Threading on the Charm

I had planned on quilting today.  There’s three quilts waiting to be finished.  Instead, I spent the morning trying to find threads that worked on my Gammill Charm.  Unfortunately, the threads that worked were the wrong color for the quilts I’m working on.  So, instead, I played with tension and threads trying to find what works with this machine.

Thread on Gammill

Just to give you an idea of some of the limits I went to, the top tension was lowered and raised, the thread path was modified, the bobbin tension was checked and modified, the needle size was changed from a size 12 all the way through a size 18, and the last thread track before the needle was sanded in case there were burrs.  I ended up using a #90/14 needle for most samples and had Aurifil #40 in the bobbin (only because that’s what I started with).

At the end of this morning’s session, the result was

  • Aurifil #40 – broke at the needle despite multiple tension and thread settings.
  • So Fine #50 – Worked well
  • Fantastico – Worked well – thread is more visable (see the tip of feather in lower right of photo)
  • Rainbow – Thread shred and broke despite tension changes.
  • King Tut – Thread snapped at needle much like Aurifil.

I’ve tried Masterpiece and Magnifico in the past.  Masterpiece broke, but Magnifico worked well and the thread showed beautifully on the quilt top.  It is not a thread to use if you want the thread to disappear into the quilt top.  All of these but the Aurifil were ordered through Superior Threads.

I ordered Glide and a few other types of thread from (Fil-Tec) that I’m waiting to try as well.  That’s for another day.

If anyone has a suggestion for using Aurifil on the Gammill Charm or other longarm, please let me know.

Playing on the Gammill Charm

I’ve been working on a couple projects this weekend.  Not the two project I had on my list, of course!  Since the Gammill Charm was delivered and installed, I’ve only quilted on her a couple times.  I really wanted to get a couple things put together so I could quilt and play.

First up were blocks in Leah Day’s Building Blocks series.  Originally I hesitated to buy this series.  The quilting patterns seemed pretty basic and I’m not fond of tracing designs.  However, I did like the fact that we make multiple copies of the same block and quilt them in different designs.  I need some serious quilting practice.

DSC_0196_1225So back to those basic (read simple) quilting designs…don’t you love it when your arrogance kicks you in the ass?  I hate trying to quilt by the line!  And I really need to improve my grid work.  So it’s a very good thing I caved and bought this BOM.   It should get me out of my comfort zone.  To the right are Blocks 1 and 2.  We make three of each block and I’m working from primarily solid scraps with the option of adding a print here and there.

DresdenBaby.GammillCharmSince I really wanted to keep quilting on the Charm, I pulled out a baby quilt I put together ages ago.  It’s batted with a thick cotton batting that can be a bit of a challenge.  The batting doesn’t want to bunch up, but lays flat regardless of what I do.  This makes it tough to move the quilt around smoothly.  The quilting has been done in stages and you can see it in the change of threads and in the quilting performance.  Even the quilting today was sloppy in places, but I can see improvement over the past year or more.  The quilting is finished and I was hoping to bind it and call it my first finish of the year, but I’m done for the day!

I really wish I had thought to put something in this photo to give you a sense of the size of this Charm.  She is substantial!

So, what do I think of the Gammill Charm?

Stitch:  When I first tried the machine, I could see and feel the quality of the stitching.  I’m not sure how to explain it except to compare a hand mixer to a KitchenAid Stand Mixer.  They both do the job, but one just feels more efficient.

The stitch speed can be controlled by the foot pedal or set on a constant speed.  I liked both methods.  The constant speed can be changed to suit you.  Once it is set at a comfortable speed, the main thing you’re thinking about is the speed you are moving the quilt without worrying about the foot pedal.  At one point I needed to be careful about my starting and stopping spots and switched to pedal control.  They both worked really well

Thread and Tension:  This is going to be my challenge.  I read and hear a lot of quilters, especially long arm quilters, rave about Superior Tread’s So Fine thread.  I’ve tried it in the past and just didn’t like the way it lay on the quilt.  Based on the success of so many others, I assumed my machine just didn’t like it as well.

For the quilting today, I used So Fine in the needle and Bottom Line in the bobbin.  I found a tension that worked, but it took a while.  The bobbin is actually a pre-wound bobbin from Superior Threads and it worked well.  It isn’t sinking into the quilt as well as Aurifil does on my Bernina, but it works.  I’m hoping once it washes, it will sink into the fabric.  My concern is I would really like to use multiple thread types for quilting, and I’m not sure if this caliber of machine will like finicky threads.

Today the threads broke enough to be annoying, but not enough to totally tick me off.  The top broke mostly, but the bobbin broke about three times.  So I’m thinking either the tension is still off or perhaps I was quilting too fast.

