Sunday, August 7, 2011

There really is nothing to fear but fear itself...

I mentioned in my previous post my fear of sewing with invisible thread - worry about tension problems and the like.  After stewing on the way the quilting looks on side two of the signature quilt for several days, I decided that it just doesn't work for me.

So - I grabbed several of my least favorite 9-patch blocks from the 9-patch challenge, sewed them together, then added a quick border to create a practice quilt.  In the process, I discovered that I really like working with small quilts.  I did this to try to create a piece large enough to create some of the drag that I experienced with the big quilt.  However, I don't think I accomplished that - it was pretty easy to maneuver and moved smoothly.

I then carefully wound a bobbin with YLI wonder thread in the 0.004 size. It is very delicate.  I spent some time on Monday reading up on what to expect when using nylon thread and adjustments one might make with their machine.  The tips I gathered for using invisible thread are as follows:
  • Wind the bobbin slowly (if  possible) so that you don't stretch the thread
  • Increase the stitch length
  • Use an 80/12 or a 70/10 needle (I have 75/11 in the house, and so far they are working)
  • Slow down, don't try to sew at top speed
  • Loosen the upper tension (or adjust as needed as you work your test block)
  • Bring the bobbin thread to the top when starting and remember to trim or bury threads as you work so as not to lose track of where the thread ends are later as the thread is very hard to see
On my practice block, I practiced stitching in the ditch and now have a grid that I can use later to practice some free motion quilting. Once I'm done with this, I'll probably bind it and then let my son donate it to the Animal Shelter (their school service project) as the blocks truely are my least favorite of the bunch.  The cats won't mind.

One other thing I tested last night was how the YLI thread responds to being ironed.  I set my iron on the cotton setting and gently pressed one portion of the quilt.  One of the big horror stories of using invisible thread that I read up on was that nylon thread melts when ironed.  I'm pleased to report that I did not melt any thread last night. In general, I don't think that this quilt will be ironed, but it is nice to know that the thread is safe.

So - on to the next stage of the project.  Last week, I put in the first 10 vertical seams to stabilize the quilt.  Last night, I carefully picked out the first two of those seams. I am hopeful that I'm recalling correctly that I didn't have as many points on the later seams where I managed to sew for stretches with what looks like a 0.5 versus a 3.0 seam as those were incredibly tedious to remove.  I did develop a pretty good technique using the threads and also the seam ripper to get the tight stitches out. And I'm re-pinning the sashing as I go along to try to not have to re-pin the entire quilt.


bunbear said...

what a pretty quilt! i'm quite interested in the pins you used on it. they look like quilter's straight pins with ear plugs stuck in the other end! where did you get them? thanks.

Impera_Magna said...

Thanks for your insight on using invisible thread. I'm not "there" yet but the tips you gave are very helpful!

Kirsten said...

The pins are straight pins with Pinmoors stuck on the end. They are silicone tabs, so reusable and much sturdier than ear plugs, and don't leave little shreds like using an eraser might. They are available here: I used over 300 pins/pinmoors on the quilt yesterday.