Getting to know Julio – Part 2

As I posted previously, I am enjoying learning more and more about Julio, my Juki Sit-Down long arm machine.

My first attempts at free-motion quilting were to get the FEEL of the machine but now it is time to start working on precision….and I am going to need a lot of work!!

Firstly, I need to learn how to go slow. You can adjust the speed of the machine, but it is still super hard to just take one or two slow stitches. I use this technique constantly when I need to move the quilt just a little bit!! I could probably fix this problem by putting a stitch-regulator on the machine, but I really don’t want to do that!!

I also found that when I stopped and re-positioned the fabric, it was easy for the fabric to shift just a bit when I started back again. I need to practice holding the fabric well and taking one stitch in the same place before I start moving the fabric.

This machine really notices when the fabric drags so it became quickly apparent that I needed to add something to the table to help that problem. The machine table sits up against my other machine so there is a table on the left side, but I needed something to support the right side as well. I added a fold-up table and that seemed to do the trick…..

I was doing all ruler quilting for this piece and Julio schooled me in a few other practices as well!!

First of all, I needed to make sure that the fabric wasn’t bunched up under the ruler but was instead laying flat. This was especially important when I was doing designs that needed to meet in exactly the same place each time.

I also learned not to look at the needle when I was using a ruler. Instead, I looked at the line on the ruler that I was using for registration. This meant that I wasn’t as likely to let the ruler slide as I quilted.

Finally, I learned about ruler heights!! These are the two rulers that I was using for straight lines. The one on the left is an Angela Walters ruler and the one on the right is from Westalee. You can see that there is a significant difference in their height.

Once I had raised the foot high enough to cruise over all of the seams (see previous post), it was too high for the Westalee ruler. I used it for a few lines but realized that it would sometimes slip under the presser foot and that was not good.

The problem that I had with the Walters ruler is that, when I am holding the ruler directly behind the foot, it is too tall to completely butt up against the ruler foot!!

If you look, you can see a tiny gap between the ruler and the foot

I never did come up with a perfect solution to this problem but did find ways to re-position the ruler so that it was never DIRECTLY behind the foot.

All in all, I am pleased with my purchase!! I recognize that most of these “problems” can be fixed with attention to detail and with lots of practice.

So, it’s off to design more quilt tops so that I have more to quilt!!!

FMQ with rulers is NOT for the faint hearted!!!

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have been working on the quilting for my Brown Stripe Quilt. I decided to do the entire quilt with rulers in the hopes that I will become more proficient as I go. Having said that, this is a nice quilt and I really don’t want to ruin it with poor quilting!!

With that in mind, I started making a list of things that I need to do EVERY TIME that I set up for FMQ with rulers. It looks like this…..

Without this list, I forget important things that made the quilting not work well….as you will soon see!!

I spent a fair amount of time playing with designs for the brown stripes…..

….and finally decided that I wanted to put a Chevron type design in each.

With the first few, I physically marked the center line of each block and also the starting square, but after using the ruler for a while, I noticed that there were perpendicular guidelines……

……that I could use for the first set of chevrons meaning that all I needed to mark was the center line and the mid point of the block.

When I started with the first block, my thread broke FOUR times and I moved too far off the line once meaning that I had to restart the quilting five different times and then tie off and bury the thread tails…..UGH!!! At this point I was having serious doubts about whether I wanted to use rulers anymore!!

I then remembered my list (from above) and started working thru the different items on it. First I realized that I hadn’t grabbed the Supreme Slider which made it hard to move the fabric around.

Then, I realized that I didn’t have the foot pressing hard enough on the quilt sandwich which was probably causing the thread shredding!!!

See….I should have looked at my list to BEGIN with!!!

The second block only had three new starts and the third block only had one. Fortunately, the next 12 went fairly smoothly so now I have accomplished 15 with 33 left to go.

One problem that I have been dealing with is skipped stitches and subsequent thread shredding when I am traveling a certain direction. I think it is happening for one of two reasons. Either I am not comfortable going in that particular direction so am jerking the quilt sandwich more OR it is moving in a direction that is opposite to how my needle is threaded, causing the thread to pull. As I work on the last 2/3rds of the blocks, I am going to try shifting my quilt sandwich slightly before I start traveling in that particular direction to see if I can alleviate the problem.

Somewhere along the line, I realized that I was trying to quilt the designs from top to bottom which meant that it was hard to see where I was going…..

Switching to a horizontal orientation made a lot of difference…..

So tomorrow I am prepped and ready to quilt a bunch more of the blocks…..

