Saturday, May 30, 2009


So after a wonderful sunny afternoon seeing my niece graduate from the same Catholic High School (Our Lady of Good Counsel Academy) that my daughter graduated from 4 years ago, I spent the evening playing again with my 830. And yes, I think I made good progress.

I realized that I was threading the top thread wrong.... through the wrong spindle. You see, the 830 has 3 cone holders, one that is considered the front spindle and uses two guides when you are winding the bobbin and two additional spindles that each have their own guide. Well of course, once I wound the bobbin, I just assumed that when you threaded the top thread, that you used two guides as well. WRONG! As I was sewing I noticed that every time the thread broke, if I looked up the thread was twisted over the guides. So I looked in the book and the picture that went along with loading top thread showed only one guide in use, vs the picture for winding the bobbin. And if I had bothered to read the text, vs assuming I knew what I was doing after winding the bobbin, then I would have known that it says use 'the' corresponding guide for the 'spindle' you placed the cone on... duh!@!@!. 'the', 'spindle' these are singular parts of speech, singular as in ONE, not two!@!@!.

With this new knowledge under my belt, I attempted once again to free motion quilt using my favorite Superior Rainbow thread. Much better... but still every once and a while the error message indicating I was out of top thread would appear. Since I knew I had a full cone, something had to be wrong. Taking a closer look, I noticed that the thread was no longer in the round whole on the side of the machine... somehow it had slipped out of the sensor that detects the top thread. So I lowered the tension to 1, vs the 2 or 2.25 that was working so well on the YLI and Coats and Clark threads. Whoo Hoo!!! no more breaks, no more spit ups... just smooth sailing.
I feel much better!! Tomorrow, I will try a larger piece to ensure I have cracked the mystery. But for now I fell good. :-)

I've been playing...

As you can imagine, I have been playing whenever I can get a free moment with my new Bernina 830. OMG... this thing does so much, I will never figure it all out. So this week, I decided to play with the BSR and some of my favorite threads to see what it is like to free motion quilt on this baby.

Well, first I had to figure out how the BSR works... took me a few seconds, but it wasn't hard. The book, DVD and screen do a good job of walking you through how to use it. Next came the actual quilting. First I used Superior Masterpiece with Bottomline in the bobbin. Once I adjusted the tension to 3.5, all was fine... it purred like a baby. Quilting was smooth, just as long as I didn't try to go to fast. Then it peeped at me :-). Next, still with Bottomline in the bobbin, I tried one of my favorite threads, Superior Rainbow... ughhh... talk about breakage and spit up. No, 3.5 was not going to make it. After trying tension settings ranging from 1.0 to 4.0 (the default) I gave up and tried another thread. The YLI variegated worked like a charm at a tension setting of 2.25. I was able to do feathers, swirls and echoed swirls, with no issues, still with the Bottomline as the bobbin thread. Next up was Coats and Clarks twisted variegated. It too like the Rainbow was problematic... spit up on the back, jumped stitches, breakage... you name it, it did it. I wonder if because the Superior Rainbow and CC twisted variegated have a sheen, unlike the flat Masterpeice and YLI, if it causes the problem... or maybe because they are a heavier thread. I tried changing needles to a Sharp 90/14 (I don't know what comes in the 830 straight out of the box, so I thought maybe a new needle.)... no help!

I tried re-threading the bobbin, and top thread... no luck. Has anyone had this issue? Is there a secret tension setting guide for the 830? Or a 830 blog, that I should join??

I will try to make it to the shop tomorrow where I purchased my machine, but my schedule is tight and the person who knows it all, isn't there on Sundays. So any insight by anyone reading this is appreciated...

Monday, May 25, 2009


OK... what a weekend this turned out to be. On Friday night I told everyone that my new Bernina 830 was in, but with the Craft Show on Saturday, I wouldn't be able to pick it up until Sunday... ughhh!

As it turned out, we would have had time to pick up my new baby, if my DH wasn't in such a hurry to get me home to my Surprise Birthday Party!! My children, under the direction of my oldest, Raven, who snuck into town, organized and threw me a surprise 50th Birthday Party. My birthday was actually on the 5th, but we haven't been home a single weekend in May. Actually, she had started planning this in December, but yes, the first 3 weekends of May, were already booked by then... sorry Sweetie :-)

Anyway, so Saturday afternoon, no go, but for good reason :-).... Sunday, with recuperation, I didn't think I would get my DH up and out to go help me get it... but he did... good thing. There were no men in the store with the long weekend and we definitely needed muscle to move this baby... yeah! So home it came, but with dinner and spending time at my Mom's, there wasn't much play time.

