Monday, May 14, 2012

Plodding Along, In Circles

Hello, friends and family!  I hope everyone had a wonderful Mother's Day yesterday. 

I think I'm about halfway done with the free motion ditch quilting around the circles on Lars's "Drunken Dragons" Drunkard's Path quilt.  Thanks to the invisible nylon monofilament thread, the stitching is practically invisible on the front of the quilt -- oopses and all -- but on the back of the quilt you can see the grid of straight stitching that I did along the straight seamlines and the outlines of the circles.  I'm not using that BSR thing to control the stitch length, but I feel like I'm doing alright without it for this task.  The hardest thing is controlling the bulk of the big, heavy quilt while I try to move it in a big, huge circle without any jerks or tugs.  I have lots of jagged spots on my circles if you look closely on the back, so we won't be posting any more close ups of the back from here on out.

One of the sales ladies at the Bernina dealership has agreed to give me a one-on-one lesson on Thursday to show me how to stop and start the expensive BSR Bernina Stitch Regulator contraption and how the different modes work, because the directions that came with the darned thing are atrocious.  People look at me like I'm crazy when I say I can't get the BSR to work for me, which means there must be something REALLY EASY that I'm missing.  My issues are:
  1. I'm unclear about how to start and stop a line of quilting stitches in each of the two stitching modes of BSR.  I need the first 5-7 stitches and the last 5-7 stitches of every line of quilting to be really tiny so they don't pull out when I clip the thread tails.  How do I secure my stitches in Mode 1 if the sewing machine is going to make all of the stitches the same length? 
  2. I'm trying to stitch 11" diameter circles, but I can only control an area of about 4-6" at a time.  That means I slowly sew for a few inches, then need to stop to reposition my hands.  When I pick up my hands to reposition them, the fabric always moves just a smidge, and the BSR laser contraption picks up on the fabric movement and starts sewing again before I'm ready.  How do I disengage the BSR long enough to move my hands?
  3. I tried to use my needle stop down function to make sure nothing shifts when I use my hands, but that's a problem, too -- with BSR, the machine starts stitching when the fabric MOVES, but when I'm ready to start sewing again I can't move the fabric when the needle is sticking down into it.  Am I supposed to use needle stop down, and then manually raise the needle again when I'm ready to stitch?  Then I have to take one of my hands off the quilt to raise the needle, and then the fabric shifts again and my quilting line gets a crooked little snag.
  4. Finally, on  my 18" practice sample, I was not getting even stitches with my BSR at all.  For one thing, most of the stitches were much shorter than the length I had set the machine to.  Then there would be random LOOOONNNNG stitches here and there.  Maybe I was moving the fabric too fast at that point?
Anyway, I'm keeping an open mind about the BSR until I have the dealer walk me through it on Thursday.  Then on Friday I'm taking a beginner machine quilting class at a store about an hour away from me while the kids are in school, and that class won't have anything to do with the BSR because it's a Brother dealership, not Bernina hosting the class.  One way or another, I'm going to learn how to do this.  Saturday morning I have another embroidery software mastery class.  The irony is that, with all these sewing classes, there isn't much time left over for actual sewing!

Have a wonderful week.

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