So, if someone hears screaming coming from Bishop, Georgia, just remind me to check the list!!!

ADDENDUM…..

I have finally figured out what is causing all of my problems!! The areas where the thread is shredding correspond to where the backing has been majorly pieced. It seems that when there are SO many seams to sew thru it messes with the tension and also the action of the needle!!! Here is the front and back…..

When I pieced this back, I was determined to use up all of the strip sets that I had left over. Next time I will keep things super simple!!!!

Tomorrow I will finish the quilting on the stripes, even if it means dealing with lots of stops and starts. Hopefully the designs in the light color areas wont be as hard to do since there wont be as many seams to deal with.

I am SUPER relieved to know what was causing my issues!!!!

Quilting around the border

In an effort to continue the practice of using rulers for Free -Motion quilting, I brought another top home from our guild Charity bee…..

I hung it on my design wall for a few days and fairly quickly decided exactly what I wanted to do!!

I started with a big flower in the center and then started adding diagonal borders flowing out from the middle. The reason that I wanted to do borders was because of a Christmas present that I received last December……

…..the Westalee Border Sampler Template set.

I spent a lot of “treadmill time” watching videos about how to use these rulers and found them to be extremely simple and effective!!

The first border that I quilted was the Continuous Heart…..

Next was the Braid…..

Then came the continuous loop

…..and finally the continuous fill pattern……

The final quilt design was pleasing and I did learn a lot in the process…..

I did learn one other thing with this project. When I quilted the first big flower in the center of the quilt, I had trouble with the foot dragging on the seams. But, when I moved the foot up higher, then the tension started messing up. I thought back to the last project (Meadow Art) and remembered that I had successfully changed the bobbin tension many times and it produced no dire effects, so I increased the bobbin tension with my quilting and it fixed all of the tension problems.

One other comment……..

As I have been watching videos and learning about the various rulers, I have noticed that the Westalee company goes for accuracy. Each ruler has lots of registration marks designed to help you keep everything in line.

The rulers designed by Angela Walters seem to be designed for fun quilting…..not that you cant be accurate with them, but they are designed for you to get on with the job!!

I can see where each type of ruler can be useful and actually like that I have options depending on what effect that I am trying to convey.

Of course, the only problem is that I can easily start accumulating quilting rulers in the same way that I do with fabric or threads and THAT is definitely a ……

It was an “ARGGHHH” sort of day!

On Saturday, I had one goal….finish quilting a piece that I started several years ago. I had been excited to use some of my new-found ruler technique and Thursday I had tried it out on one of the borders. I didn’t do any measuring nor really try the pattern so it was an unmitigated disaster!!.

On Friday night, I patiently pick out ALL of those stitches including all of the places that I had traveled over previous stitches.

When I started working on it again, I decided that I would do some practice and figure out the sizing of the design and do it right. This photo is three different tries with various spacings……

Once I thought that I had a good feel for the design, I tried it on the quilt. The design looked OKAY but not great and, when I looked at the back, I could see that the tension was horrible, so I picked it out AGAIN!!

Now I moved back to a practice piece and started trying every ruler that I could find and every 5 to 10 inches the thread would jump and wrap around the needle and, of course, cause a huge thread nest. Believe me, there were MANY spicy words spoken!!

I was describing what was happening to my husband, Michael, and had the thought that I needed to go thru my list of settings and see what was different. What I found was this……

The ruler foot has a spring at the back with a thumb-screw on top.

This determines how close the circular foot is to the fabric. If it is too close, it binds the fabric against the machine and it can’t move. If it is too high, the fabric moves around too much and the needle and bobbin thread cant nest properly and THE THREAD GOES HAYWIRE!!!

HURRAY….I figured out the problem.

At this point, there was no way I was going to work on an actual quilt so I spent the next 30 minutes just quilting all over my practice piece. This is what frustration looks like…..

At lunch, Michael mentioned that he needed to make a stand for a piece of steel that is used to protect equipment that he needs when doing firearm reviews. As we talked about possibilities, I started channeling my Dad (who loved to do projects like this) and thinking about how to build one from leftover lumber in the garage. Now the challenge was on!!!

I got all of my tools out…..

….and yes that is a quilting ruler!! I mean, what else does a quilter use when she wants to draw a straight line!!!

In a little over an hour, this was my accomplishment…..

It works perfectly and at least I accomplished something for the day. It is always amazing how the act of creating something makes my day!!

Tomorrow I will tackle the borders again…..maybe……or maybe I will start a new project!!

Stay tuned!!