Ziggy / Bowie – another sneaky finish

I’m not sure I like this quilt still but it has been improved since the top finish. I think the face looks wonky? I took off some excess in the end and pieced a back with a rainbow effect. Cindy suggested if I didn’t like it maybe I should add some colour to define the lightning bolt a bit more, so I used some tulle so the patterns underneath would still just about show through. I think does improve it. Ah well, it’s finished, and I like the back so I may use this quilt upside down.

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The quilting is a Leah Day design called Matrix and is black Aurifil (mostly) and bottom line thread. This was the project I was struggling over, but after I snip some of the loose threads all should now be OK for the Festival of Quilts. Not sure the clientele will “get” this though!

The back…

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STATS
Size – 72″ x 80″
Number of blocks – 36x  12″ (plus a couple of extra rows)
Time to piece – 10 hours including applique
Time to quilt – 4 hours
Fabric –  Scraps, Kona black and tulle from eBay
Backing Fabric – Ikea print plus misc scraps
Binding Fabric – Same Ikea print, using facings technique.
Threads – Aurifil for piecing (white) plus black for quilting with ecru The Bottom Line in the bobbin
Batting – 80/20 Soft and Elegant.
Quilting- Matrix

And of course there was a spectator…

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Sneaking in with a last minute finish along entry from the Q2 list in bonus week!

Finish Along 2014

 

Random Thursday – why my OH is better than Ryan Gosling

Two things he has said to me this week that affirms I’m marrying the right person….

“Is it OK to use fabric scissors on this foam?” – thanks for checking and knowing that they’re not ‘just scissors’!

Last night – “You’ve had a really productive day on that quilt.” – I didn’t do anything at all around the house, paid work in any form or anything useful at all yesterday, unless buying a loo brush from Ikea counts. I didn’t even help cook at any point, and that wasn’t even said in a sarcastic tone either before you ask!

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And hopefully he will put these away for me while I’m out today (yeah he does that too sometimes) hint hint (yes he reads this blog).

Don’t forget he did my dress photos for me last weekend too ;)

Linking up…

Christmas in July fabric giveaway

As it’s a beautiful day today, what could be more oddly timed than a giveaway of Christmas fabrics? ;)

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I’m working on a secret Christmas quilt- and I don’t really do Christmas quilts, but I have these three fat quarters left over from the 25th and Pine range by Basic Grey that I’m sure someone can put to good use. All you need to do is leave a comment to enter, one entry each, International entries welcome and no jumping through hoops :)

I’ll close entries when I draw the winner, which will be Sunday evening sometime (GMT).

Husqvarna Viking Sapphire 875Q Review

I think it’s fair to say this machine has had a thorough testing since I have now had it for 6 months, so I thought I’d summarise good points and bad, then go into a bit more detail.

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PROS
Great price for the harp space size and features
Can wind the bobbin from the needle
Lots of stitch options for enlarging to use as quilting stitches, also basting mode, one step buttonholes and programmable alphabet!
Automatic tie-off
Automatic presser foot pressure works well

NEUTRAL
Thread cutter
No lever to put the foot down
Bobbin thread warning
Since buying the machine have been warned off and found negative reviews, however these issues haven’t affected me

CONS
Tension presets- sometimes manual control is better
Floating FMQ mode is not worth the effort – you WILL need the spring motion and darning foot combo
Extension table shape and blocks access to the bobbin
Quarter inch foot needs to have needle adjusted for true 1/4″ seam
Special bobbins
No dual feed without purchasing expensive walking foot
Scary incident where it melted the bulb socket
Occasionally skips the first few stitches if the needle needs replacing, which it does quite often.

 

PROS – in detail.
I’d previously had a Pfaff Expression 2, so I knew I had to have the same length arm or longer for my next machine and the reason for upgrading was I wanted more features but also I wanted to avoid problems I was having. I chose the Sapphire 875Q because it was in my price range, had lots of features and the only reviews I found were positive. Along with the long arm, it also has an additional bulb to illuminate as you sew which is very good.

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A brilliant time saver is that you can wind the bobbin from the needle. If matching the top thread to the bobbin this is so simple, you just pull it up fro the needle onto the bobbin winding bit and wind on as usual.

There are lots of stitch options for decorative purposes, one of my favourites is the wave shape one which I made extra large and used to quilt my goldfish bowl mini. It also has a basting mode, one step buttonholes and programmable alphabet, though I’ve not really used the latter since the day I got the machine. It might come in handy though! Plus there are three styles to choose from, including a cursive.

