Welcome to another exciting week with the Husqvarna Viking BRILLIANCE 75Q. This is a sewing machine extraordinaire. While it doesn’t sew by itself, it’s capable of some pretty amazing sewing. I’ll put it to the test this week by quilting some pieces that I’d like to get completed. As I work my way through the projects that I’ve set aside, I’ll be exploring several different quilting presser feet for the BRILLIANCE 75Q, as well as showing you how all the features and functions make quilting a very easy and pleasurable task.
I know that many of you are in the same boat as me. It seems that we love to piece, but we’re not so good about getting things quilted. I’m good with the binding process, but seem to get bogged down by the quilting.
I hope to give you some great tips to get over the hurdle that we call machine quilting – especially that really dreaded task of free motion quilting. I’ll be experimenting with some different needles and different fillings for my projects. Be sure to come back every day this week while we go on this exploration.
Today, I’ll just focus on the preparation that should be done to make your machine quilting a success.
The first thing is to start small. If you’re new to machine quilting or you haven’t touched it in a while, don’t get heroic and try to quilt a king-sized quilt. It’s just going to go badly.
Machine quilting is all about variables. If you start with small projects and learn how to control these variables one by one, then when you do feel comfortable with everything, you can attempt that large quilt. It’s time to take charge!
I’m in the process of cleaning up my studio and I’ve been setting aside some smaller projects that will be perfect to try out a new presser foot or a new technique. Yes, even those of us with greater experience and knowledge will start small with something new. No sense getting halfway through and hating the process.
I hope to get to all the pieces this week but it’s going to be tight as there are quite a few in the stack. OK – so delusional ‘doability’ strikes again! Let’s see what can be accomplished. As I get to each one, you’ll hear the story and the challenge that each presents. What doesn’t get done this week, will have to wait until the next time.
Gather the supplies
Some of the projects in that pile already have batting, but some do not. So let’s find some batting for those projects that need it.
I’ll be honest – I’m a frugal quilter. I keep the larger pieces of batting leftover from other projects. They are folded and neatly stored in a closet.
To make life easier for myself, ALL of the pieces are roughly measured and tagged with the size before they go into the storage closet. Do you know how much time this little tip saves? Hours! Within a few minutes, I had found pieces that would work for my projects.
Now the stack of projects is a wee bit higher as I’ve added the batting. I feel great that I can put the smaller pieces of batting to good use on these smaller projects.
Gather the tools
Do you know where your presser feet are? I didn’t use to know where they all were. I now keep a lot of them stored in a plastic shoe box. These ones are still stored in the original packaging with the name of the foot and basic instructions. I keep meaning to make a fancy case to put them in, but that hasn’t happened.
The bottom line – I know where all the feet are. They are accessible and for the moment that works for me. Think about it – those presser feet represent a significant investment and you don’t want to lose them. I’d rather be buying a new presser foot the next time I visit my dealer instead of having to buy one that I already have but can’t find. Yes – that has happened to me. I have duplicates of some that I don’t need to have duplicates of!
I went through the storage box above and pulled out some presser feet that I’ll use this week. There are so many other exciting presser feet and accessories in that box. We’ll have to wait for another day to try some of them.
I also have another box with presser feet. These are the ones that I use more frequently. Again, it’s important to take care of this investment, so the presser feet are readily accessible.
I also have the Interchangeable Dual Feed foot that I’ll use later this week.
So what should you do? Find a container so you can store all your presser feet together. Keep the instructions if you need, although you’ll find more information online in the Accessory Catalogue. I’ll give you the appropriate links as I work with the various presser feet.
It’s time to dig out the sewing machine needles. Many years ago, when I bought my “grown-up” sewing machine, I was told by the dealer that 95% of thread issues (shredding, breaking, skipped stitches) was caused by an incorrect needle/thread combination. I’m going to put that to the test later this week as I work on some products other than batting.
I also keep all my machine sewing needles in one spot. There’s no sense in having spare needles if you can’t find them. I keep everything associated with sewing machine needles in this tin. I don’t want any show stoppers because a needle broke and I can’t find a replacement.
You can also see the little needlecase that I made to hold my partially used needles. If I’ve only used a needle for an hour, it still has some life left in it. But I don’t want those used needles in my plastic cases where they’ll get mixed up with the new needles. Make yourself a needlecase. You can find my instructions at this link.
You should also have a spare quilt sandwich that represents the type of fabric and batting with which you’re working. In most of the cases, this week, I’m working with cotton fabric on the top and bottom and 80/20 batting. My practice sandwich reflects that. Yes – it’s already used. I don’t care – I’m just checking the tension and my pattern before I start to quilt. I don’t like to rip if I don’t have to and better to experiment on something where no ripping out will be necessary.
