Making friends with the Bernina 440

One day, I’m in love with it, and a few days later, we’re still making friends! Well, I am still in love with my new Bernina, but I’m also still trying to be friends with it for machine quilting. The embroidery part is absolutely awesome, and I like it much better than the Pfaff, so that’s not the issue. Free motion machine quilting is the issue, and it’s a biggie, since that’s what I do most, and the major reason I wanted the machine. I had such a great time with it in Paducah, so I wasn’t thinking that the adjustment from the Pfaff would be all that difficult. In my mind, there was no adjustment period, I think. In reality, it’s a huge change, and I’m still getting used to it.

Part of the problem is that in Paducah, I was doing a completely different type of quilting than I usually do (which is why I took the class in the first place!). So now, when I’m home and working on quilting in my (mostly) normal style, it’s proving more challenging than I thought it would be to produce the same quality work on the Bernina as I can on the Pfaff. I say “mostly” normal style, because I did decide to quilt the Irish Chain quilt with silk thread in the needle and Aurifil 50/2 in the bobbin, so I’m making smaller stitches than I usually do, and that’s undoubtedly contributing to the problem a bit. When I’m making smaller stitches, it’s not the rhythmic sound of one stitch at a time from the machine that I’m listening to and trying to coordinate with, but the pitch of the motor at a certain speed. Totally different ballgame here. Maybe I’m trying to get used to too many things at once.

I’m beginning to feel like a beginning machine quilter again! Aaack! My students would probably think that’s a good thing that I’m feeling their pain. I just keep trying to keep in mind how long it took to get used to my new car. Yeah, I know, totally unrelated, but it’s the last major thing that changed for me. I’d had an SUV for six years and I bought a Mustang, and though I LOVED the Mustang the instant I saw it/sat in it/started it up on pick up day (what’s not to love?), there were times in that first couple of months (or maybe even three?) that I wondered if I’d ever get used to it. It was just totally different inside and out, and handled completely differently as well. I am used to it now, five months or so later (though I still try to release the parking brake with my left hand down under the dash before I back out of the driveway, even after I’ve already really done it with my right! 🙂 ), so I guess there’s hope for the Bernina, too.

I wonder if I should change projects, and work on something that I would be quilting with cotton thread instead of silk, so that I’d be making my normal bigger stitches while getting used to the machine more? Even with that though, I’ve been trying to migrate my free motion stitch length to be shorter overall, so it was kind of in a state of flux before the arrival of the Bernina. I guess it’s a good thing I have lots of UFO’s! Yet another reason for not feeling guilty about the stacks of those UFO’s hanging around, since I can use them to get used to the new machine.

One of my students in the Machine Quilting—Master the Basics class last Saturday brought a quilt in to show me that she’d made in a class with me years ago, and hers is finished, bound and everything, and my sample for the class still sits here in quilt top form! Eeesh. (BTW, that is not guilt you’re hearing from me, it’s envy…) I even have backing sitting here waiting to use for that quilt, so maybe the time has come to resurrect Tribble Trouble and finish the poor thing. It’s a fun quilt in fall colors, and every time I get the itch to quilt it and finish it up, it’s already September, and I know I can’t finish it before winter sets in, so I just don’t even go there. If I started quilting it now, maybe I could have a new fall quilt to hang or snuggle under when the leaves start to turn this year. Hmmm…