Wednesday, May 4, 2011

a Work-in-Progress

Today has been one of those days, friends. Somehow I spent my morning facilitating a duck bath (suddenly, we have ducks!), planting tomatoes (errrg, gardening) and cooking lasagna with my girl. All good things, yes, and I was none the worse for it until my sewing session during rest time turned out to be such a disappointment.

So much for a wordless Wednesday. I think it's all coming out!

This is something I've been working at off and on since early April. 

embroidery pattern from The New Crewel

Embroidery pattern from The New Crewel

a work-in-progress

The embroidery is done just in time to become a gift for my mother-in-law this Mother's Day.  And just to be clear, my mother-in-law is an angel, so it's the least I can do!  After a bit of back and forth, she asked for a serger cover. I bought some Central Park with her in mind months ago.  She likes everything soft, gentle, delicate, pretty.  I think she'll love this embroidery, but the rest of the project...

I'll show you the outside of the cover another time.  Today during my kids' "rest time" I worked on creating the lining for the serger cover.  I knew it would be this simple celery green solid quilted with batting to give the cover body.  And, you know, you hardly ever see the inside of a sewing machine cover so wouldn't this be a good time to practice my free motion quilting?

Right.

woe is me!

I've always loved the look of pebble quilting.  If you're not familiar with it, please ignore my shoddy work.  You can see some real pebble quilting here

I fought with constant puckering from the bobbin thread, despite my many (MANY) attempts at adjusting tension. This caused raised, bumpy pebbles.  Not good!  And then there were the times that the bobbin thread just snapped. Again and again. I stopped to take a picture when this happened:

and the safety pin too...

Really, the safety pin too!?!?

I finished working the pebble quilting across this short side of the fabric and then did some wave quilting along the length of the liner to finish it off. And after that particular experience, I wonder when I'll ever attempt free motion again. Definitely felt like chucking the whole thing. Or, crying.

Don't worry, I will try it again. I'm looking forward to taking a freemotion quilting class at The Sewing Summit, and I also think that my sewing machine may have it's limits.  Ok, and obviously I need lots more practice!

I've decided I'll just have to cut off the pebble portion and replace it with a new wave-quilted section. Good thing it's only a lining.

Oh well, at least I tried.

47 comments:

  1. I totally feel your pain. I love my (cheap) sewing machine, but this weekend I nearly threw it out the window...all because of my own attempt at free motion quilting! I hope you're able to pick up some good tips at the Summit :)

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  2. I have just purchased a foot to start trying free motion quilting. It isn't a fail...it's just not as nice as you had hoped. The point is that you learned! :)

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  3. I bet it just needed more basting pins! also, it helps to go a little slower when you're doing tight curves like pebbles otherwise it's hard for your bobbin thread to keep pace with the top. I found that my free motion quilting significantly improved when I started using this slider: http://www.daystyledesigns.com/supremeslider.htm

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  4. oh ps- I leave my feed dogs up when I use the slider after reading this: http://www.daystyledesigns.com/doihavetodropmyfeeddogs.htm

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  5. Bummer! You may want to try a fusible batting. Not sure if this will help or not.

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  6. I really like the way that looks. And the embroidery is beautiful. Your Mother in law will be very happy.

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  7. I love the embroidery! Sorry your bobbin was causing you such grief, my old machine had tension issues all the time and it made me want to scream.

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  8. I think I should buy one of those sliders and I LOVE that article on testing leaving your feed dogs up. I do think I was going slow enough (I tried a bunch of different speeds), but you never know. That's why it would be so nice to learn from a real live person!

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  9. Thank you for sharing your experience. It is so relieving to know that other people struggle with free-motion quilting. Thank you for keeping the quilting blog world real.

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  10. I just love the embroidery - so so beautiful.

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  11. Two magic words-- basting spray!!! You will love it, because pins won't get in the way. It's especially great for these small projects.

    I've done free motion lots of times and pebbles still elude me. I bet you'll have better luck with the simpler pattern.

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  12. Rachel I just bought a slider but I haven't used it yet. I'll let you know my thoughts on it for sure when I do!