Substantial:  I normally quilt on a Bernina 820, which is a Very Nice machine for quilting.  It hums and has a pretty light touch.  The Charm has a heavier feel and is slightly more noisy (or maybe I’m imagining it).   The machine and the table is solid and well manufactured.

Convenient:  The Charm is mounted on a metal frame table which is very sturdy.   I never had the sense of table vibration.  I also chose to buy the casters with the table.  Very good idea.  The table is stored in a folded position against a wall.  Folded it is 2′ x 4′.  There are two leaves, one to the left and one to the rear.  With both folded out there is a square missing in the back left (if you can picture it.)  That seems awkward to me.  I keep picturing the quilt getting caught in that corner as it is moved around.

On the other hand, as I worked on this quilt, I needed the extra space.  This table, even with the machine mounted, rolled away from the wall so easily.  The back extension is easy to raise, locks securely and easy to drop again.  For me, I rolled it away from the wall, turned it to a right angle, and lifted the rear extension in a matter of minutes.  It folded back just as easily.  Total Win!

I am anxious to see what other Charm users have to say about this machine.  So far, I’ve only found one other owner and she is waiting on delivery.  I’m anxious to compare notes.

So that’s my weekend.  I hope your week is an awesome week and totally blessed.


The Gammill Charm

I was out and about a couple weeks ago and checking email on my phone (like most of us do at some point), and saw this in an email:

“Guess what? You won! You entered the Gammill Charm contest on and your name was chosen among thousands of entrants to receive this amazing machine. ….”

I read it and stopped… and then thought, “Yeah, right!”   The next morning when I was back at a computer, I pulled it up again to take a closer look at it.  Email addresses showed John Anderson of The Quilt Show and included Betsey of Gammill.  It looked legit, but I still couldn’t really believe it.

I emailed with Betsey giving her my info.  Honestly, it wasn’t until a regional Gammill dealer called me to congratulate me and discuss delivery that I truly believed I had actually won a Gammill Charm!  You know when you enter these things that someone has to win, but you never expect to be THE one out of how many thousands of entries.  Mark, at the Stitch n Frame in Vicksburg, MS, was so nice and I know I will enjoy working with him as he arranges delivery and sets up my machine….Yes, he actually makes the trip and sets the machine up!  How awesome is that?  I loved the fact that it was the Stitch n Frame that is providing the machine.  They are an hour and a half from me and I love stopping in their shop when driving through Vicksburg, and their online shopping is great.  Their fabric selection and service are just wonderful.

The Charm by Gammill

Okay, back to the Charm… here she is!  This beauty has a 18″ x 8″ throat…can you imagine the room in this thing?!  The table has a 12″ leaf in the back and another leaf on the left side to increase the table space when quilting big quilts.

I’m a little blown away!

And I have to find a place for her!!

Merry Christmas to me!  :-))  I am so excited.  Thanks so much to The Quilt Show and to Gammill for hosting this giveaway!

Sorry for the excessive use of exclamation points, but truly, this is an Exclamation Point type of post.

Merry Christmas everyone!  I hope you have a safe and blessed holiday,


Leah Day has a new project for 2014…Check it out!

Leah Day has a new project for 2014…Check it out!

Leah Day has just released a Building Blocks quilt pattern that talks about piecing AND quilting (and more, I’m sure).  In 2014 she will also be releasing videos to go along with this project.  Sounds like a great learning tool.  And it’s on sale through the end of the month.

Check it out!  Click on photo or link above to go to Leah’s site.


Dick and Jane almost finished …

This has been a busy weekend.  Too busy for one post.

Friday, I drove 90 miles (with a migraine!) to pick up a Singer 301 and this baby…

Singer Featherweight 221
Singer Featherweight 221

More on that in my next post.  (I’m so excited to have found her!)

I finished putting up insulation in an aluminum shed that I hope to convert to a sewing room.  (Has anyone done that?   and were you successful in controlling the damp??)


I kept my grandson most of the day Saturday :-D.


Some quilting detail on the back of the quilt.
Some quilting detail on the back of the quilt.

I FINALLY finished quilting my Dick and Jane that I stared so long ago.  You can actually see some of the original posts here and here.  Now for a label and the binding, and I’m DONE!  I will be glad to get this off my table.

Dick and Jane Quilt Back DetailThe interesting thing about this quilt for me is the difference in the quilting done at the start and at the end.  I can really see the improvement in my quilting.  I still have a lot of work to do mind you, but still, I’m proud to have finished it.  This is an 80″ x 80″ quilt.  She was something to handle, let me tell you.

And there is still so much that I haven’t gotten to!!

Why aren’t the weekends longer??


Love Quilt and A Lovely Year of Finishes

As an incentive to get some projects completed, I’m participating in A Lovely Year of Finishes hosted by Sew Bittersweet Designs and Fibers of all Kinds.

