How to Best Maintain My Longarm

Posted by on August 16, 2017

Daily

Needles:  Your needle should be changed every sewing day and even twice a day if you are sewing heavily.  Keep in mind that artificial fibers are harder on needles than natural fibers.  Needles develop burrs and the tips become dull.  The quality of your quilting will depend on using a fresh and sharp needle.  Always insure that your needle is all of the way up in the needle bar and is inserted with the scarf in the back.

Rails and Carriage:  Rails where encoders run need to kept clear of lint and threads.  Do not oil them or use any dusting product like Pledge.  This will cause the encoders to slip rather than roll.  Also make sure the tracks where the wheels roll are free of dust, lint or thread so the machine will move smoothly.

Bobbin and Hook Assembly: Clean the bobbin and hook area.  Turn the hand wheel and check for lint and other debris.  It takes only a small piece of thread to completely bind up a hook assembly.  Remove the needle plate between projects and clean the hook area thoroughly.

Tension Discs:  Check for lint and thread fragments in the tension discs.  Raise the presser foot lifter and clean in between the discs to ensure there is nothing caught there.

Oil:  Machines vary a bit in oil requirements.  Some, like the Tin Lizzies, have oil wells that distribute oil with a wicking method.  These wells don’t require frequent oiling because they hold more oil.  However, machines must remain lubricated to function well without damage.  Check the dip stick on the bed of the TinLizzie18.  If there is no oil on the dip stick place four to five drops of oil in both the bed oiling area and at the top of the machine.

Regularly

Anti-Backlash Spring:  Bobbin cases contain a flat metal disc which applies even pressure on the bobbin preventing backlash and assisting in achieving good tensions.  This spring will eventually become worn and cracked.  It can become bent or even dislodged while cleaning.  Check that it is whole and present, but do not be concerned if the color has worn away.

Bobbin Case Tension Strap: Your machine’s bobbin case has a tension spring where the thread slides out of the bobbin case.  This spring applies pressure and is the primary contributor to bobbin case tension.  If the tension spring becomes bent outwards, or unable to apply pressure to the thread, replace it.

Check Spring:  All sewing machines have a paper-clip type spring on or near the main tension assemble.  The top thread grabs this spring during threading and the spring applies pressure while the take-up lever moves up and down.  Thread friction can break the loop portion off, so first check to see that the spring is still there.  Also, be sure it has adequate pressure to pull on the top thread.  It should be at 11 o’clock.

Oil at the back of the Machine: Just above the handwheel is a rubber plug.  Remove this plug and place a few drops of oil on occasion when a squeaking or grinding sound may occur.

Twice a Year

Cone Springs:  Any tensions device with a knob uses a cone spring to apply pressure which creates tension on the thread. Typically, these springs will last a very long time, unless the tension devices have been over-tightened.  Unscrew the tension knobs and check to see that the cone spring completely resumes its original size.  One way to check is to screw the tension knob on until the outside of the knob is just flush with the threaded shaft.  Look to see if the cone spring is loose or if pressure is being applied.  If the spring is loose, replace it.  Also, if you find your cone springs are over compressed and need to be replaced often, reconsider your method for achieving top tension.  You may need to adjust for looser tension all around.  Remember that tension is a tug of war.  The top tension needs to be equal to the bobbin tension.

Drive Belts: If the motor is adjusted to be overly tight, it can destroy the belt and the motor and machine bearings and gears can be put under undue stress.  Check that the eternal belt has about ¼ inch of play.  Also check that the edges of the belt are not shredding into strips.  Some machines only have internal belts and the technicians can check those for you.

O-Rings: Several machines contain rubber o-rings in bobbin winders and regulator encoders.  These o-rings are under pressure and eventually crack especially in dry environments.  If the o-rings are used as a brake they can develop flat sides during use.  Inspect each o-ring, looking for cracks or wear.

Thread Guides: When monofilament thread is used, it can create enough friction to carve into the machine body and cut off thread guides.  Some other threads and conditions can also damage the guides.  Any cuts create rough surfaces and burrs that can affect your thread.  Check them visually and by rubbing them with your finger.  If you do find wear marks, you may need to reconsider the amount of tension you apply to your top tension devices and the type of thread you are using.

