More Ruler Work Woes

I wrote in January that I was having problems with ruler quilting on the tumbling blocks mini.

Fabric bunched up in front of the ruler foot
Ruler foot problems 1

At that time the problem was pressor foot pressure — try as I might, I was unable to get the pressor foot to lift enough to allow the quilt sandwich to move. I was using MonoPoly in the needle and Invisafil in the bobbin and it’s possible that tension issues might have contributed (although I had used those same threads with the walking foot quilting and had no problem at all).

Today I was quilting En Bourgogne and decided to try some ruler work on the B blocks. This time I am using Gütermann polyester in both needle and bobbin. I made a test run at the edge of the batting and the foot moved easily — I didn’t take a photo, unfortunately, and I pulled out the thread before starting on the quilt itself. Confident that the previous problem had resolved, I made a start on one of the blocks in the middle of the quilt. The result was … not good.

Ruler work tension issue - June 2019
Ruler work tension issue – June 2019

(Please click through to see the large photo)

Apart from the issue of moving the quilt while keeping the ruler still (which caused uneven stitching) and the extreme difficulty in getting the foot over seam allowances, the tension was way off — the bobbin thread was being pulled right through to the top. And yes, I double-checked that the pressor foot was down while I was quilting (it’s not easy to tell with the ruler foot). I’m pretty sure that I’m using the correct option within the ruler work menu — it’s a thin cotton batting with not much puffiness, as you can see from the walking foot lines I quilted earlier.

Ruler work setting
Ruler work setting

Has anyone had similar issues with the Janome 9400 or 9450?

I’d take it back to the shop where I had the upgrade installed, but they’ve moved since January and, while the technicians are the same, all the front staff have changed and I’m not confident that there is anyone there who has actually used this machine.

Advertisements

Oh dear

This morning I decided to finish off the two laundry bags I had started last Friday before I take the Janome Combi 10 in for servicing. That accomplished I thought I’d start on the remaining two bags — but when I went to fill a bobbin with the new colour I noticed that the thread platform was bent in, and it broke on one side when I straightened it. It was subtle enough that I didn’t notice when taking a photo of the machine the other night, only when I stood over it to put the bobbin on the winder.

Combi thread holder - bent in
Combi thread holder – bent in
Combi thread holder - broken
Combi thread holder – broken

Then I remembered that the tote had tipped over while I was wheeling it in from the car to my friend’s house last Friday — it had caught on the kerb, my hand slipped off the handle and it fell. I always place my machines with the motor as close to the centre of the tote as possible, and obviously the thread platform took the brunt of the impact against the handle. It’s quite possible that the actual overlocker mechanism was also jarred out of alignment.

I guess I’m lucky that the sewing side is unaffected — but the machine is definitely going to the shop to be checked.

I could get out the MyLock overlocker and use that on the long seams, but as I’ve stated before it’s an absolute bitch to thread and the last time I tried I couldn’t get it to make a decent stitch. For now the pinking blade is working and I’ll stick to that (and even though the blades are nearly twice the cost of the straight blades they are still a lot cheaper than a new machine).

Sewing Day (Three Lucky Saves And A Final Snag)

[Note: all photos were taken here at home, not at Sue’s]

Every month on the fourth Friday I go up to see my friend Sue and we work on projects for Aussie Hero Quilts. Occasionally other people turn up but usually it’s just Sue and me.

I was lucky I made it yesterday — for some reason I had it stuck in my head that 24th May was next week. On Thursday night I was lying in bed, reading (as I usually do before going to sleep) when I suddenly realised that in fact 24th was the next day — and I hadn’t got anything ready! Not only that, but my alarm was set for 0930, which is a great time to wake up if you are retired and the only thing you have to do in business hours is go to the farmers’ market, but not a good time if you have to be at the other end of the city by 1000.

Laundry Bag kits May 2019
Laundry Bag kits May 2019

I got up, reset the alarm to 0730 and made a short list of what I had to get ready in the morning. Second lucky chance — I had cut a dozen laundry bag kits a couple of weeks ago after I had finished the oriental stained glass blocks, so in the morning, after I’d dragged myself out of bed, fed the cats and fortified myself with some coffee, I picked out four kits and set them aside. I also fused some web to a length of white poplin to use as write-on labels. My travelling notions container was scrutinised — threads were swapped to match the bag colours, plastic bobbins were swapped out for steel, and then all I had to do was load the machine into the wheeled tote.