The automatic tie-off is the best feature. I never really got the “fix” facility on the Pfaff machine, but it’s a simple thing on the Viking, there’s a button for it right smack bang on the front of the machine near the needle and foot up/down buttons, plus you can set it in the menu to always tie off at the beginning like I have.

The presser foot adjusts itself to match whatever is being pushed through, so if it suddenly has to sew very close to a button, piping, etc, the foot will lift itself up and keep going. Generally speaking it has a nice straight stitch, it’s definitely a great piecing machine.

 

NEUTRAL POINTS – in detail
There are some things which are neither great nor real problems, the first of which to mention is the thread cutter. It works excellently most of the time and would have made my pros list if it hadn’t stopped cutting the bottom thread this weekend. I’m not entirely sure why this is, but as it’s a feature I feel like I can’t live without now, I will have to put it in for a warranty repair soon which is a bit of a bummer.

There is no lever to put the foot down. Yes that is right. There is a button you can use to manually lift the foot, but when you put pressure on the pedal it automatically goes down anyway which is GREAT for idiots like me who forget to put the foot down all the time, but it does take a little getting used to and it means that when you hop on a different machine you end up sewing with the foot up ALL THE TIME as most machines don’t have this.

The bobbin thread warning is very handy but it’s a bit premature. A warning comes on the screen, and if you press OK it will keep coming up every 2-3 stitches (if you ignore it you can keep going). I find I can usually get another 60″ out of a bobbin when the warning comes on, but then, what is the right amount of thread to be left with to be warned? I guess it needs to give you enough notice so you can get to a good place to stop if quilting especially.

Since buying the machine, people have shared their experiences, told me not to buy it (too late!) and found negative reviews online eventually, however these issues haven’t affected me, either at all or to many great extent, so I think these may be issues of older machines with the same model number. I’m hoping they have been addressed anyway, but in the interest of fairness, here are two blogposts for you to read…

http://quiltova.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/husvarna-viking-sapphire-875-quilt.html
http://mommyforreals.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/an-open-letter-to-husqvarna-viking.html

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CONS – in detail
Tension presets…. Mostly they work, if you remember to use medium for piecing and heavy for quilting but some combinations of specialist threads, etc need a bit of tweaking and that’s when the good old-fashioned dial on the top would come in handy. However, the Viking puts in what it thinks you want, which of course it not the same thing as what settings you actually want. You can adjust it in the menu but if you switch the machine off you have to program it right back in again. Luckily I’ve only had real problems with that in floating FMQ mode. More on that later. If I used lots of decorative threads this may become a problem, but I don’t so I can’t really vouch for that. It does OK with monofilament though.

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Onto the floating FMQ mode then. Just don’t bother. You see that foot up there? Lose it in the back of a drawer if you like. You will absolutely want to use the spring motion mode for quilting, and you will want a darning foot, no question. A couple of posts before this explain some of the problems I’ve had with this and they were all fixed by putting it into that mode once I had my darning foot back. The tension is truly horrible otherwise. So much so that I actually had to put back the bobbin tension that I changed down once I put the real deal back on as it was correct in the first place. You do have to purchase this foot as an extra though.

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Another optional extra- the extension table- is nice to have but can be a bit awkward when quilting. When moving the weight of the quilt towards you, it can creep round the back along the right hand side and get wedged between the machine and the table and then move the table out of position so you end up having to readjust it quite a bit and there’s lots of starting and stopping. I’ve heard reports of the legs snapping as well but thankfully that hasn’t happened with mine despite the weight that gets put on it or the puppy biting at them when I’ve removed it to sew sleeves or somesuch. Another annoying thing is the bobbin cover has to be pulled off from the front forward, so this extension table actually gets in the way when you want to replace a bobbin partway through quilting. It can be worked around but it’s a bit irritating and I know that it doesn’t have to be that way as other manufacturer’s position their “flaps” in ways where this wouldn’t happen.

The quarter inch foot (optional extra!) isn’t accurate- it needs to have needle adjusted for a true 1/4″ seam. I’ve found it’s slightly too big, and I think one notch to the right seems to do the trick, though I have experimented with two. You need to remember to set this every time you piece. I remember my Pfaff was less accurate though by a lot more so it’s actually an improvement for me!

Special bobbins – the bobbins are a special size and generic ones do not fit. This means you have to be careful if you purchase extras, but for me the thing that annoys me is winding the bobbins on. I wanted to use my cheapy Aldi machine as a glorified bobbin winder (the bobbin is a different thread to the top on my latest project, hence not doing it via the needle) but they physically cannot fit onto the winding pin so you have to do it on the correct machine. It also means you can’t buy prewound bobbins, such as the Bottom Line SuperBobs, and I quite fancy trying those.

