Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Baby Quilt Finished (with Handiquilter Sweet 16)

Finished my Bugs Baby Quilt...not a minute too soon! The baby was born on a Friday and I finished the quilting on the Sunday.


I like this pattern, looks very cute indeed
I just did a simple meander design over it as I was quilting it on the new machine. Needless to say I am still getting used to it and thought that it is best to do a design that I am really familiar with. As time was of the essence I also used a wool batting rather than the thin cotton batting that I have, as I figured this would be more forgiving in terms of any tension issues.
The Sweet 16 performed consistently and I had no tension issues at all once I had set the bobbin tension to the correct position. I used Aurifil 50/2 in the bobbin as I had been practising with that thread and figured that I had that bobbin tension pretty right. On top I used Aurifil 40/2 thread in a yellow colour. While I was meandering over the quilt I checked the back fearing tension disasters or sloppy tension, but the tension remained consistently good and I had no issues (even when I had to put a new bobbin in when the thread ran out). Was impressed with this as I had read various horror tension issues on several forums on the internet.

I do find that once you get the bobbin tension correct, it is relatively easy to set the top tension and you are good to go. Speed was a bit of an issue for me and as I had predicted, I had to stitch at 20 %. Any more than that and my stitches were getting a tad too small. It was good to go on a real quilt to practice...I tend to learn more from that than just practice samples as I obviously have a stake in getting it right. There are many adjustments for me to make and some I am struggling more with then others, speed being one of them. I am used to stitching relatively slow and deliberate and quilting at that 20 % was faster than I normally do. At the moment I am getting slightly disoriented when looking at the needle because it feels and looks so entirely different, but time on the machine will fix this. When I started off I got very confused also as I was scrunching up my quilt as per usual and the whole thing unraveled to lie flat...given its lap size, I did not have to scrunch it up under the machine and that was the weirdest feeling...felt as if I was quilting in the wrong direction as I only had to slightly fold it over at the back. Also my hands were a hoot. As I was quilting faster, my hands were being left behind and I had to continuously re-adjust my hand position and stop and start. That initially produced some wobbles here and there but I soon got the hang of it.

What I did notice was the speed at which I finished this piece...I started quilting on the Sunday afternoon and was finished by the evening (with a few interruptions in between). I think this was mainly due to not having to re-position the quilt all the time...I literally could go freely from left to right and back again without having to do any major shifts.

Overall very happy with how this quilt turned out and pleased that I was able to do it on the new machine. It is onto the next quilt now for me as I have got a lot to learn and adjust to.


Karin

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

And Here She Is...

Got a phone call shortly after the quilt show to pick up the Handiquilter Sweet 16 from the shop which send me into a mild panic as that meant that I had to shift my sewing room around which meant cleaning up the mess and re-organizing my quilting space in general.

We picked up the boxes on a Saturday...4 big boxes, one with the machine, one for the table (very heavy), one for the overlay and another one for an extension which I purchased as an extra. The drive home was memorable as the car was filled to the brim.

As I bought the machine as a show special it also came with an added value box. Given that we were in the process of shifting everything around I opened this first as I had to wait for some other things to get in their place before we could tackle the machine.

The value box was incredible...just like Christmas
All these beautiful threads, I could not believe it...big thank you to Handiquilter. That is amazing...such fantastic thread!

Well, then came the unpacking of the machine and table. I was going to take photos but it was all too much with the change of room. The setting up of the machine is not difficult and it came together fairly quickly. There are several videos you can watch which takes you through the set up in some detail.

This is how I set up the room
Extension flap on the left and work table on the right. While this looks fantastic, I will need to change this again as my work table is now too low. Also a bit unclear at the moment whether I should have put the machine a notch higher...all very confusing, too many changes in one hit for me.

Well, it was a few days before I actually tried it and I must say, yes, very different. The first thing that presented as an issue was getting the right tension happening. I approached it with a sense of 'how difficult can this be?'. Wow...the frustration level got quite high after half a day of mucking around. It reminded me of when I started to FMQ all those years ago. As I got flustered I then switched thread, needle, samples and I soon had lost the plot. I then stopped and started to think 'come on, you know this stuff, think this through!' I had watched several YouTube videos and was following them to the letter. In the end I thought, go with what you think is going on. As I was using Aurifil 50/2 thread on a very thin cotton batting, I had the sense that the bobbin tension needed to be tighter to pull the top down...I then followed my own feeling on how tight I wanted it and got it to a stage where the bobbin was a nudge before being too tight. I then re-threaded the machine and off I went...perfect tension! This was encouraging and and I then played a bit with one of the beautiful Superior threads, using one the prewound bobbins that was included in the pack. Yep, that also worked for me with some adjustments to the bobbin and top tension.
Over the next few days I went back to the Aurifil thread and my own bobbins that I had wound on the bobbin winder (forgot to mention...that also comes with the machine) to see whether I could maintain the quality of the stitching or whether it was a bit of a fluke getting it right the first time. Was happy with my bobbin winding and the stitching produced good quality stitches both on the front...
as well as on the back
So, that's how far I got...now I will have to get used to the speed. Struggle to maintain control when going too fast and cannot find a comfortable speed that suits me at the moment. Everything is too new...I am looking at the needle differently, the sound of the machine is different, the set up is different altogether and the machine behaves differently altogether. One thing I do like is ruler quilting though...have two little Handiquilter rulers and am very impressed with them. Nice and chunky and the lines are just where you need them. Also love the basting stitch...very cool feature!
I will shortly go onto a quilt I need to finish...probably just going to do a meander because I will be able to do that at about 20% speed (haha...I think some people quilt at speeds of 50% and above). I feel that I am struggling against the rhythm of this machine and need to get a feel for that.  I'll see whether I can manage to do that with one of the new threads or whether I stick with the Aurifil for the time being.

Lots to learn!


Karin