Stuck with a quilt back that is too short? This is how I solved the quilt backing too small but already mostly quilted on my longarm problem.
One late afternoon, the machine was humming along and everything was going really well. I’d already finished two charity quilts. Everything was perfect, I had enough backing provided in the quilt packages and I was racing through the third charity quilt I’d promised to do. Suddenly, disaster struck!
Oh NO! NO! NO! NO! The quilt backing provided was too short! I literally slapped myself up side the head. How many times had I admonished new longarmers to measure everything provided before you even put a quilt on your machine?! How many times!?!
GEEZ! NOW WHAT DO I DO!?
I called my friend Carol and put on my thinking cap. After sitting and pondering together for a bit and after a refreshing glass of _______. (iced tea?) I had an epiphany. I could solve this without taking the quilt off the machine, without having to go through the agony of getting it straight again, without having to take the several hours it seemed this disaster would need.
The solution turned out to be hilarious and my friend Carol took a video. The simple solution was to take off just the bottom of the quilt and leave the top attached.
I had a tea cart that set a small sewing machine on and just sewed a strip onto the bottom of the backing. It was a quick and easy matter to just re-attach the bottom and quilt on. Watch how I did it.
I took a gradations dying class from Cindy Lohbeck. Her class was all about creating color value. I have been learning a lot this past year about value which is basically lightness or darkness of colors. In Cindy’s class we used dilutions just like I did in chemistry class back in college. We made six values from light to dark of seven different colors. It was awesome to make 42 fat quarters of these rich colors. It is something that I am going to keep in mind when I dye in the future.
Adding to this post over time will allow me to keep track of what I try with this very thick thread. I resort to hand stitching when that is the ONLY way to get the effect I want. Superior Threads has a new thread that looks delicious for both hand sewing and also mentioned that their Sew Sassy 12 wt/3-ply Polyester thread can be run through a machine. This thread is kinda fuzzy and thick and looks like cotton, but doesn’t break like cotton. I know that you can put just about anything in a bobbin. But Superior mentioned running it through a needle!?! Really? I have to try this.
Experiment 1: Using 12 wt Sew Sassy on the Innova Longarm
Working on a improvisational modern quilt, I wanted to try out comic book drawing theory. The basic idea is that thin lighter lines that more closely match the background recede into the distance while heavier bolder thicker lines come forward into the foreground. I quilted the background with 60 wt Bottom Line thread. I also quilted some of the shapes that should appear towards the back of the arrangement with 50 wt and 40 weight threads. One shape should appear to be floating out on top in the front and I though I would try Sew Sassy 12 wt. Also to echo the plan on the back of the quilt, I decided to use the Sew Sassy in the bobbin also. I figured that it would be easier to balance the tension if the same thread were in the top and bottom of the machine.
Need a Big Needle
Superior recommends a size 21 needle. , a very THICK needle. Necessary as this thread is very thick.
I had to “loosen” the bobbin tension screw as the thread is thicker and effectively caused a tight tension. I use the TOWA gauge and got it to about 180. That is what I aim for no matter the size of the thread.
Timing adjustments may be necessary
Test sewing showed very odd results. The stitching shows that this super thick needle is actually deflecting during stitching. This needle is so thick it should not be deflecting at all. I slowly turned the machine by hand through one stitch cycle. I believe I will have to re-time the machine with the thick needle in place.
I will try this out after I get this particular quilt off the frame.
Fabric Type Matters
Also the thickness of the needle is causing some problems with the cotton quilt backing fabric. It is spreading the weave apart so much that it looks like the fabric might easily tear at this stitching line. I do think with a very loose weave fabric such as wool, felt or even burlap (art quilt anyone?) that it will be very possible to use Sew Sassy in the needle on my long arm.
Possible Next Tests with 12 wt Sew Sassy:
Try using a fabric with thicker fibers and looser weave.
Reset Bobbin distance and timing so I can use a 21 needle on my longarm.
Make sure to adjust tension both in the bobbin and top tension assembly.