    At least you are sewing! I'm "researching" aka hanging out on the internet. ;)

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  13. I am fairly new at FMQ but I have several under my belt.

    I find that Its easier before you start to practice on a 10x10 square.

    I take the pins out when I get about 2 inches next to them. FMQ is practice practice practice. I prefer it on quilts instead of projects, because the quilt will go in the wash and scrunch. It hides most of the mistakes.

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  14. Keep at it!! I'm learning to free motion and it's a steep learning curve but I love the results! I just have to remember to move the quilt slow even though the needle is flying .

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  15. You know, when I first did FMQ, I knew to lower my feed dogs (although I frequently do outlining and almost always do thread "drawing" with them up), but it never occurred to me to adjust my presser foot pressure. You think that might help? Some machines will allow you to lessen the pressure of the foot, and it makes a HUGE difference--that, or using an embroidery foot, which was the real eye-opener for me. Something about it being further from the fabric (but not too far), and being plastic/slidy made a world of difference.

    I've done larger circles but not ittybitty pebbles--maybe I'll play today! I could use a break from paperwork. Ugh.

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  16. This may be the reason I'm sticking to straight line quilting, and not venturing into free motion (but I will some day). Thanks for sharing, and keep practicing!!!

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  17. It's good that you tried! I haven't done any free motion yet (except a little bit of swirliness on a mug rug I made recently). You'll get it! The embroidery is beautiful, by the way!

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  18. Ha Ha, laughed out loud when I saw the pin. I do that all the time too. I agree with Krista above; spray basting is the way to go, and pebbling is hard to do.

    I would encourage you to keep at it, after a few quilts you will be much better and more relaxed.

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  19. Your embroidery is beautiful!! I've yet to attempt pebbles (or really any other FMQ other than writing my logo) on my machine...now I'm tempted to try. My guess is that your machine had something to do with it. Mine is making weird noises lately...I think it may die soon :(

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  20. I tried pebble quilting. Once. All I can say is EURGH and I envy people who seem to zip through it with ease.

    I think you should leave the safety pin there. It gives it that extra special something.

    The embroidery is nice!

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  21. I feel your pain! My FMQ experiences never turn out how I would like them to. It's so frustrating. I'm sure it's just practice and learning what to do with your individual machine but it's still dissappointing when it doesn't work out the way you would like. I still can't stipple but I know I'll get there with practice. The embroidery is beautiful and your MIL will love it.

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  22. My "test" quilt sandwich always quilts up nicely, it's only when my real project is under the needle that the thread nests form. I think it knows.

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  23. Did you loosen your top tension a bit? And a lighter weight bobbin thread can help alot, too! I know I HATED doing 'pebbles' when I first tried them. I felt it helped alot to slow down the machine, too... and of course, just like you said... keep trying, practicing, and more practicing!!!

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  24. Look at it this way: you did an outstanding job on the crewel work!

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  25. Take a class, it will make all the difference! I struggled for years thinking I would never master fm quilting, then I took a class and it all became clear. The things I learnt in the class were all about your machine, tension, thread etc. Problems and how to resolve them. I think any machine can do it, as long as you know how to set it up and how to resolve any problems!

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  26. I feel your pain. I have been totally unsuccessful at FMQ and REALLY want to learn. All these quilts in my head use FMQ and they are waiting to get out. I think I need a class too... sooner than at the SS!

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  27. First, I so want to attend the Sewing Summit, but can't. Boo hoo!

    Second, this is scaring me from FMQ. Seriously.

    Third, the little pin cracks me up. Wait, what am I chuckling for? You're actually DOING FMQ and... I'm not...

    Fourth, I actually purchased the slider. I think it's in my sewing room somewhere, waiting for the day when I get the guts to try FMQ...

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  28. Those pebbles look so easy, don't they?

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  29. As a teacher of free motion quilting - I really think you're going to appreciate a class. There are so many simple adjustments you can make on both your machine and your technique that will make it look so much better. That can only be learned with someone watching over your shoulder. Practice and persistence - you'll get better and better!

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  30. Ok, you all make me feel SO MUCH BETTER! I'm so glad I can laugh at this now. Jennifer - let's leave the saftey pin in! Holly - my machine was making weird noises only when I made counter-clockwise circles. How crazy is that?

