Quilt Retreat: Quilt, Eat, Sleep, Repeat!

High on the (very) short list of things to love about living here: spending the weekend quilting (and eating and sleeping) in an 850-year-old monastery. The Kloster Schoental, to be exact. The condensed version: good food, good company, good quilting, happy weekend.

The uncut version: Kloster Schoental is about one hour from my house, the last 20 minutes or so through little towns and scenic curvy roads. The Black Forest Quilt Guild has held it’s spring Quilt Retreat there every year for the last three, I think, and it’s just wonderful. The monastery has been modernized of course, but not to the point of losing it’s essence. We had a giant well lit room for quilting, and single or double rooms for sleeping. They feed us five times a day (yes, FIVE!): breakfast, coffee and tea break with pretzels and savory pastries, lunch, coffee or tea break with sweet cakes, and dinner, and drinks are available anytime. There’s plenty of room for everyone to spread out everywhere, for relaxing, quilting, talking, quilt basting, Irish dancing (really!), whatever. Continue reading Quilt Retreat: Quilt, Eat, Sleep, Repeat!

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Bernina 440 – Free motion foot is a drag

So we’re still making friends here, my new Bernina and I. Doing some free motion quilting and getting to know each other better. When I used the machine in the workshop at the Museum, I was working on sample sandwiches with no patchwork, just two pieces of plain fabric with batting in between. The quilt sandwiches moved and glided like a hot knife through butter. I’m having some issues with that gliding thing here at home though, when I’m working on an actual quilt, and it’s more like slogging through mud sometimes than gliding. Some of this can probably be attributed to the difference in size: the samples were about 18″ square, and this Irish Chain quilt is, well, lots bigger obviously.

The foot on the Bernina sits lower and closer to the quilt than the free motion foot on the Pfaff…

I ordered a Free Motion Supreme Slider to hopefully help with the drag. I thought maybe just the difference in the machine bed texture and angle could be causing me some adjustment issues. Got the Slider, love it (the Supreme is way better than the first edition, BTW, since it has the self adhesive back, you have to get one of these things!), and things are better, but free motion quilting is still a drag in spots. What is this??? I’ve finally realized today that the problem is the free motion foot! The foot on the Bernina sits lower and closer to the quilt than the free motion foot on the Pfaff, and the Bernina foot catches on thick seam allowances sometimes, and creates way more drag on the whole quilt. I’m quilting along just fine, and then the drag starts, and I get smaller stitches. Then when the foot finally makes it over the lump of the seam allowance, the whole quilt jumps and I get a giant stitch before I can compensate. Even on wide open spaces, I also notice the fabric being pushed around by the foot more sometimes than it ever was on the Pfaff, just from the thickness of the batting. What to do??

I begin to wonder if the people who design and engineer these machines ever actually make a real quilt with them. Do they have real quilters test them out at all? If they did, wouldn’t this kind of thing have been noticed before? Continue reading Bernina 440 – Free motion foot is a drag

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! Continue reading Making friends with the Bernina 440

Bernina 440 LOVE!

Okay, I’m officially in LOVE with this machine, from top to bottom and side to side. Oh, BTW, I just want to point out that I did NOT buy a sewing machine, no. This is a “sewing computer!” Really, it says so in the manual. Nowhere does is say “sewing machine” when referring to this “thing,” and since it has a USB port and something that looks suspiciously like a PS2 port, it’s obviously not just stuck on itself or being snobby. Maybe that’s why we already get along so well, since I’m admittedly somewhat of a confirmed techie girl. Anyway, to continue…

Bird designI’m officially in LOVE with this sewing computer. Right now, as I type this on my laptop computer, the machine sits here stitching away on a nice little bird embroidery design, and it’s the laptop computer that’s controlling the stitching. This embroidery unit that goes with the Bernina 440 works hand in hand with the Bernina Embroidery Software EditorLite on the laptop. I opened the embroidery file (which I just purchased online this morning!), changed the thread colors in the design to match what I had on hand here and wanted to use, and told the software to write to the sewing computer. Another program called the PC to EC (Personal Computer to Embroidery Computer) opens up automatically, and makes the link to the embroidery unit which is hooked to the Bernina 440.

At this point, you can move the design in the hoop, zoom in or out, Continue reading Bernina 440 LOVE!

2 x Nadine! Coincidence, or just great minds thinking alike?

Here’s a pic of my friend Nadine and I at the BFQ Guild meeting last Friday evening:

Nadine and Nadine, thinking of Bernina 440!

What was especially funny about this? We were probably both thinking “The meeting is fun, but I can’t wait to go home and play with my new Bernina!” Each of us had just purchased the Bernina 440 (me that very day, her exactly three weeks before), but we had not had any time together to share the news when this picture was taken! Nadine stopped by the blog to read the latest the day after the meeting, and was so surprised to hear that I bought the Bernina, that she said, “as we say in German – had problems to close my mouth again…” 🙂

Nadine took my machine quilting class a few years ago, and bought the Pfaff 2056 in December partly because I had it, and because of some of the features the machine had. She never fell in love with it for machine quilting, but I didn’t know it. So she made the decision to buy the Bernina 440, and she is now happy with both machines. I think I will be the same: using the Bernina for machine quilting, especially the free motion, and using the Pfaff for piecing and machine guided quilting since it has the IDT (or dual feed). I also bought the embroidery unit for the Bernina, to replace the Pfaff 2124 sewing/embroidery machine that I sold!

So, 2 Nadines + 2 Pfaff 2056 machines + 2 Bernina 440 machines = 2 great minds thinking alike!!

Bernina Aurora 440 – First Impressions

I did it! I bought the Bernina 440 with the BSR! Now, as of this moment, I’ve truly had very little time to play, since I picked it up on my way to the Black Forest Quilt Guild meeting last night, and it was very late when I got home. Then this morning, I taught the first part of the Machine Quilting – Master the Basics class at the Gussy Goose. I do want to share some of my first impressions with you, before I go and play this afternoon.

It’s interesting that when you buy a machine like this in Germany, they don’t open the machine and set it up and run it before they hand it over. When I worked for a Pfaff dealership in the States years ago, they would set the machine up and run it at high speed (unthreaded) for at least an hour. The called it “sewing it in,” and no machine left the store without this first sew in. At least you knew, when you got it home, that it was going to work. The dealer handed me my Bernina, and the box still had the plastic straps on it from the factory, so obviously that kind of thing doesn’t happen here. Not a big deal, I suppose, but I did have this vision of opening the box and setting the thing up and finding something wrong last night, and then not being able to fix it until today or Monday.

There was absolutely nothing wrong with the machine though, Continue reading Bernina Aurora 440 – First Impressions