Thread Talk from my Sewing Machine #39

I received the following email from Jean in Arkansas.  Jean graciously allowed me to share with you our conversation:

“Hi Wendy, I’m one of your former Rogers Sewing Center pupils & follow your blog regularly.  I’ve been working on my free-motion quilting, this is my first “feathers” on a quilt.  Main body of the quilt has over-all design of flowers, leaves, few jester’s crowns, few squiggles.  Outside border is diamonds of the on-point blocks plus some leaves/vines through them.  Anyway, some questions— you told me once to reduce the speed of my machine when using BSR, I set it on 400 instead of default 900; do I need to go slower?  [Wendy’s note:  Jean uses a Bernina machine that has stitch-regulating capability <BSR>] Also I have trouble when I back track, don’t go over the previous stitches, feel like I can’t see where to back track.  I’ve tried all the BSR feet, this quilt I used the big, clear plastic foot of the BSR.  Do I just need more practice?  I seem to get some funky plumes & not sure where to go sometimes & get funny ones.  At least I’ve progressed from “in the ditch” and stippling on every quilt… Thanks for any advice.”

My answer to Jean:

To answer your questions:
1.  Reducing the machine speed wouldn’t really help because the machine is not feeding the quilt anymore, you are!  So try reducing the speed with which you move your quilt so that you are literally stitching one stitch at a time.  That should help tremendously.

2.  Re: backtracking – I will really slow down the way you move your quilt (see #1).
The other thing is to watch where your needle lands when you are stitching slowly.  That will train your eye to eventually anticipate a couple of stitches ahead of your needle – that will help you know where to go, and that will help with the accuracy of your stitching path.

3.  Re: quilting foot – I almost exclusively use the open toe foot because it gives me the best visibility.

4.  Re: funky plumes and not sure where to go – Keep doodling on paper until you get a nicely formed feather plume, and then move the “doodling” to your quilt, except this time use the needle to doodle instead of a pen/pencil.

5:  Re: more practice – Absolutely!  Keep up with the quilting, and you will for sure improve!


All those 2 cents said, I think the quote of the day is Jean saying “At least I’ve progressed from “in the ditch” and stippling on every quilt…”!  I absolutely LOVE the fact that Jean stepped out of her comfort zone, and did something different and brave.  For that, Jean deserves a huge round of applause.  We are ALL learning in this quilting world, and in life!  So I say to Jean, “Keep up the good work!”.

I hope Jean’s story encouraged you today to try something new and daring, not necessarily “quilty” in nature.

Have a marvelous day!


16 thoughts on “Thread Talk from my Sewing Machine #39

  1. Jean, you took the first step in learning a new process. Remember, you are not a professional yet with that first step. Like Wendy said, it takes practice. In looking at your feathers, I think you did a marvelous first time! Looks way better than my first MQ feather. So keep at it. Makes lots of baby quilts on which to practice and before long you will be perfect and have your own blog to teach others.
    donna j from kansas

  2. Echo Donna! Your feathers/fill work perfectly with the piecing in your quilt! Jean, I, also, have a Bernina (440QE) and find I prefer not using the BSR function. I practiced a lot with it right after the purchase and never got past focusing on the machine rather than the quilt! Also, I felt that the machine was telling ME the speed I could/could not do (I was told by someone that it could be that no matter how quickly the BSR processes your movement beneath the foot there is a split second delay from the laser to the computer. Doesn’t seem like it would be significant but in the ‘real world’ it definitely is!). Sadly, I don’t even use my Bernina now. A small open foot has worked the best for me. I have a straight stitch Juki that I use for all my FMQ now and have modified the quilting foot to make it open. I have found I can match my fabric movement (in FMQ) with the machine by the sound of the machine. It will come for you, also, Jean and you are off to an awesome start!!!!! Blessings and hugs, Doreen

  3. I think Jean is doing great. I still can’t attach my BSR. Also my stitch in the ditch needs a lot of improvement before I can advance to stippling. Congratulations Jean. You just keep after it and I will too.

  4. Thanks for all your kind support! Pauline asked about setting motor speed to 400. I have a Bernina 730 where you go into settings to change the motor speed. You may not be able to do that on yours. Probably just sewing slower & moving the quilt slower is the answer. Jean

  5. I think Jean’s feather looks great, too. I can’t even draw one on paper that looks that good! Backtracking is hard and slowing down helps tremendously, but these things come with time and practice (or so I keep telling myself!).

    Now, as for Berninas and the Big, Bad BSR: I wish I could take a class with Wendy! I have so much trouble with the BSR on my 200E/730E that I would think BSR was just a gimmick — if I had not seen the gorgeous quilting Wendy does with BSR. I get skipped stitches and thread breaks with BSR, so I’ve been just using a regular open-toe free motion foot instead with no stitsch regulation. Maybe I’m going too fast? I must be doing SOMETHING wrong since so many others use this feature successfully!

  6. This makes it sound much more manageable. Maybe some day I will give it a try. Probably not any time soon though — I was just thinking today that I would so love a week or two in a row with nothing scheduled, but I don’t see any of those on the near horizon. I did, however, start a new stitching project for evenings with hubby while we’re watching TV or he is reading.

  7. Oh, my, slowness does help immensely, but I would have been forever to do the feathers on that border! i just did 5 fieathers in an 8″ square, took over an hour to do, but they are perfect, even the back tracking! Thanks again, Wendy, for your advice!

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