Having finally finished the appliqué for the family portrait I’ve been working on, I pinned the piece with batting and backing — and then began to prepare myself mentally to begin quilting.

This is always the hardest part for me. I will put it off and find a hundred excuses not to get started. I think that the fear stems from the dislike of UN-sewing — an inevitability of the quilting process. I have, however, discovered that a good way to move me through this stage and get back to the machine is to print off the value painting I made earlier and start drawing quilting ideas on it. If I don’t like the direction of a particular area, all I have to do is erase it. Then when I sit at my machine, the drawing sits beside me and tells me where I need to go.

(Forgive the print — it came out in a pinkish hue because I was running out of black ink.)

Quilting Plan

I did have a problem when I sat down at my machine though. I have a Viking Designer 1 — and the truth of the matter is that it has given me problems since year 4 (it’s about 13 years old now). I had taken it in to the dealer for a cleaning — and she kept it for MONTHS (did I mention I didn’t have a backup machine?) — and when I FINALLY got it back, the touch screen menu didn’t always do what it was supposed to do. I could always reset it by turning it off and on — and I certainly didn’t want THAT dealer to touch it again (and Viking wouldn’t let me use anyone else) — so I had to wait until sometime after year 5 after she had gone out of business before I let someone look at it again (I still have trust issues with someone having my machine for any length of time).

I thought when I bought it that it was warranted for 20 years — and I considered it a good 20 year investment piece. However, I learned the hard way that the electronics were only covered for 5 years. And did I mention that the cost of replacing the motherboard is about $1,200?

Anyway, I’ve just lived with it — but when I sat down on Thursday to start quilting, it just wouldn’t behave. However, I have another Designer 1 that a friend gave me years ago (after hearing me complain about mine — she thought hers would be kinder to me) — so I took everything and set it up on that machine. I turned it on — and learned that it had grown unhappy over the last few months — watching me sew away on my other machine. That machine’s screen doesn’t work — at all. Not even a little.

I went back to my original machine and finally got it back in business. (And since then, it’s been working really well. It must know that I’ve been looking at other machines on the internet.)

And why all of this drama? Well — I have to come clean here. The truth is that I’ve been quilting with my feed dogs up for years. I KNOW! Crazy as it sounds, when I was first starting out, I was having problems and someone suggested just leaving them up — so I did and it helped and it’s been that way ever since.

Golden MomentExcept when I was quilting my last piece, Golden Moment, it was sooooo heavy and it was hard to move around — so I was persuaded to try Leah Day‘s Ultimate Quilting Kit — a Supreme Slider, Machinger gloves, and Little Genie teflon bobbin washers.

By the time the set came, I had just finished quilting — but I knew the day would come that I’d really enjoy using them — and that day was Thursday.

Except — in order to use the Supreme Slider, the feed dogs have to be down. You don’t want it to accidentally slide out of position (which the feed dogs might do) and start being quilted to the underside of your piece. That would be REALLY bad.

Hence the sewing machine problems. I had lowered the feed dogs to set up the machine only to realize I had a couple of appliqué fixes to make — so I had to raise the feed dogs — which they didn’t want to do.

The sewing machine argument aside — I enjoyed the gadgets. The teflon washer that you drop in the bobbin case really does cut down on the out of control speed spinning that the bobbin can sometimes do when you’re quilting fast. The Machinger gloves help me hold onto the quilt — but they’re going to take some getting used to. (It’s awkward when I have to start a new line and pull the bottom thread to the top with the gloves on — I end up with a lot more thread pulled than I’m used to.) The Slider also helps move the quilt around easily — although I’ll be able to evaluate the drag on the needle better when I get to the edges of the quilt. (I started quilting in the middle which keeps most of the quilt on the table so there’s not much drag at this  point.)

Quilting with the feed dogs down does feel a lot different — I can tell that I have a higher chance of messing up the intentionality of the line if I’m not extra careful. I might try decreasing the presser foot tension the next time I sit at the machine.

There’s a learning curve in everything new — but I think that these are good things to learn.

Today, I managed to finish quilting the mom in my piece — except for her hair and clothes.

Quilted Mom

I am worried about my sewing machine. I don’t know that I’ll ever want to buy another Viking given the customer service problems I’ve had with them — but nor do I relish the thought of learning an entirely new machine.

My friend Rebecca has a Janome 5500 that I may borrow for a while — so I can try another something new.