Ugh. I was about to give up completely. Throw in the towel for good, my brief life as a quilter over and done before it barely began.
First I had those thread breakage problems while I was at the cottage that were incredibly upsetting. When I got back to the city I bought special quilting thread (a lot) and special quilting needles for my machine (a lot), neither of which I had any idea about before I started this project.
Today I finally had a chunk of time to sit down to try to get the hang of this thing all over again. I figured since I was having problems with breakage only with the needle thread (not the bobbin) I could get away with using the all-purpose thread in the bobbin and save the pricier quilting thread for the top. I changed my needle, I set it all up and I put together another piece of scrap batting and fabric. And thank goodness I didn’t just dive in to the project itself, as I’m often want to do, because hoo boy. I spent the next 2 hours just trying to figure out what the hell was wrong.
First the threads wouldn’t even cross, or whatever it is that they do to sew the fabric together. I was just punching the fabric but no sewing. Very odd. I still don’t understand why this would have been happening. After much scratching my head and even going back to my regular presser foot just to see if I could sew normally (which worked just fine), I tried a larger quilting needle (thank goodness I bought a selection of sizes). That seemed to help, but then I was having tension issues like you wouldn’t believe. I adjusted everything a million times over. I wound up a bobbin with the quilt thread just to see if that would help and it really didn’t make much difference.
Finally things started to come together. I had gone through three test swatches (wasn’t even ‘scrap’ fabric anymore). I was nearly in tears several times. I really don’t know what changed so dramatically between that day at the cottage when I was just having breakage problems to today (I hadn’t used the machine since), but I obviously got it to a workable point since I managed to quilt the entire top. That part only took all of an hour. After all that hair pulling. After all that lamenting and thinking holy crap I’ve sunk a lot of cash into quilting supplies only to discover my machine just won’t do it (a little glimpse into my pessimistic tendencies). Thankfully my perseverance paid off.
It was a lot awkward at first, managing all that fabric and finding the right speed at which to sew (my machine has a hair-trigger peddle, and I always hear the voice of my home-ec teacher from grade school telling me she’s going to give me a speeding ticket every time she hears my machine go super fast). Learning to maintain the right shapes and evenly spaced lines of stitching takes time too. It’s far from perfect, but I doubt an untrained eye will notice my screw ups. By the end I think I had a pretty good feeling for it.
I WON YOU SILLY SEWING MACHINE! HA HA! (insert highly frazzled, crazy, wild-eyed woman shaking her fist at a sewing machine here).