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  31. I, too, am all about the basting spray. My old machine made me want to scream and kick it when I tried free motion quilting with it. My new to me machine has made all the difference. Try a simpler pattern. Floopy flowers are fun! Check out the tutorial at Oh Fransson. I awas amazed at my floopy flower success!

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  32. I have been FMQ for years, and I think pebbles can be really difficult, especially if you're learning. The teensy size, the fact you have to sew over other stitching - not a real easy pattern. I agree with Cindy's comment - taking a FMQ class will help a lot.

    BTW, I sew over my safety pins regularly. It keeps me grounded.

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  33. Raised, bumpy pebbles can be used for a different effect though, like my bubble dress which can be seen here: http://thehouseofwilson.blogspot.com/2011/03/bubble-bubble-toil-and-trouble.html

    Although I know that's not what you were going for in your quilting ;)

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  34. I feel your pain on the machine quilting part. I just finished my first attempt at it and it was definitely not perfect. I know I just need more practice. Here is a website that I have found helpful with thread tension issues. I have attended two of their seminars at sewing shows and they have really helped me a lot! http://www.superiorthreads.com/education/?gclid=CKTG3Z-M0KgCFRNrgwodAGiPhw Good luck on your next attempt :)

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  35. Love your embroidery.
    Looked for many a night for a blog with some nice modern embroidery. It was by chance I stumbled across yours.

    I will be back for a second look love your work.
    Sandra

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  36. Rachel, your embroidery is beautiful. I love that pattern! As far as the pebbles...I admire you for trying. It will get better! :)

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  37. Rachel,
    I feel your pain. I love the look of FMQ'ing, but hate to actually do it. I get all tense and after I'm done, I feel like I need a massage.
    There is nothing worse than doing a big section and then turning over your quilt to find that the bobbin tension was off and the thread looks horrible. Seam ripper, please!
    I need to go find out what this slider is all about. I've never heard of it.

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  38. Hey, like you said, you tried! That's brave! I finally got off my duff and tried FMQ again last night, for the first time since I was a very new quilter. Let's not talk about the results, but even attempting it was a triumph for me! : ) (And FWIW, it was a lot better than the last time I tried it.)

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  39. I can't tell you how many hours I spent with a seam ripper the first time I tried FMQ. It looked beautiful on the front- but the back was a whole other story! So bad that I ended up purchasing a new machine after that, but still haven't tried again.

    Keep trying though- I'm sure you'll pick it up (and I'm sure the FMQ class at summit will help too!)

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  40. That crewel work is magnificant. It looks like queen anne's lace. Don't get too frustrated. Quilting is fun. Right.

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  41. I think your pebbles could be way worse, especially being your first attempt at them! Don't you wish you could just be good after one, maybe two tries?! :)

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  42. How frustrating! Try basting with a few more pins. And I love your crewel work by the way. It's gorgeous! Your mother in law will love it I am sure!

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  43. hey! I am not expert at FMQ -not at all - but I did admire that your stitches are so even. Maybe the same thread top and borttom will help you - but really I think you will gain so much from a real live class. Good Luck

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  44. I don't know if the photo is a close up- but if it is not I would say your stitches is a bit to big. Pebbles are better formed with small stitches and also circling around two or three times before moving to the next pebble. One can "teach" yourself- but look closely how other successful pebbles are done and you will be satisfied with your work.

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  45. I have had similarly rotten luck with pebbling, I have a half done quilt from valentines 2009, http://perrymoffitt.com/2010/09/22/stage-fright-or-why-i-eloped/ that I have abandoned in frustration. Breaking thread, knots, to much/little tension, I wonder if it is my 15 year old machine to blame...
    But, I am going to order that slider thingy right this minute! I am still curious to see if you got any more tips at the summit.

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  46. very similar to my first go at pebble free hand quilting. I also tried wandering (or whatever its called) and I find I like the loopty loops best, but still puckering a bit. Going for the walking foot on my next quilt. We'll see:D

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  47. sorry i had to laugh, it was not your day.

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