Woo hoo! It’s a four day weekend which means hubby gets the kids and I get to spend lots of quality time with my sewing machine!
It’s the perfect kind of time to get lost in machine quiting. To “warm up,” I decided to quit a top I made one weekend in January. I had been wanting to make something contemporary and cute, like all the other girls in blog-land. I ordered some fabrics online, but was underwhelmed when I got them. They just didn’t go together as well in real life as they did as little thumbnails online. Instead of investing much time in a more complicated top, I just cut them into strips and sewed the strips together. It’s not a bad quilt, it just didn’t scratch the itch I had. I should have known — I was never really part of the in-crowd in high school either. Anyhoo, the quilt was a good opportunity to do some stress-free machine quilting.
I used the poly batting leftover from the trapunto I did on the big blue quilt. I’ve become somewhat of a cotton purist in the last decade, but it’s sometimes nice to go back to old, or different, ways to get one’s bearings. This batting is Cotton Dream Puff, and boy, is it ever puffy! On the positive side, it’s light as a feather and easy to cram through my sewing machine. And, contrary to my previous experiences, this one “sticks” to the cotton quilt back and top for less shift while basting or quilting. (I’m a firm believer in safety pin basting. No sprays or fusibles for me.) On the down side — I, personally, am not a big fan of puffy (although I am willing to concede that others may like the puff and that’s just fine).
Moving on from the warm-up, I am now almost done with the school project. I used my standard Warm and Natural cotton batting. After the Dream Puff, it felt heavier, but I readjusted quickly enough. Since this is a group project, I did not have total control over all parts. The donated backing is not 100% cotton. In fact, it may be 0% cotton, although it looks nice an cottony. It frays into soft wisps on the edges. What I really noticed though was that the batting did not stick to it when I basted the quilt. Yikes — this could lead to pucker potential on the backside. I overcompensated by using lots of pins. I gotta say though, now that I am quilting it, the acetate, or poly, or whatever fiber it is, positively glides across my sewing machine bed!! I imagine this fiber could be a pain in the you-know-what if hand quilting, but for machine quilting, I think it’s worth the extra pins — and I’ve had no puckers.
Thread-wise, I used up a few partial spools on the aqua quilt. YLI 40 weight variegated cotton, with Superior Masterpieces (cotton) in the bobbin. Not bad. One spool was a Sulky rayon, which felt much smoother going through the machine (if that’s possible to feel). I had to go shopping for the school quilt since I didn’t have a whole spool of anything suitable. At the shop, I found both a Superior King Tut (cotton) and a Superior Rainbows (rayon) I liked. I had a brain fart and thought that it was Rainbows that I liked at home (not Sulky) so I bought it over my usual King Tut preference. Guess what? I really like it. I’m using Bottom Line (poly) in the bobbin (because it’s what I had in the right color) and have had more breakage than with the Masterpieces, but I think it may have been user error.
As for needles, I used the same Microtex size 80 for both quilts and all the threads. I love these needles. One of the ladies at Quilted Chaos last week talked about using a Topstitch needle to solve problems she was having with skipped stitches. I had not even thought about that as a possible solution since I’ve been using the Microtex (once I find a solution to something, I tend not to stray — hence this weekend’s surprise at the workability of what I previously thought were no-goes). I think the needles’ sharpness allows for a smaller needle size without sacrificing stitch quality. That said, I swear by Topstitch needles when using metallic thread.
This weekend’s realizations: Puffy is puffy, don’t discount non-cotton fabrics, Superior makes nice thread, and Microtex needles rock. Just my two cents worth.