I find that a pair of quilting gloves are absolutely essential to successful machine quilting. They provide more grip than you can get with your bare hands. Why? Our hands are oily and slippery or they could be like mine which are always cold. Your hands may be weaker than they used to be and have absolutely no grip. If you don’t have a good grip on your fabric, you’re in trouble. You won’t have nearly as much control as you would like and the resulting stitches will be jerky.
In a nutshell? Get gloves. This is a new brand that I’m trying out. There are many styles on the market, so you should be able to find a pair that is comfortable. Some will have the fingertips cut off, some have rubber on the fingertips. Try out different ones to find the ones that work best for you.
Whether your piece is small or big – gloves will completely change your experience of machine quilting, especially when you’re doing free motion.
Prep the BRILLIANCE 75Q sewing machine
Now that we have the supplies and our tools assembled, it’s time to get the BRILLIANCE 75Q ready for quilting.
Clean out the bobbin case. I’ve removed the stitch plate from the BRILLIANCE 75Q. I’ve removed the bobbin case and cleaned out all the lint. It’s amazing how much lint can collect after a couple of bobbins. The more lint, the more chances of bad tension.
Do yourself a favor and keep that bobbin case area clean. I wind five bobbins and keep them by the sewing machine. When the five bobbins are empty, I change the needle and clean the bobbin case.
While there is room to sew without the extension table, you need the extra surface when you’re going to quilt. You need a spot to place your left hand. Without that extension table, you have control on only half of your piece. Guess what? With only half the project under control, the end result will be less than satisfactory. Do yourself a favor and get the extension table.
What I especially love about this extension table is that it’s curved on the front. The projects just glide over the surface. It’s such a dream to quilt with this table.
Let’s chat about the space to the right of the needle. There’s 9¾” from the needle to the tower. That’s a lot of space and don’t forget that the height of that space is 4½”. You can put a lot of quilt in that area. The idea though is to start small so you can learn how to manipulate the quilt in the space. As the quilts get larger, you’ll already have a good feel for the other variables and managing that larger quilt will be much easier than if you started with a large quilt.
I mentioned earlier that machine quilting, especially free motion is all about managing a series of variables. The trick to successful machine quilting is to eliminate as many of those variables as possible. The functions on the BRILLIANCE 75Q will manage a number of those variables quite nicely. Hey, let the sewing machine handle part of the workload to make the quilting process more enjoyable for yourself.
One important function is speed. The BRILLIANCE 75Q has a speed control. That control takes the pressure off you for controlling the speed. Using a button on the Function Panel, it’s easy to adjust the speed to where you’re comfortable. Then you know that you can floor the foot pedal every time and get a consistent speed.
Some people like to use the START/STOP function so they don’t have to use the foot pedal. While this is a great feature for long straight rows, I like to use the foot pedal for quilting. That way, if I need to slow down slightly on a tight spot, I can do that more easily with the foot pedal. There are different ways of working and that’s one of the other things I like – flexibility! The more flexibility that you have in a sewing machine, the more likely you’ll find the way that works best for you.
There are other great features on the Function panel that help to make quilting a breeze. The Needle Up/Down is invaluable for machine quilting. When you stop, the needle will stop in the down position and if you take your hands off your work, the project won’t move. That’s a huge help.
The Exclusive Sensor System will automatically lower the presser foot when you start, so you don’t have to manually lower the presser foot. I know that doesn’t sound like a big deal, but trust me, when you have everything positioned just so, the last thing you want to do is take your hands off your work to lower the presser foot. The Exclusive Sensor System is the BEST!
I can use the Exclusive Sewing Advisor to help me set the stitch length and tension, depending on what I’m working on. Now if you’re doing free motion quilting, the stitch length will be controlled by how fast the machine runs and how fast you move the fabric. But having the correct tension setting is very important and the Exclusive Sewing Advisor will make the initial settings for you. Choose Woven Heavy and you’re good to get started. You can always override the settings if you need to.
Fun technology aids
I’m throwing these two bits of technology in. Can you guess why I’m using them to help with my quilting? Wait for tomorrow and I’ll reveal why they’re useful tools.
Are you excited yet? I am!!! I can’t wait to sit down at the Husqvarna Viking BRILLIANCE 75Q and get some quilting done.
Be sure to come back tomorrow where I’ll be showing you how to join the batting by sewing machine and then we’re starting on one of those small pieces.
Have a great day!
This is part 1 of 5 in this series.
Go to part 2: 3 essential TIPS for choosing a quilting design
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