Loading the first quilt for the California Thomas Fire Quilts project on the longarm, the quilting began. I have had some tension issues with the longarm, and the first row looked OK. But that didn’t last. The stitches on the top of the quilt looked fine on the first pass with one of my new pantographs. This one is called Geisha by Urban Elementz. It looks a bit like clamshells and the rounded design would look nice against the angular piecing.
So far so good, but it would soon become a challenge.
On the beginning of the third pass on the pantograph, the backside had these short runs of loops, like the tension on the top was too loose. It was doing this on the previous quilt as well, but not as bad. I thought it was handled, but alas, not so.
Maddeningly, the top side still looked perfect. The stitches are nice and even too.
Then the stitches on the back would look perfect for quite a stretch.
Then for no good reason, would do this.
So I took out those stitches and loaded a practice piece next to the quilt on the longarm to work on the issue. A phone call to the outstanding tech guy at A1, Randy, some practice work on the side, and I thought it might be solved. So I did a whole pantograph pass. But, it wasn’t fixed yet. So now I had to take out an entire row of stitching, ugh!! This was done the hard way, one stitch at a time. I couldn’t skin the quilt (see my post here for that explanation) as I couldn’t take the chance that I would damage the backing or the batting. So, using my hemostats, I pull up with gentle pressure on the top thread…
then, catch the loop of the bobbin thread coming up to the top with my seam ripper point (or a stiletto), and pull it up and out.
Every so often, I cut the bobbin thread tail off at the fabric level…
then pull several stitches at once.
Yes, this is tedious and time consuming. You can see on this run how the stitches are uneven, indicating a possible issue with the encoders, or the stitch regulator. Some are small and tight, yet others are really long. Compared to the perfect ones above, it just baffled us as to why it was doing this all of a sudden.
My dear husband offered to help with the job of frogging, and I was grateful for that. He was a quick learner, and took out almost half the row by himself. We worked side by side for a while, and managed to get most of it ripped out before the sew day.
So, more phone time with Randy, and I had a few more things to try involving the tensions, the bobbin race, and the encoder lines. We did diagnostics. Reseated the pin connectors. Another adjustment to the tensions on both the bobbin and the top thread. Rethread. Change to a larger needle. Try again.
Finally, it seemed to be working well, a bit more twist on the top tension, and I could get busy on quilting.
We worked on this problem over the weekend last weekend, again on Monday, then all day Wednesday. Finally, I was able to get the first Fire Quilt top completely quilted yesterday.
Light grey Essentials thread on top, Aurifil light grey in the bobbin, Warm and Natural Batting.
Are one of your blocks in this quilt?
If you don’t see it in this one, I’ll show you more on Sunday. Maybe it will be there.
I really love the way this one turned out, the contrasts in colors and variety of prints is just wonderful. The jewel tones of the darker prints all seem to work so well together!
What are you working on this week?