Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Floss Your Bobbin!

I was cleaning out my bobbin case and it reminded me of a couple tips for all my free motion quilting friends. Actually, this applies to all sewing machine users and technically, I have a bobbin holder, since my machine is a top loading machine.

I love my top loading machines for ease of use and easily seen bobbin. I hate running out of bobbin thread! But one drawback is that the groove that creates the bobbin tension can be difficult to clean.

Most sewing machine owners know that keeping your machine clean and lubricated extends the life of a machine, keeps tension troubles at bay, and keeps the noise down, but did you know that much like teeth, you can floss your machine? If you've ever watched me demo the proper way to thread a machine I often talk about using two hands like flossing teeth. But flossing the bobbin case is another trick I've picked up over the years.

Getting lint built up in these grooves can really mess with getting good tension on your machine. Here's a video on cleaning these spots:


Make sure you have a good brush to clean the lint out of the bobbin area. One should have come with your machine. You can also get these at any sewing center or place with a good selection of notions.

See the bit of lint I teased out ?

You can "floss" your bobbin holder too with a bit of thread as shown in the video. Running a piece of good thread through the groove can loosen lint and help remove it.

Don't be tempted to disassemble the case/holder as it is likely that you will lose one of the tiny screws or have difficulty getting the tension set back to where it needs to be.

Clean this area out frequently. Newer Janomes make this easy with their lever release needleplates. If the area under the bobbin case is linty, it can cause extra tension on the top thread and can cause the bobbin case to try to come unseated.

One suggestion quilters are given when having a sudden issue with tension is to re-thread the machine. We all hate to hear this as usually we think it's threaded properly. But there are times that the issue is a wad of lint that has caused the problem and the re-threading process may work it loose. (Plus, there are those times when the thread jumps out of the take up lever!)

You probably already know this, but never thread the machine with the foot down! Put the foot down to thread the needle if need be, but the thread won't settle between the tension discs properly with the foot down as that closes them. For this reason, I always raise the presser foot when adjusting my thread tension too.

I mentioned canned air in the video, don't blow it into the machine! It will send the lint around the gears and shafts. I have seen some machines so full of lint (glitter, sequins, needles, and pins too!) that a wad of lint has felted and become a wedge in the workings and causes them to "freeze up".

So, now that I have a clean machine, I'm off to sew......

This post was retrieved and edited from my archives. The original posted in August of 2014.


Friday, August 4, 2017

A bit of this and that

In my recent post, Creativity: On a Wing and a Prayer, I talked about letting your creativity take flight without the constraints of perfection. Of being "gooder enough." Yes, my  inner grammar nazi doesn't like the phrase, but the artist in me is OK with it. I also mentioned this chair cover I was working on....done! Even stitched up a new embroidered pillow for it.


The hubby has me working on a leather work apron and again, totally winging it. Check out those big shears! The leather smalls wonderful too! Am I the only one who thinks leather smells fabulous?


By the way, I'm using a chaco liner pen to mark the back side of the leather. If you like using loose chalk to mark on dark fabric, this is the bomb! The line is fine and the tool is narrow at the tip to go right along a ruler.


Last night I taught a lovely group of ladies to free motion quilt. We had a blast and learned that they can free motion quilt. I'm looking forward to another class with them soon to teach them some more designs.



This student was a natural and very excited about the process. I love the butterflies on her machine. I think I found another free spirited artist-type who can 'wing it.'


 Finally, I pieced up this cute sunflower and his little friends. This was an easy and fun project.


Don't worry, I've got some quilting projects to show you soon. In fact I've got three projects to quilt up, all for other people. What have you been working on?


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Free Motion Quilting: Doodle on the Wall?

In my last blog post, I mentioned that I was doodling on my shop's bathroom walls. Yep, totally giving it a bit of free motion design to liven it up.


The walls are the same boring brown as the rest of the shop. Or at least the same as the other walls were. Most of the walls in the building were painted a cheery, but soft color of yellow. It turned out fabulously, but the brown was dark enough that it took several coats to cover it up and there just wasn't time to paint the bathroom as well.


Of course, now that we're open 6 days a week and I want to have some sort of life away from the shop, there isn't time to paint it now.



You may remember some of my painted window escapades at our shop's original location. That doodling was an absolute blast and was just calling out for me to doodle on the wall. What's the worst that could happen? I have to actually paint over it?!


There's a big difference between doodling on glass with window markers and drawing on an actual wall that's not part of some graffiti encrusted urban area. I knew I didn't want to use the window paint as it was rather difficult to manipulate and get an even line of paint. Let's face it, writing "Go Team!" takes a different line than a curvy, graceful feather.


Paint pens are pretty easy to come by these days, and I figured I'd use them, but I was nervous about making mistakes and I'm fairly sensitive to paint fumes. So I put it on the back burner of my mind and let the idea percolate a bit.


We installed a large chalk board in the foyer of the shop and decided against using chalk markers to write on it after seeing that some of my chalkboard labels on bins in the shop were 'ghosting' when I wanted to remove the so-called chalk.


Bingo! The perfect use of those chalk markers was on my wall! It does wash off to some extent, and is available at most craft stores. I got mine at Michael's.


So I began drawing with a fairly fine pointed marker. Meh. The fine line blended in and didn't give me the bold graphic line I wanted. So I got a wide pointed chisel tip marker. I was leery of it at first as it had a similar tip to the window marker that had given me trouble. It worked like a champ.


What about making mistakes? Well, I realized that the earlier attempts with the fine tipped marker looked pretty sad next to the thicker lines and I was happy to report that I was able to wash it off. Now, the wall is painted with a fairly slick paint, maybe a semi-gloss, so I don't know that this will work on all paints, nor after a bunch of time passes. Try this at your own risk, but I am so happy with the results.


Bonus, I get my free motion quilting practice in as I doodle my favorite designs. I absolutely think frequent doodling is a great way to improve your quilting skills.


 What do you think? Am I crazy for drawing on my walls? I did think of getting some plexiglass on the wall first, but then decided to go for it. I'm glad I did!

You can see more pics of these walls as I go on my Instagram account. I'm a little more active on there these days, snapping a picture when I can. I take forever to write up a blog post. Follow me there.