Sunday, May 18, 2014

problem solving

 I teach high school science and have kids ask me all the time, 'when are we going to need this stuff.'  Most of the time the answer is 'never'.  But, the skills we teach will be used forever.  The biggest skill we teach is problem solving.  For example.  When quilting this batik quilt, which is gorgeous, I had the most terrible time with skipped stitches.  For some reason, my machine hates batiks.  They are extra dense fabrics and are oh so pretty to look at but oh so icky to sew through.  If you do make  mistake, you will know about it forever, because unlike regular cotton fabric, batiks don't close up by themselves after you've ripped out stitches.  That hole you've poked in the material, it will remind you that you messed up.  You can manually work the fabric back together, but there's going to be a little pucker there forever just to say, hey dude, remember when you messed up and had to rip some stitches out?  Yeah, here is that spot!

Well, I slowed down the machine and sped up the machine and tightened the thread tension and loosened the tension, of course because I'm a science teacher only doing one thing at a time because if you change everything at once, you will never know what fixed the problem.  Finally at the end of the quilt, I loosened the tension on the quilt.  After trying 97 other things, loosening the tension on the quilt finally fixed the skipped stitches problem.  Giving the machine room to breathe was the solution it needed.  I usually run my quilt sandwich pretty tight to keep any wrinkles out, but giving it some much needed room to suck the fabric down into the bed of the machine allowed it to do it's thing and no more skipped stitches.  Luckily I didn't get any wrinkles either!
Then, on this quilt, half way through the quilt, I ran out of backing fabric.  Another problem to solve!  I just hand stitched a second piece to the other backing and when I pulled it off the machine, I ran a zig zag stitch over the seam line.  It won't win any awards at a quilt show, but it served its purpose.  I bet you can't see where I added the fabric, can you?  With this busy quilt top, neither can I!  That will teach me to measure and not just guess that I have enough.  Some days I get lazy and just hope that things will work out.  This month I'm way behind on my quilting goals.  Only 10 quilts and it's day 18.  I better get cranking if I want to catch up.  I've just been so busy with end of school stuff and have been doing really big quilts lately.  Putting a couple of these little guys on helps.  Good thing I have about 50 of these guys left for days like this.  I have a Binky Patrol meeting today and have lots of new volunteers who are planning on coming.  I hope we can get a lot done today.

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