Sunday 3 August 2014

Sunday 3rd August - making things 3

No 1 Son has a habit of posting very technical blogs. Best Beloved finds them interesting and amusing. They could be in Greek as far as I am concerned.

That opening paragraph is by way of being a warning...

This is what I made today:

It is my first ever attempt at free-motion machine quilting. I have learned a lot in the process, including when it is time to say "it's just a sample" and stop before things start becoming seriously ugly.

My sewing machine came in a dinosuar egg - I bought it because it is Extremely Portable and my mother had the previous model - almost identical except that mine has a three-step-zig-zag - the height of technical innovation back in 1979, and hers only had a normal zig-zag.

Everything, except the instruction books, (which luckily I still have) folds up inside the machine. And, lookee, lookee, isn't this wantable? Flip open a secret door and you find all the bits and pieces (except the oil which I used up many years ago).

Oh Elna Lotus, I love you.

I selected the darning foot (visible in its brown nest to the right) and the button plate, in shadow, next to the darning foot, and tried to fit them. Then I read the instructions and all became clear.

The button plate prevents the serrated feed dogs (now covered by the plate) from feeding the material through under the needle when you set it all in motion. The darning foot has a little circle of metal pressing down on the fabric which acts as a mini-embroidery hoop, stretching the fabric flat as the needle plunges down to catch the bobbin thread.

I discovered the hard way that a 70 gauge needle was too fine, and that it is important to get the button plate firmly clicked down, and that I had been missing the final step in threading the machine for the last ten-fifteen-twenty? years. Anyway, after two broken needles, and a tangle of waste yarn

I managed to do a reasonable first attempt at free-motion all-over quilting. The middle isn't complete because the failed early attempts meant that I emptied the bobbin before I managed to finish the job. I did try to get it all going again, but there was a serious problem with the lower tension and so I ripped that last bit out.

Actually, there was a minor problem with the lower tension throughout the whole exercise, which I shall have to address next time. If you look closely at this picture of the underside you can see a lot of loopiness - this could be happening when I kept stopping to re-position the sample, but I suspect that I need to tighten the bobbin tension (using the screwdriver in the secret compartment) next time.

Here's a handy hint - there have been a number of sad stories of cats needing to be taken to the vet after they have licked up stray threads, and having expensive operations to remove the tangle from their innards. Somewhere, someone suggested that you take a small bottle with a plastic cap, cut a cross in the cap, and force your threads into the bottle. This dried herb bottle has proved ideal, and lives in my sewing kit.

Well, there you go. A technical post of my very own.

1 comment:

  1. Thus far I'm with you...I think....Please to hear you've rediscovered your Elna, (we, too, have an Elna only she's one of those ironing presses). May you spend many happy hours quilting away.

    Oh and thanks for the tech hint re cats and tangles. :)