But boy, oh boy... taking this baby out of the box is overwhelming. Talk about a lot of stuff!! By the time I was able to set it up and listen to the first 50 minutes of the instructional DVD, it was time to get dinner going. But here are some pics of the boxes as they moved into my studio, and the Thank You message that is right under the top of the box with the machine in it. Yes, there is more than one huge box. The biggest is the 830 of course, but the embroidery module box is also a pretty good size as you can see.

Here is a picture of it sitting in place in my studio. They say you need a 20" x 7" hole for this baby, but it is really more like 20.5". This baby just made it in the opening in my sewing table top.... boy was it close! Here are some of the pictures of the stuff that comes with it. 10 feet in all, including the BSR and 5 of those nice large bobbins. Supposedly they hold 40% more thread than the other Bernina bobbins, but I am not sure it is more than 10-20% larger than the Viking bobbins I have been using over the last 10 years.I really like the 3 large spool holders. I use a lot of Superior Threads and it is definitely more economical to but the large cones, which before meant I had to use one of their Cone Stands, which is still sitting off to the side. Now I can have my bobbin spool loaded as well as two different spools for the top. Sweet!

So after watching the DVD, it was time for dinner and then off to my Mom's. So it was after 9pm before I was able to sit back down and play. I followed the directions for threading the machine and loading the bobbin, and of course I had issues at first, but got that up and going. Now it was time to sew.... I played with the straight, zigzag and satin stitches.... the ones I use the most and although my baby sews extremely smooth, there is a definite difference to the feel of the Bernina 830 then my old Viking 535. It will take some time to learn, but I had to use what seemed like a smaller satin stitch setting to get the look I aim for on my Viking. But hey, that's ok with me.

I didn't fool with too many stitches, because I was anxious to try free motion quilting... with and without the BSR. I played last night, using the BSR and the foot control. Here is my initial attempt. I have had heard some machine quilters are who pretty good, say they didn't like the BSR, so I was anxious. It definitely felt clumsy initially, but I think with some time at the machine, I can get the hang of it.
Today, I picked up where I left off and played with the BSR, but with no foot control... boy oh boy, much smoother. But it still will take some getting used to. Here is a view of today's work. Notice, not as many white pebbles caused by stopping to long as you change directions....
I found that today, using a bobbin loaded with Superiors Bottomline and Superior Masterpiece in the top, I had to adjust the tension a little. Otherwise, it kept skipping stitches, breaking or indicating that the top thread was out. I didn't have to do that last night, when I was using the preloaded bobbin vs the Bottomline.

A couple of things to note from my first few hours of play.... why don't machine manufacturers include the basic quilting feet with the machine? I had to buy the 1/4" foot for my Viking and it looks like I will have to buy the 1/4" foot for the Bernina as well. I just think with 10 feet, the least expensive would probably be the 1/4" or patchwork foot as they call it. So why not include it??? Additionally, I could definitely see time I would like to quilt without the BSR.... why not include the open toe free motion quilting foot as well.... it is a machine sold in quilt stores... quilters are one of the top 2 primary markets for the machine. So again, why not include it in the box??? You know I am making a list of needed feet.... 1/4" open toe free motion, piping... and I am sure it will grow. Good think, there were plenty of envelopes at the B'Day party :-).

Oh well... enough for tonight.... I will have to find time to play tomorrow as well :-)

Friday, May 22, 2009

I'm So Excited!!!

I am SOOO EXCITED and I just can't hide it... (yes I know that is a song) :-) OK.... here it is.... I got a call today that my baby has arrived in the store. Baby, what baby you ask?

My new Bernina 830!!!

I can pick it up anytime after 2pm tomorrow. Unfortunately I don't think I will be back in town before the shop closes.... so it may have to wait until Sunday. But that is ok... I still have all day Monday to PLAY with my new BABY :-)

I'll post pictures once it is in place.... :-)

Monday, May 18, 2009

From Lemons to Lemonade

Sometimes you just don't know where your head is. That is how I felt the Friday night of retreat last month. I had a wonderful time, but it took me hours to get anything done on Friday. Once I got going, I couldn't understand why a piece I was making wouldn't lay flat. It was to be a large square in a square wallhanging. I had the purple center square in the neon green, the green in the hit pink and the hot pink in the black. But it wasn't until I put the black on did I notice it was waving at me. So, I took the black off. Still waving, so I took the pink off. Hmphh, the green and purple were flat, great. So I re-cut the pink, trimmed down the black and on they went. You guessed it, it was waving. So I took it apart again and once done, it looked pretty good. I put it away Friday night, saying a good steam dance in the morning and I could begin dressing up the background. Well I was wrong, squaring the piece up, made me realize the no amount of steam was going to solve whatever ailed this piece. So away it went... I wasn't wasting my weekend driving myself crazy. I put it away and started something else. Well, that was three weeks ago.

