Monday, March 17, 2008

Ask Kim: Quilting

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!


Sherry said...

This answered a lot of my questions. Hope you can get into the bathroom now! LOL

Caryn said...

I totally agree with you on the reasons for doing my own quilting and the marking!

Karrin Hurd said...

I have the same Juki that I use for quilting!

Eileen said...

That's a cute picture of your bathroom audience. Hope they left so you could get a relaxing one.

I will say one thing about the Juki. I would use it for piecing also. Love the thread cutter and the knee lift for the foot.

Amanda said...

My cat always wants to hang out with me in my bathroom, too.

I have the same Juki. I do love it for machine quilting, but I need more practice. I also have a Bernina. I bought my Juki for $800.

I use my Juki for when I am making fast quilts, like Turning 20's. There's something about that hum of doing 1500 stitches per minute that makes me feel like I can conquer anything!
It makes me think of that commercial that says, "Zoom. Zoom. Zoom."

The Chicken Lady said...

I'm with you. I always felt like it was cheating to send my tops out to be quilted. PLUS, I'm too cheap. I like to spend my money on other fun things.

DPUTiger said...

I have a Brother 1500, which is a cousin to your Juki. It is my very very favorite machine for piecing. It does a beautiful straight seam and I just love it!

I do the bulk of my quilting myself, but I give myself a free pass to send out anything that's queen sized or bigger. I could do it myself, but it would take forever and that's a lot of quilt wrestling!

Do we get a blog on favorite threads next? My favorites are all from Superior Threads. Love them!

Libby said...

I'm right there with you on almost all accounts. I have one quilt that I sent to a long armer and it just doesn't feel like mine. I have a Juki that I just love . . . even enjoy piecing on it. I did add a frame which is fun - but takes up a TON of space. I really need to branch out when it comes to quilting motifs. I enjoy the look of stipple/meander and just fall back on it all the time. Lazy, yet effective *s*

Crazy for Primitive Quilts & Gardens said...

Thanks so much for all the info. It is so intersting to see how other quilters work. I agree. I don't send out my stuff to be quilted either, but it makes for many UFO's in my pile because I haven't been adventerous enough to meander and do that kinda quilting. I have a Janome and I love it, but I don't know how it does with machine quilting yet as it is pretty new and I haven't attempted it.

Celular said...

Hello. This post is likeable, and your blog is very interesting, congratulations :-). I will add in my blogroll =). If possible gives a last there on my blog, it is about the Celular, I hope you enjoy. The address is A hug.

quiltmom said...

Hi Kim,
I have used the Juki to quilt on too but I bought a similar machine called a Babylock. A friend owned the Juki and sometimes she had difficulty with what kind of thread she used in it. The Juki was more expensive here- about 1400 Canadian dollars and my Babylock was about 1200 dollars at the time. However I could now buy the Babylock' s sister machine made by Brother for about 1000 dollars Canadian. I have had my Babylock about 5 years and I do really like it for quilting- I enjoy piecing on my Quilter's Dream and its a little more portable. You do get spoiled by the speed of the Juki/ Babylock and I find it more difficult to quilt on my little Elna after the speed of the Babylock. Its fun to meander on the Babylock - I feel lucky to have such a great little machine to quilt on and I find the space is just great to quilt even large quilts..

yellowfarmhouse said...

WOW - thanks for all the input on quilting. I've tried very little projects - but it's not my cup of tea. So I suck it up and pay someone to quilt mine. But I don't get done the number of projects that you do, otherwise I might look at it differently, LOL.

Hope your audience left so you could take a hot soak.

Hugs - Karen

Anne Marie said...

Thanks Kim for all the info, I have a Janome memory craft 4900 and it is a dream for piecing but a small throat for machine quilting. I am saving my pennies for a frame and a machine for machine quilting. I have read about the Juki and the Janome 6600. It is great to hear what other quilters use.

Machine quilting is the one area of quilting that I find difficult and don't feel that there is alot of info available to the self taught gals like myself. Your post was great, thanks for sharing!

Nan said...

Love the picture of the kitties in the potty. I had forgotten how much cats love the steam from a hot bath! I know my cats always did.
Thank you for all the wonderful insights on "quilting the Kim way". I love to read how others quilt and what machine they use, etc. If I could quilt like you, I would be a very happy girl!

Teresa said...

I have been thinking about getting a Juki and your comments reinforced much that I had been hearing. I do enjoy quilting my own quilts, just because they are mine and I want to do it. The cost of contract quilting is also a consideration for me right now and probably even more in the future when I retire. Your quilting is beautiful. I don't think you said what kind of thread you use - care to share that information?