I started this Love pattern by Tula Pink in November.  It was super easy and fun to put together, but I was scared to actually start the quilting.  There’s no hiding when quilting on all that lovely negative space.

Love Quilt Collage

I regret I lost sight of the diagonal lines in the gray and there is so much horizontal lines at the letters.  But  overall, I feel this is one of my best jobs yet.

Love Quilt Aurifil Collage

To begin I was using So Fine thread and couldn’t get a good tension.  I actually quilted almost half of one white square before giving it up.  I’m not a believer in ripping out quilting, but I did this time.  No matter how I moved the tension, I had thread sitting on top or on the bottom of the quilt.  I switched over to Aurifil and the difference was dramatic.  I read of a lot of quilters, particularly long arm, who seem to love So Fine, so I’m sure it’s a good quality thread.  Maybe it’s the difference of quilting on a domestic machine, or perhaps my Bernina in particular, but Aurifil seemed to sink into the quilt with very little fussing with tension.

It may be hard to see, but the quilting on the left was done with So Fine and on the right was done with Aurifil.

And then there’s the binding.  There’s something I despise about creating binding.  I don’t mind actually sewing it on the quilt, but don’t like cutting it, piecing it, or ironing it.  But I love the spools of binding when I’m done.  It’s one of those little things that make me smile.  And I love that Tula Pink recommends using a length of each fabric used in the letters.  It’s a nice accent to the quilt.  I roll my binding onto old wooden spools and, based on a suggestion in a recent Superior Threads newsletter, placed it on my thread spindle while sewing it to the quilt.  (My Bernina has three spindles so there was room for the thread and for the binding.)  It worked beautifully.


So that’s one finish for January.  I still have a baby quilt and another special quilt to finish before the month’s out.  I head to Florida for business for most of this week and lose some sewing time.  I’ve gotten pretty greedy with my time and have begun to wonder if sewing is becoming an addiction. I really want to find a cure?









“A Lovely Year of Finishes”

Hosted by

Shanna of Fiber of All Sorts




I just saw this challenge posted and decided to join in.  First because having a deadline makes me more accountable.  I can get very distracted and end up with too many projects at one time.  And second, because it fits with the goals I have in mind anyway.

My plan this week is to catalog the projects I’ve completed in 2012, the works still in progress, and any new projects I plan (at this point) to start.  One major goal will be stash busting.  My fabric bins are overflowing.  And my wallet will thank me.  Now to see if I have the discipline….I can tell you that is pretty shaky.  Especially with the beautiful fabrics that continually come out.  Salt Water 😦 and Luxe in Bloom 😦 to name a couple.

So back to the Lovely Year of Finishes challenge.  The goal is to identify what you will finish that month, post the goal and then post progress and success throughout the month.  My January was easy to document.  The quilt below on the left is a baby quilt for a good friend’s new grand baby.  It’s a semi-modified Turning Twenty pattern and measures 50 x 50.  I’m trying to choose fabrics for the back now and want it quilted by the end of this coming weekend.

Next is my Tula Pink’s ‘Love‘ quilt.  It’s basted and ready to go.  I just need to get the nerve to get started on it.  Wish me luck that I don’t mess up all that beautiful negative space.  Notice the pinning??  Those are the new (for me) Pinmoors I’ve seen advertised by a few shops.  A darling friend, Melissa, gifted these to me at our recent guild meeting just because she new I wanted to try them!  Melissa and Marty were instrumental in helping me get our modern quilt guild (NELA MQG) started this past October.  We are still small, but I hope we can build some excitement this coming year.  We have had a lot of fun so far and are really excited about it.

50" x 50" Turning Twenty Baby Quilt, and Tula Pink's Love quilt
50″ x 50″ Turning Twenty Baby Quilt, and Tula Pink’s Love quilt

So that’s the goal for January….it’s really longer than that, but I do like keeping it manageable when possible.  What about you?  Do you need a deadline to keep you on track?  Check out the challenge above.  You can have (another) reason for finishing a project on time and have the chance at prizes as well.  Maybe I’ll get lucky enough to win a fabric certificate and add to those overflowing bins… Oh yeah!  DISCIPLINE.  (riiiiighhht)

Teri Lucas tutorial for Kaleidoscope

Another post from the 2012 FMQ Challenge hosted by SewCalGal.  Can you tell I’m trying to clean my slate for the new year?  😀

Teri Lucas presented a tutorial based on using software like Kaleidoscope to deconstruct images into kaleidoscopes and using the images in quilting.  Kaleidoscope looks reasonable and fun to use, but it is a Windows program and I’m on a Mac.  But Teri provided a pdf of the following block for us to practice quilting.  I do love this block.  The colors are some of my favorites.

