Welcome back! Do you have everything prepped for your quilting marathon? Check yesterday’s post if you missed it.
Today’s the day we get to actually sit at the Husqvarna Viking BRILLIANCE 75Q and see how well it quilts.
Like many of you, I’ve got lots of projects that are half finished. Some are even half quilted. It’s time to stop being afraid of machine quilting or afraid of learning something new. I overheard a quilter the other day who said they were too old to learn. You’re never too old to learn.
I’m pulling out some of those half-finished projects and my plan is to figure out why they’re not finished and then get them done!
Three things have contributed to these projects not getting finished.
- Lack of confidence. We all had to start somewhere.
- Lack of skill. I hate to say it, but it’s only with practice (lots and lots of practice) that one becomes proficient with machine quilting.
- Quality of the sewing machine. Let’s face it – you can have all the skill and confidence in the world, but if the tools you’re using aren’t good, your quilting will suffer.
I pulled two projects for today. Let’s get started.
The Straight Stitch Plate
There’s one other thing that I forgot to mention in the setup of the BRILLIANCE 75Q. I installed the straight stitch plate. You can see that the opening for the needle is quite small compared to the opening on the general purpose stitch plate. The larger the hole, the less stable your project is and the stitches won’t be as nicely formed.
If you don’t have the straight stitch plate, I’d buy one. I use it for all my quilting and all my straight piecing. Of course, if you’re going to use the decorative stitches then you need to use the general purpose stitch plate.
Can’t remember if you have the straight stitch plate on and you go to do decorative stitches? The BRILLIANCE 75Q will not let you select a decorative stitch if you have the straight stitch plate on. I LOVE that safety feature and no broken needles!
As mentioned yesterday, I choose green piecing thread (50 weight) for the top and bobbin and I have marked my reference lines. Now it’s time to start quilting. Of course, you’ll remember to bring up the bobbin thread.
Now here’s the thing. Even with the best-laid plans, there could be a glitch or two that come into play. If you look really, really close, you’ll see that the directions of those stitches aren’t always in the right orientation.
HA – If I wouldn’t have said anything, you wouldn’t have noticed. I’ll ask you a question – why is it OK for mine to be like that, but you’re not happy if it’s your own?
Here’s a very important tip to remember. If you’re looking for perfect, you should choose another hobby! And we need to ask ourselves what’s the end use of this piece? It won’t be an heirloom and will not ever appear in a major quilt show. Therefore, if it has a few quirks, that’s OK.
I think that was one of the hardest things for me to accept as I learned to quilt. Not everything is going to be perfect and if we wait until we are ‘perfect’, well, nothing will ever get quilted.
Here you can see I’m using those chalk lines as my reference lines as I’m quilting the outer border. I hate to mention that there was a wee glitch in that border as well as far as the direction of the lines. But if I didn’t tell you, you would never notice.
That’s one of the things about using matching threads to camouflage some of the glitches. People will see the texture, but not the stitching. Only the very picky would even pick up on it. And if someone is looking that close, well…………….
Notice also that my batting and backing are extended beyond the edge of the table runner. This gives me something to hold onto as I’m quilting and allows me to have control as I quilt right up to the edge of that border. This is critical. Always make sure the batting and backing are larger than the piece you’re trying to quilt.
I know that this table runner is a small project, but look how much space there is to the right of that needle. Loads! And see how that table works? There’s NO straight edge along the front edge. That project (or a project of any size) will just glide over that smooth edge. It seems insignificant, but it makes a huge deal in keeping your quilting designs smooth. I think you have much better control as well with that curved edge.
The two green borders have been quilted. While the white sections are a bit puffy, once the table topper is completely quilted, there’ll be a consistent flat appearance to the table topper with no tucks.
Did you notice that I didn’t technically work from the center out? I quilted the two green borders and now I’ll go back and quilt the white sections. While it’s preferable to work from the center out, there’s a lot of ways to work around that. I would never start with the outer border and work my way in. But the center green border is central enough and the outer green is in close proximity to the first green border that it works for this project to quilt all the green part and then all the white parts. Alternatively, I could have done all the white bits and then all the green.
What I wouldn’t have done is start with the white center. Then switch the thread to green and quilted the next border and then switched the thread again and so on. That takes time. The thread tension will likely be different for the green and the white threads. So if I can squeeze out a shortcut and it’ll work – I do it.
Here’s a close up of the quilting. Notice that the spacing between the loops is not consistent. They were not meant to be consistent. It would take days instead of minutes to quilt the piece if I were going for consistency.
Your brain is a very special tool. It’ll make you realize that all those triangles are the same even if they aren’t. If I were going for perfection and ONE of the lines were off, that would show up immediately. So the bottom line is to be consistently inconsistent and your work will be perfect every time.
Our goal is to use the BRILLIANCE 75Q and get some projects quilted, while we’re practicing and learning. We aim for consistently inconsistent, we start small and eliminate as many variables as we can.
Switching thread color
Now I have to choose the thread color for the white sections. It makes sense to use white on the white since this piece isn’t about the quilting. It about the texture. So the question is – do I use green or white thread in the bobbin?
There’s a huge contrast between that green and the white. How can I control thread pops?? In case you don’t know, thread pops are tiny dots of thread that appear on the surface of either the front or the back. A nasty thing when the thread color that pops out doesn’t match either the top or the backing.
