Sunday, July 10, 2011

Let's talk Quilting.

 Hey there folks! Since this really is a quilting blog, why don't we talk quilting? I do get lots of questions about quilting...my actual quilting in particular. So I will dedicate this post to how I quilt...or at least the tools I use.

First and foremost, let me introduce you to my lovely sewing machine, or sewing computer if you feel so inclined to address her. I sew with a Bernina 820. She cost a pretty penny, but I am so very happy with her. I would buy her again time after time if I had to go back in time. There were plenty of kinks to work out after I first got her, but after I learned the way she wanted to operate we were good to go. And we had to agree on the thread she wanted to use...but that is a whole blog post in and of itself.

 When I quilt, for the most part I use free motion quilting. These are the free motion quilting feet that I own. I danced around with all sorts of Bernina feet until I found the one I thought was just right for me (kinda like Goldie Locks and the 3 Bears). And let me assure you that there is one that I LOVE. I would go back in a burning house to save. I love it so. But we will get to him towards the end. Let me start this list with the feet that I do not love so much. Now, please understand that I am in no way, shape or form paid by Bernina or sponsored by Bernina. I LOVE Bernina and I wish they would pay me to use their AWESOME machines...but alas they don't and I just am a really big fan of fine Bernina sewing machines.

 So, lets start here. This is the BSR. Bernina Stitch Regulator. The BSR is supposed to make all your stitches perfect. Perfect length, perfect tension...it is suppose to help you take your quilting to the next level, right? Man! I wanted that so badly. I bought my second Bernina (it was an Artista 640 which I totally ravaged while I was in Australia since I used it so much. That machine was AWESOME, but I needed more, hence the 820 above) because of the BSR. It was the first model to have the BSR and I wanted to love it so badly. But we do not get on the BSR and I. Frankly I just can't get the hang of sewing with it. I am a pretty fast quilter when I get in my groove and the kids are not making me crazy. With the BSR, I have to slow down and move the quilt in an awkward manner. It beeps at me all the time, I turned the alarm off so I wouldn't have to listen to her screeching at me with her Swiss toned beep. So while she is silent now...her actions speak much louder than her words ever did. The tension looks like total crap, the stitches are wildly unpredictable in their length, hell she even skips stitches. It makes me so mad. So I remove the foot and put it back in it's tin inside it's velvet bag. I do pull it out from time to time just to humiliate myself. It keeps things real around this place. Now, this is how my BSR works. I know lots of ladies who are over the moon for theirs. I have no clue what I am doing to have such poor results. Maybe I actually need to take a class in how to operate the damn thing. But I live too far away from any Bernina shop.

So, the next foot is this one. It is clear plastic. I thought it would be so cool to free motion quilt with this puppy. But...I just can't get the tension pretty with it. I skip stitches and get frustrated...I normally end up changing my needle at this point and re threading my machine about a thousand times just to make sure it is nothing I am doing wrong. You see, I really want to love this foot...but I don't. It will do in a pinch if all my other feet go on vacation or something. It is not my first choice folks. Now, on my little Bernina it works like a champ...my 820 just doesn't get on with it.

This one I really wanted to love too. Of course I wanted to love it, why on Earth would I have bought it if I didn't want to love it? Leah Day recommends this kind of foot with the open bit. Well.... I have issues with it too. I end up sewing it down to my quilt each time I use it or thread gets all tangled up in it by those little arms grabbing at my work. If I go nice and slow I can make it work...but who wants to go slow when you only have an hour or two to quilt?

This quilting foot is great. It was the first one I got with my very first sweet Bernina. This is the foot I learned to quilt with. I can soar with this foot. I love it. Get this foot! You will love it too. The big open frame is so nice and it applies such nice tension to my quilting. You can't go wrong with this beauty. I keep this foot in the little tool box for my Bernina 165. So I do not use it too much (unless I am sewing with my little Bernina or I am teaching a friend to quilt with one of my machines).

This guy is the end all in free motion quilting for me. I LOVE this one. If my house was on fire and my kids, husband and pets were safe, I would dash back in my house to get this foot. I love it that much. The tension is perfect each time unless I have a rogue thread in the bobbin area. I feel like I am drawing with my sewing machine when I quilt with this foot. That is the way I quilt by the way. I like to think of my quilting as drawing on the quilt with thread. When I first learned to quilt the instructor said it was "like dancing with a blind man" You just need to find your rhythm and take off.

