officially overwhelmed.

i dove in to free-motion quilting today.  i’m not sure it’s fun.  i started with some practice sandwiches and it was so hard to get the hang of being in total control of the fabric.  i miss my feed dogs!  i was trying to do stippling but mine looks less like stippling and more like ugly, jerky waves.  i also have terrible tension issues and they seem to be exacerbated by the free-motion.  tension was a problem when i made wallace’s quilt but it wasn’t as bad and also the quilt was for my dog so i was a little less concerned.  so, after making several terrible practice sandwiches i quit and decided to start on our christmas stockings.

i started with wallace’s first because his was going to be smaller than ours and, again, wallace is more forgiving if things don’t look perfect.  i wanted to quilt his with a “cross hatch” (i’m not sure this is actually what it’s called) or intersecting lines.  the quilting ended up looking really nice, i think.  but, in the tutorial i was following (which can be found here: http://www.cluckclucksew.com/2010/12/tutorial-lined-stocking-with-cuff.html) things get turned right-side out and inside-out and because i cannot conceptualize any of this i thought the cuff was going to end up facing the other away.  however, it did not and now the pattern on wallace’s cuff is upside down!  nick says no one will notice but i’m still bothered. luckily, i know wallace won’t mind.  i also made my own pattern to trace for the stocking shape.  so, wallace’s might look more like a boot than a stocking.  i tried to fix that when i made our larger patterns.  (side note: wallace is being a gigantic brat right now because we only allowed him to play one hour of fetch tonight, as opposed to his normal three.)

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then, i started making nick’s stocking.  since the back of the quilted part would be hidden by the stocking lining i decided to try free-motion again.  if i ended up with a back full of crazy loops it wouldn’t really matter.  but then, it actually ended up looking kind of okay!  (i’ll finish nick’s and post a picture tomorrow.  in a rash moment of excitement i decided i needed to start quilting megan and kyle’s quilt immediately before i lost my free-motion touch.  this is when i became overwhelmed.

first, i jumped right into quilting the quilt itself.  after about four inches of stitching i realized i was still having tension problems and then spent the next fifteen minutes ripping out those stitches.  then, i made some more practice sandwiches out of the same fabric and batting as the quilt and started trying to fix the tension.  this took two hours.  i read my sewing books about tension, i googled, i re-read my sewing machine manual.  i think the problem is, the tension dial on my machine only has three settings.  i’m not sure if that’s because it’s a pretty basic machine.  or, if it’s not made for quilting. but, i had the dial turned all the way down and the bobbin thread was still coming through to the top.  finally, i noticed there was a little piece of felt sitting under the spool of thread on the spool holder. i took that off and, incredibly, that kind of solved the problem.

so then i started quilting the quilt.  i would not say that it’s going well.  first, my stippling is bigger than i think it should be so it looks more like random meandering.  which, i’m sort of okay with.  but, the bigger problems are that  1. it’s really hard to move a really big quilt and 2. i keep breaking needles!  for some reason, the top thread keeps getting wrapped around the spool holder and before i realize it it gets too tight and snaps the needle.  now i only have one quilting needle left and an entire giant quilt left to quilt.  i’m bummed because the top piecing of this quilt turned out okay and my terrible quilting is ruining it.  but, unless i want to rip out everything and start over, i guess i just need to go with it.

for now, the quilt is sitting on the machine with the most recent broken needle still dangling from it and i am going to bed!

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