Last 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?