Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Quilting with a Featherweight




Subject: Machine quilting using a featherweight

Anyway, I recently did my first machine quilting on my featherweight and I
wanted to share my experience. I had read on Quiltnet about loosening the
presser foot screw on the top of the machine and loosening the top tension
AND covering the feed dogs BUT I didn't do it just that way. Yes, I loosened
the pressure on the presser foot and yes, I put the tension on top to about 2
but NO I did not cover the feed dogs.

And it worked anyway. I did a small wall quilt and I started by quilting in
the ditch with metallic top thread around all of the pieced buildings in the
quilt. This gave me some practice. Then I free form quilted clouds and moon
rays and mountain ranges and falling stars. And it came out wonderful. I
did however backstitch all of the stitching lines at beginning and end just
to be safe. I found that the little bit of traction of having the feed dogs
up actually helped me to keep the quilt moving along and I held the quilt
securely in both hands at all times. It was fun and I might even do it again
sometime - therefore I have kept that machine set up that way - don't want to
mess up my tension adjustments etc.
Subject: American Quilts

Found several interesting quotes in "The Smithsonian Treasury AMERICAN
QUILTS" by Doris M. Bowman...which has recently been reprinted.

"But the Sewing Machine is an American invention. Machinery is the grand
necessity of the United States, for population has not augmented to a point
which renders the number of needlewomen adequate to the demand upon their
industry. America almost denudes Germany of her Sempstresses, and still
production falls short of her requirements. She is thus compelled to employ
Steel and Iron to do the work of humanity...." quoted from "On Stitching
Machines" Journal of the Society of Arts, London, January 20, 1854"

A fascinating perspective, but I am sure glad that the sewing machine,
in all its various forms, WAS invented!
Another quote (from the same book):

"Quilting on a Grover & Baker's sewing machine is no trouble at all,
and the rapidity with which it is accomplished enables us to apply it to many
things which would cost too much time or labor for hand sewing." The
Ladies Hand Book of Fancy Ornamental Work by Miss Florence Hartley
Philadelphia, 1859"

According to The Smithsonian Treasury AMERICAN QUILTS "The
invention of the double-threaded chain stitch is attributed to William
Grover. In 1851, he and William Baker received a patent for a machine that
sewed with this stitch. .... In the 1860's, the Grover and Baker
double-threaded chain-stitch machine succumbed to competition from lockstitch machines that used one-third the amount of thread and made less bulky seams.

The lockstitch remains the standard stitch of home sewing machines to this

On pages 64 & 65 of the book, there is a photo of a quilt in the
Smithsonian collection which is partially machine quilted, with a double
threaded chain stitch, estimated date of origin, 1860. Ther is also a small
reproduction of an advertisement for Grover & Baker Sewing Machines, and a
photo of one of the machines in a wooden cabinet.

The book is a collection of photos and supporting information on 60+
quilts from the Smithsonian's collection. I found the references to sewing
machines quite interesting.

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