Wheels: The tracking system on your machine can become damaged  by running over thread and other objects.  This may leave dents and marks in the wheels, which then cause bumps in the tracking.  Some wheels have also been known to develop a flat side if the machine is left in one place for an extended period of time.  Check the wheels by rolling your machine forward and back, and then side to side.  It is important to move one direction at a time to help isolate any bumps.   If your wheels are not adjusted correctly, they can rub against the track on the sides, causing a groove to be cut around the wheel.  This is a sign that you may need to adjust the wheels properly and get them centered.

Annually

These are items that seldom need attention and may be too difficult for the owner to check and service.
Being aware of them and checking them annually can avoid large repair expenses and long down times.  Have a tech check them when your machine is serviced.  Not all machines have all of these items.  Newer motors and models of machine have different technology.

Bearings, Bushing, Gears and motor brushes.

Sewing Hook Assembly:  This assembly holds the bobbin case. The hook is what forms the stitch. It is made of probably the hardest metal in your machine. If it is oiled every time you use the machine it is likely to last as long as the machine itself. If it is not oiled or cleaned regularly l it can fail in five years or less.  To check it, remove your bobbin case and take hold of the inner pin in the center of the bobbin basket.  If it has wiggled room, it may need to be replace.

myrl

Filed under: Blog,Lizzie Support,TinLizzie18 Quilting Tips

Free Motion Option of the Original Linux Quilt Magician

Posted by on August 7, 2017

qm

 

Using the Free Motion Option on the Quilt Magician you can create and save your own original designs.  These designs can then be edited in the same ways that other patterns are edited.

While in the Quilt Magician Mode:

Touch the House > then Free Motion

You will see a field with crosshairs indicating where the needle is positioned.

On the right-hand side is START.  As soon as you touch START the recording begins.  It does not record time, but movement.  You may record while stitching or not depending on your preference.  The Quilt Magician will record until you touch STOP.

When STOP is touched, a SAVE option appears on the screen.  If you are happy with the result touch SAVE.  A New screen opens with a key pad to name the pattern.

If you are not satisfied with the result, simply touch START again and when you begin moving the new recording will appear.

When you are ready to save touch the SAVE option and then key in the name you prefer and touch the check mark to save.

To retrieve the pattern is it as with other patterns.

Touch the House > Add Pattern.  You will find the new saved pattern at the end of the pattern list.  You are able to move your pattern to your preferred folder by the following procedure.

Touch House > File Manager

You will see a window with SPOURCE at the top left.  Choose INTERNAL since that is where the pattern is.  Then touch the blue search sphere at the right to find the pattern you want to move.  A window with the list of patterns will open.  Locate your new pattern at the end of the list and touch it. Touch the check mark for okay.

Now Touch the DESTINATION option in the lower left of the screen.  Make sure the INTERNAL option is chosen because you are saving it to an internal folder.   Touch the blue search sphere to find the folder where you would like the pattern to go.  Notice you have an option to create a new folder.  You may want to create a folder of your own patterns rather than placing the pattern in an existing folder.  Choose the folder to place your pattern and touch the check mark for okay.  You now have the options at the bottom of the screen to save or delete.  Touch save and you should have a message saying SAVED.

If you would like to move the pattern to a USB stick, just choose USB instead of internal in the DESTINATION option.

Hint:

If you are tracing a printed pattern that has repeats in it to convert it to a .qcc file in the Quilt Magician it is advisable to trace only one repeat and then add as many of the repeats you need on the quilt in the EDIT option.

myrl

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Obstacles to your Creativity

Posted by on July 31, 2017

by Lynn Bell, TinLizzie18 Educator
#facesoftinlizzie18

Hi again, and thanks for joining me for this article.  So, hmmm, obstacles to your creativity.  I’m not talking about you having to climb over a pile of fabric to get to your quilting machine, I’m talking here about SELF-IMPOSED obstacles, aka rules, attitude, etc.