There’s no dual feed facility like my Pfaff had. That had their IDT technology which is like having a walking foot built in. If you want a walking foot, the additional spend will take you back around £50-60! I haven’t felt like I need one, but some people absolutely swear by them.

A few weeks into getting my machine, the bulb blew. This was weird because it was new and I’d never changed a bulb on any machine before. I duly changed it with the one in the box and half an hour later it literally exploded in the socket. After picking out the bits, and buying a new one, it just wouldn’t fit and I had to send it back for repair as the socket seemed to have melted. It got fixed and everything but I wasn’t expecting that and this is where it got the nickname “Smoky” (my Aldi machine is called “Smelly” but that’s a story for another day). There were no problems after that. You can’t take the top panel off very easily at all, there are lots of hidden screws with silly shape heads so they really don’t want you to open the top and take a look. I would have found this very useful when sorting out the bulb issue and taking photos for repair, but also it would help if bits of thread get stuck in the take up lever.

Lastly, it occasionally skips the first few stitches, which can normally be fixed by replacing the needle. It does prefer to have new needles more often than any other machine I’ve ever known, so you may need to change it half way through piecing a larger project and again halfway through quilting it, depending on the complexity.

CONCLUSION
There appears to be a longer problem list, but really, the positives are not equal in importance so I am very happy with this machine when all is working as it should. It’s easier to talk about things that have been problems, and it takes less words to say that something works well, or as it should. I’ve found that newer electronic machines as a whole have more quirks such as specific thread preferences, more feature and therefore more things to go wrong and more demand for servicing than the more basic, older or non-computerised machines, so to some extent it is only as awkward as its peers.

Dress Done

I finally got round to making the final adjustments on my Bike Path dress, and then we took some stupid pictures :)

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I actually finished something from this quarter’s list! *jumps for joy*

Finish Along 2014

Well, that didn’t work.

My thread is still snapping but the tension of the stitches looks perfect….

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I checked that the top thread unrolled the right way (Dianne- yes the thread comes off the spool at the front as you say it should, which I’d call clockwise now after all that- the Aurifil does still go the weird way round for this, which seems odd but there you go). I asked the thread if it would rather go vertically on the pin (it didn’t). I rethreaded both threads, and put a new needle in. I even changed the bobbin over for a different one as suggested by Leanne.

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I also checked the stitch plate for burrs by putting a loose bit of the cotton through the plate and rubbing it around the edges. It seemed fine but I moved back to my standard plate anyway, JUST IN CASE.

I’m at a loss, I really don’t want to move the bobbin tension back as the stitches look great now, and I was having the snapping issue before I changed that. I’ve already switched over to Aurifil on the top as I was previously using Coats but having the same problems. I slackened off the top tension a notch or two as well and discovered some trapped thread in the tensioner which I cleared out. The problem seems to be occurring when I reverse stitch most often- does that mean anything to anyone?

Sorry for the moan, I guess I’ll have to wait for a few days and get on with something else, it’s so infuriating. I could probably do with removing the top and seeing if there’s anything else stuck in there that shouldn’t be but it’s like a fortress! I’d practically have to take the entire front off- no easy access top hatch for me. Reminds me a bit of certain manufacturers of cars that make it near impossible to change a headlamp by making everything so inaccessible you have to go to a dealer for the simplest of jobs.

And I might end up there next week if this continues, I don’t really have time for this though as the entries for Festival need to be in by mid July.

***

In the meantime, I have projects in the July editions of Sewing World and Popular Patchwork, the first was out last week, and PP is out tomorrow.

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Tension

I’ve had a few issues with the tension on my Husqvarna lately, a repeat of the problems I had when I very first got the machine. In floating FMQ mode when quilting the washi tape quilt, the top thread was frequently visible on the back. Problem is, the machine automatically sets the tension depending on the stitch and the fabric type you tell it you are using. I almost remedied this by tightening the top tension and using a thicker needle, but I have to dial up the tension from 4.6 to 7 every time I switch the machine on which seems a bit too much, and definitely not a “slight” adjustment.

I was going to buy a new bobbin holder and have one for piecing and an adjusted tension one for quilting, but then it continued to have a problem when I moved onto piecing. Even with the feed dogs back up and the material set back from from heavy to medium, the stitches weren’t as defined on the back.

I’m now quilting the Bowie quilt and I really couldn’t have this happening again with the bottom thread being ecru and the top being black, so I decided to give it another clean and slacken off the bobbin tension by a quarter of a turn…

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Looks fine except for the odd blip…. BUT

The top thread (Aurifil- bottom thread is Bottom Line, only quality threads as it’s a show quilt) keeps snapping. I’ve read up on this and it suggests stitch plate issues (but I just put on my brand new straight stitch plate, still I’ll swap it back over and see if it helps) or that the bobbin thread is too tight.

