Last thursday I was entrusted with someone elses quilt top and asked to quilt it on the long arm - the quilt top has rocket ship appliques, as well as planets and aliens and is asymetrically pieced - it's fabulous (I forgot to get permission to take a photo so I can't show you) - and after some discussion, it was agreed the simple, organic 'straight' lines with variegated thread was in order. We also agreed it'd be ready tomorrow (wednesday).
Fast forward to today - time to load the quilt and get cracking. I was thinking to myself this will take a couple of hours, go to whoa, easy peasy japanesey, then lunch, then maybe a bit of my sewing.....so, quilt was duly loaded and because it was a quilting commission, I changed the needle and threaded up.....and then noticed the light on the machine wasn't working - oh well, I can get around that until I can buy a new bulb, or whatever it has....
The first couple of rows were ok - these stabilise the quilt and are necessarily slowly worked - and then it was time to start the organic lines - so switched to 'regulated' and off I went. About 2 seconds into the first line, the top thread broke - so checked the threading, rethreaded the needle and off I went again. About 7 seconds later, the top thread broke again - did the usual checks, rethreaded and off I went again......and you guessed it, the top thread broke again.....what the????
Took the bobbin out - gave it a super clean, put it back - took all thread out of the top and rethreaded from scratch, rechecked the tension and then started a little sewing off the quilt to check - now I was getting skipped stitches and more broken threads - starting to get very frustrated now, and swearing. My organic quilted lines were now starting to resemble something with a nasty growth...
I took the commission quilt off the machine and loaded my practice piece (thank goodness for zippered leaders), located my instruction manual for the machine and went through their check list - same result....and I'm hoping it's not a timing issue because resolution of that is a great big pain in your posterial end.
I was thinking I'd have to quilt this quilt with my domestic machine and I wasn't looking forward to it.
In the end, I phoned the company I bought the machine from - and the wonderful Rick of Elizabeth Machines suggested a few more reasons why the thread kept breaking - including the dreaded timing issue - and I was to try with different thread, check to see there wasn't a piece of broken needle in the hook which was shearing the thread and failing that, check the timing. While I was on the phone, I ordered a few supplies and mentioned I needed a new light bulb - Rick asked me to check whether it was a fluoro or an LED - it was LED - so he said, "might sound like a dumb question, but have you switched the light on??" Switched the light on??? I didn't know there was a seperate switch for the light...........and lo and behold, I flicked the switch and the light came on.......hallelujah.......and that's when I noticed the needle I had so professionally changed at the beginning, wasn't in straight (the long-arm needles don't have a flat back like domestic sewing machine needles, they're round all the way round, so you have to be careful that they're exactly aligned front-on, or you get skipped stitches and your top thread breaks.....).
Funnily enough, once I fixed that, the stitching behaved beautifully.........so, unloaded the practice quilt, reloaded the commission quilt (after spending an hour removing all the previously stitched lines) and an hour later, I had one, very nicely quilted quilt - and the only time it stopped was when the bobbin thread ran out.
I had plans to make a couple of farmers wife blocks this afternoon but after my quilting adventures, I've decided a glass of wine and a veg in front of the telly is much more beneficial to my mental health!