Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Phase two quilters blog

Today, we will start sewing seams.  What?  are you think I'm going to teach you a thing or two about sewing seams???

Do you remember my choice of threads?  On the upper spool I like to use at a minimum a 50 weight thread...I love it more if I can find a nice silk to use...but that is expensive and used only on my bestest quilts.  On the bobbin?  Lets use the bobbin thread.  What is bobbin thread?  It is a 60 weight thread.  And some machines have been calibrated to use certain brands.  I know both my machines are fussy little buggers when it comes to the bobbin.  Both love Finishing Touch.  I think mainly because it is pretty low lint producing for some reason.  I know one of my machines does not care for pre wound bobbins--especially when I am machine embroidering.  So, I have decided to just stay away from them.  I think the Brother machines (which is a sister to mine) loves the prewounds.  I really don't think that the thread is as fine as Finishing Touch.  But, that is my humble opinion...not my dealers.    There is that beer budget with champagne tastes, I imagine.  However, I have not done a cost comparison.

Before really putting the needle to the fabric there are several things to review...
  • Clean your machine--open your manual and see what they suggest.  My biggest trouble area in each of my machines is in the drop in bobbin area.  Whewie...what a lot of lint.  (BTW, please stop and clean this area each morning.  If you get those funny little birdsnests, that is probably the problem.
  • Change your needle--we are told to do this with each new project...I don't necessarily do that.  My machine tells me when it is tired of the needle by acting up.  But, I do put a fresh one in often.  I use an 80 or a 100 when quilting.  I think there are even quilting needles--I use the universal, most often.
  • And, if your machine likes to eat fabric--so easy to do when piecing--start and end with a scrap of fabric.  A friend gave me a bunch of squares for a secret sister gift one time.  ;*))
  • Find a bottle of water, and go to the chain sewing...if what you are sewing merits it.  I don't think we will do that til we the half square triangles.  Chain sewing is just keep feeding the machine pieces without cutting the treads or lifting the pressure foot.
  • Make sure you are sitting ergonomically at your machine.  Please, please protect your body.  Google "ergonomics for sewing".   Remember to get up and move around periodically.
Yes, the weight of the thread is important.  But the heavier thread does increase that seam.  Oh, shucks, what am I thinking?  even the 50 and 60 wts take up space.  So what do we do? 

Darlene Zimmerman to the rescue...remember I talked about Lavendar Hill Farm and my beautiful Frosty Morn quilt?  She is the one who led that class.  I am going to quote from her book on this one, she writes better than I do.  Taken from Lavender Hill Farm quilting book, page 9, @2008 published by Krause publications.    I think this is really important and has made a difference in my quilt piecing.  "  Tip   try this quick check to see if you are sewing an exact 1/4" seam allowance:  Cut three 1 1/2" x 3 1/2" strips.  Sew them together on the long edges.  Press.  The square should now measure 3 1/2".  If not, adjust your seam allowance.  (Also check that you have pressed correctly)."

Pressing?  This makes this seam lie as flat as can be.  It will make the piecing work better, plus the finished product looks nicer...just as in garment sewing.  (no use in having a sewing machine if you do not have an iron).  First set that seam by setting the iron down on the just sewn seam.  2nd  flip open and iron from the right side with the seam laying towards the darkest fabric.  If you want, a burst of starch works well here.  I just push right into that seam...don't stretch your fabric. 

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