Last Thursday before getting ready to hit the road for my daughter's college graduation, I pulled it out. I took the pink and black off again and re-cut them, fresh from the yardage. I figured that the bias's must be way off for it to be waving so much. WRONG.... it still waved!!!! Standing over it, I decided to measure all my sections.... guess what.... the center square wasn't a square... it was a rectangle. Instead of measuring 12" square. It was 12" x 11"... !@!@!@! And NO I hadn't opened the bottle of wine Friday night. How could I have done such a thing? I am a measure twice, cut once type of gal. Well it happened... hence my lemon.... hmphh.... So, I left it on the cutting table and left for the weekend.

Then today while sitting all day in the Jury Panel room, waiting to be called, I sat and read the Libby Lehman book, Thread Play, Mastering Machine Embroidery, I had purchased at the Ricky Tims Super Seminar. And it hit me... I was going to use my lemons to practice my Thread Play. I always pull out some piece of fabric that doesn't thrill me anymore to practice quilting techniques on, so why not use this top that obviously wasn't going to be completed in it's present state. At least not by me.... I don't frog something 4 times!

Well, what do you think....
It is still a little warped, but I am fine with that. The thread square is not centered, but I did that intentionally, since the whole piece is off. I will steam it when I finish with the thread play and then block it after it is quilted. It isn't going to be an heirloom, just a practice piece. I think I will even practice bobbin thread feathers as part of the quilting (aka Ricky Tims).

First, I used a variegated purple, green, and blue Rainbow, Superior thread to create the square. Next since the variegated thread didn't have any pink, I added some pink using a Madeira rayon. Since I wanted the pink to stand out, I took a medium pink and began highlighting the square, then added a second layer of highlights in a lighter pink. Last, I outlined the square in the lightest pink, to give it some definition. I will use Libby's Ribbon technique to decorate the outer black section in pink, green, purple ribbons. I will probably use the Madiera rayon, as I like the sheen it has (plus I have it it two shades of all three colors, so I can get the highlight on the ribbon.) I am thinking of adding some small wonky square embroidery in the purple/pink/green areas.... just not sure yet.

Yep, I think I have the beginning's of a nice cool pitcher of Lemonade. Do you agree??

Friday, May 15, 2009

Practicing my Sphlats!

So how many of you know what a sphlat is??? Well I have the perfect quilt top for a sphlat, so I just had to learn how to make them. Thanks to Libby Lehman for the lesson at the Ricky Tims Seminar :-)

Here's my first attempt at a sphlat! I didn't use a hoop as I don't have one (I will get one for my new Bernina 830 when it comes in... heeheehee ).. so there is a bit of rippling. But that is ok, this was just for fun. I bet if I used some of Ricky's stabilizer, I could have eliminated that. Guess I will have to try that on the next sample.

I also realize that I truly do need to use three different thread colors to show the highlighting. I did the highlighting in inner parts of the curve in a deeper color gold. It doesn't show up well in this picture, but I do need a darker shade to give the effect of bent ribbon. I also studied some of Libby's quilts and sees that she brings the highlighting out a little more, to really show off the effect. Well, at least know I know what I need to do, before I actually add it to a quilt top. When I told my friend Ashley that I knew exactly which top I was going to do the thread play on, the first thing she said was... you are going to practice right :-).... she knows how much I love to just wing it! But no... this is something you practice first, so that is what I will do.

But that is for another night... now it is time to get some sleep.

Night... R....

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Ricky Tims Concert

Ok.. so I promised more on the concert Ricky Tims gave at the Super Seminar. Well neither my friend Ashley nor I knew quite what to expect. We knew he played the piano, I knew from The Quilt Show that he had a CD out. But that was it.

Well were we in for a surprise! He not only played the piano magnificently....and a toy piano from when he was 21 months old (poke him on Facebook and ask him to tell you that story :-) ).... but he also played a Didjeridu, a native Australian instrument played by the Aborigines. If you have never heard one before, it almost reminds me of rain falling ever so softly on a bed of pebbles :-). He moves the Didjeridu to the beat, so that the melodic sounds truly made you feel as if you were floating along a river bed. He also played an Indian flute... didn't catch the name, but it only plays 5 notes, and only one pitch. The song he used the Indian flute for was in honor of Indian warriors who had once inhabited the lands by where he lives in Colorado.It was a wonderful evening. He writes all his own music and lays down all his own tracks. He has a new Christmas CD coming out this fall, of which he played one of the songs.

I did capture about 1 1/2 minutes of the concert on video on my camera, but I don't know if I would be breaking some law by posting the video here, so you are all going to have to go out and buy his CD or go to a Super Seminar to hear him play :-).

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Ricky Tims Super Seminar: Frederick, Md

Oh what a weekend! Go... Run... full speed ahead to the closest Ricky Tims Super Seminar you can get to. Oh My Gosh.... I never anticipated that I would enjoy myself soooo much! First, we all know that Ricky is a talented quilter and show host... I had heard he was a gifted pianist... but I never knew he had such an entertaining personality and that he was an exquisite story teller (oh yeah, one great soft shoe salesman as well :-)).