I have found that if someone truly enjoys doing something that does not bring in an income, it is considered “play” and it gets shoved to the back burner.  It’s like we must “earn” or “deserve” the privilege of partaking.  Well, it’s time to climb over those obstacles and tear down the barriers!

Here are a few synonyms for quilting (in my house, anyway):  Therapy, Zen, Mood Altering, happy dance, Valium, rehabilitation, healing, attitude adjustment, anger management, cease-fire, anti-depressant, peacefulness, harmonious, anti-stress, decompression chamber, my happy place.  I could go on and on, but I’d like to get this article wrapped up so I can get to my quilt studio!

Okay, first of all, what are your self-imposed rules of “must do” before quilting?

  • Clean the house
  • Do the laundry
  • Weed the garden
  • Yadda, yadda, yadda

First you must identify ALL of your obstacles, both self-imposed and others.  Then look at your list and determine which are truly necessary.  Can you do these things once a week rather than every day? How about baby steps, once every-other day, then once every two days….get the picture?

What will happen if you don’t do it every day?  Which rules are worth it, and which are totally unnecessary?

I remember my adult daughter coming home for a visit once, and she commented “Wow mom, you’ve really let go of all of your rules.  You enjoy life and don’t go crazy if a dirty dish sits in the sink!  When did that happen?”  It was news to me, but then, I don’t have time for dishes all the time, because I am quilting, and I’m a much happier, easier-to-be-with person because of it.  Yes, my house is a little messy, we may run out of underwear once in a while, there may be weeds in my garden, but the tomatoes still manage to grow!

The Quilting Artist In you needs MORE TIME!!  Sometimes we think we must stay on schedule in order to squeeze out more time for our quilting.  Other times, we have all the time in the world, so we take our time getting into the quilting space, then we run out of time.

Step out of your box and break your chains!!!  Break your own rules. Try taking one whole day every week just for spending time in your quilting space.  Once you get used to that, add another day in the week (or an evening, or whatever is available to you).  I’ll tell you this:  I managed to spend more time quilting when I held down a full-time job while raising a granddaughter than I spend now that I’m retired.  How does that even make sense??  I knew I only had so much time, so I carved it out.  Now I have all the time in the world, so I hardly ever get in my studio.  Hmmmm, well, that changes right now!  I promise (myself) to get into my studio at least 2-3 days a week and to save the weekends for family time (unless there is a quilt retreat somewhere).

By the way, why not break the quilting rules too, while you’re on a roll. The quilt police aren’t watching you.  Quilts don’t always have to be perfect.  Take whatever doesn’t work for you and change it.  I remember Gail Garber once said (in a class), “I can’t do bound corners and I kept getting marked down for them at quilt shows, so I quit making quilts with corners”.  Google her and take a look at her quilts.  Rounded corners!

Have fun with your quilting.  Allow yourself to soar with the eagles as you create and play with fabric.  We are so incredibly blessed to be able to express ourselves with stitches and fabric.  I am not an artist.  Failed drawing 101 and painting 101, but I can stitch fabric together and draw on it with my beautiful thread and my wonderful Tin Lizzie.  Life is as good as I allow it to be, and mine is awesomely blessed.  Fabric just makes me happy!  Okay, time to go do a happy dance in my studio.

Thanks for joining me here at TinLizzie18, where we’re committed to helping quilters of all levels realize their quilting dreams.

Happy Quilting!
Lynn Bell

lynn

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Things That Can Influence Your Quilting

Posted by on July 24, 2017

Huh?  What?  Are you saying there are more things to think about than what thread I use and what design I quilt?????

YES!

There are so many things that come into play when we’re quilting.  The basics are the fabric, needle, thread and batting, and there are sooooo many considerations just with these basics, but then you go into other things like paint on the surface, embellishments, etc.

So, let’s start with these basics.  Thread I won’t go into in great detail, since last week’s blog article was an in-depth article on threads and which needles to use and how to adjust tension for different types of threads.