Since it was too tight before and I slackened it, I’m a bit puzzled- I turned the tensioner a quarter turn to the left- lefty loosey, righty tighty, right?

So next job is to re-thread the machine, change the stitch plate back and put a new needle in, just in case there’s a burr in the eye that is splitting the thread. The second thing to try is switching it from floating FMQ to spring motion FMQ and see whether the foot doesn’t mind that mode. If that doesn’t work then I guess I’m changing the tension back again. Why do machines have to be so temperamental? Anyone else dare to touch the bobbin tension?

Also I’ve just switched my spool around as it’s supposed to unwind anti-clockwise. It looks wrong to me but we’ll give it a go.

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I may just wait for the weekend and use my darning foot with spring motion when Wendy has finished with it and get one with something else in the meantime (it’s not like I don’t have a ton of other stuff I could be doing)- I seem to remember when I bought that foot , all of these quilting tension issues disappeared…

Anyone else with a Viking machine had noticeable variations in stitch quality between spring motion and floating modes?

A finish: Washi Tape Quilt

Ooh that was quite a big pause in posts for me! I have been doing quite a bit, and have a finish to post up today, albeit not one from my finish along list…. Still got to finish the things that pay the bills first, right?

So here is my Washi Tape quilt…

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I forgot to photograph the back, but it’s not that exciting, it’s just a large brown floral that I got from the fabric guild.

STATS
Size – 40″ x 50″
Number of blocks – 20x  10″
Time to piece – 4 hours
Time to quilt – 2 hours
Fabric –  Kona School Bus, Klona White, Zen Chic Barcelona F8 bundle with a lot left over!
Backing Fabric – Brown and orange large print floral (no details in selvedge)
Binding Fabric – Same as backing fabric, using facings technique.
Threads – White Aurifil throughout.
Batting – 80/20 Soft and Elegant.
Quilting- Matchstick quilting along vertical and horizontal features. 8″ between the clusters, but that’s OK because Soft and Elegant can go up to 10″ apart.

It’s a nice easy make, just finishing up the instructions and I’m sending it off for publishing. Next job is to finish quilting the Bowie quilt- the challenge will be seeing if I actually finish it up this week in order to have at least one finish along finish this quarter.

Don’t know if you can tell, but I got myself that new camera (The Fuji HS50), I’ve been having fun testing it out, the dynamic range “EXR” facility is wonderful, I keep it on all the time. There’s very little noise in the darker pictures and the review screen (and most importantly the auto focus) is pin sharp. I’m very pleased with it!

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I’m going to eat that flower….

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Onto secret project number 2…

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Sausage Puppy

Our neighbours from next door but one have been checking in with Hank for the last three weeks whilst we have been at work. The penultimate day was particularly eventful after I let him have a pigs trotter the day before. We had been paying them but I wanted to give them a gift. Apparently they don’t drink (say what?!) but they do have a 6 month old daughter. Enter the sausage puppy!

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The pattern for this is from issue 8 of Love Patchwork and Quilting :) Apparently it is wicked!

WIP Wednesday

I’m still here, I’m still reading blogs daily and I’m still sewing :)

I’m currently working on something secret. I totally hate that as I’m rubbish with secrets. It’s using the new Rustique collection that isn’t even out yet, how lucky am I?

Hopefully I will get a bit of time doing more on it tonight as our TV went back to the shop under warranty and we’re waiting for a replacement to come tomorrow. It’s quite refreshing having no TV. Sadly it does mean I’ve discovered Arrested Development on Netflix…

Linking up…

I have another stack of FQs that need to be sewn into something, a quilt to baste and my Bowie quilt needs finishing for FoQ so some finishes need to start happening soon. I started quilting Bowie with wobbly lines but I’m currently using my floating foot instead of my darning foot, not sure if that is causing any problems but the thread is snapping frequently so I have ordered some Aurifil from Cindy to see if it behaves better. Up until now I’ve been using Coats Moon as a top thread which I use for piecing all the time. It’s on hold til that arrives.

Gwen has been protective of Hank today, which is unexpected. A big labrador called Toby who used to give Fletcher grief came running over and she got really nasty thinking he was going to try his usual tricks on Hank. Turns out after I let him off his lead he was worse! Here she is (blurry sorry) thinking she might like to sit in the puppy enclosure instead of her own bed this morning…

 

P.S. Camera seems to work again!