Monday, February 23, 2015

Near Death Situation

I had a near death situation this afternoon.  My sewing machine began to clank and chirp.  My husband listened and said, "Stop right now and take it in."  So I bundled up to beat the major incoming snowstorm, drove an hour off my mountain, and visited my very accommodating sewing machine guru.  Of course  the ornery thing didn't clank and didn't chirp for him, and his diagnosis was that it is OK.  He said to take it home try again and if it still makes ominous noises bring it back.  Sure the predicted two feet of snow???  Not going to happen until the roads clear so, dear machine, you had better work!

 I have feathers on my mind and the final border awaits:  a 2 1/2 inch width to quilt with feathers.  I am told that all quilting designs should be worked out when you first start planning your quilt.  I disagree.  As I piece my fabrics I get better acquainted with my quilt.  I suck in ideas from all around me.  I create ideas in my head.  I think about quilting in my dreams.  Finally, except for fillers,  I sit down with my pad of tracing paper and start drawing.  Many times my planned designs land in the trash and I end up with totally different ideas based on something I just saw somewhere.  I don't start drawing until an idea crystallizes and that sometimes doesn't happen until I am ready to work on a particular part of the quilt.  That's OK...for me anyway.

Here is the paper design for the spokes I mentioned last week.  I was so excited as I liked the look.  I printed the feathers on Sulky Sticky Fabri-solvey, but realized immediately that I had a problem. I thought that the size of the drawing was exactly the right size, but too late I realized I should have printed it smaller.  Oh well, that didn't spoil the idea so I printed a sheet the right size and stuck it to the quilt.  Then my needle gummed up very badly as it tried to negotiate the adhesive and two layers of batting.  This definitely was not going to work.
Tracing paper design
N.B.  I have used the Sticky Fabri-solvy successfully before and have recommended it to you.  However, I think the problem here was the thickness of the batting or maybe they have changed the adhesive.  Whatever the problem, it didn't work this time.

TIP:  Measure before you print, measure before you sew, test ideas and products for each individual quilt, exercise your mental flexibility.

I have read of quilters who draw the spine of a feather on their quilt, and then let the needle figure out the feathers.  I am a line-follower and was reluctant to do this.  However, on my dark fabric, I could see no other solution.  I began hesitantly, and guess what, I did it!  I have drawn so many feathers on tracing paper over the years, and that skill just communicated itself to the needle.  I learned a few things as I progressed through twelve spokes, and I am happy with the results.

After much figuring of dimensions and practice with pencil and paper I have finally started the outer hand.  I marked only circles and spine on my quilt.

Basic design marked with white ceramic Sew-line pencil
Incomplete freehand feathers.
TIP: When you are practicing with paper and pencil take careful notice of where you have to erase.  What was wrong with that line?  How can you avoid sewing a bad line like that?  Solve the problems ahead of time so you don't have to "erase" your sewing.  Train your eye to look ahead.

TIP:  Bite the bullet and try something new!  Draw your ideas on paper first.  You may be in for a big surprise as to the capabilities of that needle.  I certainly was.

BTW my sewing machine was not sick.  I have always had problems winding the bobbin on this machine and it ends up with a rat's nest at the beginning.  That's what was jamming up the works.  My faithful repairman showed me a different way to wind the bobbin (not in the manual).  I can pass the thread through an almost invisible, tiny hole in the top of the bobbin and hold the thread end until the thing gets to winding properly, then cut it off.  So easy...and it works like a charm!  No more snarls from me or the machine.


  1. The adhesive on your Solvy can have a shelf life. It maybe was older and it becomes very gummy. You might try a new batch and it would work out better.

    1. Thank you for this information. I purchased that Solvy on Probably a bad idea as there is no telling how old it is. Live and learn!

  2. Very pretty plan for your FMQ. Good luck with your feathers!

  3. Yay for having such a wonderful sewing machine repair man!

    1. Ahhhhh yes, and he didn't charge me a cent!

  4. Congratulations on your feathers. They are looking quite lovely. Your tracing paper design is fantastic. It will be fun the finished quilt.