Needles: The composition and sculpture of the needle is paramount.  At TinLizzie18, we use the Groez-Beckert titanium needles.  They have a scarf that is a bump and a very long groove.  The bump spreads the fibers of the fabric and the batting, paving the way for the thread to pass through with less friction (thus less tension).  The groove protects the thread, also from tension and friction as it passes through the fibers because the thread can nestle in the groove. Less friction means less tension AND less heat.  These needles go up and down through the quilt sandwich thousands of times and they can get hot.  The titanium helps keep the needle cool too.  You should change your needle every 8 hours of quilting time, or sooner if you start hearing it “pop” through the fabric.  That is the sound of a dull needle. Dull needles can cause skipped stitches, poorly formed stitches, fraying or breaking thread and they can even create a “run” in your fabric by pulling a fiber rather than penetrating it.

Batting: Polyester is fluffy and makes it easier to form a stitch within the batting.  It generates less heat, so it is good for metallic and rayon and trilobal poly threads.  100% cotton is thinner and harder.  It is much more challenging to get good tension with cotton because there is less “forgiveness” than with poly.  Remember that tension is a tug of war between the top and bottom threads and ideally, they meet in the middle of the batting, with neither thread showing on the other side of the quilt. Blended battings (cotton and poly, cotton and wool, silk, bamboo, recycled bottles, etc.) are common blends.  They are usually 80/20, 70/30, 60/40, etc.  meaning they are perhaps 80% cotton, 20% poly, or whatever their label says.  It is easiest to get good tension with a 60% cotton/40% poly batting, or a 100% bonded poly that is NOT high loft (a whole other set of problems with that).

Fabric:   The influence of the thread count in the fabric is huge!  Count pertains to the threads per inch in the fabric weave.  Most common is 60 threads x 60 threads woven in each direction.  Batiks are usually 200 x 200 threads, so your needle doesn’t last as long and they cause more drag on your thread, so tension may need to be a little higher.  Also, you’d think a #18 needle to spread those tight fibers and keep the thread cool, but a # 18 on Batik leaves very large holes that are harder to close up unless you wash the quilt.  I typically use a #16 needle, but everyone has their own preferences.  So, the higher the thread count, the tighter the weave, the higher your tension and the faster your tension will get dull….oh my, is it worth it to use batiks???  (YESSSSSSSS, Yes it is!)

Paint: The influence of paint on the surface of your quilt is that it causes the thread to pull harder, so more tension is needed to create the stitch within the batting.  Remember that a larger needle will pave the way for your thread, but it will also leave large holes, so you must pick your battle.

Thread:  Okay, I said you should read the post on thread from last week, but I’ll do a quick summary here:

  • 100% cotton is fluffier, less tension
  • Poly threads are usually lighter, so more tension
  • Slippery threads require more tension
  • Metallic tread on top, loosen top tension and use a smoother thread in the bobbin (poly, but not trilobal)
  • Slippery top thread should have a rougher bobbin thread to hold the stitch
  • Slippery top and bottom threads, consider tying and burying your threads because they will work loose.
  • Always use equal or lighter thread in the bobbin than top thread.  EG King Tut on top & So Fine in the bobbin are a perfect combo, So Fine on top and King Tut in the bobbin, presents a tension challenge.  Doable, but a challenge.
  • Thread should come off the cone according to how it’s wound.  Cross wound comes off the top while stacked should come off the side.

Bobbins: TinLizzies have an M size bobbin.  Aluminum runs smoothly, and is light so it causes less tension and stays cooler.  The backlash spring in the bobbin case is there to stop the bobbin from coasting in any direction, so it prevents backlash, thus it’s name (backlash spring).  USE THE PIGTAIL in the bobbin case!!!  Using the pigtail causes the thread to come off the bobbin in the same direction consistently, regardless of which direction the machine is moving, and you don’t get that wonky stitch when you change direction.  Remember, equal weight thread or lighter weight in the bobbin than on top for the most successful results.

I hope these tips help you along your quilting journey.  Thanks for joining me here at TinLizzie18, where we’re committed to helping quilters of all levels realize their quilting dreams!

lynn

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Threads: The long and short of it

Posted by on July 10, 2017

lynn

Hello and thank you for joining our blog!!  These articles are written by our education team members in an effort to enhance your TinLizzie18 quilting experience (“Quilting Without Tears!”) because we at TinLizzie18 are committed to helping quilters of all levels realize their quilting dreams!

