It’s time to part ways with one of my sewing machines, and I’ve decided that the Pfaff Performance 2054/2056/2058 has to go. I’m not selling it because there’s something wrong with it (there isn’t) or because it’s not a good machine (it is) or because I don’t like it (I do), it’s just that I can do everything with the Bernina that I can with this Pfaff, and I just like the Bernina better.
It’s a great machine for piecing and quilting, and general sewing as well. It’s programmable and has all the bells and whistles like a low bobbin warning, stitch memory, decorative stitches, lettering stitches, Continue reading →
No, I didn’t go on vacation, just been super busy here! Just FYI, busy+notmuchquilting=nofun. Well, maybe not “no fun,” just not as much fun! Anyway, things may be winding down to an acceptable level, so I can just coast through Christmas now. The last party is over, thank goodness, and I finished up my last online programming class for this month yesterday. I’ve been working on a gift for my landlords and I finished it up today:
I made them a set of eight placemats to go with the table runner and the napkin rings that I’ve made in previous years. I was a bit worried as I was making them, since they seemed to be a bit “floofy” and weren’t laying flat after they were quilted. I think I should have used a thinner batting. I decided to toss them in the washer and pray to the quilting goddess for a boon. Since fabric placemats need to be washable anyway, I also figured it would be better to get it over with now in case the machine embroidery didn’t survive.
The embroidery came out fine, and after a bit of judicious steam pressing, the mats are wonderfully flat! I guess the quilting goddess figured it was my turn or something. Whew! I’m probably going to have to think of something else entirely for next year, since I’ve used up most of the green fabric for the embroidery, and I’m not sure what else to make anyway. Napkins?? Hmmmm…
I got a little bored quilting the placemats (okay, really bored!), so I decided to do some Pfaff vs. Bernina experiments with my machines. If I’m going to do machine guided quilting, I usually use the Pfaff because it has the built-in dual feed, so I started quilting the placemats with the Pfaff 2056, my favorite machine until the Bernie came to live here. When the quilting wasn’t turning out so well, I thought I’d see what the Bernina 440 had to offer with the walking foot. Continue reading →
For the last two (or maybe more) weeks, I’ve been trying to design the outer borders for the bird quilt (a.k.a. “The Misery Quilt“). I really thought it needed some curves in the outer border(s), and maybe some more embroidery of some sort as well. I did test stitch-outs of a couple of embroidery options, and just didn’t have that “this is it” feeling about any of it. I played around with a diagram of the quilt, drawing curved appliquéd borders, viewing with mirrors, and just wasn’t terribly happy with any of it. I tried designing an appliquéd border without planning any embroidery to go with it, and still wasn’t happy with it.
Soft-Edge Piecing, by Jinny Beyer
After a few really grouchy days (I get like that when I’m creatively stumped), I finally threw in the pencil, and headed to the bookshelf for inspiration. As I’d already been through all my books on borders and design, as well as all the books like the MAQS Founder’s Collection with all its prizewinning beauties, I pulled out Jinny Beyer’s Soft Edge Piecing for starters. I’m working with a border print and the soft edge piecing technique was in the original plan for the quilt way back when, maybe ten plans ago now. I really didn’t expect to have a flash of inspiration at that point, but desperation had set in.
Maybe the quilting goddess is smiling on this quilt (finally!), because I did see something in the Soft Edge Piecing book that had me grabbing for my fabrics to try it out. Here’s the result (click for a larger view):
I really, really like it! I had that “this is it” feeling immediately. The border print looks prefect between the light and dark borders, and I already know exactly how I’ll quilt parts of it, too. (Oh, and you see that tiny little satin stitching? I used the same technique on another part of the borders for this quilt and I used my Pfaff machine. I tried it on the Bernina this time, Continue reading →
No, I haven’t started listening to old rock from Queen, I’ve just finished another UFO! Woohoo! I had a bad design moment with some fusible web a week or so ago while I was working on the Feathered Lone Star with the bird embroidery, and now I have to start the embroidery part all over again. URGH! But that’s another rant for later. I decided to put it all back in it’s little box for a bit, and finish up the Irish Chain quilt that I’ve been working on. It was getting close to done, so I decided I could use the “boost” that comes from finishing a project right about now. So here it is:
A detail view of the main motif:
And my favorite part of the quilting, the heart chain border:
That little border was super easy, and it looks so elegant. It fit nearly perfectly too, since the repeat lined up with the squares in the chain, with only a little fudging to fit at the corners. I still have to clip thread tails off of the back, and it needs a label. I have to think of a name for it before I can label it though, and nothing is coming to mind immediately here.
