Oh no!

22 04 2013

There I was on Sunday afternoon — happily in my quilting zone, when all of a sudden something happened with my machine. I’ve learnt to listen to the ‘hum and purr’ of my Handi Quilter Sweet Sixteen and to stop immediately if anything sounds different.

This time it was a snapped needle — my second in a couple of weeks. In hindsight, I wonder if the first needle breakage put the timing out a tad and this caused the second one to go. Since the first needle snap (the first needle to break in 7.5+ million stitches), I’ve had all sorts of little issues — tension issues, skipped stitches etc. Nothing too bad, but annoying and time-consuming to fiddle with and fix. I’m also wondering if it’s the needle — this one was a Schmetz size 16, and I’m pretty sure the previous one that broke was a Schmetz too (I normally use the Groz-Beckert needles, but the only 16s I had were the Schmetzs supplied when I purchased the machine).

Anyhow, this needle is stuck firm in the bobbin case housing. No amount of pulling by me or my husband using needle-nose pliers, tweezers etc. would budge it.


Today I called the local sewing machine repair guy, but he can’t look at it for another two weeks at least. So I called my dealer in Perth and found out that her technician is in tomorrow and only has one machine scheduled for service etc. So I drove to Perth and back today to drop off my machine — of my 6+ hours out of the house today, 4+ were driving hours. At least the weather was great for driving!

With luck, the technician will be able to remove the needle tip tomorrow and reset the timing (which will be well and truly out) and that will be it and my husband can drive up to collect my ‘Bee’. The worst-case scenario is that I have to have the whole hook assembly replaced, which will entail not only an expense I wasn’t expecting, but also a longer wait for the part to come from Sydney or, even worse, from the US.

I’m sensing withdrawal symptoms already… 😉

Update 23 April 2013: The technician called. She was able to remove the needle tip and reset the timing, all for just under $50 (it seems a replacement assembly is about $500 [!], so I was lucky no further damage was caused). And there’s a bonus too — she’s heading down south for a few days, and so will bring the machine with her and I will pick it up from where she’s staying about 40 mins from here, so I don’t have to drive to Perth and back again.

Basting table

22 04 2013

After watching Cindy Needham’s excellent Craftsy class (Design it, quilt it), I decided to try her method of basting a quilt, using a taped down pin to mark the centre of the table and quartering the backing, batting, and top. But as I’ve only been using an angled kitchen counter top for basting, that method wasn’t going to work.

So I combined three things to create myself a great basting and/or cutting table! A fold-up table from Bunnings (if in the US, try your Home Depot, Lowes or similar) with straight legs ($35), a length of PVC pipe (I think I got two metres) that slips over the legs without being too loose or too tight (cut into four equal lengths for free by the staff at the Bunnings trade counter; ~$6 for two 1-metre lengths), and four rubber feet to fit over one end of each of the four pieces of PVC (~$2 each).

It’s a PERFECT height for basting! I don’t have any clamps (yet), so I’ve been using strong masking tape to stretch and hold the backing fabric in place while I place the batting and top. Update: I’ve now purchased 8 hand clamps from Bunnings (at $2.10 each, so ultimately cheaper than using lots of tape).

All up, the cost of my table and its accessories was less than $60.

Here’s my table with a really big quilt on it that I’m basting:





Community Quilt 75

22 04 2013

There are some Community Quilt tops I get that I just love. And some I like a lot. Some others — not so much… This was one that I actually disliked (with no offence to the person who put the top together). I didn’t like the colours, I didn’t like the prints (Holly Hobby [!] and cow udders combined with tropical leaves and pastel flowers, anyone?), and I didn’t like the fabrics (cheap poplin, some linen, some curtain fabric, as well as some older cottons with no redeeming features at all). And it was wonky.

To beat the wonkiness into submission and to not overpower the quilt with any more ‘busyness’, I just decided to do a reasonably close meandering stipple in a variegated thread in mauve, olive, and khaki that sort of matched some of the colours. Unfortunately, the thread was a 12 wt thread that I hadn’t used before, so it had a few breakages along the way and caused me a bit of grief.

(Click on a photo to view it larger)



Threads used:

  • Top: Wonderfil Fruitti (12 wt; Egyptian cotton; colour # FT 14)
  • Bobbin: Bobbinfil (white)