Janome Combi 10 overlocker
Janome Combi 10 overlocker

My choice of machine for laundry bags is the Janome Combi 10 which is very solid and very fast. I don’t have a quarter-inch foot for her but that doesn’t matter with laundry bags, and the bonus is the two-thread overlocker on the other side which I use to finish off all those long seams (I know some people don’t bother, but it worries me to have an unfinished seam that isn’t stitched down in some manner).

Anyway, having arrived at Sue’s place and set up my working space, I started on the bags. Zig-zag stitch on the white labels went very well, and so did preparing the casement (cord channel) and attaching the two parts of the first bag. When I came to overlock that seam, however, the machine made a horrible clattering noise. I checked the workings but couldn’t see anything amiss, and when I hand-cranked it all I could hear was the knife cutting through the fabric. As soon as the pedal was depressed the noise came back so the machine is going to have to go in for a service (it’s been about two and a half years since the last one, so I can’t really complain). Bummer.

Pinking Blade
Pinking Blade

Here’s the third bit of luck — the rotary cutter with the pinking blade was still in the notions container. I don’t usually carry it around but I had put it in the container earlier in the month for a sewing day in Sydney, and since everything else I needed fitted around it I hadn’t taken it out. That meant I was able to use it to pink the edges of the long seams on the bag and its lining, and everything went swimmingly until I attempted to put all three parts together.

Unfortunately, I then hit another snag. I’d prepared the casements as I usually do: cutting off the selvedges, turning the edge twice and stitching it down. What I hadn’t done was check the width of the casement fabric against the width of my feature fabric … yes, you guessed it, the casement fabric was 4 cm longer than the feature fabric, and the casement itself was actually a smidgeon wider than the stitched bag.

Casement width
Casement width

Some days you just know the universe is against you.

I decided to call it quits and come home — I’ll get around to fixing the casement and finishing the bags later on this weekend.

Brrr!!

It’s definitely getting colder. I haven’t been able to bring myself to put the heaters on yet (much as I would like to) because the thermometer says it’s still 20° C in the living room — and yes, that’s probably making most of you laugh but I’m a thin-blooded Aussie and anything under 23° has me thinking wistfully about woolly pullies and fluffy slippers.

The cats are also feeling the cold, and while I can tell myself to tough it out (or put on a cardigan) I don’t want them to suffer, so I brought out the heating pads and set them up a couple of nights ago. They both love the heat and have spent most of the time since then sleeping in their new warm spots. They didn’t appreciate me waking them last night to take photos and expressed themselves in their own unique ways:

Vanima on heating pad
Vanima: “Oh, take a picture if you absolutely must, but you’ll have to be content with my right profile.”
Verya on heating pad
Verya: “What are you doing, you stupid human? I’m trying to sleep here!”

I’ve completed my latest Aussie Heroes quilt and used the new Accufeed HP2 foot on the Janome 9400 for the binding. I made the happy discovery that aligning the left tongue of the foot on the edge of the binding gives me a perfect 1 mm space between the edge and the stitching line. Previously I used the walking foot that came with the machine (AD) but it’s very wide and I was never able to keep it precisely in line.

Binding in progress using HP2 foot
Binding in progress using HP2 foot
Completed binding
Completed binding

I also reverted to pinning the binding rather than using Wonder Clips, which I have found to be too easily knocked out of alignment, dragging the binding with them — I did try using washable glue between or under the clips a few times but that didn’t help much and was even more time-consuming (as well as messy). Pinning may be old-fashioned but it’s much more secure.

Free-motion quilted gum leaves
Free-motion quilted gum leaves

I also continued to work on my FMQ eucalyptus leaves — I’ve done them on a few quilts now and they’re getting better but could still use some improvement. I’ve given up on the gumnuts for the time being as I couldn’t get them to look as neat as the leaves but I’ll get back to them when I have a bit more confidence.

2 kg plastic-covered hex weights
2 kg plastic-covered hex weights

Today I finally got around to visiting the sporting goods store and bought two 2 kg weights to use with my rulers. I had been using books (of which I have many) but they are awkward to keep picking up / putting down and the dust jackets were starting to suffer, so they can go back to the bookcase now and be safe.

April Achievements and May goals

I missed my usual retrospective post around the 21st of the month — the post itself has been drafted for a while, but the quilt I’m talking about was sold long ago and the only photos I have are prints from film, so I need to get the scanner working in order to have digitised images for the blog. I’m an Olympic-level procrastinator so it hasn’t happened yet … maybe next month.

Apart from that, though, I’ve been very productive.

AHQ goal: One quilt and one laundry bag. Almost done. I’ve finished the quilt and I’m working on the laundry bag — I don’t anticipate any problems in having them in the post by 06 May.