Kaleidoscope Tutorial2


I used Dritz Inkjet Printable Fabric in a Canon printer to create the fabric.  The quilting was done on a Bernina 820 with YLI Silk thread in a pinkish taupe.  I started with a tension close to one.  Then I dropped the tension again.  I was still seeing threads pulling on curves and dropped the tension to .5 which seemed to work.  The thread broke on me once during the quilting, which is better luck with silk than I have had in the past.  I believe I lowered tension to .5 after the thread broke.

My echoing and stippling need work and this was a good piece to practice on.  This is a great piece to use for practicing feathers.  I’ve got to do a few more like this.

I’m trying to decide what to make out of this piece and may use it on a bag.

Thanks to Teri Lucas for sharing her expertise and her time with us during this challenge.  This was a really fun and useful exercise.  As always, kudos to SewCalGal for putting this together.

Anyone wanting to broaden their free motion quilting experience should really take a look at the tutorials still on line while they’re still there.  Incredible value.


Trapunto with Diane Loomis

As part of the 2012 FMQ Challenge hosted by SewCalGal, I attempted the Trapunto tutorial offered by Diane Loomis.  I probably should have used the pattern she offered.  Instead I used a Celtic design.  It was definitely a learning process and something I will use in the future.

Trapunto Detail
Trapunto Detail
Celtic Design in Trapunto
Celtic Design in Trapunto


1)  If I had it to do over, I would use a higher loft batting for the initial trapunto application.  The center circle design stood up some, but the interlocking ‘ropes’ on the corners and around the design ended up pretty flat.  It could be that the design didn’t offer enough space to fluff.

2)  To begin I was using a lighter bobbin thread during the trapunto stage.  It showed a bit.  Wish I hadn’t done that.

3)  Used green YLI Silk thread for some of the quilting.  It blended almost perfectly with the green batik.  At first I liked working with it, but it began to break on me.  Played with the tension some, but it kept breaking.  Not sure what was behind that. ….  If anyone has ideas, I would appreciate the feedback.

4)  Switched to Isacord thread in a slightly paler, lime green.  I always like working with Isacord, so didn’t have a lot of problems after that.

This was fun and I definitely want to try it again.  Thanks to SewCalGal for hosting the FMQ Challenge and a huge thanks to Diane Loomis for offering the tutorial on trapunto.  It was excellent with wonderful detail and photos.

SewCalGal’s 2012 FMQ Challenge in Review

Early in the year I was lucky enough to stumble across SewCalGal’s free motion quilting challenge.  The caliber of instructors to provide tutorials were just amazing.  I had only just gotten into quilting the summer of 2011 and had wanted to learn free motion quilting so this challenge was perfect for me.  The resources online are incredible, but this challenge provided insights from so many wonderful instructors and provided so many viewpoints.

I want to extend a HUGE “THANK YOU” to SewCalGal for hosting this challenge and to each of the instructors for sharing their time and experience with us.

1Jan, 2Feb, 3Mar, 4Apr, 5May, 6Jun, 7Jul, 8Aug, 9Sep, 10Oct,11Nov, 12October Bonus    Right: Some of my practice sandwiches for the year, and Trapunto detail
1Jan, 2Feb, 3Mar, 4Apr, 5May, 6Jun, 7Jul, 8Aug, 9Sep, 10Oct,11Nov, 12October Bonus
Right: Some of my practice sandwiches for the year, and Trapunto detail

[The photos were taken with my new Nikon D5100, but still appear too dark.  I’ll have to keep working on that.]

It was actually fun reviewing the year in order to write these posts.  I kept thinking, “Oh!  that was my favorite!”  Then I would get to another and think the same thing.  The instructors were just incredible!  Did I mention that?

Even though I still have a long way to go, I look at the first samples and can see the improvements I’ve made.  There were a couple sandwiches I couldn’t find and had to redo in order to get photos.  They were so much easier now.  Although, feathers are still such a challenge for me.  Diane Gaudynski makes them look so easy and so beautiful.  Mine are just pathetic.  I was looking at my initial attempts and HAD to recreate one to photo.  What you see in the collage above was just quilted today. As a matter of fact, I believe I will show you what I mean!  Below are some of my attempts to date.  Sad, just sad.

1.Dec 2012, 2.Feb 2012, 3.4.5. Feb-Nov 2012
1.Dec 2012, 2.Feb 2012, 3.4.5. Feb-Nov 2012

Unfortunately, I’m still working on December and wanted to get this post entered before the deadline.    December is borders and I’ve already started playing with designs.  Christmas totally sidetracked me from the FMQ fun.  I really enjoyed watching all the other submissions.  Some are just incredibly fabulous!

Many of the tutorials were still up last time I looked.  If you’re interested in FMQ you really should check out the SewCalGal site.   Again, thanks so very much to SewCalGal and to all the instructors.  I thoroughly enjoyed this challenge.