Time For A Change – Needle

Time For A Change – Needle

If you’ve ever wondered when to change your needle, the time to change that needle is now.

Whenever I get a new [to me] machine, I treat it to new oil, and a shiny new Microtex needle. I mostly use Schmetz in the 80 or 90 size because I mostly sew through several layers. In fact I don’t buy anything else.
If the machine is not new to me, I usually replace my needles when I break them. Apparently, I break them often enough to not have to change them for any other reason.

Well, the other day, I was piecing strips for one quilt, and squares for another, and my fabric kept moving away from my stitch guide. I found it annoying, but I suffered through, until I saw it – a skipped stitch!
Oh no!

 

Stiching_Moving_Skipping

I remember reading other peoples complaints on skipped stitches, but It never happened to me before. One common suggestion was to change the needle. I peeked into my little bag of tricks I keep on my sewing table, and saw a brand of needle I hadn’t used before, but got for free with one of my fabric orders. It was a Groz-Beckert Mictrotex size 70. I didn’t feel like getting up to go get my box of stuff that would contain the needles I usually use, so I thought I would try these.

 

Stitching_All_Better

My seems instantly became straighter, and I barely had to touch the fabric as it feeds through. Shown below are two seems. The one on the left looking like I was drinking heavily, and the top one is after the needle change.

 

Stitching_Compare

 

Now, I don’t know whether to feel smart, that the new needle solved two problems, or dumb that I didn’t do it earlier.
So here is what I learned:

1) I only use my Featherweight for piecing, therefore it dosn’t need a 80 or 90 size needle.
2) Because I only use my FW for piecing, the needles do not break, therefore I will have to employ the rarely used sewing technique of replacing a prefectly good looking needle, just because it’s probably time.
3) When your machine is skipping like a school girl, it does NOT mean it’s happy.

I promptly placed the remaining 70 size needles in my Featherweight gear bag, where they now belong. Then I oiled her because I couldn’t remember that last time I did that, either. In my defense, I’ve only had Mustang for a year, and I overhauled her good when I got her. If she likes 70 size needles I will get her all she wants.

The package discription says:

“The very fine and tapered point of this Microtex needle is ideal for very fine fabrics, preventing runs. Recommended for silk, microfiber, batiste, organza, fine muslin and taffeta. Also recommended where discrete seams with very fine thread are desired”

But don’t let that fool you. It’s ok to use a 70 size needle for piecing quilting cotton, just like it’s ok to change a perfectly good looking needle after a year of sewing – preferably before  begining a new project. The perfectly executed stitches are all the evidence we need.

 

All_Seems_Matter

 

#AllSeamsMatter #ChangeYourNeedle #GoSmall

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Ugly Jelly Quilt

Ugly Jelly Quilt

This project was really a test run of my newly aquired 1937 Featherweight, that was in mediocre condition upon arrival. I cleaned, oiled, greased, and polished to a fairly nice condition, made a case tote and bed cover for it, and wanted to perfect the tension settings [1937 models do not have numbers on the tension] and get that coveted 1/4″ stitch.
I while picking up some fabric for the interior of my FW case tote, I also had picked up a couple of strip [commonly called “Jelly”] rolls on sale, and thought they’d make a nice napping quilt, since nothing I currently had matched my bedroom, or would cover my feet.
FW_Case_Tote02

The rolls were mixed browns and looked like a bunch of fun all rolled up and ready to rock my world. They practically begged me to make something of them!
I did the research on jelly roll quilts and they typically turn out to be 50″ by 64″. I knew that wouldn’t warm my toes, so I did some math and added a yard of brown swirly fabric, and a yard of an accent color so it the quilt wouldn’t be quite so brownish.
So, I had my plan, and my stitch width guide from Nova’s Featherweight store, and was ready to go!
When I unrolled the strips, I was taken back by all the loud gold splattered all over them! One strip was camo, one looked like an ugly brick, some were pleasing, but all with this shiny gold haphazardly spilled across it. It looked like a disaster. I put on my sunglasses, and proceded to sew them together anyway.
When my boss asked me to work Sat and Sunday, I thought of my FW that I couldn’t wait to try out, and then remembered the fabric so ugly I had to sneak up on it to sew it, and I said I would. So the “Jelly roll race quilt” that’s suposed to take about an hour would have to be done in bits and pieces, and that was ok.

