Saturday, December 8, 2012

New Toys!

I recently celebrated my 10 year anniversary with my darling BF and he wanted to make it a memorable one.  I am not the kind of gal who craves jewelry or things like that... to make me really happy a gift really needs to be quilting or cooking related.  He always has been an excellent gift giver- and he often times will hand craft my gifts which make them extra special.  This year he surely didn't disappoint.  I got a few nice little gifts - including a charm pack and layer cake of Dear Mr Claus fabric- for my annual Christmas quilt- which I love to pieces.  But then it was time for the big gift.  So after about 15 minutes of hiding in the bedroom so he could get it all set up and then being blindfolded and led out to our dining room, I opened my eyes- saw what was before me, and promptly fell to my knees as I was so thrilled and excited I was feeling weak.  My beloved boy made me a quilting frame with a rolling carriage for my sewing machine.  He did an absolutely beautiful job too.  I couldn't believe all the love and work that went into this 8 ft frame- and my dreams of quilting professionally became a little more real with that gift.  Unbelievable.  As if it weren't enough.... He mentioned that the only problem he saw was that my Bernina has a very small throat- and it would only give me a few inches to quilt at a time before I had to stop and roll the quilt forward- and to him that just wouldn't do.  So he brings out a huge box.... time to kneel down again...  The box had a beautiful almost brand new and just serviced Juki 2000QI with a huge 11" throat.  The Juki is a semi industrial machine- designed to work in frames like he built.  It goes super fast- like 5 times faster then my Berni- and comes with a great free motion quilting foot- and let me tell you it is AWESOME.   Screaming and jumping up and down ensued for a good while, then we loaded up some fabric and batting and I started having fun with my new toy.
I actually got this gift at the end of November- but wanted to play with it for a while before sharing it on blog land- as I felt this might be a good option for other FMQ addicts like myself and there just isn't a whole lot of info out there about people actually using these frames.  I would like to change that by offering you all a chance to learn about this setup as I do.  I will be honest with you all about the ups and downs, advantages and disadvantages of FMQ on a frame vs. using a domestic machine.  Over the next few months as I have more to report I will keep you all updated. 
So far I have quilted a big practice piece and am now just about finished with a quilt top I have had lying around for a while.  I have been practicing stippling as I feel it is the best way to get used to the really moving the carriage.  I am still not stippling as well as I do on my Berni- But it is looking pretty darned good so far- I had to work through some tension issues and realized that my new Juki really doesn't like serger thread which I typically quilt with- so I will be trying out new threads on my next project- but overall I am seeing lots of improvements as I practice and feel it will only be a matter of time and practice until I am just as good on my frame as I am on my domestic set up.  For now I am having fun and trying not to pressure myself too much.  As I expand my design ability on the frame I will have more interesting things to show off soon. 
Please let me know if you have any questions or thoughts about this type of set up- my BF bought plans off of the internet and would be happy to share his sources for building your own quilt frame- so don't hesitate to ask!