Techniques for buttons, batting and string piecing

Welcome back to another day of the FIVE bobbin sewing challenge with the Husqvarna Viking Opal 690Q.

I started the week by winding five bobbins, sorting through some projects and seeing how many of the projects I could complete before I ran out of bobbin thread. So far, I’ve accomplished a lot. I hope, not only that you continue to follow my posts as they are filled with tips, but that you share with us some of your projects that you complete with your own five bobbin sewing challenge.

Let’s get started and see what’s on the sewing agenda for today.

Husqvarna Viking Opal 690Q

Sewing on a button

Yesterday, I used the tacking stitch to quilt a small quilt. The tacking stitch is essentially a zigzag with 0 stitch length so the machine will zig and zag without advancing the fabric.

Hmm, I could use that same stitch to sew on a button. I’ve had this art piece that I created a couple of years ago – OK a long time ago. I noticed a while back that one of the buttons was loose. I removed the button so it wouldn’t fall off and that button had been hanging around my sewing studio for a long time and miraculously never got lost. One day, I did manage to get the button sewn on by hand.

Then I realized that another button was missing and fortunately, I was able to purchase more buttons as I had no idea where this second button went. This button issue had been hanging around for a long, long time (again). Here was the perfect opportunity to use the Opal 690Q to sew on the button.

I attached the Button Foot with Placement Tool, changed the thread to orange thread. I know, I’m really veering from the gray thread challenge. But I was on a roll, trying new techniques and basically trying to get through the pile of projects that was sitting on the table.

It was easy to use the Placement Tool that comes with the Button Foot to get the button in the correct position. I set the Opal 690Q to a zigzag stitch. The stitch length was set to 0, but I wasn’t sure of the width and I certainly didn’t want to break a needle. I used the flywheel to manually lower and raise the needle to get the correct width.

Using the Button Foot with Placement Tool to sew on a button

Here’s a better angle. This is a great foot, you just need to take care to set the correct width of the zigzag stitch to match the width of the buttonhole. It might be easier to measure the buttonhole, but I just do the width manually. A couple of zigs and zags (I think I do about 10) and that button is now well secured to the project. I did cheat a bit here and used orange thread in the bobbin.

Here’s the deal. I was highly motivated to get things done while I was doing the FIVE bobbin sewing challenge. Nothing was going to stop me from ploughing through that stack of projects.

The needle will zigzag into the holes of the button once the width of the stitch is determined

Stitching with the free arm

Time to grab the next thing in that pile. I was working on some gift bags for the guild and those, like the small quilts from the day before, needed to be done before the guild meeting. All that remained was to sew the casing for the drawstring at the top.

I ironed down the top of the bag to create a flap. It was very easy to stitch the casing by removing the extension table. Two rows of stitching around the edge of the flap and those casings were done. There were twelve bags in total.

Using the free arm sewing position to sew a casing in a small gift bag

It was during this process that I had to change the bobbin again. Hmmm, does that make four bobbins? Whenever I’m in a sewing group, I’m amazed at how much groaning goes on when the bobbin runs out. I was expecting to zip through those five bobbins, but I was getting loads done and still had wound bobbins. It’s nice to have those bobbins already wound and ready to go, so I would highly recommend that you do that.

Time to change the bobbin

Joining batting

I had some batting that needed to be joined. This time, I chose the multi-step zigzag (1:06) from the stitch menus.

I set the stitch length to 5.0 and the stitch width to 4.0. In the photo below, you can see that both of them are highlighted meaning the Opal 690Q is no longer set to the default stitch length and width for this particular stitch. If I want to get back to the default setting, I can use the -/+ to increase or decrease the stitch length and width until the highlight box disappears or move to the next stitch and then come back to this one. When you exit a stitch, any changes you made are gone. The Opal 690Q will go back to the default settings whenever you open up a stitch.

