Scrap Dance Pachanga Saga

It’s only been since May 17th when I last posted about this top being finished! And then it was summer. Don’t think I haven’t been working on it for the last 3 months though, because I have. Let me tell you the story. Go pour a cup of coffee or tea, or better yet, grab a glass or a bottle of wine! Trust me in that a lot of coffee and wine has been consumed while I worked through this quilt!

I decided to make a rather “scrappy” backing, using bits left over from the making of the quilt top, plus dug in the stash for a few other fabrics.

Back of SD Pachanga
Scrappy back of Scrap Dance Pachanga

Once the backing was made, it was time to try out that quilting frame I have. It has a Janome 1600p on a moveable platform, so once you load the quilt, you move the machine left to right for quilting. I decided as well to add the red snappers to my quilting frame leaders. My wonderful sister in law, Carolyn, (aka OneBlockWonderWoman) sent them to me. In order to use them, I had to add a little casing to the leaders, and that was quite easy to do. In this next photo, you will see where I set up the back of the quilt on the frame. Those red snappers are peaking out at the end of the casing.

Leah Day has a video showing how she used the red snappers to eliminate all that pinning that was very helpful.

Setting up the machine

I give the red snappers an A+ for making the quilt back SO easy to load. Once it was on the machine, I thought I would “float the top”, but that didn’t work for me, as I was constantly stepping on it as it laid on the floor. So, I went with conventional use of all the rollers. Except….I didn’t put them back on exactly right…..

Reminder notes
Notes on the rollers to help me remember

Since I have only successfully done ONE other quilt (Autumn Jubilee 2020) using this frame & machine, I used my sharpie and put notes on the rollers. The original owner had taped notes to them for the same reason. Thank goodness we still have a small television with a VCR built in and I could “re-watch” the video on how to set the machine up.

Next job was to choose the thread for the project. I chose SILVER bottom line thread for the backing, as it works with all those colors and basically disappears. On top, I decided on two threads, one for the border and one for the main top.

Superior Silver Variegated # 5169
Silver variegated # 5169 Superior Thread
Thread for the border Rainbow 842 Superior Fanastico
Superior Rainbow # 842 for the borders

All these decisions, and making the back were done within 10 days of the quilt top being completed. I was ready to go, the machine was well oiled (every day when using it or after it has sat for a while!). So, I got started. Somewhere along the line, I realized I was having tension trouble. How did I know? Well I crawled under the frame and looked at the back of the quilt. I should have been able to see it immediately on the take up roller, but I failed to roll them TOWARDS the front of the machine. If I had, I could have seen the row I had just completed. So; multiple passes with the machine happened with out being aware.

On the machine SDP

Somewhere along the line, I realized I was having tension trouble. How did I know? Well I crawled under the frame and looked at the back of the quilt. I should have been able to see it immediately on the take up roller, but I failed to roll them TOWARDS the front of the machine. If I had, I could have seen the row I had just completed. So; multiple passes with the machine happened with out being aware. You can see in the above photo where I had the quilt on the frame and just how little space there is to work. It is about 9″, and that roller near the back is rolled the WRONG way.

Quilting on the frame

The silver variegated thread looked good, the stitch spacing was good, and my simple loop-d-loops were going ok.

I had gotten a lot done before I crawled under to look and it was a disaster, so I started “unsewing” and troubleshooting. Everything I read tells me tension trouble on the bottom of the quilt is caused by the top thread. So, I rethreaded everything and started back up. And it happened again after a row of great stitching. I can tell you that my frustration mounted and I persevered for several days. I got tired of “unstitching from underneath”, (laying on my back on the floor), and started unstitching from on top. Fatal error, as at one point in my frustration I managed to create a small tear in the quilt top. At that point, I walked away, leaving the quilt on the frame, the machine off to the side for more than a month.

When I finally went back to the frame I rethreaded, and stitched again and still had the same problem. I was in the middle of the last row of blocks and I gave up. I gave up for another month. I took the nearly quilted quilt off the frame, and decided to finish on my domestic machine. So, I dropped the feed dogs, and tried to repair the areas where the stitching was bad, and things went from bad to worse. I ended up in worse shape than ever as I am a LOUSY free motion quilter and my stitch sizes were terrible. I finally gave up and said, heck, just bind it and move on, and so I did. I even made the label.

Stitching trouble - SDP

But, before I had the binding all the way sewn down I knew what I had to do. I finished the binding and then started to “unstitch” the entire quilt. ALL OF IT. I sat at my regular sewing machine and “anchored the quilt” by stitching in the ditch. along the block rows, and picking out any where my new stitching would cross the stitching I needed to remove. I would work 4″ at a time, hunched over the machine with the machine needle in the ditch. After I did two rows that way, I reorganized and pinned the entire quilt. Then I sat for almost 3 weeks taking out bad stitching, and restitching in the ditch as I got an area cleared. Those tiny stitches from my domestic machine were the absolute worst. You can see in the above photo the stitches in the center are uneven and much smaller than the ones on the left and right of it.

The good news is, I still had enough thread on the spools to restitch the entire quilt. Once I had done some straight line walking foot, stitch in the ditch quilting to anchor the entire quilt, I decided how to finish. I chose a serpentine stitch on my machine I have had great success with in the past. I lengthened and widened it to the max , and then went corner to corner across each block, across the quilt. Now the quilt was starting to look ok. I was really nervous about those needle holes where I had picked out all the old stitching. Prayers and faith they would disappear when the quilt was washed.