I went with my friend and quilting buddy Ashley. Here she is with Alex Anderson and myself...
Both Alex and Libby Lehman (the thread play lady) were quest speakers at the Seminar. What a treat.

The seminar was extremely well organized, each session was 90 minutes, with 45 minute breaks and everything started and stopped on time... to the second. Ricky seems to have a thing about being on time, which for me is just wonderful!

We had sessions on designing quilts (convergence, klaidescope and rhapsody's) from Ricky. Using threads in the bobbin and ribbon painting from Libby, who broke her ankle Friday night :-(. Choosing fabric, hand quilting and choosing quilting motifs from Alex. Ricky also presented on Applique, pipings, bindings and machine quilting... including showing us how he does those phenominal feathers! I thought it would be overwhelming... like brain overload by the end of the 3 days but it wasn't. It was paced just right and Ricky was like a Stand-Up Comedian for quilters. He had us in stitches all weekend long... Whoo Hoo!

Of course, there was a market to buy Ricky's fabric, books and patterns. Both Libby and Alex had their books their as well. There was a Superior Thread supply with the signature threads of all three artists. Nice thing was they included time in breaks and lunch hours for autographs and book signings.

But best of all was to be able to see their quilts up close and personal. Each quilt on display was referred to in the seminar, with reference material in the Seminar handbook that related to a particular quilt. It was great, because during break you could go look at the quilt to get an understanding of the concepts covered in the lectures.

Ok... so here are some of the pictures.... Of course, I don't remember all the names, but you can tell whose they are by the styles :-)....

This piece was a collaboration between Ricky and his father. Can you believe after Ricky's grandmother passed away, both he and his father picked up quilting the same week, without ever discussing the subject with each other?

The Lone Star was done by Ricky's father and Ricky did the broken rhapsody. All the quilting was done by Ricky.

Totally amazing!

Here is another of Ricky's Rhapsody's with some close up shots....

The detail on this piece is amazing. If you have any of Ricky's Rhapsody books, you will recognize this quilt from one of the covers. He talked about how to achieve accurate machine applique stitching on your sewing machine and his favorite feet to get these results.

If you have ever seen any of Libby Lehman's work, then you will recognize this piece right off. I love the way the thread plays with the light and really keeps your eye moving around the piece. In the closeup, you can see that she uses three different threads in each color way, to give the effect of highlights. I was glad she had samples out on the hands on display table so I could get an up close view of the type of stitching and the amount of each color in proportion. I tried this after I got home. Not bad, but I do need practice.... alot of practice :-) (No this isn't my work... lol)

Lastly, before I call it a night, here is a picture of me with Ricky and Libby. Thanks guys for a wonderful 3 days!!!!!

Next post will have photo's of the concert Ricky performed for us on Friday night.

'Til then... sleep tight :-0

As promised... Mother's Day Pics

I normally don't post about things that aren't quilting related, but had to share......

First... breakfast in bed by my son...
French Toast, Fresh Berries, Homemade Blueberry Syrup and Bacon!

Next... Robert and Mom....

What a wonderful day it was....

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

Well, I know I have been away for awhile, but as always, life seems to get in the way. But before I go much further I just want to wish all my fellow quilting friends

Happy Mothers Day!

I do include all my friends, as in today's times mothering comes in many different forms. From mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and cousins, to single men raising children as Mr. Mom. As it has been said many times, it takes a village to raise a child.

For me, this is a wonderful time of the year. I have a daughter who graduates from LaSalle University next weekend, a son who just finished his freshman year at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) on the Deans List and I have crossed another milestone in life... another decade :-) older. This will be a wonderful month. GOD is Good!

Most people would say life can't get any better, but for me, it just seems to keep rolling. I spent the end of April, beginning of May at the Ricky Tims Super Seminar (I will post on that later in the week) and came home so inspired, that my desire for a new machine was just overwhelming. So my dear Hubby, said over and over again, Honey, you desire it... go get that Bernina you have been wanting. So yesterday, right before Mother's Day, I ordered a new Bernina 830! I don't know how I will be able to keep myself contained until it gets here, but boy or boy, I walked out of the store grinning from ear to ear (well some of the credit goes to my son, because just as I was finishing making my purchase, I received a text with his spring semester grades.... way to go Robert!).

So Life is Good, God is Great and Motherhood fits me just fine!

OK... off to Mom's where the whole clan gathers to celebrate my 82 year old mother!

P.S. I promise pictures with my next post. Including a picture of the breakfast tray, my fabulous son and husband fixed me this morning in bed. (PS... Raven is in Prague with her class, so Robert had to pick up the slack this morning with the traditional Mother's Day French Toast).