CHQuilts: 2021

Thursday, March 11, 2021

CHQuilts will retire

CHQuilts will retire, effective immediately. 

New quilting posts will now be available at CHMusingsat https://rural01.blogspot.com/my personal blog. It is rather fitting to add quilting to my personal space since quilting is such a huge part of my life. 

From this point forward, CHQuilts will be integrated into CHMusings, which currently contains a variety of pictures and stories related to Ozarks beauty, plants and animals, an occasional rant, as well as news and views to share. 

Posts will also now contain quilting stories and photos fom my 25-year quilting journey, an adventure that I plan to continue as long as I'm able.  

Not only will quilting posts show on CHMusings, but there will also be a "CHQuilts" tab that will link quilting related posts. This tab will basically be a blog within a blog. 

Click on the CHMusings link and stop by for a visit or make a comment. Feel free to subscribe. Join me on this quilting journey that never fails to disappoint. I am still stunned that after all these years, there is still so much to learn and so many things to do. Quilting is joy.


Monday, February 22, 2021

Joy of the finish!

In this case, the finish is my latest quilt top; it is not quite a completed quilt, but to me, it is epic all the same. Once it is quilted and a completed quilt, I have no doubt it will be my favorite.

No, really. I know; I always say that about each project, as my friend Nancy points out to me with every quilt I make and deem my favorite, but this is different. I love everything about this quilt. I loved making it. I’m crazy about the varied fabrics, need for precision, and wide range of colors. But mostly, I am so grateful for all that it has taught me.

To be honest, if I would have seen this quilt in a magazine ten years ago, I probably would have thought it amazing, but would have kept on turning pages. I would not have decided to make it back then. I would have thought it to be too busy, too colorful, and just not to my liking. In my early days of quilt making, which actually pre-dates those ten-years by about double, I liked to make simple, almost Amish quilt designs. I leaned toward mono-chromatic color schemes. Admittedly, I may have been afraid of too many colors. I had little experience with applique and was not very good at it. So, I wouldn’t have had an interest in making this quilt years ago.

That was then; this is now.

Quilting has been a huge learning experience for me, with each project presenting its own unique challenges. I have always loved a challenge. Whether a new project presented a new design, colors, patterns, or skills, each quilt I have made has taught me something. Each one makes me a better quilter. And yet, there is still so much to learn, so many quilts I’ve yet to make.

In short, I grew into this one. This pattern was “The Quilt Show” 2020 Block of the Month, called “Afternoon Delight.” It was designed by the late Sue Garman. Her directions were impeccable and easy to follow.

This quilt top took about a year. All of the applique was done by hand. I learned to love needle-turn applique. I tried all kinds of different processes for preparing the pieces for applique. I’ve found that the best one for me is simply needle-turn, where the needle is used to turn the fabric under so it can be stitched to a background fabric or other piece.

This was a scrappy quilt, using fabrics I already had. The fabric and colors were of my own choosing, although a kit with the pattern and fabrics was available. I bought some new fabric as well. This project is retired now and no longer available on “The Quilt Show” website but it can be purchased elsewhere.

This quilt taught me to love a variety of colors. I no longer think this quilt has too many. I now wonder if there is such a thing as too many colors. This quilt compliments my sunshiny yellow walls and would do the same for any decor, since it includes a rainbow of colors.

In addition, I believe this is the first quilt I’ve ever made that is actually large enough to fit over the pillows and drapes over the sides of the bed.

Now, the only thing I have to decide is if I want to machine- or hand-quilt this quilt. I’m leaning toward hand-quilting. I believe less is desired, given the complexity of the design. We’ll see.

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Never touch the bobbin tension, they say

That was the advice from every sewing machine repair person, sales person to quilting enthusiasts. I’m here to tell you, pay them no mind.

bad stitch
I was finishing the blocks for a quilt top, with just two to finish, when suddenly I noticed my sewing machine acting up. I am not even sure what exactly I did when I noticed a difference, but it seems that suddenly something was terribly wrong with the tension on my Janome DC2014 sewing machine, a workhorse that has never caused me any problems. I started adjusting my tension and there was no difference until I turned the dial down to “1”. The stitches looked adequate, but barely. They were uneven and there were some skipped.

I started trying to diagnose the problem. I reasoned that it could be a worn out needle, since I had been sewing madly for the last couple days. I was finishing the last of 64 9-patch blocks which would complete the “Afternoon Delight” quilt top, a Sue Garman pattern that was the 2020 Block of the Month project from The Quilt Show.

9-patch block
9-patch block
After changing the needle, there was no difference. I took out the bobbin case and cleaned out all the lint. I added a drop of oil onto the bottom of the bobbin case. I re-wound a bobbin and popped it into the bobbin case making sure it was caught in the tension spring; re-threaded the machine, again, taking care that the thread wound around through the tension spring and take-up arm, as it should be. I turned the sewing machine off and on again, (that usually works with my computer). I even looked at my sewing machine manual. Nothing worked.

Finally, I put in a new bobbin, one with a different thread and different color than the 50 wt. white Aurifil I was using in the top. I set the stitch tension back to the middle. It worked. The stitches were a tad uneven, but at least the bobbin thread wasn’t just lying on top of the fabric. The stitch was actually formed and was fairly acceptable on both top and bottom. I reasoned that my problem could be a new set of bobbins I had just purchased.

So, I took the purple thread off the latest bobbin; there was only a little there. I rewound my ‘suspect’ bobbin onto the new (previously used) one and began to sew. There were about 3 stitches that were good and then again, the thread just lay on top of the fabric without catching to form a stitch. Again, I set the tension to #1 to get a stitch to work.

I checked out You Tube videos, Googled my problem, and did as much sleuthing as I could.

I decided that the one thing I would try, that I hadn’t, was to change the tension on my bobbin case.

good stitch
I didn’t bother with a quarter turn, I did a half turn, set the top tension back to between 4 and 5, and started to sew. Voila, the stitch was perfect. In fact, it looked like it did the day I bought my machine. I happily finished up my last two quilt blocks.

I was surprised this fix was such an easy one. And, I’m grateful to be able to sew again without having to worry about being without my machine for weeks.

Now, for those setting triangles and borders…What a great quilt this is going to be. I just can’t wait to finish the top and begin quilting it.