Monday, 19 April 2021

Practice, Practice and more Practice

The Woodgrain design

So I practiced this design on the weekend. As I had to also do some testing re a thread issue, I went through 2.5 bobbins for the afternoon... 

I deliberately had a largish area to fill wanting to test how hard it would be to keep relatively straight. As I found out, the straightness was not so much an issue. What featured more was the issue of the lines flattening out somewhat...something Angela Walters had talked about in her recent Flora and Foliage Quiltalong. Yep, that was definitely happening to me as well and it was very hard to get back to a gently curving line. Angela Walters then shows leaving a gap and starting again a bit further down, coming back to the unfilled area and filling it in after. That was difficult as the spacing then got very wonky but probably better than trying to put your knot against flattening lines. Still undecided about that.

Here are some of my trials
I used a largish piece of calico...not too bad but as I went along it was getting quite wonky

The second piece was similar... now on the next bobbin and getting very tired.
Given that I was trialing some issue with my thread, I then went on just a normal cotton piece

 Not too bad... I am thinking that putting this over my table runner should somehow work. While I had some flattening of the lines and some ugly spaces in between, I did manage to muddle my way through it. It seems that I tend to loose the design a bit after the first few lines and then try to get back to getting my lines a bit more curvy to again fit in the knots. By that time I have forgotten my structure (i.e. a knot every second curve, for example) and just try to fit them in where ever they fit. Maybe need to do a bit more work on that.

I did this for a few hours and must say I was absolutely exhausted after that. Happy to say though, I resolved my thread issue which actually was not a thread issue but an issue with the speed of the bobbin winding. For some reason I had my bobbin winder down at about 50% which caused some tension issues half way through the bobbin. I was thinking about this for a while as I was convinced it was not the machine playing up but rather something that I was doing. So finally I recognised the speed issue and wound my bobbin at a higher speed and just like that the tension issue disappeared altogether. None of the bobbins played up during this afternoon and thinking this through it made perfect sense. Always amazes me what tiny detail can throw your freemotion-quilting out of kilt.

I now have about five rather largish practice samples with that lovely texture all over it...ideal for the cat to lie on ( we have that ongoing issue in the sewing room with the cat consistently going for the quilts in progress and not taking 'no' for an answer. Maybe I can entice her with this.



  1. Each of your samples are great. The flattening out of the lines. . .well, I had to look extra hard to see what you were saying so I didn't see it until I studied your samples. I think the lines resemble actual wood grain and would say you've got that background down! As for the cat. . .keep us posted!!!!

  2. Good practice. I think you are quite good with this motif. Interesting root cause about your thread issue (bobbin).

  3. Karin, these samples look amazing! There's a digital pantograph design this reminds me of called Wood Grain. Very interesting about bobbin winding speed. I usually do slow down my speed when winding bobbins on my domestic Berninas, but I don't remember when/why I started doing that. It may have been with monofilament, or maybe I was experimenting and noticing that the bobbin was filling more evenly at the reduced speed? But I've been doing this for over 15 years, so I would have started doing it with a much older model than what I'm sewing on now. My APQS machine came with an industrial "turbo" bobbin winder that is so fast, I could lose a finger if I'm not careful -- I thought it was fast to save time, but now I'm wondering whether that gizmo runs at such a high speed to produce more consistent tension as you've discovered?

  4. Your woodgrain pieces look great! Really nice all-over texture.


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