Personal goal: make the last two Hawaiian appliqué blocks. Not done. Now that I’ve found my bottle of fabric stiffener, however, they might just get done in the next few weeks.

En Bourgogne borders
En Bourgogne borders

FAL goal: Attach borders to En Bourgogne. Done. I’ve attached the two borders, basted it (with the help of my friend Sue) and started the quilting. I’m doing straight diagonals first, and then I’ll add some FMQ later on, just to ensure that every piece is quilted. It’s a large quilt, and the batting is a little denser than I had expected and not very easy to shift around so it’s slow going.

En Bourgogne being quilted
En Bourgogne being quilted

Additional work:

Shiny squirrel attack! The Sunday before Easter I had a rush of blood to the head and made up some stained glass blocks while I was watching the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs (North American ice hockey, for those who don’t follow it) — once I got into a production line it was so fast that I decided to complete the lot over the next few days. There are 15 A blocks and 15 B blocks:

Oriental Stained Glass Blocks B & A
Oriental Stained Glass Blocks B & A

I still need to assemble the blocks and attach the border to the top and right side, but I’ll leave that until next week or the week after.

I also went up to see Jan-Maree just before Easter (she’s doing very well) and helped her to sew two tops for recipients. I discovered that I have been spoiled by my Janome 9400 — I didn’t want to take it up to Sydney (it’s very heavy) so I took my little Pfaff Passport 2.0 instead. Unfortunately the Pfaff doesn’t remind me to check the pressor foot so I managed to break two needles by trying to stitch zigzag on a straight-stitch foot. Luckily the machine continued to work but I think I’ll take it in for a service before it’s used again.

I haven’t done much hand work at all — my wrists and thumbs are recovering (slowly) from the overuse I subjected them to in March, but it will be a few more weeks before I can do more than half an hour of piecing at a time. I’m hoping that hand-quilting will be a different enough movement that it won’t aggravate them, but we’ll see. The weather is definitely cooling down at night so quilting season will be here soon and I want to get started on Pentastic (the quilt in the header).

May goals:
1. AHQ: Four laundry bags for Townsville.
2. Personal: Assemble the Oriental Stained Glass top.
3. FAL: Finish the quilting on En Bourgogne.

Machine musings

Janome 9400 back from the repair shop 27 March 2019
Janome 9400 QCP

I got my machine back on Tuesday afternoon (having taken it in on Monday morning) — great service. The bobbin timing had been knocked out, which isn’t surprising, and they had to replace the bobbin holder.

I thought that the crash had come out of the blue, but as I was stitching down the binding on the quilt last night I noted that the serpentine stitch in the border had a lot of stitches missing at the right hand edge of the design, so obviously there was a pre-existing timing problem that I hadn’t noticed. I had to unpick it all, of course, which took a couple of hours, and I’m not sure if it’s worth replacing, since the whole point of the serpentine stitch was to hold the border in place while I attached the binding, and the binding is now in place. (The border is only an inch wide — I only added it because I hate attaching a binding to an edge that has multiple seams.)

Pfaff Passport 2.0 attempting quilting 26 March 2019
Pfaff Passport 2.0

I found that while the Pfaff Passport 2.0 is great for piecing and appliqué (it did all the hearts at the weekend) it’s not so good at quilting. Even with the Integrated Dual Feed in place I was getting a lot of drag on the top layer of this quilt, so unpicking that is this evening’s task. I’m not fussed that it can’t do quilting, actually — it’s a small machine and it’s perfect for taking to sewing days and retreats so I’m still very happy that I bought it. Besides, I have several other machines I can turn to for quilting if the 9400 is out of commission, like the Janome Combi 10 which I used for the binding on the other quilt.

Janome Combi 10 27 March 2019
Janome Combi 10

Healing Hearts for Christchurch

Helen Thomas at Angels in Gumboots is coordinating a drive for heart blocks to make quilts for the families affected by the shooting ten days ago. I grabbed a bunch of green fabrics and made up 15 appliqué blocks over the weekend. They’ll go into the post tomorrow or Wednesday. If you are interested in contributing, the info is here.

Heart blocks for Christchurch
Heart blocks for Christchurch

In other news, my Janome 9400 pitched a fit last night while I was quilting a border and has gone in for repairs. I don’t know exactly how it happened but the bobbin holder was pulled right out of its position and had a gouge out of one side (the needle, strangely enough, remained intact). I was doing a serpentine stitch at the time and none of my other Janomes has the same stitch which is annoying. The Pfaff has one that is similar but not identical, so I’ll use that and hope that the recipient doesn’t mind that one border isn’t quite the same.