Thursday, July 24, 2014

Gone Pickin' and a Review

It has been a long week. It started off with tension troubles. The one thing about longarms that I don't care for is the difficulty in seeing the back of the quilt while quilting. When I was quilting with my APQS George, I'd just flip over the quilt to see how things were looking on the back. Now, I'm under the machine, with a flashlight, squinting up. I've started throwing a piece of fabric or a magazine on the top of the quilt so I can see the stitches underneath a little better.

My first mistake was assuming that because I was using dark Omni thread in the top and bobbin in the previous quilt, the tension would be the same with white Omni in the top and bottom. Wrong!

I started on the Wisteria panto. It looked ok from underneath, but when I advanced the quilt, I could see that I was having directional tension issues. The bobbin thread was laying on the quilt instead of being pulled up into it. Does anyone else feel that these things only occur when you have a huge quilt loaded?

So, I fiddled. Changed needles, changed bobbin cases, made an adjustment here, and little bobbin adjustment there. And each time, I quilted a little more of the panto, just enough that the machine would be out of the way and I could see underneath. This was my second mistake. Don't let it happen to you! Before I knew it, I had quilted about 30 inches of a 110 inch wide quilt, all of which had to be ripped out.

I didn't have much room to work with on the sides, so I kept slogging on, thinking I was almost there. Perfect tension never materialized. When in doubt, just take the quilt off the frame and load a sample. I'm pretty sure it would not have taken the 4 days that it did to unpick all the quilting.

Not only have I learned from this experience (always done the hard way), I have discovered a nifty new tool. I have it on good authority that my seam ripper/scissors (shown in the top pic) is not a REAL seam ripper. However much I do love this tool (it is never far from my side when quilting), it is no good for a long seam ripping session. My fingers were raw after a couple of hours.

I stopped by my local sewing shop, Sewingly Yours, and picked up this new seam ripper for a steal. It has a cap like a pen. Pull it off and the seam ripping part is exposed. No surprises there. The great thing about this ripper is that honey comb looking white bit at the end. It is brilliant for all those leftover tiny pieces of thread.

I pulled the stitches out by breaking a stitch every 8 stitches or so and then turned the quilt over and pulled on the thread. There is something oddly satisfying about pulling out a huge strand of stitches. Well, maybe not quite as fun as actually quilting. Anyway, when you do that, you have a bunch of little loose pieces left. Use your white tip, which is slightly rubbery, and they all just fly off. The kids were fascinated. It is super fun apparently:) My daughter followed along behind me, gently rubbing all the little threads off.


  1. Oy. Tension problems. I hate when that happens. I am a relatively new long armer, and tension is the bane of my existence. Thank goodness I only quilt for myself, not for customers. Thanks for the tip on the ripper.

  2. After quilting without any problems for ages, I was in shock the first time I experienced tension issues. I have learned to wind my bobbins very carefully with fingers gliding the thread on evenly. I have learned to loosen the tension on my top and backing. I have learned to not drop my bobbin case..I have the least problems when I use Glide on top and bobbin. The longest I have unpicked is 6 hours, so I sure sympathize with your issues.

  3. Tension issues are the thing that is so frustrating with my longarm and the reason I haven't truly fallen in love with it!! Glide thread and a Towa bobbin gauge have become my best friends and although not completely without issues amalmost there.
    Hope the next attempt at the quilting goes smoothly.

  4. oh, man! not fun. glad you found a new gadget and you had a helper. :0)

  5. Are things going any better today? I certainly hope SEW.

  6. I hope your tension issues have straightened themselves out for you. That's a lot of rippin'!