I’ve been in my sewing room a lot this week and as I worked, I came upon three handy tips that I thought I would share.
BASTING WITH WATER SOLUBLE THREAD:
I am beginning a new quilt and I decided to machine baste it together using water soluble thread top and bottom-that way I don’t have to deal with those pesky safety pins. Now I did this years ago and it was NOT a success:No matter how many times I wash this, the pin holes and line will not come out. That is probably because this is silk dupioni (forehead slap!) and silk will not allow the threads to relax back into their previous position.
On my new quilt (a whole lcoth quilt) I started out the basting process in the normal manner by layering the quilt up and securing with safety pins. Then I quilted my basting lines with water soluble thread between the pins. This time I am using cotton sateen and I thought I might have a better chance that the holes would disappear. I tried it on a sample and the basting holes disappeared after a brief soak-yessss!At this point it looks like a very plain comforter for the bed-yuk! But I will quilt the heck out it and it will be gorgeous (I hope) soon!
CHAIR HEIGHT ADJUSTMENT:
As I quilted in the basting lines with the water soluble thread, my shoulders and wrists became instantly stressed by quickly feeding that much fabric over and over through the harp of the machine. I had a lot of basting to do and I realized I needed to figure out a better way to do this to reduce the stress on my body.By simply raising my chair to its highest height, the stress disappeared. I would never ever do regular quilting at this height because I wouldn’t be able to see what I was doing. But for this kind of shovel-the-quilt-through-the-machine sewing, I didn’t need a close view.
If you are having back/neck/shoulder/wrist issues when you are quilting, try raising or lowering your chair-it can make a world of difference.
THIRD HAND FOR MEASURING:
As I was layering this quilt up, I needed to measure my width or length several times in the process. As DH was not around to hold the other end of the measuring tape, I had to figure out a way to be able to hold the tape so that I could tug it taut for accurate measurements.This is what I came up with using materials on hand. Now this is not meant to be instructional, like you should go out and get a 10 lb barbell to stack on top of your ruler! I’m just sharing my solution to the problem. I’ll bet some of you have your own great solutions to this common problem.
I hope you are able to get some sewing and quilting done-this is a great time to snuggle up and sew!
I love the water soluble thread for basting. I do it in a ‘grid’ pattern as you show (on all my cotton piecings). I, also, couple this with Sharon Schamber’s “board method” (pin baste then to the machine for the soluble thread). Makes complex/heavy quilting such a pleasure…NO PINS!! Yay! And the chair height is so critical!!! The chair at my HQ Sweet Sixteen is height adjustable and I have elevated my table quite high. If I need to get closer to the quilt I just lower the chair! Gotta protect our poor bodies!!!! Blessings! Doreen
It sounds like you have a lovely set up Doreen! And no pins-ain’t it great?
It’s “the only way to fly”!!!!! Those pins are always in a major wrong spot to stop and I always had problems with puckering in the backing. So much better to relax and enjoy the creating process!!
Janet Becker says
All great ideas Jenny!!!! And… look at all those ribbons hanging on your cork board! Very nicely done missy!!!!!
Thanks Janet! Ribbons earned from years of Folsom Quilt Guild entries.
Rebecca Grace says
Jenny, you are making my brain spin into overdrive! I always learn something from you! Okay, I tried basting with water soluble thread once, but it kept breaking CONSTANTLY so I must have been doing something wrong. Can you please share your: 1. tension 2. needle 3. stitch length 4. which brand you use and any other tips you may have for sewing with water soluble thread?
Next, for the chair — I’ve been researching ergonomics for machine quilting because my husband is about to rebuild my sewing machine cabinet for me. (He doesn’t know this yet, LOL!) Anyway, I see so much conflicting advice, but most sources recommend that your feet are flat on the floor, knees bent at an angle between 90-110 degrees, and your elbows are close to a 90 degree angle with your forearms resting on the surface of the cabinet, parallel to the floor. The thing is, I find myself hunching my shouders when I’m quilting because I want my face closer to what I’m doing so I can see detail — I feel like I want my table higher than recommended, even though the OSHA folks say that if your sewing table is too high it will put MORE strain on your neck and shoulders. But the OSHA guidelines are written with garment factory workers in mind, and the type of sewing they are doing is more down-and-dirty, shove-it-through the machine like your basting. Do you think it’s okay to have your sewing cabinet surface up higher for FMQ, and if so, how high? Do you mind sharing the height of your work surface, and any other sewing setup info that helps you to quilt so beautifully?
Hi Rebecca Grace!
As to the water soluble thread breaking, several things come to mind: if it’s a really humid day or environment, that could be it. I also lower my tension waaaaay down or it will break. I use a size 60 sharp needle but a 70 topstitch would probably work just as well. I use Superior’s Vanish Extra Light. I wind my bobbin a bit slower than usual so as to not put too much tension on the thread.
I actually pick it out when I’m done rather than soak it out-I just don’t want any trouble! I always, always store it in a zip lock baggie. If your thread has sat out and absorbed moisture, it may be hosed (technical term!). Pull it out and examine it to see if there is any visible damage and perhaps start anew with a new spool from the store if the other changes don’t help.
I free motioned my lines; it was going to take waaaaay too long to stitch those with the feed dogs up.
It’s funny you ask about the chair. We’ve all read that you should have 2 90 degree angles when you sew: your elbows and your knees. I’m 5 ft 3 1/2″ and if I have 2 90 degree angles, there’s no room left inbetween for my machine and cabinet!! So I have to make a compromise.
I think you’ve already figured it out and know exactly what to do. I say in class “Quilting shouldn’t hurt…..any more than you already do!”. So if it feels better to be up higher, go for it because your body is telling you what you need to do.
The only caveat about being higher up is that you may need more light so that you don’t angle your neck down to get your eyes closer to see your work. Also, magnification is critical at least for me. I’ll be posting about that later in the week.
I think you have already figured this out-go with what your own body says-OSHA is not in your sewing room! Lucky you to have hubby making you a cabinet!!
Laura Conowitch says
If I raise my chair, I have difficulty reaching the floor (for that 90 degree knee angle). If I lower the chair, my knee is too low to take advantage of the sewing machine knee lifter. Two things that have helped me was to rebend the knee lifter and to invest in reading glasses.
I love your solution Laura! Reading glasses are sometimes the easiest answer.
Glad you tried a sample of the water soluble basting and it worked. Can’t wait to see what you are going to do with this huge sea of white!
I am excited about this quilt. It is large and will use one thread-it will be based on my imagination and the plants in my yard.