Yes, I’m going to “fess” up……. I recently powered through 11 quilts for the BIG QUILT BEE (previous blog post about this and read more here if you missed hearing about this) and as I quilted away I was pondering……… the thought did occur to me that I might be rich if I had a $ for every time someone tells me they have been sewing for 40+ years and they know how to thread their machine; or wind their bobbin, etc……guess what……… I fell into the exact same trap!!!
Confession time: I noticed my tension seemed to be a bit off – the top thread was showing a little on the back of the quilt.
- I rethreaded & it was much the same.
- I checked the bobbin – no difference either.
- I adjusted needle thread tension and it did improve somewhat but I was still not 100% happy. In my head, I’m blaming the thread………. or maybe I’m so fixated on the task at hand that I’m just not thinking at all??!!
- I continue on and suddenly it hits me between the eyes…..what is that small “pop pop” sound I hear as I sew. Yes, you guessed right: NEEDLE!! I stopped, took it out and inserted a brand new needle. There I had been so very determined to get all these quilts done/quilted that I had simply forgotten to pay attention to the matter of the needle. It was rather blunt to say the least. I do confess I forgot to change the needle. Guess what happened when I started sewing with the new needle? No more “popping” sound which is the blunt needle piercing the fabric sandwich …….Perfect tension was restored.
- Gotta tell you that I used a variety of threads – all 100% cotton and all 50wt – so the regular weight cotton for piecing & quilting. To save myself headaches (do you do this? This is not a confession….just simple, honest good sense), I often wind bobbins with the same thread as in the needle. Just makes life easier and in the “old days” when people quilted by hand, there was no choice – the top & bottom thread were the same thread!
- I got lint & fluff forming during all that quilting. There is nothing wrong with this……it is the nature of 100% cotton. Some cotton threads create less “fuzz” than others. I’m not going to go into which ones I used. You will soon discover for yourself which ones produce less lint than others and those will, in all likelihood, become your favourites – just like I have my favourites. Less lint & fluff = better quality thread. This is not a blog post about thread manufacture but if a good quality long staple cotton is used in the manufacturing process, less lint is the sewing/quilting result. You may end up paying more money for these better quality threads but, in my opinion, it is better for my project and my machine. So what is the confession here? Again I was so focussed on powering through the quilting that I did not stop to “de-fluff” my machine: take a brush and clean away all the fluff around the needle bar and needle threader area as well as in & under the bobbin case. Take a look at just one of the blobs of fluff I cleared out when I finally woke up to the fact that my machine needed to be cleaned!
Also gotta tell you that I am totally in love with the Acufeed Flex (walking foot) system on the JANOME Horizon 9400. I was grid quilting these BQB quilts to get the job done as quickly as possible. It truly is amazing: it feeds the layers of fabric from top & bottom so efficiently that everything stayed where it was supposed to be and generally made my job so pleasant & easy. I totally love it when that happens.
I used a serpentine stitch – see pic above with the blob of fluff – the serpentine stitch shows well there. I was using a subtle variegated thread. (On the Janome Horizon 9400 it is stitch # 20 but this stitch is also available on many of our other models. Look for this little pictogram on your thread chart and try it out. I made no changes to SW and SL – just stitched the default setting. Brilliant. It was quick, not fussy, and I did not have to concentrate on staying exactly in the ditch as I would have to with a straight stitch (confession – this is hard to do when power quilting at speed!)…….and it is not boring – It is pretty and functional.
Acufeed Flex is available on the following Janome machine models: Janome MC15000; MC12000; Horizon 8900 and Horizon 8900 Special Edition; Horizon 8200; Horizon 8200 Special Edition; Skyline S7; Skyline S9; and the Janome Horizon 9400 as already mentioned). Check out these Janome machine models on the website.