Several of you asked about my quilting, so I thought I'd talk a little bit about that tonight. Actually, what I REALLY wanted to do was to take a bath, but I didn't want to be the evening's floor show for "the girls"--
Hopefully, by the time I've posted today's blog entry, they'll have gotten bored and vacated the bathroom--it's really too small for all three of us.
Yes, I do my own quilting. When I started quilting, I thought I'd be selling out if I didn't do it all myself--it wouldn't really be "mine." Since then, I've kind of gotten over that mindset and wouldn't mind sending a few quilts out for quilting occasionally, but I really can't afford to do that and still buy fabric. And food. And gas. Well, you know what it costs to keep a home and family going these days. So, no, I just can't see spending money to send my quilts out to be quilted.
Yes, I quilt on a domestic machine. I have a Bernina I use for piecing, but a few years ago, I found that my tension wasn't very stable on free motion quilting. I could start off just fine and find later on that the bobbin tension had gotten out of whack somewhere along the way--and that led to having to take out some of the quilting and start over. I hate that. I took the Bernina into the shop and they fixed that problem somewhat, but I still wasn't 100 percent pleased. So I started looking around at other machines and decided to buy a Juki for the quilting part of quilt making. Here's my baby--
There are a number of reasons I went with the Juki.
(1) Jukis have a nice, large throat area, so quilting a king size quilt isn't too insane an idea. Here's a photo of the Juki next to the Bernina, so maybe you can see how much larger the throat area is--
(2) Jukis can be used with a frame system, if I ever want to go that route. Right now, I don't really have the room and I don't feel it's necessary, but at some point, I may get tired of having to switch out machines every time I want to do something different. For now, though, I just like the idea that it's versatile.
(3) Jukis are mechanical rather than computerized. This means that repairs can be done at any sew and vac shop instead of taking it in to a dealer or a more expensive shop that specializes in computerized sewing machines. That in turn means repairs are likely to be less expensive. But I've had the machine for a couple years now, and so far, so good. I wouldn't use the Juki for piecing, though, because it has a very industrial, "chunky" feel to it--I don't think my piecing would be quite as accurate on the Juki.
(4) Jukis don't cost an arm and a leg. I actually bought mine through eBay, and although I was a little hesitant to buy that way, I talked to a number of people and checked sellers' feedback and decided to take the plunge. At the time, the Juki I have was retailing for about $900. I made a "Best Offer" and got it for around $700 with shipping included.
Someone asked me the other day about marking quilts. I don't like marking quilts very much. If I can figure out a quilting design that doesn't require marking, all the better! I quilted the Gardener's Touch free hand by just outlining the floral elements in the blocks and continuing out the leaf pattern, "drawing" with my needle and using variegated thread. Yes, that does take some practice and I'm by no means an expert. But as I do it more and more, I think I'm getting better at it all the time. Like anything else, it takes practice.
When I DO mark, though, I like to use a regular lead pencil on lighter colors. I've never had a problem washing it out so far. The pencil marks seem to show up well and pencils are readily available. On darker fabrics, I use white marking pencils. The ones by Patricia Campbell are my favorite. Chalk is nice, but it disappears too quickly and leaves white powder all over the place, so I don't use it very often, but sometimes it's the only reasonable alternative if I have mixed lights and darks to mark on.
The only other thing I can think of that you may want to know is the type of batting I use. I used to use Warm and Natural because I liked it okay and I could get it at JoAnn's with a coupon, so the price was right. Over the last few years, I've switched to using Hobbs 80/20 most of the time. I like that little bit of loft and drape that the 20 percent polyester gives quilts. Occasionally I've purchased other batting for a specific purpose. For instance, I quilted THIS quilt with a very thin batting so it's a nice summer weight.
Did I answer all your questions about my quilting? Do you think my audience has gotten bored and left the bathroom yet? Time for me to go check. Feel free to ask me questions any time, and I'll try to answer!