UJ_Fabrics

One thing these Jelly Roll strip quilt instructions don’t tell you is that there is a reason all these quilts turn out to be 50″by 60″. Because after sewing all the strips end to end, each time you fold the strip in half and sew up the side seam you loose half the width. Once you get to a strip set about 100″ long, you have 2 pieces 32″ wide, resulting in the 50″ by 64″ not-wide-enough-or-long-enough-quilt. I mean who uses these 50″by 60″ quilts anyway? Well, probably kids, but I’m not a kid anymore. I just act like it sometimes.

Here’s the detailed mathimagical reason why:

Using the standard Jelly Roll Race Quilt Recipe, your first strip will be  1600″ long and 2.5″ wide
Then you grab the two ends and sew them right sides together for about 800″ long, making it a 2 piece strip set 4.5″ wide
Then you grab the two ends and sew them right sides together for about 400″ long, making it a 4 piece strip set 8.5″ wide
Then you grab the two ends and sew them right sides together for about 200″ long, making it an 8 piece strip set 16.5″ wide
Then you grab the two ends and sew them right sides together for about 100″ long, making it a 16 piece strip set 32.5 wide
and finally,  you grab the last two ends and sew them right sides together for about 50″ long resulting in one piece consisting of a 32 piece strip set 64.5″ wide. If you continue, you’d have a 25″ by 128″ quilt which nobody is shaped like.

You didn’t think I was going to tell you why I act like a kid sometimes, did you?

I came up with this “Random Organised Jelly Roll Quilt” recipe for those over thinkers who do not like complete, caution to the wind style randomness [like me] and want a bigger jelly roll quilt. This will result in an aprox 70″ wide by 80″ long quilt perfect for twin size bed or a nice couch nap.

Ingredients:

2 rolls of 20 strips = 40 mixed browns
14 strips of brown swirl [cut from one yard of fabric] to dilute the ugly and make it bigger
= 54 total brown strips
14 green/blue/brown floral accent strips cut from one yard of fabric, and then cut in 2 pieces = 28 half length strips

Random Organised pattern to avoid simular colors grouping and forming cliques, because nobody likes cliques in real life :

divide by number of accent half strips /28 = 1.9 or round up to 2
So we place one half length accent strip [AC] for every 2 brown strips
but to mix the assorted [ugly] browns with the brown swirl, we have to divide the 40 mixed brown pieces by the 14 brown swirl pcs
40/14=2.8 so 3 Brown Mixed [BM] strips from roll, then 1 Brown Swirl [BS] strips cut from one yard
Pattern = 4 browns and 2 accents would be a 6 pc repeat like this
AC/BM/BM/AC/BM/BS/ . . . AC/BM/BM/AC/BM/BS/ . . . AC/BM/BM/AC/BM/BS/
I sewed the strip ends together in the diagonal pattern instead of straight across. The first strip was about 2800″ long. Then I sewed the two ends together and got a 2 piece strip set aprox 1400″ long. I was planning on doubling it one more time and cutting 10 strips 70″ long, but I like the pattern I saw emerging with the half accent strips at that point, so I cut that 1400″ strip in to 20 pieces 70″ long, and carried them to the bedroom to lay out in my desired pattern.

UJ_numbers

I then numbered a bunch of clothes pins, and placed them on the ends so that all I had to do is play  “match and sew” See how ugly these are up close? Thank God for that brown swirl!

UJ_Quilting

My mega sewing table with all the incerts installed. Ok, well some call it an extending dining table, but we’ll never eat on it. There’s a mighty Viking Husqarna sewing machine in there somewhere, and you can see how those half strip accents came together in an intresting way.

Other details: I used 80/20 Nature’s Touch by Pellon quilt batting, and 505 spray basting. That’s why you don’t see a lot of safety pins. The spray basting is TEMPORARY, so you want to start quilting it imediately, which I did.

After adding a 4.5″ border on only the sides, the final result was 77″ wide by 86″ long. I did the quilting via “Stitch in the Ditch” straight across using my walking foot, every 2 strips or 4″. After washing, it shrank nicely for an all over scrunchiness of 74″ wide by 82″ long. and it’s not so ugly anymore!

Ugly_Jelly

And there you have it! The perfect napping quilt that only a color blind husband [who’s only apperant short comming is failing to close his drawers completely] and a “just can’t do random” person could love!

#UglyJellyQuilt #WhereAreMySunglasses #IfItsStillUglyYouDidntCutItSmallEnough #JustcantDoRandom