Here it is being basted with safety pins (the bent kind), center section first, on the cutting table.
I'm using wool batting for the first time. I usually use poly, but wool comes highly recommended by many landscape quilters and it seemed easier to handle. Also smoother and more consistent. It has a little more loft than I'm used to, but will probably work out ok.
You can also see some new applique here, attached since last week's post: plants around the base of the dark-brown tree overlapping the border.
A few tree-leaves were also added to the border, extending from the branches of the same dark-brown tree.
Finally, the quilt was on the machine, with my trusty pin tool at the ready. It makes opening and closing safety pins a breeze.
After putting the slippery mat (not in the photo) on the machine bed and turning my stitch length to zero, I stitched on a test sample, then was ready to go.
I started with the window, near the center of the quilt. And then the thread breaks began.
I'm not used to thread breaks with this machine (it chugs along like a champ even when I accidentally leave the lid closed on my thread!) But the top thread had frayed and come out of the needle. Examining the stitches, I could see that the thread tension was still balanced. The bobbin compartment was cleaned out a couple of weeks ago, so lint wasn't the problem, and this is the same thread (Isacord) and the same kind of needle (a new topstitch 14) that I used on all my other quilts. So the first thing to do was re-thread the machine. It worked fine for a few minutes: then came another break. So I changed the needle, just in case the first one was defective. Again, everything was fine for a short while. Then came a third thread break, followed by a fourth.
At that point I remembered I was stitching through a layer of fusible web under the window fabrics. So I checked my needle for any goo buildup (which eventually frays and breaks the top thread)--but found none. "Hmm," said I. "The only thing I'm doing differently here is using wool batting, and somehow I just don't think that's the problem. So what next?"
Suddenly I recalled the first time I ever made a landscape quilt during the coldest part of winter, in 2010. I'd had a terrible time with thread breaks then, too, and it took me five days (not kidding) to figure out that our furnace's forced-air heat was dry enough to cause a static charge (and therefore fraying) in my polyester thread! (And sure enough, today, when I cut away the frayed section of my top thread, the cut end immediately zapped over to the sewing-machine lid (plastic) as if it were magnetized--a sure sign of static cling issues.)
Back then, I'd been reluctant to mist the room with water, fearing it might cause rust issues inside my then brand-new sewing machine (can we say 'paranoid' ?!?), so my solution had been to flick a tiny bit of water off my fingers into a zip-type plastic sandwich bag and then leave the bag sitting loosely over my spool of thread overnight. When I removed the bag the next day, the moisture had evaporated, humidifying the thread just enough (not dampening it, mind you--we're talking about a minuscule amount of moisture vaporizing inside that bag, because of course I'd never, ever run damp thread through my machine) that the static electricity was no longer a problem. No more unexplained thread breaks that winter. If it broke, I got out the sandwich bag again.
But that always involved waiting. So instead of doing the bag thing thing today, I rigged a 'humidifier' on my thread-stand platform.
Yep, a little jar of water. Very scientific, huh. :) But I figured that if keeping a jar of water among my houseplants helps humidify them a little (it does) by creating a sort of micro-climate, why shouldn't it help with dry, static-clingy thread? It's a small but steady supply of humidity, needing only an occasional refill. No flimsy bag, no flicking water, and no having to wait overnight. Notice that the container is taped securely to the extra thread spindle, so it won't get bumped and then spill (horrors!!) down onto my machine bed and into the bobbin area. No way am I risking that!
At that point it was time to close up shop and cook dinner. So I won't know until tomorrow whether or not this is going to solve the thread breaks. Wish me luck! :-/ (UPDATE: click here to see how it worked out.)
Hooking up with two of my favorite blogs, Leah Day's FMQ Project Linkup and Sarah Craig's Whoop Whoop Fridays blog. Can't wait to see what they and their readers are up to today!