Thread is a huge and very important element in quilting, yet I am constantly surprised when quilters tell me “Oh, I just use the same thread all the time.” I assume because of the price or the lack of breakage, or because (they think) it doesn’t matter!!

Quilters, you have spent a great deal of time and money on your quilt tops.  Not using a complimentary thread to finish it off is like going to Tiffany’s, then wrapping the gift in newspaper with string. Really???  I agonize over my choice of thread just as much as I do over my quilting design, or as I did for my choice of just the right fabric, and you should too.  I am not promoting or recommending specific brands of thread, but I am naming some that I am familiar with so that you have something to compare other threads with.  So….here is the basic skinny on threads along with a few tips on tension and needles:

  • Long fibers are less fuzzy (use more tension)
  • King Tut is fuzzy (use less tension)
  • Permacore and Polyester threads are less fuzzy (use more tension)
  • If using Metallic threads on top, loosen top tension and use a smoother thread in bobbin (poly or tri-lobal poly or rayon)
  • If using Slippery top threads (tri-lobal polys or rayons), they are best paired with a cotton or a wrapped poly bobbin (rougher texture, less slippery – So Fine is a good choice).
  • Use thread nets with slippery threads both on the top cone and on the bobbin winding cone.
  • If using Slippery top thread with Slippery bobbin, consider hand tying & burying knots, or taking 7-8 tiny or overlapped stitches to start & stop, otherwise threads will slip until they become loose.  I have experienced even small overstitched starts and stops coming undone when machine washed.
  • Bobbin threads should always be equal to or lighter than the top thread.  Never heavier unless you are doing “bobbin work”.
  • Thread must come off spool or cone according to how it is wound.
    • Cross wound thread should feed up and the off top of cone/spool,
    • Stacked thread (most spools) should feed straight off of the side. You can purchase adaptive products that attach to your Tin Lizzie thread tree and allow the stacked thread spool to unwind properly.
  •  REMEMBER: Slippery threads paired with rougher threads are the best combination.
  • If specialty threads break too often and tension is good, consider using the next larger needle to reduce friction.
  • Make fine adjustments to tension with thread nets and by using extra holes in thread path.

SPECIFIC TIPS FOR SUCCESS WITH TRILOBAL POLY AND OTHER SLIPPERY THREADS

  • USE THREAD NETS ON TOP THREAD AND ON CONE USED TO WIND BOBBIN
  •  USE # 14, 16 OR 18 NEEDLES, BUT TEST FIRST***
  • IF USING IN BOTH TOP AND BOBBIN, YOU WILL HAVE GREATER SUCCESS WITH PREWOUND BOBBINS (AFTER REMOVING BACKLASH SPRING FROM YOUR BOBBIN CASE).  BEST TO HAVE A SEPARATE BOBBIN CASE.
  • IF USING YOUR OWN BOBBINS, REMOVE BACKLASH SPRING & ADD SILICONE ‘M’ SIZE MAGIC GENIE BOBBIN WASHER, AND WIND USING A THREAD NET ON THE CONE.
  • USE THE PIGTAIL
  • MOST PEOPLE LOOSEN THE TENSION, WHEN THEY SHOULD BE TIGHTENING BECAUSE THESE THREADS ARE VERY SLICK.
  • USE TITANIUM OR TEFLON COATED NEEDLE  (TL GROZ BECKERTS ARE TITANIUM)
  • IF USING A TOWA BOBBIN CASE, SETTING SHOULD BE IN RED ZONE (35-45)
  • TOP THREAD TENSION SHOULD FEEL SAME AS ANY OTHER THREAD WHEN PULLING FROM NEEDLE (Have thread above foot.  Foot down.  wrap thread around forefinger and hold thread directly behind eye of needle.  Now apply pressure to thread with thumb.  Needle should deflect very slightly and tug of thread should feel same as any other thread.
  • Other threads can create a “channel” in the eye of the needle, causing SLIPPERY THREADS to fray, so always use a fresh needle for SLIPPERY THREADS.

