Monday, May 14, 2007

Notes for the Survival Guide

I'm still working on my grandson's quilt. I didn't get much done on it this weekend with Mother's Day and all, but I've learned some valuable lessons. I now know that I can't trust basting spray to hold my sandwich together until I get some stabilizing lines sewn. I "stitched in the ditch" between the sashing rows and I think the sandwich shifted so that the backing fabric was off. As a result, the quilt ended up slightly wonky. I also know it's VERY difficult to tear out quilting stitches, so after giving it an honest effort, I just left the lines they way they were. I'm hoping that my grandson doesn't notice. Of course, that will be difficult, since I'll obsessively point out this major flaw to anyone who comes NEAR the quilt.

The second thing I learned is that, if my tension for free-motion quilting is fine, but my stitches suddenly start acting out-of-control (the bobbin thread showing on the top, for example), NOT to tighten the tension. That is, apparently, what's been causing the needles to break, and it doesn't resolve the problem. Instead, what actually seems to work is to rethread the machine, and take the bobbin out and put it back in (thank you, Sandra, for the suggestion to back off the tension when I was breaking needles left & right!).

Finally, I learned that I don't really like all this nice, patterned, geometric quilting. I had much more fun with the first quilt I made, which was more free-form. That's what I'm going back to with the next project.

We were out this weekend and I happened to check at Harbor Freight for an airbrush compressor. Sure enough, they had one on sale. I bought my airbrush months ago to paint glass, but I never got around to learning to use it. Plus, the idea of hooking it up to the monster compressor that I use for my sandblaster was too frightening, so the airbrush has been resting on the top shelf of the closet until I could get a small compressor. This particular model can be used in either single-action or dual-action mode. Single-action means that pressing the button releases both air and paint; dual-action requires pushing down for air, sliding back for paint (sort of a rub-your-tummy-pat-your-head trick).

At this point, I wish I had just been brave enough to buy the dual-action, instead of thinking, "well, if I'm completely uncoordinated, I'll just stick with single-action mode." I'm managing single-action just fine (and it's a LOT of fun!), but switching over to double-action on the brush is tricky and involves spinning a little wheel back and forth, and I can't quite figure out whether I'm doing it wrong or whether the brush is not working correctly. It came with a video tape (fortunately, we still have a VCR!) so I'll have to rewatch it and practice changing the brush from single-action to dual-action. Anyway, I brushed a scrap piece of fabric I had lying around, and I love effects and the way you can gradiate the color from very light to very dark.

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