Off to a good start

Yesterday I started on my new Meadow Art project and had SO much fun with it!!

As I started, I decided to stabilize the initial fabric base so that there wouldn’t be too much scrunching up as I added stitching. I used a thin fabric with fusing on one side and ironed the two pieces together …..

The fabric was sized at 14×19 inches, although it looked a LOT bigger than that when I was staring at a blank canvas…..

Following the instructions, I started tearing strips of fabric, making sure that I had lots of strings on the edges. You know, the things that we normally HATE when we tear fabric…..

I also cut/tore burlap, flannel and silk and added those to the mix. When it looked balanced…..

…. I took it to the machine and sewed each piece down, staying close to the torn edge……

Next, I started adding bits of trim and lace…..

….and went back to the machine to secure them to the background. At this point I realized just how much I like my Juki machine……

It is a workhorse!!!

After each step, I ironed the piece from the back, just to make sure that it stayed relatively flat…..

I failed to take a photo of the next step, but I used cotton thread to sew in some flower stems, grass and other linear elements.

At this point the instructions suggested putting a heavier yarn in the bobbin and sewing textural lines but I didn’t really want to mess with my bobbin so decided to switch to my other sewing machine and couch the threads instead. I had this thread/yarn in my stash……

….and thought that the extra texture might be nice.

My trusty Viking machine came to the rescue and I was able to use the couching foot……

…..to attach the yarn.

This is where I stopped on the first day……

….and I am really happy with the texture that has appeared. My only concern is whether the darker threads will be covered by the paint, but I think that I can make it work even if they don’t cover well.

The next step is to apply paint and then to start doing more embellishments.

I CAN’T WAIT!!!!

Oh my…this is going to be fun!!

Yesterday I described my ARGHHHH day and ended the post by saying that I would try the machine quilting again….maybe…..or maybe I would start a new project. I am sure that it is no surprise that I STARTED SOMETHING NEW!!!!

When I had my “Inspiration Day” last weekend, I found one fiber art piece that looked like fun and would give me a chance to try some different surface techniques. During the week I gathered up my supplies and today I made a test piece to see how things would work and see if the paints that I owned were appropriate.

The first step was to cut little swatches of lots of the fabrics that I had pulled….

I moved to the machine and free-motion stitched them down, using the full-circle darning foot rather than the open toe. This keeps the foot from getting caught under loose edges…..

Then I mixed up a few of my Setacolor paints. Before I show the result, let me tell you about my paint collection. Many years ago (maybe 15 or more) I happened to be in a Michaels store when they were obviously dropping the line of Pebeo & Jacquard paints, and I bought them for 25 to 50 cents per bottle. Needless to say, I stocked up. This is what I still have left after all of these years…..

Most of them are in pretty bad shape, either very thick or almost empty, but I am always impressed with what a little bit of water or a mixer such as white or black can do to revitalize them. Someday I will need to replace them but today is NOT that day.

I mixed up a small pot of blue and another of green and started painting……

The middle stripes were applied with a stiff brush and I think that the paint is a little too thick. The two outside rows (green on right and blue on left) were applied with a makeup sponge and I am much happy with their appearance. I also know that using a sea sponge would change the texture.

I was pleased with the coverage that the paint brought to the 3-D “stuff”, and especially happy with the flannel, burlap and color catcher…..

I don’t see the point to using silk unless I spend some time to ravel the edges and I have just had the idea to maybe cut out some circles and ravel around them. (See…this is why I blog….I get ideas as I write)!!

As I just now looked back at the project that I am emulating, I think that the paints were too thick and I will water them down and try to make it more of a wash rather than heavy paint.

Now I patiently waited for it to dry…..NOT SO MUCH. I laid down paper towels on the paint and used a dry iron!!!

The next step was to try stitching on it and seeing if it would work over the paint and especially over the raised embroidery work. I started with some basic stitching with regular thread…..

Then I tried one of the “buttercups”, made with Tulle and thread……

Probably too much Tulle, but I can adjust that as I go. ALSO, I just realized that I was supposed to use Organza rather than Tulle so that will make a huge difference!!

Final step was to try one of the Daisies. I decided to test my machine out buy using two threads at one time…..

I also slowed Juanita down to the turtle position…..

…..and started making LONG stitches by moving the fabric quickly when the needle was up……

This is certainly not perfect but at least I have an idea that I can accomplish it!!

I enjoyed playing with some threads that I have collected from over the years but never used for quilting purposes……

Finally, I took some red paint and tried doing a little dry brushing on the raised embellishments. I think that I might use this, especially if I put a group of embroidery flowers in one area.

Bottom line….I cant wait to get started on this project!!!!

Why is this happening…..

As I was happily sewing along on my brown stripe quilt, I started noticing that some of the stitching tension wasn’t great……

I worked thru the list of all of the usual suspects….

  • re-threaded the top
  • re-threaded the bobbin
  • adjusted the tension dial
  • cleaned out the bobbin area
  • put a few extra drops of oil in the proper areas

But it did not improve!!

I finally decided that it had to be the needle. For the last two years I have been using Superior brand Titanium coated needles…..

Because of their durability, I do not change the needle nearly as often as I used to. Here is what Superior has to say about them……

“With Superior’s Titanium-coated needles, you will hear a different sound when sewing (a soft, constant thud, thud, thud) when the needle is getting dull. This is because the thin layer of titanium-nitride coating is wearing off. Every time the needle penetrates fabric, there is a microscopic amount of wear on a needle, no matter what it is coated with (nickel, chrome, or titanium).

There are many other cues of a dulling or dull needle that are more recognizable, such as skipped stitches, the top thread shredding, and/or puckering while stitching. If your thread starts to behave strangely and you are experiencing these types of problems whereas you weren’t before, chances are that your needle should be replaced.

So, I replaced the needle and….magically…..the tension issues went away!!!

AH…..much better…..

Now…back to sewing!!!

Am I doing this wrong?

About 5 years ago I purchased a Juki TL2200QVP Mini…..

And I absolutely love it!!!!

One thing different about it is the two sets of tension discs……

When you look at the threading instructions it shows this diagram…..

On here, it looks as if the thread goes straight from the three-holed thread guide onto the top tension disc. However, I always wondered how much good it was doing since the thread only wound half way around it.

Several months ago, my friend Linda suggested that I join the “Juki Junkies” Facebook group and I have loved the tips that I have picked up from it.

The other day there was a discussion about tension problems and someone mentioned that the thread needed to go UNDER the small hook before it winds around the top tension dial……SMALL HOOK……what SMALL HOOK!!!!

So, I had a good, up-close look at my machine and sure enough there is a small hook…..

I have now threaded the machine including the small hook and cant wait to see if it makes a difference….especially when FMQing.

I sometimes worry that I spend too much time online, reading these posts, but then I get a great tip like this and it all seems okay again!!!

So….now it is time to stop reading and get back to sewing!!!