Saturday, 19 April 2014

The Secret Project is finished!

I have finally finished The Secret Project and I am SO pleased with it! There have been a LOT of problems with this one but now that it is finished it is amazing!

The unpicking ended up taking 12 hours in total! Ridiculous! It had taken me four hours to sew everything that I then unpicked. It took one hour to re-sew it (and do the other half that I hadn't previously done!) in the Gutterman thread! I think that shows just how annoying the YLI thread was to use! I'm sure it's a lovely thread really, but it just did not get on with my machine.

So I got it all trimmed down and then bound the edges and took some pretty photos (sorry, can't show them yet!) and then popped it in the wash. Took it out and discovered that the area I had used fabric paint on had peeled in places! I was so upset!

I waited for it to dry and then repainted the areas that had peeled. I think that the first time I did it I can't have heat set it properly, so I spent a good 15-20 minutes doing it this time (the bottle advised 1 - 2 minutes!). I left it overnight and then popped it in the wash this morning. I used the handwash cycle because I thought it would be a bit more gentle. Luckily it came out really nice with no peeled patches.

So the Secret Project is finally properly finished! Huzzah!

Monday, 14 April 2014

Soldiering on with the Secret Project

So the Quilt Inspector has been whisked off on holiday with my parents for a week and without his distracting ways I have been getting on with things in QuiltLand. 

After my frustration with the FMQing on the secret project I decided to try one more thing to fix the problems...changing the thread. I decided to use the navy blue Guterman all purpose thread that I'd already used successfully on the main body of this quilt. I figured if I had the same problems with this thread then I'd only have a little bit to rip out and I could just persevere with the YLI thread. The Guterman worked like a dream, absolutely no skipped stitches and no thread breakage. I used a full bobbin without ANY problems and then realised I would have to rip out all the YLI thread that I'd spent sooo long putting in.

I think it's the right decision, even though my hand is killing me from using the seam ripper today! I wasn't quite sure that the colour of the thread looked quite right on the fabric and I'm much happier with the navy blue, especially as the stitches are much more even and no hideous parts with skipped stitches.

I'm not finished ripping out the YLI thread but I do feel like I've made a good dent in it! And I can always do a quick stint with the navy blue thread when I get fed up of ripping out stitches! I think if it were any other quilt than this one I would have just soldiered on but this one really needs to be perfect!

Thursday, 10 April 2014

I'm in love!

I went to the local sewing machine dealer today and have totally fallen in love! Not with the salesman (although he was a very helpful chap) but with a lovely lovely sewing machine. It's the Juki Exceed Quilt and Pro and it is glorious!

It has everything I want in a machine plus some things I didn't know I want (until now!). The things I was looking for when I entered the shop were: a large throat space, needle up/down, speed limiter. I didn't realise that I wanted a knee lifter (super awesome attachment that when nudged by your knee will raise the presser foot), an automatic needle threader (I have one one the current machine - a Singer Talent 3321 - but never use it because it's awkward and to be honest takes longer for me than if I were to just thread it myself! The one on this machine is fabulous though!), the ability to cut the threads with a heel press on the foot pedal, automatic tension (he went from normal cotton thread, to a metallic thread, to an invisible thread and back to normal without changing the tension and each stitch was beautiful!), a big red light that tells you not to start sewing because the presser foot is raised (!!!) and a screen that shows you which presser foot you need for the stitch you have chosen.

It was truly a beautiful machine and had I had the money available I'm pretty sure I would have walked out with it! At least I now have a goal for me to save up for, as I was so unsure of what I wanted when I was just looking online as you can't really get a feel for the machine. Having seen it in action I am now certain that it is what I am looking for!

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Frustrated with Free Motion Quilting!

I had such a frustrating day yesterday! I was super excited to see that the replacement darning foot had arrived. It looks a look sturdier than the previous one so will hopefully last longer than one and a half quilts!!!

