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Twelve Tricks


While doing this quarantine thing, I have been spending a great deal of time with Vivian.

Not to worry, though. Vivian is a Vision 2.0 Gammill quilting machine named after my grandmother. She and I have been working together for a couple of years now and I have learned a lot and picked up a few ideas along the way.

Most of what I am doing now would be classified as utilitarian in nature and mostly pantographs (quilting patterns), I also will do some basting–no more bending over the dining room table or crawling around on the floor; and a few art quilts.

  1. Stencil Brush and regular paint brush. I use the stencil brush to clean the lint from the bobbin carrier; the regular paint brush to clean the rollers and the track (although the air compressor my sweet husband bought me works better and faster except for the bobbin carrier–too hard to hold onto it in that blast of air)stencil20brush-m
  2. a white index card or a sheet of typing paper folded in fourths held behind the needle is helpful in threading dark thread against a dark quiltwhite20paper-m
  3. I pin to the top roller, roll slowly and carefully while standing in the middle of the bar and straightening the wrinkles as I go. I then roll slowly back onto the bottom bar. I was taught to pin to bottom, roll up on bottom, then pin to top but I ended up rolling it back and forth several times to be sure it was wrinkle free. This method works much better.
  4. I leave the backing under tension; drape the batting over the backing along with the top all over night. This takes a bit more time but I have not had any wrinkles in the backing using this method. And I am not ironing a backing that might have a few wrinkles in it from being folded.batting20draped20over20backing20and20top-m
  5. I make a small clip in the backing’s mid points to assist in pinning to the leaders. In the past I used a pin but then had to figure out what to do with that small sewing pin–the ones used to pin to the leaders would fall out.
  6. I measure each top and pin the measurements to the top; I can measure my pieces of backing and know which piece I can use and how to orient the top on the frame.
  7. I leave a four to five inch length of top thread when I invariably run out of bobbin thread in the middle or worse–only three inches away from the end of a row. That thread is easier to find when restarting.
  8. I mark the end of the pantograph with a piece of white plastic–it could be a piece of paper; I use a long straight edge to mark the top of the pantograph when filling in a partial row at the end of the quilt—that long straight edge is the top covering for window blinds but a regular yardstick would also work.end20of20pantograph-m
  9. Vivian does not mind jogging in place or even just standing still while I figure out where I am in the pantograph; she is incredibly patient.
  10. It is okay to write notes on the pantograph–some do not have top of the pattern marked, some start in odd places. That pattern is a piece of paper—write on it!
  11. Practice good posture while working; stand up straight; take breaks–Vivian will wait for you—and still smile at you when you come back.
  12. Don’t step on the electrical cord; it’s like putting your foot on the brake while revving the engine (if that can be done). you are just not going any where.

That’s all I can think of right now. Like a lot of things, there are things you do automatically and don’t even consider but make your tasks much easier.

I have been steadily whittling down the backload of quilt tops while under quarantine. I work on quilting nearly every day; while I am mostly doing pantographs, I think any time spent with a tool to be totally comfortable with its use makes future projects easier. While I have completed some art pieces with Vivian, the majority have been bed covers—but that is okay. I am having fun—my only limitation was backing and batting—but thanks to my wonderful long arm shop, I got in two cases of batting—….it’s easier for me to manage pieces of batting instead of cutting off hunks from a huge roll…yes, I know it is more expensive but I save on frustration and not crawling on the floor to cut off a piece.

If those of you who have long arms and more experience than me—are there things you do that improve your work or make things easier? I’d enjoy hearing!

And here is yesterday’s completed quilt—ready to join the binding queue.

music20completed-m

yes, nearly all music themed fabrics; about 74 by 86 with a black backing covered with white musical notes.

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