Frustration, Mayhem and the Screaming Heebie-Jeebies

27 Feb

When I decided to replace the machine on my frame they didn’t mention the need for a resident weightlifter to move it on and off the frame. I have the setup as high as possible in order to see under the needle and that makes it even more difficult. Luckily the big cheese used to be a rugby player albeit a long time ago so I have to ask him if I need to move it. Unfortunately he doesn’t like spinach so I’m not sure how long this arrangement might continue. Oh well, I guess at a pinch I could always go for the resident weightlifter.

The whole quilting frame thing seems to be jinxed. I spent a not so small fortune upgrading the machine and carriage added to which I have a stitch regulator and I still can’t quilt to anything like the standard I would expect. The catch 22 of course is that having spent all the extra money I cannot just abandon it as I did last time and revert to stitch in the ditch. Practice, practice and more practice is in order I suppose. Hopefully in a few months time I will not understand what all the fuss was about. I could of course have thrown the whole lot in the river under my window and jumped in after it. Watch this space.

If you are interested in the setup I have a few pictures.

This is a side view of the new aluminium carriage. It weighs a ton but I expect that added to the weight of the machine it helps keep it on the rails so to speak. It could be what caused the back rail to crack too. I am awaiting a replacement. More expense no doubt.

Back view including new machine.

Side view ditto.

Note ant like handles. It certainly won’t be getting any design awards.

The blue box with the number on it is the switch unit for the stitch regulator and the number is the stitch length setting. The one on the photo below is the control box and one of the sensors. It runs with the wheel on the carriage and sends signals to the control box . This controls the stitch length. It runs backwards and forwards. There is another on the bottom part of the carriage to control the sideways settings this runs on the frame rail.

The frame itself works on three bars. The backing is pinned onto ‘leaders’  fixed  onto the top back and front bars and the wadding laid over the top. Leaders are secured into a groove in the bars and make life much easier. They do not however come with the frame but have to be bought or made.  A row of stitches keep the wadding  in place and also gives a straight line along  which the top is placed to get the straightest possible feed and so most accurate pattern of quilting.

The top is rolled onto the bottom front rail.

I did a whole border and a row of hearts before I looked at the back and realised it was not acceptable. The top tension was too loose and the top thread was looping through. Unfortunately tightening the top thread seems to increase the ‘caterpillar effect’ on the curves which is why I had loosened it. I wouldn’t mind but I had tested and double tested. Still it wouldn’t be a skill of anyone could do it first time would it. By the way the quilt with the animals worked quite well. What was that about going off the rails? It must have been on the way round the bend.

The top is then brought up to the line stitched on the backing/wadding and pinned in place.

The next picture is at a bit of an odd angle owing to the way I took the photograph but it gives the idea. The three layers are now attached ready for quilting.

Each bar is on a rachet system to wind the layers up and down for an evenly tensioned sandwich. Please ignore the badly wound  leaders. They should of course be nice and neat.

Here is the quilt on the frame with the carriage and stitch regulator.

The machine is really for straight stitching so there is no mechanism to drop the feed dogs which is essential in free motion quilting. The compromise is a replacement plate to cover them. It makes the plate slightly raised but seems to work. There is also an optional foot holder for free motion quilting. Not that it is optional if you want to free motion. Luckily it came bundled with my machine. This allows the fitting of a darning or free motion foot. The open toed foot is very useful for seeing what is going on. There is also a foot for following round the edge of templates and appliques.  Maybe one day I will have a go at that but let’s pull ourselves up on the furniture before we try the marathon.

Ironically the actual quilting is therapeutical or at least it would be if I wasn’t always worrying about what the back is going to look like.

I am now going off to have another go. If you don’t hear from me again I really did jump in the river although it’s so shallow that would also probably fail at that too. To save face  perhaps I had better just persevere. If I come across any useful revelations I’ll let you know.

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