I use these feet for straight line quilting. One is a walking foot, the other two are dual feed feet for my 820.

This is my Bernina Walking Foot. You use this foot when you want to prevent shearing (the uneven sliding through of your fabric). See, the feed dogs on the bottom of the machine will pull your fabric through the machine. This big foot clomps along in straight lines and controls the feed of you fabric under the needle. I got to the point of using this foot almost all the time while I was doing my regular sewing and piecing. All my little points and intersections would match up so nice. Now I only use this foot with my Older Bernina 165. I never use it for my big 820 because it has special feet...wonderful feet.

See! Look...it is a big wide almost bow legged foot. A little arm comes down in the back of my sewing machine to click onto this foot and it acts as a walking foot. It is called a dual feed foot. I think Pfaff cornered the market on this kind of stitching action. I am so happy that Bernina has added it to their arsenal.  *** This is just a side note, this is not new technology. The really old singers had dual feed feet way back in the early 1900's. My Singer teacher showed me pictures in her Singer Sewing machine book so I know it is true, but I have never seen any in real life. Anyway this is the general sewing foot that came with my 820. You can make really wide stitches with it too. It is a really good foot.

Since I don't do a great deal of "normal" piecing ( like dressmaking I guess) I use this quarter inch foot all the time. I love it. It makes a perfect little 1/4 inch seam for all my quilt piecing. It makes me so happy. And it is Dual feed, so my little triangles can meet right where they are supposed to each time. This foot really helps me be precise when it comes to quilt piecing.
 I have found that when I am using my 820, it really helps to have a little leader piece of fabric before my actual block I am working on. I have not really had to do this before with my piecing, but the 820 is a really powerful sewing machine and sometimes she gets hungry. I do get mad at her when she takes big bites out of the first couple stitches when I am trying to piece little bits. The leader eliminates this behavior.

So, these are the two sewing machine feet I use the most. I am sure I will hear from the ladies who love the BSR, but I am a simple gal and like being in "charge" of my free motion quilting. Below is a little picture of me doing some quilting with the free motion foot.

So, was that way more than you ever wanted to know about the sewing machine feet that I have and use and what I think of them? Probably. But some of you asked. So I answered. ;o)

  • One more thing...This is something I notice when I am teaching ladies to quilt.....You have to practice your quilting. I start by passing out a pencil and some plain paper and telling the ladies to doodle. That is how I look at my quilting.
  • Get comfortable with making continuous line doodles and take that to your quilting.
  • Don't be embarrassed or upset by making mistakes. How in the world will you learn anything without making mistakes?
  • Don't expect perfection the first time (or times) out of the gate. Seriously? Do you think Shakespeare wrote masterpieces the first time he set pen to paper? Or brilliance flowed from Jane Austin's pen the first time she turned her hand to writing? Nope...I bet they churned out some real drivel before they found their voice. Let yourself make a bit of drivel and go from there.
Happy sewing folks!

5 comments:

Katie said...

I'm with you. I couldn't stand my BSR so I sold it. :-)

the Campfollower said...

Oh good. I am happy I am not alone! This is actually my second BSR. The first one I traded in along with my 640 for the 820. Still can't figure it out.

Kristin L said...

Ha! After more than 15 years quilting, I still have issues! I too am a Bernina fanatic. I love my 440 (though I do lust after an 820, but just can't justify it). So, I use my walking foot for all my straight line quilting. Love, love, love it. I'm not so in love with my BSR. I just don't see the difference in the quilting, and with it off, I at least know it is me making the mistakes. With it on, I don't know who to blame and that frustrates me because it means I don't know what to change to make fixes. So, I've been pretty happy with my #15 foot -- except when it's grabby arms get grabby. I don't think I'd like the visibility on the #26, but I will definitely check out the #25! Thanks for the tip!

Kristin L said...

Oops, swap that 24 and 15. I have grabby #24 but will check out enclosed but with lots of visibility #15.

Minette said...

I haven't seen the #26 before? I assume you are using that on your 820 too? I do hope you will share with us what THREAD you are using on your 820. I am still getting the hang of my 820. I use the BRS foot but disengage the BSR function. Thanks for your tips!

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