I got it installed nice and quickly and had a quick try on a practice quilt sandwich with the thread that was already on the machine. I was super pleased with it, it seemed to produce better stitches than the previous one. I decided I would get on with the free motion quilting I was in the middle of when the last presser foot broke rather than continuing the piecing on Dilly Quilt.

I changed the thread over to the one I was using for the stippling on Secret Project. It's a grey/blue variegated thread by YLI. I bought it when I was in a different fabric shop to usual and I saw they had different brands of thread than I was used to and I wanted to give it a try. Usually I use King Tut by Superior Threads because that is available to me locally.

I have had SO much trouble with this thread! To start with the main problem I was getting was skipped stitches, and not just one or two...I'm talking 5-10 skipped stitches at a time so I just get a long straight bit of thread. After a few times of ripping out and redoing sections of stitches I went online to search for solutions. The problem is that there are so many possible solutions out there and it's impossible to know which one it will be.

First of all I tried changing to a new needle. I was using a 90/14 and changed for a new one of those. I went ahead and had a go on my practice sandwich which came out fine. As soon as I went back to the project, it started happening again! 

Next step for me to try was to take out the stitch plate and give it a good cleaning! So I did that and got loads of lint out of the machine (so maybe I should have given it a clean before, I just didn't really trust myself to!) and thought to myself, "this definitely must have been the problem". I went back to the project and started again...there were very few skipped stitches, however now the thread decided it would break after about 30cm of stippling! This happened many many times so I then decided to try changing the needle size to see if that would make a difference so I tried a 100/16. This made very little difference and I ended up breaking the thread at least 20 more times before I gave up!

I want to go back to it today and try and sort it out but I'm just not sure I've got the energy for it!

I haven't had any problems with the previous part of this project, in which I did a sort of wood grain effect, but I was using a different thread for that, which does make me wonder if it's just that the thread and my machine don't get along very well...hopefully I will have a bit more luck with it when I do go back to it!

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Terrible terrible!

I finally got around to doing a bit more more FMQing today on the secret project and was happily stippling away, thinking to myself, "this is going so much better than the guest room quilt!" when suddenly a small piece of metal landed on top of the quilt...I stopped and looked at it for a bit trying to figure out where it could possibly have come from (and hoping it hadn't come from inside the sewing machine!) as it looked like a piece of a paper clip that had been bent out of shape.

Suddenly it dawned on me what it was, and I don't think I could have been more heartbroken! It was the part of the presser foot that sits on top of the needle bit to make the presser foot go up and down :( so it quickly brought my quilting to an end!

Doesn't it look sad? I was certainly sad! I also certainly didn't expect it to die so soon! I bought it back in November when I was buying a bunch of other presser feet for the project I was doing at the time. However, it hadn't even been used until I did the guest room quilt, so it has lasted for 1 and a half quilts! It was pretty cheap as it was a generic universal type one but I definitely didn't think it would break on me!

I've ordered a new one and have gone for the proper Singer one this time in the hopes it will last a bit better! It certainly looks a bit more beefy than this one. It is around twice the price, but if I manage to get a full 3 quilts out of it then that will make it better value than this one!

I do wonder if perhaps the presser foot was the cause of all the skipped stitches (or it might just be me, I don't know enough about these things to really understand one way or the other!) that I will definitely be ripping out and redoing on this quilt (it needs to be as near to perfect as possible!). I guess I will see when the new one gets here!

5 working days seems like a long time to wait because I just want to get on with it! It was going so well and I am just SO excited to see how it looks in the end. 

I ended up packing away the sewing machine and dipping back into what I am calling "Dilly Quilt", because it is for my Aunty (Dilly). I had sewed the smaller squares together before I did the quilting on the guest room quilt and had attempted to sew four of them together to make the larger squares...unfortunately I thought I could get away with not squaring up my little squares before I did this and ended up so unhappy with the results that I ripped them all apart! It's not often I will actually bother to rip things apart (due to laziness) so that shows that they looked pretty awful! So I've squared them all up now and will hopefully attempt to stitch them together again tomorrow, depending upon how I feel when I wake up!