I’m Not Scared of It Anymore

Around the 4th of July, I took a break from quilting for customers to work on my machine – her name is Frida (she’s named after the artist Frida Kahlo).  She’s been fidgety and I wanted to get her straightened out and running smooth.  Months back, I had ordered a new hopping foot and hopping foot bar.  Online, the new hopping foot looked different from what I had, and I was afraid that if I didn’t order the bar along with the hopping foot, I might have trouble getting the new hopping foot to go with the old bar.  What was wrong with my old hopping foot was that the holes where the screws went in were stripped.  The screws would hold the old foot on, but the foot would jiggle around all over the place while I was quilting, getting awfully close to the needle.  I was afraid I’d hit a needle on it and mess up the timing.  Plus, if I used rulers (which I do a lot with custom work), I wouldn’t be able to get precise stitching.

So, I finally got around to working on Frida part of that last week of June, into July.  The first problem I had was being able to access the hopping foot bar.  Since Frida lives in the dungeon (my basement), she gets exposed to moisture.  That created a problem with screws being stuck.  I had to take off both sides of the top of my machine, and to get one of the sides off, I had to remove the tension assembly.  

Taking off the tension assembly created its own problems.  I jacked with the screw too much, trying to get it off that side of the machine head, and messed up the wire.   

But, as you can see, I got it back together, ready to go back to its home, with the old wire replaced.

Now to get that old hopping foot bar out of there.  I wrestled and wrangled and waited and wrestled and wrangled some more and waited (for the WD-40 to do its work) and finally got that screw unlocked.

Only to discover that I still wouldn’t be able to get that hopping foot bar out of there.  I thought it might just drop right down out of there, but…

It hit the hook assembly.  NOOOoooooo!  I didn’t want to mess with the timing.  That was the last thing I wanted to do.  Well, I was planning on working on the timing anyway, but that was later, much later.  It takes me a couple of hours to make sure I have the timing just right.  If I don’t, my stitches will be so messed up and my machine won’t run right.  Well, I ended up taking out the hook assembly.  And, guess what?  It hit the bar that holds the hook assembly.  At this point, I contacted the service department of APQS.  Let me tell you, I should have done this in the first place.  But, I didn’t want to “bother” anyone.  I thought I could do this by myself.  Big mistake!  APQS’s Service Department is always so helpful.  If you don’t want to buy an APQS machine for any other reason, buy it for the Service Department.

Of course, when I contacted the Service Department, I found out that I didn’t need to remove the hook assembly.  Doh!  The instructions Angie sent detailed how I would have to cut the bar out of there.  Ack!  So, on to the power tools…and voila!  The old hopping foot bar  is out of there.

One of the things I did not tell you earlier was that the new foot would, indeed, work with the old hopping foot bar.  But, it was shorter than the old hopping foot, so I’d need to lower the old hopping foot bar.  When I got that lowered, it went down into the hole where it was held in place, and I worried about it not being held in place because of that.  Either way, I had a new hopping bar.  I may as well use it.

Also, I ended up needing to mess with the needle bar and the parts that hold it in place in order to get the new hopping foot bar in there.

Something else I didn’t tell you was that I really messed up the top tension when I messed with the screw.  So, I had to work and work to get the tension fixed as well as get the hook timing working with the top tension.  If I’d called the service department first, I would not have had to fiddle so much with either of these. I would not have taken the hook assembly out and would have only had to work with the top tension to get that right.  Then, I could have come back and worked on the hook timing separately.

With the machine head being taken apart inside and out, I can honestly say I am no longer afraid of my machine or of repairing it. However…the moral of the story is to not be afraid to ask for help (I really need help with heeding that advice) and call the experts first.

 

LongArm Perspectives

I thought I’d share a few pictures of my longarm quilting machine and explain a couple of  differences between a longarm and a domestic machine.  This first shot is of part of the machine.  You can see how it sits on rollers and it has a bigger arm/throat space than a domestic machine.  Mine has 19″ to work with.  Domestic machines sit without moving.  You have to move the fabric around on a domestic machine to do the quilting.  You can also drop the feed dogs on your sewing machine to do free-motion quilting.  When you do that, you get the sensation of what it is like for a longarm quilter to quilt.

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Here is a shot of more of the machine’s frame.  You can see the the machine floats around on a frame that has several roller bars for the fabric to roll along.  Longarm quilting machines… as big as a car and costs as much, too!

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If you look closely at the hopping foot (as opposed to the presser foot), you will see that it does not sit down on the base of the machine.  It hovers across the fabric.  That is why it is so difficult to draw a straight line.  We use a straight edge ruler for this, which takes a LOT longer to do, since you are manipulating the machine with one hand while holding the ruler with the other hand.  It takes a lot of patience to get that line even close to straight, which is why custom work like this costs our customers so much more.

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When we use rulers and templates, we need to add an extended base for the templates to rest upon.  Do you notice how much more it sticks out than the attached base?

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I took a ruler to see how much further the extended base sticks out on each side.  As you can see, it adds an extra 5 1/2 – 6 inches on each side.  Beyond that, I add clamps to the backing fabric to make sure it is taught.  They add another 2 inches to each side.  This is the reason why I like to have an extra 8 inches of backing fabric on each side of the quilt top.  Otherwise,  custom quilting is next to impossible to do.

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This last picture will probably end up in another post as it relates to the lighting – see those LED lights reflected on the Plexiglas?  To be continued…

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