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Friday, April 1, 2016

If it ain't broke...You know the rest.

If you have followed the blog...a huge thanks...or even if you've just browsed through it you have read that we believe and I follow most certainly, "If it ain't broke..." Well I wasn't sure with the quilt I loaded yesterday. Don't read anything into it. The piecer is one of the best. But it was the first top I've received that required a fork lift...slight exaggeration...but close. It was 75X83 and all denim. Heavy to say the least. Thick seams, absolutely. The back was a good quality cotton and it was to have batting. It is headed for a relative of the piecer in Wisconsin. Apparently it gets cold there. If he's not crushed I know he'll be warm under the finished quilt.

The machine and needle both knew, as did I, when going through the seam where four corners came together.

 So everything was about to be tested. My Innova, 22", 12' Table, Superior Threads, Omni V (variegated), and my needles, Groz-Beckert, #16, and my system of floating the top. Floating is something with the exception of one quilt I have always done. I no longer accept quilts with excessively wavy borders like the one I had to load without floating. Since then I've never met a top I couldn't float. The piecer's are understanding and have redone the borders when needed, which in the long run, benefited everyone. For me it is about the ability to control the top. I baste across the top, both sides as I roll and the bottom when I get there. I use magnets across the quilt as I go. For me this has minimized the "draw-in" associated with the quilting process in longarming.

After choosing a pattern, in this case Fantasy Flames by Jessica Schick from, my fav by the way for buying patterns, followed by Anne Bright.  I fired everything up. Oh, okay, I turned on the longarm and the tablet so I could use my Panto Vision. Have I mentioned if it weren't for Panto Vision I wouldn't be a longarmer. True by the way. So how did it go?

Well it is an Innova, a machine that has proven to me over the last three and a half years, with no maintenance beyond the drop of oil at bobbin changes, more than four hundred quilts, the occasional tension adjustments and one loose connection between the machine and tablet that required a phone call to the 24/7-365 support provided by ABM International to correct, it performed flawlessly. Honestly, the Innova had no clue it was denim.

Superior Threads new Omni V. This was only the second quilt I've used the new "V" on. Unless requested by the piecer I use Omni exclusively. For me it doesn't get any better. I've tried numerous others and they all end up being donated to another quilter. In this case the variegation was a dark green, burgundy, purple, navy combination. It was chosen to give some color to the top and was pulled from the colors of the motorcycle print of the back. You need to look closely to see the color on the top, but it's there without distracting from the quilt. Using it along with the Groz-Beckert #16 the whole quilt was completed without any thread breakage and the needle was performing in the last inch of sewing as it did in the first inch. In regards to tension I had to make a very minor correction to the bobbin case (the one supplied and recommended by ABM/Innova and found to be the most reliable for me after trying many others) to accommodate the denim and get what I consider to be the look of good tension, no top on the bottom and no bottom on the top.

To say I am pleased with the results and not have the quilting over power the quilt and remain consistent with my goal to "compliment the piecer's work", I feel is the final result in this case. Hopefully you would agree.

It is also consistent with my adopted "If it ain't broke..." I must say I was somewhat hesitant. I had read on other blogs, magazine articles and heard the horror stories and cautions of working with denims. I had to carefully weigh what others have said, many with way more experience than I, before loading this top. I have quilted other tops that had pieces of denim, but never all denim. When it came to pushing the 'go' button I had to fall back on my experiences and what has worked for me in the past, whether cottons, minky's, T's, Batiks, flannels or poly's. And now denim.

Thanks to Valerie Schlake, the Longarm Network (my dealer), ABM/Innova and the quality products from Superior Threads, Groz-Beckart and great digital pattern designers like Jessica Schick, someone it Wisconsin will be just a little warmer next winter and hopefully pleased to display this quilt so carefully and skillfully crafted by one of his relatives I'm fortunate enough to longarm for.

Ready to be squared and bound

Speaking of quilting...This is Zane, our grandson. He will be six in June. You see him holding his first block. He and Grammy, who is in PA with him, son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter until sometime mid April, sat on Grammy's lap and completed his first block. They are working on a table runner for the dining room table. We may just have another quilter in the making. Our beautiful granddaughter, under Grammy's supervision, made her dad his Quilt of Valor and has worked on several others since. What can I say...besides being a proud Gramps.

Quilt till you wilt...we do.