I got out my test sandwich and played around with the tension. It doesn’t look good in this first photo.
After playing with the upper tension which is super easy, this is what I got. Note that there’s a green thread in the bobbin.
You’ll notice that some of the stitch holes are dark. Those dark holes do not represent thread pops. That’s just an illusion created by the dark thread from the bobbin shadowing through the hole created by the needle. I could try a smaller needle if I wanted, but this is perfectly acceptable.
So if you want, you can use two different color of threads. Play with the upper tension. You should be able to get it just right. Now you may get a random thread pop or two that shows either on the top or on the backing. That’s when you should use a busy quilt backing and then switch the thread color to white in the bobbin.
There are loads of ways to fix this problem but start by playing with the upper tension. You’d be surprised what you can learn by playing with the tension.
The piece is now quilted and ready for the binding. No time this week. I’m putting this in the “almost finished” pile which is getting bigger. I must get myself to that one day soon.
Quilting with decorative threads
The next piece that I’m working on looks like it’s finished, but it isn’t. This was a raw edge applique piece with two tabs on the top to be used as the hanger.
I didn’t finish the edges with satin stitch and the idea was to quilt and finish the raw edges with a free motion straight stitch. It’s partially completed. I would bet anything that I didn’t like what I had done so far and put it aside.
Here’s the back of the piece. You can see that part of it is quilted.
I knew that one of the threads was safely tucked in my drawer along with the bobbin waiting to be used to finish this piece. I won’t even guess at how many years this was!
I chose some other threads as well. You notice that I’m using rayon threads this time. The quilting will be much more visible and I want a pretty thread to show off the piece. This is the type of thread used for machine embroidery and it’s a 40 wt thread. I used the same color in the bobbin for all the quilting.
It’s amazing how much things change. The stitching on the right wing was done years ago. Look how tiny those stitches are! What was I thinking??
My ‘new’ stitching is much looser. Even the number of lines of quilting is less than what I had originally done. Sometimes, less is more! I wasn’t going to rip out what I had already done. It’s a good example of what to do and not do.
Notice on the wing on the left that I stitched in the ditch (right along the edge of the applique) and then I added some organic rows of stitching to enhance the wing. I think it would have looked equally awesome to use a much darker thread. Well, a couple of shades darker. Hey – sometimes, I’m still a chicken when it comes to highlighting my quilting. I’m perfectly happy to get the texture and not have someone look at my consistent or not so consistent stitch length. Although I’m happy with the stitch length on that piece of quilting.
This is the first section that I did this time when I started to quilt the piece. Notice on the wing that I did NOT stitch in the ditch. While it certainly looks better than the unstitched one, it doesn’t look as nice as the one in the photo above.
Here’s a closeup of the finished dragonfly. I’m loving it even though my initial stitching years ago, isn’t the best. Notice how the original stitching echoed the outer edge and the new stitches, did but not as obvious and the lines are more organic. This truly makes a huge difference.
Note also that I’m sewing through many layers of fusible applique pieces. I had no issues with stickiness on my needle and zero hesitation from the BRILLIANCE 75Q as it moved through the numerous layers. The stitches are very well formed and look beautiful.
Here’s the back of the piece. I’m loving it. Remember also that the smaller the stitches, the less pretty the quilting looks. But you don’t want those stitches to be so big that they become toe catchers.
Here’s the final piece. I don’t like the little tabs for hangers, so I’ll remove those and add a small sleeve. That’s also going in the ‘almost finished’ pile.
But it’s quilted and I feel great about that. It’s amazing how great we feel when we tackle something that we thought we couldn’t do. Then when we actually do the task, it doesn’t seem so daunting and we wonder why we procrastinated about it!
The moral of today’s blog post is that it’s never too late to rescue a project. Even if the work you did previously isn’t as nice, it’s OK to mix the skill levels. Just get it done!
Choose your backing carefully and choose your thread colors and weights wisely. Do you want the stitches to show or are you happy with just the texture?
There are so many options that it really pays to make these small wallhangings and table runners so you can experiment. Once you know what you like and what you’re good at – then get those projects done!
High tech tools
Oh, remember I mentioned that I was using smart technology to help with my quilting? Well, you can use either of these devices to set timers so that you take regular breaks. I love being able to set the timer using my voice because usually when I remember to set a timer, I’m midway through a project and don’t want to stop. I just ask for an alarm to be set for a specific time or for a timer for a specific length of time and I’m good.
Also, if you have the right connections, just ask your smart speaker to play whatever music you want for quilting. I love it!
Behind the scenes
In case, you think all these great pictures just happen magically, they don’t! And sometimes it’s difficult to get good pictures by yourself. It’s like you need an extra pair of hands. I thought I’d share this bit of technology with you. When I want to take screenshots, I often get a reflection which I’m trying to avoid! I now set my smartphone up on a tripod and using voice commands, I take the picture. This allows me to hold the reflector boards to prevent the glare! Simple!!
That wraps up today’s post using the Husqvarna Viking BRILLIANCE 75Q. It was a breeze to adjust the tensions for the various thread colors and thread combinations that I used. I got a nice tension regardless of what I was using.
Be sure to come back tomorrow when I’ve got techniques to help with invisible thread.
Have a great day!
This is part 3 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 2: 3 essential TIPS for choosing a quilting design
Go to part 4: 2 essential tips for quilting with invisible thread
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