Tuesday, May 13, 2014

My old job trained me well!

I purchased a mid-arm quilting machine and 10' table a few years ago on Craigslist.   Due to getting married, moving, illness, etc, haven't really had a chance to use it until recently.

hmmm, let me try that one again too...   I haven't had the chance to learn on it until recently. :)

Since the machine and table were used (not even one full quilt had been quilted on it), and I didn't know one single thing about longarms (except that I wanted to learn to do it), I am a hands-on kinda girl, and that the manual was misplaced in the move, the learning was slow and intermittent.  

I received a gift of a longarm class that was very beneficial but learning the ins and outs of the machine and adjustments did not replace the hours of practice that is needed to produce anything better than OMG horrible quilting.

So away I went...  learning, being frustrated, hating how the quilting was looking, and taking lots of breaks (99% out of frustration).

But suddenly, it wasn't horrid quilting...  not good, but not horrid.   I still had to take a lot of breaks as its a muscle memory workout but I was actually thinking the thing I was working on did not need to be thrown in the bottom of a dog bed.

But I digress....  this post is about a piece missing from the machine when I purchased it.  I did manage to keep all the machine pieces together so I believe that it didn't come with the machine.  

Anyway, I did not have the throat plate that covers the feed dogs to allow smooth movement when quilting.

I am a tactile shopper - I need to see and feel what I am buying - which makes buying online a last resort kind of thing.

And because I find I need a couple other parts for the quilting table (it appears age affects some of the parts even if not used), I wanted to wait until I went to a dealer with whom I am familiar rather than the local dealer (see previous rant about customer service). 

So I need to find a way to prevent the feed dogs from pulling on the fabric when I was quilting.   I tried a few things...  but it just wasn't quite right. I realized I needed to raise the fabric up off the feed dogs when the presser foot was lowered to free motion position.

It had to be something not too thick, removable, smooth on the edges, wouldn't snag fabric, and...  well, it just needed to work.

AH HA!  (you know I love to say that!!)

I grabbed a Sharpie, an old CD, my dremel, and headed outside.   I had marked on the CD the approximate area the feed dogs used.   The dremel was used to carve out the feed dog area and then to smooth up the edges of the cuts.

I headed back to the quilter with a small piece of double stick tape.   I applied the tape to the removable bobbin access cover and placed into its normal position.   I then centered the CD under the presser foot with the feed dogs centered in the opening I had cut and pressed it on to the tape.

Would it work?  I had nothing to lose.

I started quilting....  VIOLA!!!    YAY!!  and YIPPEE!!

I know that the proper throat plate will work better but this works (mostly) perfectly until I can get the part.

If I ever had to make another one of these, I will make the feed dog opening smaller...  closer to the actual size of the feed dogs.

How did my old job train me well for this?  There is ALWAYS a way to do something.  If you think there isn't, you just haven't thought long enough or tried enough ways.

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