Curves and swirls for my sister’s quilt

posted in: Free-motion quilting | 3

rhonda-04Last weekend I finished all the straight line quilting on my sister’s quilt. On Monday I started quilting the light areas of the quilt with curves and swirls. I love improvisational free motion quilting. No marking. No rulers. Just nice swirling lines. My sister’s idea was to quilt it as if water was running down the quilt and swirling around all the twists and turns of the dark “bricks.”

Free motion curves are usually very restful and enjoyable for me. Unfortunately, George and I weren’t exactly playing nicely. I was not pleased with the tension. Finally it got so bad that I decided to put George in timeout for a couple days while I focused on something else. During that time I somehow stumbled across a blog on The Quilt Journey by Debbie. I’m not sure of her last name. Anyway, she was talking about some tension difficulties she was having with her George. In the blog, she was passing on some tips that she learned from Dawn Cavanaugh, the National Director of Education for APQS. She started talking about magnetic bobbins. What? I’ve never heard about those! That’s what happens when you haven’t been to any national shows for a couple of years and you stop reading quilt magazines! I’ll have to add those to my list of things to try. She also passed on the idea of running the thread through the guides following a different pattern to prevent adding any additional twist in the thread, which could cause breakage.

This afternoon I took George out of timeout. I rethreaded the machine using the different pattern. I also started thinking about the bobbin issue. I don’t have any of those magnetic bobbins (and I’m not really sure of what the advantage of them is), but I was using prewound bobbins by Superior Threads. For these, the thread is wound into disposable cardboard bobbins. I decided to suck it up and actually wind a few of my own bobbins using the metal bobbins that come standard with George. I can fit them on the threading pin on my Janome, so I wound a couple with MasterPiece cotton thread since it was the same as the prewound threads. I adjusted the tension on the bobbin case a bit and fiddled with the top tension until I got an acceptable stitch. I’m using Superior Threads’ metallic thread in the top, so I didn’t really expect perfect tension. Honestly, at this point, I just want to be able to finish the quilt — I’ll accept anything that is close!

I was relieved to actually be able to quilt for a couple hours with a minimum of fuss. No, it’s not perfect, and I did have a couple times that my thread broke, but overall it was so much better than Monday. I guess I’ll plan on spending more time using George tomorrow. I’m almost done with the light colored areas, and after that I just have the border to complete. I’ll also have to inspect the back and decide whether I will need to tear out and re-quilt the areas with the worst tension. Heavy sigh. No one likes doing that, do they?

3 Responses

  1. Connie

    I’ve never been able to use cotton thread in the bobbin without breaking, and Masterpiece is the worst on George. (I love using Masterpiece in the bobbin on my domestic machine.) I also have used Bottom Line in the bobbin on George, but I don’t seem to be able to get it to balance well with the different top threads. So Fine #50 in the bobbin works best on George for me. For the past few weeks I’ve been using Superior pre-wound bobbins with So Fine #50, and I love them. But if you want to use cotton in the bobbin, I would talk to the George guru, Beth Schillig.

    • Maria

      Good to know. Thanks for the tip, Connie! I think I have some So Fine that I could try winding on my metal bobbins. I only have BottomLine and Masterpiece prewound.

  2. Brenda

    Thanks for sharing your progress with George, Maria. It’s good to hear that you’re getting the metallic threads to work for you. I haven’t been that adventurous yet. I have, however, very successfully used #100 silk, Glide, Rainbows, So Fine, and Bottom Line. I have a lot of other threads that I’m looking forward to trying.