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.


2013 in Review – part 2

My favorites from 2013:

Made sewing table for Bernina 820 for quilting:


Finally found a Singer Featherweight in my price range!  Yay!

Singer Featherweight 221
Singer Featherweight 221

Just this month won a Gammill Charm.  It should come in mid-January.  I’m really excited, but REALLY need to make space for it.

Craftsy courses taken in 2013:

Wow!  Those are just the courses I have taken this year.  I have a few that I recently bought that are waiting to be viewed.  In review, I can honestly say it is money well spent.   As you can tell, I really focused on sewing and fit this year.  If you love learning new techniques and haven’t tried Craftsy, Do It!  You will love their class format.

So now it’s ‘out with the old, and in with the new.”  I wish you all a Happy New Year!