Sunday, June 26, 2016

June UFO Busting

My Guild UFO Challenge for June is to quilt my Blooming Nine Patch (B9P).

Looking back through my posts about this quilt (you can also see them if you click on the quilt name above), I recalled that I began work on it during a class taught by a good friend and guild member, Pam Thorne, in late July 2014 ....

Fabrics in the quilt with the exception of the second one from the left
Although you might think "batiks" when you see this quilt, only 3 fabrics are batik

Getting a good start!

I finished piecing the top in late October of that same year.  Two years since I started it - yep, it's time to get this puppy quilted and done!

My first thought was to simply do a nice flowing panto on it .... something that could be done in a day on the longarm.  The busy pattern would probably not show the quilting stitches very well, so no need to get fancy with it, right?  Buuuuut .... this diva quilt top kept asking for free-motion feathers!  Seriously?  Yikes!  The longer I thought about it though, the more excited I got about doing some lovely free-motion on this favorite quilt top.  It had been ages since I had done any serious free-motion quilting even though it is something I really enjoy.

I knew there would need to be quite a bit of practice on muslin sandwiches first of course!

It was actually 2008 when I had last quilted free-motion feathers on a large quilt, but I remembered that it was great fun, very rewarding, and I loved the way the quilting turned out.  I wasn't sure how long it would take for me to begin producing decent looking feathers on the sample swatches, but happily in only a few hours they were coming along nicely.... not perfect, mind you, but I knew better than to hope for that!

After practicing throughout the afternoon, I was comfortable that I could do a decent job on the quilting.  Next, I had to baste the quilt sandwich - Ugh!!!  One of the main reasons I have been grateful for friend Joanne's generosity with her longarm is not having to baste sandwiches!  I simply can't get down on the floor to do this anymore, but there was no getting around the fact that it had to be hand basted.  I had seen many other bloggers post about how they used this table-basting method and that it had worked well for them.

I like to use a combination of basting glue spray along with safety pins - the basting spray really adds that extra control to hold the layers together securely no matter how much I shove and shift them under the smaller harp of a domestic machine.  So I asked My Guy to set the table up in the garage, because after all the health struggles I've faced recently because of chemicals and toxins in my environment, the last thing I wanted to do was spray a bunch of chemicals into the air in my home!

I was pretty optimistic that it would work out well once I figured out what I was supposed to be doing - Happily, it worked like a charm!

Because I use the basting spray, there's not a need for a lot of pins, just enough here and there to keep it in place enough so there's no opportunity for the layers to pull loose from the glue basting ...

Once a section was pinned, then it was a pretty simple matter to move on to the next and clamp it in place...

I have to say I'm delighted to know there is an easier way to baste large quilts, and I won't let that keep me from getting as creative as I like with the quilting stage of my projects in the future!

When I finished basting and laid the quilt aside while setting up my machine, Mr. King of the Studio decided a little Quality Assurance testing needed to be done to test it for nap-worthiness before things could go any further.  Does this face look like he's willing to compromise on this all-important stage of the work to you? ....  Oh my gosh, he's a tough Snoopervisor!  All the workers in the studio are terrified of him and toe the line!

Even after he grumpily graciously allowed me to have the quilt back, he continued to insist on curling up and napping on it - even while I was stitching!

I finally had to put a quilt next to it on the work table for him to nap near me (or near his quilt, depending on who is telling the story LOL!)

Once I got everything (and everyone!) settled, I nervously began to stitch some feathers.

My Janome 6600 is a trusted friend!  She has been my quilting workhorse for the past 10 years, and I've pieced and quilted so many quilts on this beloved machine with nary a hiccup.  So I was quite shocked when I hit a road block almost immediately.  I had all of one feather section quilted before I started noticing that the top thread was no longer sinking into the layers and the bobbin thread was popping up on the top .... uh-oh!

You can see from the threads at the top right that it was not doing this at first, so I didn't realize there was a serious tension issue for a while.  But when I checked to see what was happening on the back, I got a very ugly surprise ....

Apparently the tension issues just didn't show up on the front at first, but it was looking pretty darn nasty on the back from the beginning!  I can't remember EVER having tension issues with this machine.  I even have a separate bobbin case with the tension set for free-motion that has never failed me.  All had gone well during the practice sampling, so I can only assume the problem lay in using a thicker top thread (King Tut #40) with a thinner bobbin thread (SoFine) for the actual quilting on the quilt.

All production stopped - with a few choice words coloring the air of the studio I must in all fairness add! - while I fiddled and fidgeted with the tension both upper and lower until it was in such a mess that I couldn't even get it back to stitching normal stitches anymore!  This happened on a Saturday afternoon so I was looking at having to take the machine in to my local shop on Monday and waiting until I could get it back.  Thankfully, My Guy sat down with me on Sunday morning and spent a couple of hours very painstakingly going through the tension settings until we had it making decent stitches again.  Seriously, he's my hero!!!

I can't say it's working perfectly - I may need to replace a bobbin case - but it's working well enough that I've been able to continue quilting the B9P.  I'm hoping it gets me through this project so I can make the July 6 deadline!

Following are a few progress photos - you can tell I get a little more comfortable and the stitching is smoother as I go along ....

Discounting the frustration of tension issues, this project has been a real joy for me!  I have to carve out time to work on it because lots of other good things are going on as well, such as these two coming for their summer visit!

Granddaughter Sara and Link on the way to our house
They look just as excited as we are about them coming!

Sara is now 18 - all grown up!  

But she's still young enough to be a delight to have around and to teach new things :*)  Do you remember her from this picture when she was learning to sew on a previous visit?

