Monday, May 16, 2016

Now I'm (in) Free.....Free Motion

        Wow! The earth shifted under my feet yesterday. I was like Dorothy stepping into Oz and my surroundings went from black and white to color. It was like the moment at a wedding when your favorite song comes on, your impossibly high heels come off and you can finally REALLY bust a move.
        I covered those feed dogs up with a darning plate, and just like motion quilting!
Darning plate
        What took me so long to do this?! I guess I thought that I needed to screw the darning plate on, and that I would have to go locate some tiny little screws and a doll sized screwdriver. But not even - this magnificent little piece of plastic has little pegs attached to it that sit perfectly into the holes provided and it aligns itself in seconds. And stays put when I sew!

Here is my machine with and without the darning plate. The most time consuming part was threading my bobbin thread through the hole before I installed the plate. 

I also changed my presser foot, but I believe the darning plate made most of the difference. I bought a kit of extra feet a few months ago, and it came with a darning foot. This installation did require the removal and replacement of a screw, but a normal screwdriver sufficed.
 Here's a side view of the darning foot, installed. 
This is what I took off to put the darning foot on; my "low shank adapter" fitted with a zig zag foot

        I have a Babylock BL9. It's a great machine. It always amazes me how many things are possible with a basic sewing machine. I got this one when my old Singer died. I brought it to be fixed, but they let me know there was nothing to be done (fixing it would have cost more than replacing it) and so this one came home with me. I wasn't planning on buying a new machine that day; hadn't been saving for it at all, so I brought home the most basic machine they had that still had at least a zigzag stitch. It did come with some extra feet, this darning plate, and some stretch stitches that my other machine didn't offer, so it ended up being an upgrade while remaining closer to $100 than $200. The instruction books never really give you the full idea of what is possible though, so I love this internet community that helps me discover all the possibilities available to me in my sewing.
Embroidex kit of extra presser feet; it includes fifteen pieces and came with this case and a sheet identifying all the feet with a brief description of what each was for. 

       I bought that kit of feet when I was sewing the rainbow/ school quilt. Several of the feet included I had already (button foot; buttonhole foot; zig zag; zipper). I was looking for a walking foot at the time though, because I thought it would solve all my quilting problems. I was having issues with having the top and bottom layers end up in slightly different places and ending up with some bunching. The walking foot's job is to pull the top layer of fabric along the way the feed dogs pull the bottom layer along, so that everything stays even. Unfortunately, I began the quilting of that project by sewing around the outside of the quilt, and I think that created problems beyond the scope of changing my presser foot.
        I used the walking foot for another small quilting project, and honestly, I don't really notice a difference between using that and my normal presser foot. Perhaps it is not a high enough quality foot? I do feel confident I installed it properly. Anyways, using the darning plate (which covers the feed dogs so that the movement of the fabric is controlled completely by me, and can go in any direction without twisting the entire quilt around) and the darning foot (which lifts up when the needle is up so that it doesn't hinder the movement of the fabric between stitches) completely solves my problems. Also, I have learned to start in the center of the quilt, and to radiate out from there, trying not to leave big gaps to come fill in later. Perhaps this is the biggest factor in reducing the bunching on the back of my quilts.
        The darning plate also allows so many more possibilities in terms of design. Being able to turn at the drop of a dime, in any direction, is truly exciting. A whole new world my friends, and I didn't need to purchase a whole new (expensive) machine to get there.
        When I was in college, there were some guys that lived next door to my good friends, and they had a little band. A house party type of band, pretty casual; I don't remember the band's name or the names of any of the guys in the band (maybe one was Warren?), but I do remember the chorus from a song they had. The lines are called out in a monotone but last part of the second line is repeated in a deep baritone (written in italics here); it's all accompanied by a steady, funky guitar: "As I lay me down to sleep, I pray the lord my mind to free!/ Free your mind, your ass will follow/ your ass will fol-low"
         I need to have some sort of soundtrack playing externally or internally the whole time my machine is whirring, and this song seems to be it for the past couple days. I'm not sure I've landed on the winning combo of words to fit my situation yet, but I think it may be: "Free your feed, your lines will follow!"
       I applied this song to my skiing as well, when I finally found a pair of reasonably priced tele boots and could free my heel. Free your heel, your knee will follow! Or maybe ass works just as well here. The words change pretty often, but the head bobbing stays about the same.

Thanks for stopping by!


  1. The line about the wedding song--I love it. I am utterly clueless as to sewing, quilting, etc...but I love your writing all the same!

    1. I know you are busy enough, but I bet you'd love it if you gave it a shot. Fun way to be thrifty and creative. Thanks for reading!

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