Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Quilts 2013


Since I bought Shemar in January, I've gone back to making traditional quilts. And given the harp space, many of them have been larger bed sized quilts. Unfortunately Shemar is turning out to be a machine riddled with problems and I'm not sure what to do about it.

I do like being able to work on the large quilts. Just wish the machine worked properly! I've oiled this machine more than any machine I've ever owned and we have an old school cast iron singer that needs to be oiled in about 15 places. Typical for Janomes, the biggest problems always originate in the bobbin case, but this machine also has some bizarre engineering quirks, like a bar beside the presser foot that makes it ultra difficult to change the foot, and a power foot that makes the machine run on its own while I sit across the room and watch it go. The quarter inch foot is wobbly and inaccurate; I had to buy an accufoot version, which helped the wobbliness, but have to really watch that I'm getting a true quarter inch on it.

I bought it for quilting of course and while the foot feeds really nicely, FMQ is where the bobbin problems become most apparent. This is disappointing. But I'm stubborn so I insisted on making it work as best I could.

The first thing I did was pull out a quilt I had started on the hoop back in 09, which was put into storage when we moved to the crapartment along with the hoop. I pulled it out to work on quilting. Forgot what a pain in the butt polyesther batting can be. Mama bought herself a jelly roll to make an apron, which I ended up making for her.  Then I took the leftovers and made this quilt. I still haven't bound it because I hate binding and always will.

The problems started with this quilt as the bobbin casing became dislodged. It originally did it very occasionally, but as sewing progressed it started to happen more frequently.

Second quilt, which I made for Christina for her grad. She picked the style of quilt and I used mostly quilts that had a vague "baroque" style in pastels because this is what she likes.  After this one I sent Shemar in for servicing because it was knocked out of time from the bobbin casing sliding out of place. Uncool. This machine is LARGE and not easy to tote across town for servicing everytime it does this.

Front and back respectively. I've been piecing all the backs with leftovers lately just because you don't need such a big piece of fabric to cover the back, and it's interesting on both sides. When you do machine quilting you don't really need to be able to see the stitches perfectly.

Detail of the quilting, which was a feathered swirl.  Also ran out of thread twice, so there's three shades of turquoise on it.

The third quilt was a medium sized one I made from a charm pack for Quilts for Calgary. Because I straight line quilted it, there were fewer problems, but it still wasn't problem free.

I pieced the back of this one, but don't have a picture of it. 

Part of the problem was that the thread was making lint in the hook race; never seen a machine pick up lint like this one. For that reason I decided to try invisible thread again for the next one. While it didn't dislodge the  bobbin casing, the thread nested really badly; had to cut it out and start over a few times. And it's invisible thread. That stuff is as awful as I remember.

Still turned out pretty well. This was for the baby of a co-worker. I used moda "flirt" fabrics and I wanted to add the picture panel to the back.  I echoed the pattern of the panel in quilting and then quilted the rest in hearts. Man that invisible thread was a pain. Thinking if I buy some good stuff it might be a better choice for shemar though. I did finish the last bit with grey thread because I ran out of the invisible stuff. I wanted to make it white originally, but I felt there were too many prints with a white background and did a grey background instead, which I think turned out really well. 
This quilt was made for the co-worker from whom I got Fergus; he likes sitting on the quilts as soon as I lay them out, even when the quilt is still in pieces and he's stretching them out of shape. For this he has received the beats many times.  He still tries. He's a little speshul. And stubborn. 
I made one for cruz that was originally going to be all turquoise and black, but Richard said they were decorating his room in monkeys. I've had two sock monkey fabrics hanging around for years, but could only find the red one. So it became red and turquoise. Very similar in colour to the previous one, except more red than orange. I also used a couple of leftover pieces from the other one.  

Front and back of the quilt. I quilted this one in straight lines again. This caused fewer problems, though the tension was off at times and I had to sew very slow. Sometimes I had to just stop and come back a few hours later and the machine would work fine. I also bought a couple of accufeed feet which stablized the piecing and made it a bit more accurate, which I needed because these were all quarter square triangles and therefore bias edges.

I've noticed that I'm getting wavy edges; usually this means a quilt that wasn't quilted evenly or that has stretched. Not sure why this is happening but thinking it might have to do with the tension problems? Not sure.

When I went to buy the moda fabrics, Avery was with us. He wanted a quilt made with this horse fabric. So I told him to pick the fabrics and the design he wanted; this is what he chose. It turned out bigger than I intended--almost full bed sized. The orange fabric was a pain--moda marbles tend to warp and fray for me always.

The rope pattern in the borders quilted nicely, but the FMQ I did between the horses was a nightmare to do. I did everything I could to get it to work but I had to rip the threads apart several times, and quilting that should have taken a few hours took days of ripping out and starting again. Ugh. By far the worst experience. Pure awfulness.

The last one I made was mem's Thing.


I found this OSU fabric on Fabric.com so I made him an O quilt out of it. Kansas Dugout FTW, again. It truly is one of the most versatile of all the simple blocks. I had the least problems with quilting on this one, but I did a lot of work to keep it from being ruined. I must have oiled it 10 times. The blocks are gigantic--18 inches. So it turned out to be a large throw size.

I ran short of fabric so pieced the back pretty extensively. I didn't lay it out quite straight so the backing is cockeyed compared to the top, unfortunately. Lack of space in the crapartment makes it hard to lay out large quilts properly.

 I quilted the centres with footballs, but apparently only Canadian footballs have stripes all the way around. So they're Canadian footballs.

No matter because I added a patch to the back to represent Mem's favorite CFL team (by my dictate and according to the anti-blue-and-whore-gold-pact we made ages ago) to the back, the 101 Grey Cup Champion Saskatchewan Roughriders. :) 


I printed it from a block print with pigment ink which unfortunately washed out. So I had to try to print it a second time post-quilting, which didn't totally work. But at least it's there to remind mem of the best professional team evAr. :)

I am still disappointed with Shemar and may end up trading it in because it is an extremely finicky machine and as I mentioned has some really weird design issues. But definitely enjoyed going back to old simple style quilts, which I wouldn't have done otherwise. It was fun to work with simple shapes and colours, and I've always been a fan of heavy quilting even when I did it by hand. The FMQ foot does work so much better than my old one, which was a jumping foot. Just wish the bobbin behaved better. :(

Next I think I will make one of the trendy union jack quilts. I'd like to do the Kafe Fasset "pickle dish" that isn't really a pickle dish at all and use the John Flynn method on it, but I'm really not sure Shemar can do something that requires that kind of accuracy. Perhaps will try to paper piece instead and see.

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