*** TO TEST NEEDLE: Before putting needle in machine, cut a piece of thread 2-3 feet long.  Thread one end onto needle.  hold one end of the thread up and the other down.  Needle should slide freely along thread.  If it catches at all, or doesn’t slide easily from end to end of the thread, the needle eye is too small or it could have a burr.  Either way, try a different needle.

And last but certainly not least!  Following is a handout given in our TinLizzie18 classes.  This handout was compiled by our head of Education, Myrl Breinholt and is published here with her permission:

 

THREADS

Spun: these threads are made with little fibers tightly twisted together into long strands and then two or more are twisted together to form the thread.  Most common are cotton and polyester.  Cotton fibers are short.  Polyester fibers are very long and must be cut into short lengths before the spinning takes place.  Mettler™ all-purpose polyester, Maxi-Lock™ and Gutterman™ are example of spun threads.

Filament threads: Silk is the only natural filament thread.  All others are man-made.  These fibers are all very, very long and can be made round or in other shapes.  These need little twisting to keep them together. YLI™ Ultra sheen is a good example of continuous filament threads.

Monofilament threads: are made with a single strand of fiber that is stronger and bigger than single strands used in the filament thread.  They are usually clear. Wonder Invisible Thread and Sulky’s™ invisible thread are good example.

Texturized  Threads are also filament thread, but rather than being twisted they are treated with heat and chemical to give them texture and bulk.  Woolly Nylon™ is an example of Texturized thread.

Core threads are combination of filament thread and spun thread.  These feel soft, but are made strong.  Dual duty™ and Signature™ are examples.

Laminate threads are multiple layers of polyester and are bonded together in sheets.  They are cut into tiny strips and wound on to spools forming a flat, shiny thread.

Metallic threads are a combination of materials bonded together for form a bright, colorful decorative thread.  Japanese have been making metallic thread for hundreds of years.  You can tell a good metallic thread by the way it drapes instead of twisting back on itself.

Trilobal Polyester: are extruded through what is called a spinneret.  It has tiny holes in it that the fibers are forced through.  The shape of the holes determines the shape of the thread.  Trilobal thread has three sides that catch the light and make for color filled with luster.  It keeps it color well in heat, light and is not affected by detergents and body oil.  Magnifico™, Fantastico™ and Glide™ are examples of trilobal threads

Weight refers to how long the piece of thread is when it weighs 1 gram.  A thread that weights 1 gram and is 30 meters long is considered a 30 wt thread.  A longer thread, maybe 40 meters long, that still weighs only 1 gram is considered 40 wt and is thinner than the 30 wt.  Weight sizes = the bigger the number, the smaller the thread.

Tex size refers to the weight of 1000 meters of thread.  If 1000 meters of thread weighs 25 grams it is a 25 Tex.  This means that if a thicker thread is 1000 meters it will weigh more, maybe 60 grams.  It is a 60 Tex thread.  Tex size = the bigger the number, the bigger the thread.

INCREASED TWIST
Although it is never printed on labels, thread twist is measured by the number of twists applied per meter. Why is this important? A loosely twisted thread requires less total fiber content, takes less time to produce, and is less expensive to manufacture. “Regular” cotton thread may have as few as 150 twists per meter. (Think of a budget thread that can easily be untwisted by rubbing it between your fingers.) King Tut has almost 7 times as many twists per meter, resulting in a smooth, consistent surface.

FYI
If stored correctly, thread will last many years.  Keep your thread out of direct sunlight and away from open windows.  Sunlight is a thread’s worst enemy.  Too much can make it dry and brittle.  Dust and dirt can build up on thread stored too close to an open window.

As a rule, filament thread, flat thread and metallic thread need much less top tension than cotton.  These threads are much more fragile and many of them have quite a bit of stretch to them as well.  Reducing the top tension on your machine will reduce the number of thread breaks and allow the thread to float on top of the quilt, rather than being pulled too tight.

