches, at the very least! I have used this basting spray before, but this time, I was on the phone with my daughter while layering the quilt, and was distracted from the task at hand. Suddenly I realized that I might be using way too much of this spray...but by then, the deed was done. It is wise to pay attention to what you are doing! duh...

I think the basting spray is making the needle and thread "lift" the quilt as the needle comes up and out of the fabric, which causes the skipped stitches. I could be wrong, but that seems likely.

The fact that the problem is worse in some areas of the quilt than in others also makes me suspect the I most certainly sprayed some areas heavier than others.

And the issue I mentioned about the needle poking the batting out on the backside of the quilt ONLY happened when I used the polyester thread. As soon as I changed to the cotton thread, this issue stopped completely! Now, occasionally, I started getting a little timy bit of batting being pulled UP to the top of the quilt, but as soon as I used some of the Sewer's Aid, as Etta suggested, that stopped.

>> if you're using your handiquilter, you shouldn't be using a basting spray.<<

I know...(grin)...but remember, my HQ is only a 'frame', not a quilting machine. I use a Brother PQ1500S mounted on the HQ frame...and this is a SHORT ARM machine. So, if I want to do any anything other than 'channels' or a narrow panotograph, I must stop stitching with the needle down (in the quilt) and roll the whole thing back and forth to do larger designs/areas. I was afraid that with all this repositioning back and forth, the batting would not lie smoothly, since it is just 'floated' between the layers. So, using the spray basting was my answer to doing larger areas and still keep the sandwich nice and smooth.

Basically, I put the layers together, then mount the quilt sandwich to only 2 of the 3 rails, one on each side, so I can roll it back and forth as I need to.

This quilt is not a bed-sized is 48" by 58"...for the wall. I wouldn't try to do this with a large bed quilt...I would just stitch smaller designs! I think...

On Wednesday, I did finally make enough progress on the stitching so as to run out of thread! Although yesterday was a 'meeting' day and I knew I wouldn't get much done, I DID manage to run out (in the falling snow!) and get more thread, so I'd be ready to begin quilting bright and early today. Well THAT didn't happen!

I had lots of correspondence to catch up on, so I have made exactly NO progress on the quilt today...none!

Well, not yet!

But the day is not over.

Wish me luck...

And, P.S. I appreciate the comments, everyone! Thanks!

1 comment:

LizA. said...

ok, let's see if i can answer eveything. needles -- HQ16 uses the same needle as a longarm. on batiks i use a titanium size 18. the scarf on our needles are similar to the one on the schmetz top stitching needle. on my machine i actually turn the needle eye slightly to the right, i realize you cannot do that. but for me, it makes a HUGE difference in any shredding or breaking problems.

So-fine is a 50 wt. lint free polyester. it's become my thread of choice. i seem to have the least problems using it or perma core. i've had issues with the same thread, different colors. one color will be just fine and another color won't work for anything. i know how frustrating it can be.

rolling the quilt -- you can stop with the needle down and roll the quilt with no problems. the machine should roll right along as you roll back and forth. we do it all the time on our HQ16's and a friend does it on her smaller HQ like yours. she never uses basting spray unless she's going to quilt on her regular sewing machine, same for me. if you're really concerned, set your stitch length much bigger, load your quilt and do some rows of basting thru the whole quilt.

as for sewing better in one direction than another, that seems to be a fairly common problem. i know some people have even been told to only sew from left to right because that's how the machine was made to sew.

hope all this helps. email me if you have any other questions...

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