Cheshire Cat?

Now you see her, now you don’t? Yes, that’s me! Two weeks ago I opted out of my own 30-day challenge, stopping at 20 days in a row of blogging. And since then was Thanksgiving, with several days of family fun. Besides that, I’ve been trying to finish some projects — don’t know if you know this, but the end of 2017 is rolling right up! (And not a moment too soon, huh? Heckuva a year, and not all in the good way…)

Right now I have three quilts in progress. Two are from my medallion class. Christmas Is Coming! needs binding attached.

The other is the bear’s paw quilt, which is still on the frame. Well, in fact, it is AGAIN on the frame. It is again on the frame because I’m having thread tension trouble on my longarm. Remember this?

This was the worst of it, but not the last of it. After struggling with getting the tension settings improved, I decided to take the quilt off the frame and putting a testing sandwich on. Prior to taking it off, I basted all the way around the edge, and also used great big stitches to baste through the body of the quilt. The basting stabilized the piece, so layers would stay put for returning to the frame later.

My test sandwich got covered with stitching. I managed to get the top and bottom tension adjusted well, but still had intermittent messy looping areas on the back. When the tension is BAD and there is looping, it’s because the tension is bad. When the tension is GOOD and there’s looping, it’s often because the thread is catching somewhere, like a rough spot in the thread path. I’ve done this long enough to know some of the places to look. (I have a long list of them, if you are interested.) I worked through all those things that I could. While it improved, it still wasn’t as good as it should be.

I called the company and spoke with the head technician. He agreed I’d done all the right things and asked me to bring the machine to the factory. Fortunately, that’s only about a half hour away from me, so I took it the same day. After two hours working with a technician, the best we could come up with was replacing an inexpensive part, the last thread guide above the eye of the needle.

Before returning to my bear’s paw project, I wanted to test it again on something small. Son’s fiancee likes seasonal decorating and I hoped to make a table runner for her for Christmas. I figured that would be a good project to test quilt. After all, if there was looping on the back, it wouldn’t matter. When used as intended, no one would see the back!

I tend to make things more, rather than less complicated. So I had to fight my instincts and make this a simple project. I made three puss-in-the-corner blocks with fussy-cut centers. (Yeah, I couldn’t go all the way to simple!) I set them on point and framed them with a border. I had a piece of appropriate fabric for the back. So I loaded it all up and quilted it.

(There is more to the story of how the quilting went and what happened next. That part of the story will come later this week.)

The last step on the table runner was the binding. I had just the right amount of just the right fabric. However, when it came to attaching it, I wasn’t sure how! All my quilts prior to this have had squared 90° corners. This also had 45° angles. Have you used them before, or other angles than 90°?

This morning I watched a video tutorial that explained how.

Here is my finished table runner.

The table runner has the edge of red binding. Underneath it is another quilt on the table.

Taking a couple of extra minutes to fussy cut the centers made these simple blocks look fancy.

Can you see the figure-8 Christmas tree stitched into this setting triangle? Another easy way to make an easy project look more intricate.

I’m off and running again. Thanks for reading! I always read comments and try to respond promptly. If I don’t get back to you soon, it’s because I’m offline. See you soon!

26 thoughts on “Cheshire Cat?

  1. KerryCan

    Reading about the slings and arrows of machine quilting makes me glad to be a hand quilter! But your “test the tension” project is lovely and will make your d-i-l-to-be very happy!

  2. Cindy Anderson

    I can absolutely relate to your tension issues on your longarm machine. I have had my own struggles on mine as well. When they work they are an awesome tool to use….when they don’t…..argh!

  3. tierneycreates

    The image of threads gone awry gives me chills! It is like a quilter horror photo – yikes! Sorry to read about your tension challenges on your long-arm. But the finished tablerunner looks lovely! 🙂

  4. katechiconi

    That’s a lovely table runner, irrespective of any caterpillar action on the underside.
    I want to thank you for including the YouTube video on mitred bindings for different angles, because it solves the long point problem for me. I’d worked out the 45° angle but couldn’t work out what to do with all the excess fabric for a sharp point. Sadly, I can’t pin it to my Hints and Tips board as Pinterest’s browser button has stopped working, so hopefully I’ll remember when the time comes to use it again.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Thank you, Kate. If you need to find it again, likely you can just google it. Use a search phrase something like quilt binding for odd angles. Should come up with something helpful.

  5. Judy

    The table runner is so pretty. I really like the colors. You did beautiful work. I have fabric for a table runner but have never made it as yet.

  6. allisonreidnem

    That table runner is great – the fussy cut blocks are really attractive focal points. I’ve made several runners the same shape as yours and just ‘fiddled’ the mitres on the corners with unusual angles. Thanks for providing the link to the how to video.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Thanks, Allison. I’d been having a bad day getting things done when I figured at least I could get that binding done. And then I discovered I didn’t know how!! But it was easy to look up, and I thought this video was really clear and helpful. Hope it helps you, too.

  7. Kerry

    Great to see your machine is now playing along nicely. Love the tree and that is a very pretty table runner. All tips gratefully received as I have intermittent hairy caterpillars underneath my quilts. My daughter has bagged the one I’m working on and she doesn’t mind – pets that don’t need feeding is her take on them!

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Thanks, Kerry. Do you have a longarm? If so, what brand? Each will be different (and I think each individual machine, even of same brand, will have its own quirks.) I’d be glad to offer some ideas for getting your caterpillars under control, if you’d like. Shoot me an email and we can visit about it.

      1. Kerry

        Sadly I don’t. Mine is a Janome Memory Craft and I forget the number 6500 I think – one of the first early ones I guess. Sounds like Tim Taylor’s Tool Time! Low shank too, making ruler work a little challenging, although I prefer the Westerlee ruler foot to the Janome version. Just invested in some purple tip needles to see if that makes a difference. Looked under the quilt last night and I have the shaggiest eyebrow ever underneath! But it’s too late now, I’ve finished so now it needs binding. I may address the eyebrow later though because that’s really bugging me! LOL! But next year I’m hoping for a longarm – getting ready to move house which should have plenty of room for my toys! 😀


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