Finishing:
Soft: only died and lubricated.
Mercerized: treated in a solution to increase is bulk and affinity to receive dye.
Gassed: Passing cotton thread through a flame at high speed to reduce the fuzz.
Glazed: cotton thread are treated with starches and chemicals under heat and then polished to a high luster.
Bonded: treating continuous filament nylon or polyester with a special resin that encapsulates the filaments.  It is a tough smooth coating that adds to the thread’s strength.

Helpful resources:
A Thread of Truth  www.ylicorp.com
Needles and Threads and Bobbins, Oh, My by Nancy Goldsworthy http://www.fil-tec.com/thread
http://www.sulky.com/index_us.php
http://www.superiorthreads.com

I hope this article enhances your quilting experience!

Lynn Bell
TinLizzie18 Educator

 

 

 

 

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Is that the quilt stitch look I want? Auditioning quilt stitch designs

Posted by on June 26, 2017

Some quilt tops speak to us and it’s easy to see a stitch design.  Then there are those that have us stumped.  We want to have our design pretty well set when we start stitching – if we don’t, we may be picking out stitches.  And I haven’t had anyone tell me that their favor part of quilting is ripping things out!  So, what are some ways to ensure the stitch design you’re thinking about is going to give the look we want without redoing?

Here are some of the techniques that I utilize.

Graph paper, pencils, erasers, and a copy machine.

  • My husband and I travel quite often so I have ‘ride time’ to create.  I sketch out the quilt top piecing/design onto graph paper and make several photocopies of my sketch.  The photocopies are the standard 8.5”x11” paper.  They travel easily in a folder for this type of create time.  I use a sharp pencil and begin drawing out a possible stitch design.  I only erase if I need to move a design element over – I don’t erase the entire design.  I set it aside and start a new sheet for moving forward with the designing.  Saving a previous design is helpful because sometimes I end up with elements from each trial design sketch in my final stitch out.  Just remember that the designs you are sketching are not exactly to scale and may need some adjustment when actually stitching on the quilt top.

Tracing paper, pencils, erasers, and a copy machine.

  • To sketch a design closer to scale, I take a black and white or gray scale picture of a section of the quilt top.  I use a computer program that allows me to print the picture in sections.  (I import the picture into a spreadsheet program, size it to the final print dimension that I want it, set the print margins to the smallest the program will allow, print the pages with the picture on it, remove the excess margins, and tape the picture pages together to have one, to scale, picture.)  Depending on your area, there are printing sources that will make large scale paper copies of a picture for you also.
  • I tape the picture to a flat surface and then tape tracing paper over the picture.  I note on the tracing paper reference marks and top, sides, etc.  I then start sketching my stitch designs.  Again, I don’t erase everything, I tape down another piece of tracing paper and start again.  These designs usually translate to the quilt top as closer to scale and don’t require much adjustment.

Plexiglass, dry erase markers, dry eraser, tape, digital camera

  • This is my go to sketch option when I already have the quilt loaded on the machine and I’ve spent some time removing stitching.  My plexiglass is sized to fit between my take-up rollers and is as long as I could find at my local hardware supply store.  I have a taped ½” border around the entire piece of plexiglass – this keeps me from accidently running off the edge with markers onto the quilt top.  I place the plexiglass on the quilt top where I want to design my stitching.  I draw my stitching design on the plexiglass and take a digital picture of it.  If I want to try another design I erase and start again, but always have the digital picture to refer back to if I want to go back to a previous design.

Heavy clear plastic, dry erase markers, dry eraser, tape, digital camera

  • This works well when you can lay the quilt top out on a flat surface.  I have a roll of heavy clear plastic that I taped over the edges on – to prevent the markers from going over the edge onto the quilt top.  I secure the plastic over the quilt top and use dry erase markers to create a stitch design.  Depending on the size of the roll of plastic you can move to a clean section and create another stitch design or you may need to take a digital picture, erase the design, and then begin your next design.

I know there are other tricks and tips to determine if your quilting stitch design will give you the look you want.  And not every technique will work in every situation. I hope the techniques I use will help you the next time you look at a quilt top and think, ‘I wonder….’

sondra-r

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