Sunday, January 27, 2013

Vicissitudes and Solutions...

About 50% of the way into doing free motion on the J6300, it started to break thread. I tried everything and every little nuance I could think of - change needle, change thread, change bobbin tension, change top tension, do odd incantation, I tried it all. I read one idea which was to let the horizontally wound thread wind off horizontally and rigged up a way it could easily do that, as that is what the thread folks recommend, and that did help the thread to come off more easily - I could tell the improvement, however it only allowed a few more inches to be sewn without a breakage. Fellow quilters and people with a lot more experience than I have gave me a myriad of ideas, and reading quilting forums did as well. Some of those ideas I have filed away and some I tried. Some ideas have other uses and are great. One idea was to put the ironing board up on the side of my sewing - on the left - as a better surface for the quilt to rest upon. Great idea, but it didn't help the quilting. However, it is a great idea and I am doing it on the Pfaff. I think partially the batting - being rather slubby in portions, and the backing being slubby as well - well, that didn't help. But the fact that 50% went fairly well tells me that when I have time, and maybe a different quilt sandwich that isn't as heavy as a flannel quilt with thick Warm and Natural batting, well then I can probably do some nice FMQ on this Janome 6300. Meanwhile I finished the quilt on the Pfaff. I have to say that FM on the Pfaff is a complete no issue undertaking - the Pfaff sews whatever you put under the foot, and it has more harp space than the Janome if you count the height of the machine itself - I can get more quilt through that baby.  It handles whatever thread you want to use top and bottom, and I used King Tut on top and Masterpiece in the bobbin, but it will sew with any thread I have ever tried. I had no thread breakage and no problems at all. I finished the quilt top today. Now to finish the other quilt - that one is getting straight line quilting on the Janome, and going along nicely with the walking foot. I love the speed with which the Janome can do these stitch in the ditch lines. Now to begin making the binding. Going to bind it on the Janome using the walking foot, as I did on my first quilt last year.

This is the way to get a horizontal spool to run off its thread correctly on a machine with a thread antennae and the thread spool pins below the level of the top of the machine. I used three spool caps and a drinking straw I cut down. Two spool caps under the spool of King Tut and one on top. Luckily I have several machines (and the Superior Thread thread holder which has several gizmos with it) here to use the accessories of for something like this, and three diameters of drinking straws. I didn't realize I had the three types of straws. Good to have these odd things on hand! This was a suggestion on a forum somewhere on the web about difficulties quilting with a Janome 6600, so this family of machines has been talked about a lot on the web and there are a lot of helpful people out there adding to our knowledge. I imagine this is true of whatever machine you buy these days.   By the way you notice that you bypass the thread antennae and leave them down for this application. You thread directly into the first thread holder on the machine itself.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Boy Quilts proceed...

After finishing the piecing of the strips, I set up the J6300 to do the walking foot thing down every other main seam of the width of the quilt. I think one quilt will be finished all with the walking foot and the other with free motion quilting. I haven't quite decided. I finished both quilts as far as this combination stabilization and quilting first step. All was swimmingly well with Metrosene Silk Finish variegated red-white-blue (top stitching?) thread. Rather a heavy thread and it was on the top, with Connecting Threads Essential thread in the bottom in a nice blue. The walking foot is wonderful and the machine is fabulous. Cuts through several layers like they were butter. This set of quilts has the flannel on both sides, and it's a quality set of flannels, and the batting is Warm & Natural cotton and is just superb but a bit thick I think, so I didn't know how all this would go and it goes just fine!
Having finished the straight line quilting,  I set up the machine for free motion quilting. I have both the regular bobbin case and the so-called free motion bobbin case with the bue spot. I won't go into all the trials and so on, but I tested the heck out of the various settings, and had no luck with anything with the heavier Metrosene variegated silk finish in the top with free motion. After several trials of various combos of Essential thread and the Metrosene, with both bobbin cases, I threaded the top with Superior King Tut variegated blues, and the bobbin with Masterpiece in a nice blue, and began again to test various settings. Well, to make the long story short, high top tension is needed no matter what bobbin case is in there. I settled on the blue dot bobbin case for FM only because it saves me about a .2 less tension on top. I have the tension on top at almost 7, FM bobbin case, foot pressure at 1, dogs down and all is a go and a good stitch. I made several testing sandwiches before I started so that each time I begin for a day or after a bobbin change, I can test out the stitching to make sure all is well. Better to test and test for an hour rather than to have all sorts of trouble on the quilt itself. And even then, you never know. So many things can happen, especially with a heavy quilt and this one is heavy. I guess I have to admit that for only the second and third quilting projects on this scale I wouldn't have started with flannel and heavy batting had I known, but it is great to have all this practice and learn so much in the process! Meanwhile, having admitted that threading up with Superior Threads is going to produce for me the best results I treated myself to an order of threads, including the thread holder cases.  Conclusions: the bobbin case with the blue dot isn't a must have for me, but it's good to know about it. Another might find it works fabulously for them. There is an interesting blog post that talks about the Janome FM accessories with more authority than I. Gloria Hansen's blog. Excellent run down of her testing these items. Another conclusion is that even if I have to make fewer quilted projects, quilting them with mostly Superior Threads is the way to go with this machine. On my Pfaff, there isn't a threads issue. All sorts of threads do well in the Pfaff. But that is a vintage machines and I have a hunch it is also because the tension discs in most old machines are a bit worn, so they let more weights of thread through, and also the solid metal machines with the vertical bobbins are easier to regulate for this type of quilting. Just my own opinion. I want to do FM with the J6300, and that's because I want the knee lift and the cutter, and the needle up/down, and the option of several nice stitches and a multi-use modern machine.