She had just finished her first ever sewing project - a pillowcase out of soft beach fabrics.  We are planning to be up to lots of different crafty things while she is here.  Like stitching up one of these .....

Needless to say, Rocky is not quite so delighted with their visit - he has taken to hiding under the bed and being very inhospitable!  Anyone would think sweet little Link was a huge devouring beast intent on tearing him from limb to limb!  It is clear we have some manners training in our future. But he did find a chance to sneak in and take a nap on the B9P for a few hours, so although he might try to tell you otherwise, all is not quite misery is his world. =^..^=

Hugs & Blessings!

Linking up with the following fun parties:
Design Wall Monday
Can I Get a Whoop Whoop?
Let's Bee Social
Tuesday Linky Party


  1. I can't wait to see your beautiful quilt all finished. Has it really been two years? Sara is as pretty as ever! Cant wait to read all about your crafty adventures!

  2. B9P is one of my favorites; I don't think I've ever seen an ugly one. Glad you stuck with the quilting. It's going to be glorious!

  3. It seems like just yesterday you were working on B9P. What fun to have Sara and Link drop in for their summer visit, even if it did put a certain someone in a snit. Have fun!

  4. Maybe a combination of the spray and heavier thread - spray bastes make my machine grumpy so I don't use them any more.

  5. Check out those feathers! You've got them nailed! Sara sure grew up since her last visit. What a little beauty! Have fun! XO

  6. Have you tried having a quilt long arm basted? I've read that it is very secure.

  7. Your quilt is gorgeous! So glad you persevered to improve the tension issue. Looks wonderful!

  8. Your quilt is gorgeous. Can't wait to see it all finished, and love your feathers.

  9. Nice quilting on your beautiful quilt!! The spray may have created a drag on the fabric----you had no problems on the practice piece----did you spray that? I am so ad you have a buddy in the quilt room to keep you company!! Good luck on the manners class LOL

  10. Gorgeous quilt! Love those colors. Glad you got your machine to quilt nicely in the end. That Rocky is a darling.

  11. How wonderful to have your Sara and Link there with you for a visit Teresa. I hope you enjoy every minute, even if Rocky does not. :) He is one determined kitty to spend time near you while you sew. Your D9P is stunning and the feathers you've worked on look great! I hope you machine behaves. My Janome 7700 is good with the tension unless I FMQ, then I found that I need to take it off auto and set the upper tension to between 4.5 to 5. Otherwise it looks very much like the photo you showed of the back of your quilt.

  12. What a fun post to read!
    Such a gorgeous quilt and you are so brave to just go ahead and try your best with the quilting... especially with all the tension issues...way to go! It looks fabulous from here!
    Enjoy your special visit!

  13. Your feathers are just fabulous in spite of your tension issues. UGH! That will be a stunning finish.

    Have a wonderful visit with Sara. I can't wait to see what you two do together.

  14. Enjoy your visit and quilt when you are able. Sorry that you had a bumpy start with the quilting on your B9P. Those free motion feathers are looking FABULOUS now!!

  15. That quilt is absolutely gorgeous! I can't wait to see your quilt all finished. Sorry about all your bumps with the quilting. Your husband is truly a hero! I hope you and your granddaughter have a wonderful time. Rocky looks so peaceful in that last picture. He's a pretty kitty!

  16. What a wonderful 9-patch quilt! I love 9-patches and would love to make one like this. I have exact same machine and also quilt my own quilts on it. Your feathers are perfect!

  17. I almost started one of those once . . . Love your color choice and your quilting design. I like pebbles but get tired doing them. Putting them in the stem seems a good idea. Claire aka Knitnkwilt.

  18. I LOVE your blooming 9 patch! The colors are so vibrant, and you are right, they all do look like batiks! And look at you go with that quilting! Wowza! Trial and error my friend! I hope you have a wonderful visit, and make lots of memories....and I sure do hope Rocky comes around!

  19. So excited to see this quilt getting quilted! And with lovely quilted feathers - I can't wait to see the finished beauty shots!

  20. Your Blooming 9 Patch is the Bomb!! The fabrics you chose work perfectly with this design and just sparkle and shine. Your quilting looks so nice with the sparkle, too. Perseverance pays off! Enjoy your time with your granddaughters.

  21. Your quilting on the B9P is awesome. You look like a pro when it comes to FMQ feathers. If I could do those half as well, I'd be quilting all my quilts on my domestic! Love the pictures of Rocky in your sewing studio. He is such a beautiful kitty. Have fun with Sara. It's always such fun to teach others some new hobby or technique. She is such a pretty young lady and I know her personality matches that beautiful smile.

  22. OMG! Your quilt is stunningly gorgeous and your helper is so cute! Have fun with your granddaughter and grandpuppy!

  23. I'm sure you and Sara will have loads of fun! I recently quilted a quilt with King Tut on top and Sew Fine on the bottom. I loved it because I really didn't want the back stitching to show much. Of course, I was not doing FM (still can't get the hang of it). I was using my walking foot. Your quilting is great!

  24. I've had tension issues on my favorite treadle, that I do my machine quilting on (straight line only, no FM). I took it to the Michigan TOGA, and finally realized my problem. I'd 'borrowed' the bobbin case for another machine, and didn't put it back. The new case I put in, was too tight, tension wise. It's finally working nicely now. Tension problems are so aggravating!!! Glad you got yours fixed.

  25. Glad you got things under control on your pretty quilt. Did you have to rip out the problem areas? Have fun with Sara, and if you have any tips on the pencil case, esp. the zipper, let me know. I have all the pieces, just never got the work started.


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