I know that sometimes things go awry with my quilted art projects no matter how hard I try to keep things on track. Usually, though not always, it is entirely my fault. But sometimes, it is a machine or tool misbehaving. This week it was my bobbin case, or rather the little spring in my bobbin case. Fortunately, I had a spare, but I was not good about trying that until I had exhausted all the other reasons I was getting nasty big nested wads on the back of my quilt.
It started with just an occassional nest, and got progressively worse. In the end, before I was about to decide there was something seriously wrong with my Bernina Q20 (Fritz) sitdown longarm, it looked like this:
Sew I made every step and tried many things. I cleaned, oiled, flossed out the thread path, and blew out the bobbin area. I took the bobbin out and put in a fresh bobbin. I took out the magic bobbin washer I usually use and tried that. I put it back in and tried that. I reset the bobbin tension, and yes, it was way off for some reason, and tried that. I changed the needle, I changed the top thread. It got better periodically, and I thought we were ok, so I went back to quilting. Unfortunately, it started misbehaving badly again (it looked great on the top but I could feel and hear it everytime it made a nest). So I stopped. I prayed about it. It was especially important that I could fix it myself since my Bernina shop is closed right now.
And then I remembered that I had bought a spare bobbin case spring because I had read on one of my facebook groups that is something people should have on hand for the Bernina Q20/Q24 longarms. I replaced the spring on the bobbin, rethreaded everything, and reset to default settings, just in case. I still got thread nests…and was about to give up, but I decided to doublecheck the tension on the bobbin again. When I took the bobbin case out, I found the bobbin was in upside down! Hahahaha. I must have done that the last time I took it out and put it back. So I put it in right, rechecked the bobbin tension and tried again. What do you know! It worked. It sewed cleanly and beautifully without any problems. So I readjusted the tension and stitch length to my preferred settings and sewed for a full half day with no problems. It is still sewing well. The spring didn’t seem to be that far flattened, but it was flatter and less bouncy than the new one. I know the bobbin was in right for most of my attempts to fix the nests. I had to laugh at myself.
Sew now I am left with the ten or so inches of the quilting on my border of the quilt that I have to unstitch, or unstitch at least a good part of it and restitch. I hate unstitching and it’s hard to do! So I have to make some decisions here on what I have to actually do. The location of this batch of bad quilting is in the lower right corner, right where a label should go. So I can hide at least some of the bad back stitches under a label, cutting off a good portion of the nests. In the process of all of this, I used a different thread for the actual large feather on that section of the border than I did for the second one on the other side of the lower border. The first thread is lighter and needs to be removed, because the darker new thread looks much better. So I will have to remove the whole feather. Sigh. I am not having much success at this. This portion stitched well and I find the stitches hard to pick out. It is slow. Sigh! But I will persist.
This all brings up the topic of fixing things on your quilted art pieces. There are things to consider when deciding to unstitch and other things that can be done some of the time.
- Is the project a show quilt or show garment or for other professional use? If so, it must be fixed.
- Does the problem really make the item less desireable for personal use or a gift?
- Can you somehow cover up the problem with appliques, false back sections (shows do not accept false backs on show quilts), back appliques that add fun or beauty, or hide with paint?
- Is it even possible to fix the problem? If not, can you use the item in some alternative way?
Sew happy everyone! Hang in there. We really are going to come to the end of this trying time and things will get better again. We may have even learned a lot of interesting life lessons from all of this. I am, in fact, really pretty excited about the fall and winter quilting and quilt show season that is before us. I am already working on it. How about you?