Setting up to use the multi-step zigzag

I happened to have my Open Toe Applique foot handy and that’s what I used so I could keep the two edges of the batting in position and still see what I was doing. There’s an even better foot to use for joining. It’s called the Edge Joining Foot. This foot is great because it has a flange in the middle. The flange helps to keep the two edges of the batting lined up to ensure that the multi-step zigzag sits evenly on the two pieces of batting. You can even use the Interchangeable Dual Feed Foot as one of the feet has that center flange to help keep the multi-step zigzag in the middle of the seam.

I’m not sure why I didn’t use this foot, but you can perform this stitch with the Open Toe Applique foot. You just have to be more careful.

I know, you’re thinking that I had to use the Open Toe Applique foot because I couldn’t find either of the other two feet that I’ve mentioned. That is NOT the case. I’m very diligent about returning my accessory feet to that little plastic box that I showed you earlier this week. It’s more like I was in a hurry, and likely had the applique foot there from something else and used that.

Stitching two pieces of batting together with the multi-step zigzag stitch

A couple of tips for getting this seam just right. Ensure that both edges you’re joining are straight. You may need to trim them up if necessary, but you’ll get a much nicer seam if the edges are straight. Make sure the two pieces are feeding through the sewing machine evenly. Don’t let one get stretched as that will cause your batting to be wavy. The feeding mechanism of the Opal 690Q worked like a charm to give me a beautiful flat piece of batting.

A beautiful seam joining two pieces of batting

String Piecing

While it’s been great to get all this work done, none of those projects was using up that bobbin thread and I needed to get through all five bobbins as the week is coming to a close.

The next project I grabbed was a string pieced one. Surely this project will use up a lot of thread.

There are several ways to do string piecing and I’ll get into the how-to’s at another time. In this instance, I used a foundation of muslin to create the base for the block.

Partially completed string pieced quilt blocks

These blocks are not easy to chain piece because you’re stitching on various lengths of fabric. I use the side cutter on the Opal 690Q to cut the thread when I’m finished my seam. It’s very handily located on the left side of the sewing machine and easy to quickly clip those threads and onto the next block.

Using the side cutter to clip the threads

Yes – these blocks were just the thing needed to get through those bobbins. In a very short while, it was time to change the bobbin again.

Time to change the bobbin one more time

Making the string pieced blocks is very easy. Choose the next strip that you’re going to sew on and place it face down on the previous fabric strip. Then sew, press and trim.

I’ll be going into this a bit more (OK – a LOT more) at a later date. Let’s just say that finishing these blocks was an easy and fast way to go through those bobbins.

Sew and flip method to make string pieced blocks

And one more bobbin change for today.

Time to change the bobbin yet again

And there you have it. A really really good way to go through bobbins!

I believe I mentioned that I use four or five bobbins as a measure of when to clean the sewing machine and insert a new needle. While we may “sew” all day, we don’t realize how much of that time is spent cutting, measuring, marking and pressing. The actual sewing time on the sewing machine isn’t as much as we think it is.

It’s taken me several concentrated days of sewing to get through these five bobbins and I’m not done yet!

Stay tuned for one more day of sewing to see what I was able to accomplish with those five bobbins.

All of the projects were easy when I used the Husqvarna Viking Opal 690Q. The variety of machine settings, the Sewing Advisor to help me choose various settings, the vast array of accessory feet made all the jobs easy. And I’m getting many small projects completed and out of the way!

Join me tomorrow as I wrap up this week with the Opal 690Q.

Have a great day!


This is part 4 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 3:  Chain piecing saves time, thread and stretching

Go to part 5: Making a rag quilt

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Pauline Perry October 7, 2016 - 3:28 pm
Thank you for the tutorial on string piecing - I look forward to trying it myself to use up my scraps. Pauline
Elaine Theriault October 10, 2016 - 9:12 am
Pauline - you're most welcome. A super way to use up scraps. Don't forget to send us a photo of your quilt. Elaine
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