I did think in the beginning that I would stipple around the motifs in the large open spaces, but my friend Brenda said “don’t do it,” and I really didn’t need to do it, especially since this is just going to lay around the house and keep someone warm. This quilt was originally a class sample from years ago, so it’s good to have it finished finally. This quilt really became the “get used to free motion quilting on the Bernina 440″ quilt. The Bernina and I are fast friends now, but I still pulled out the Pfaff to put the binding on. I just wasn’t willing to try to put binding on in my usual way without my dual feed on the Pfaff. And why should I? That is why I’m keeping both machines, after all…:)
Edit: Oops! Forgot to share the stats on this quilt: cotton fabrics, Hobbs PolyDown batting (using it up so I can switch to wool!), quilted with two colors of #100 silk thread on top, Aurifil 50/2 cotton Mako in the bobbin.
So we’re still making friends here, my new Bernina and I. Doing some free motion quilting and getting to know each other better. When I used the machine in the workshop at the Museum, I was working on sample sandwiches with no patchwork, just two pieces of plain fabric with batting in between. The quilt sandwiches moved and glided like a hot knife through butter. I’m having some issues with that gliding thing here at home though, when I’m working on an actual quilt, and it’s more like slogging through mud sometimes than gliding. Some of this can probably be attributed to the difference in size: the samples were about 18″ square, and this Irish Chain quilt is, well, lots bigger obviously.
The foot on the Bernina sits lower and closer to the quilt than the free motion foot on the Pfaff…
I ordered a Free Motion Supreme Slider to hopefully help with the drag. I thought maybe just the difference in the machine bed texture and angle could be causing me some adjustment issues. Got the Slider, love it (the Supreme is way better than the first edition, BTW, since it has the self adhesive back, you have to get one of these things!), and things are better, but free motion quilting is still a drag in spots. What is this??? I’ve finally realized today that the problem is the free motion foot! The foot on the Bernina sits lower and closer to the quilt than the free motion foot on the Pfaff, and the Bernina foot catches on thick seam allowances sometimes, and creates way more drag on the whole quilt. I’m quilting along just fine, and then the drag starts, and I get smaller stitches. Then when the foot finally makes it over the lump of the seam allowance, the whole quilt jumps and I get a giant stitch before I can compensate. Even on wide open spaces, I also notice the fabric being pushed around by the foot more sometimes than it ever was on the Pfaff, just from the thickness of the batting. What to do??
I begin to wonder if the people who design and engineer these machines ever actually make a real quilt with them. Do they have real quilters test them out at all? If they did, wouldn’t this kind of thing have been noticed before? Continue reading →
Here’s a pic of my friend Nadine and I at the BFQ Guild meeting last Friday evening:
What was especially funny about this? We were probably both thinking “The meeting is fun, but I can’t wait to go home and play with my new Bernina!” Each of us had just purchased the Bernina 440 (me that very day, her exactly three weeks before), but we had not had any time together to share the news when this picture was taken! Nadine stopped by the blog to read the latest the day after the meeting, and was so surprised to hear that I bought the Bernina, that she said, “as we say in German – had problems to close my mouth again…”
Nadine took my machine quilting class a few years ago, and bought the Pfaff 2056 in December partly because I had it, and because of some of the features the machine had. She never fell in love with it for machine quilting, but I didn’t know it. So she made the decision to buy the Bernina 440, and she is now happy with both machines. I think I will be the same: using the Bernina for machine quilting, especially the free motion, and using the Pfaff for piecing and machine guided quilting since it has the IDT (or dual feed). I also bought the embroidery unit for the Bernina, to replace the Pfaff 2124 sewing/embroidery machine that I sold!
So, 2 Nadines + 2 Pfaff 2056 machines + 2 Bernina 440 machines = 2 great minds thinking alike!!