Requilting sdp
Walking foot quilting with wavy lines

My last decision was to add more quilting using the wavy lines. I set my guide off one of the ditch stitching lines, and went across the quilt about every 2.5″. I did it in a grid so there is plenty of quilting to anchor this quilt for eternity (or at least until I’m dead!!!) The entire time I was stitching I was still tackling little bits of teeny tiny stitches that I hadn’t gotten out with my seam ripper. The ‘requilting’ took me about 4 days to finish. I finished it up late Monday night and am quite happy that I did it. I still have to figure out what to do in that spot where I tore a small hole in the quilt! (I bet if you zoom in the photo below you can see the spot).

Wavy lines quilting

I did put a little bit of fusible under the spot, but it is glaring at me, and today, after the quilt has been washed and dried, my eye still goes to that spot. I have to tell you though, while I had it outside this morning to take a couple of “FINISHED QUILT” pictures, inspiration landed on the quilt!

A butterfly visit
A visitor to my photo shoot

So, anyway, 3 months from the last time I posted about this quilt, I can say it is finished, with the exception of that one little problem spot. I am SO glad I stuck to my guns and UNSTITCHED it all, and requilted on my domestic machine with my walking foot. All the needle holes where I unstitched are GONE, and the quilt looks 1000% better than it did before I started all the unstitching. And YES, there was a lot of wine and coffee consumed in this process. Honestly I am SO glad I fixed it as I love the quilt pattern.

Scrap Dance Pachanga by the pool
front and back of Scrap Dance Pachanga
SDP Label

I’ve considering a little applique on that damaged spot might be the perfect solution. Will it be a butterfly? I’m not sure. Maybe a small label with the name of the quilt? What would you do? The damage is in a white triangle, in the bottom row. Tell me how YOU might repair it? It went through the washer ok, and there is a little fuzziness along the edge of the tear.

So, dear readers, that’s just a small part of my summer, albeit a very frustrating time at my machine. What’s going on in your sewing room?

Thanks Carole Carter for another great Scrap Dance pattern. It is always so much fun to sew these mystery quilts!

Edited to link up with Thank Goodness It’s Finished Friday post on my blog friend Brenda’s page, Song Bird Designs!


20 thoughts on “Scrap Dance Pachanga Saga

  1. I am so glad you persisted with this quilt, Mary!! It looks awesome. You know, since that pretty butterfly inspired you, I might just applique a little butterfly or a flower! But if you don’t want to detract from the overall look, you might just applique a white square. At any rate, congratulations on sticking to it. It is a beautiful, bright and cheery quilt! I’d like to invite you to link up your post on Friday at my site as I will be hosting TGIFF!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Brenda, I will watch for your link up. Multiple butterflies scattered are going to be my solution! Now I have to either unearth my scan n cut machine from my desk and the pile in front of it or bum time on a friends die cutting machine!


  2. Your quilt looks amazing and what a quilting journey for this piece and yourself. I so admire how persistent and determined your were. I think a butterfly applique would be perfect and would look at home on this beauty. Thank you so much for sharing; this quilt had a very happy ending.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Melisa – thank you so much. Are you a new follower? I appreciate your kind words and thoughts. I do think persistence paid off in the long run. I am planning about 5 butterflies scattered over the quilt, dancing on the scrappiness of my Scrap Dance Pachanga!


  3. I agree with a butterfly applique or a white heart shape. I have done that in the past to fix an oops and it looked great.
    I am sorry your frame and machine aren’t working out and causing so much frustration. There is nothing worse than a machine that won’t work right. Time to save up for a longarm?
    Your quilt came out beautifully, though. Good job persevering.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m sure it is totally user error. Thank you ever so much for the red snappers. They made loading SO easy. The downside is the throat is only about 9″, and the bulk of the quilts as you roll them takes away some of that space, so quilting in a narrow space is so limiting. I’m going to have to start sending out all these king size quilts I have on hangers to a longarm quilter at some point. I don’t have the brain cells or deep enough pockets to go for a full on long arm, because I would want a computerized one like that beauty Jordan fabrics uses on their videos. My hand – eye – needle communication seriously lacks artistic talent, so I would be doing panto’s or computerized . What’s wrong with the idea of dropping $20-30K on that? I probably should upgrade my car before I do that! SIGH….My solution is to put between 5-7-9 butterflies around the quilt. Now, to unearth my scan n cut or bum some time on a friend’s die cutting machine if they have something in the size I am considering.


  4. After reading this, I may have to go back to bed. Before I do, though, I want to applaud your determination in finishing it because it is beautiful. As for what to put there, I’m not sure because if you add an applique your eye will certainly be drawn there. I guess I’d be thinking what would our great grandmothers have done if they found a tear is one – some type of simple stitching to keep it from getting worse? Good to hear from you, Mary.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Didn’t you want to just pour a drink after you read that!! A trip to the local brew pub is in order. I think I will scatter a few butterflies on this quilt. Grandma would have stitched a patch on it I think. Thanks for following and taking time to comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You did an awesome job!! And you learned something that I also had to learn the hard way, no matter which side you quilt from, check the backside every pass. I have a mirror on a long telescoping handle that I use with a flashlight to check those stitches underneath without getting on my knees under the frame. I check every row, even if I think the stitches are perfect on top. Glad you persevered, the final outcome is beautiful! Yes, a butterfly applique to commemorate the lovely that landed on it during your photo shoot.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, the hard lessons in life! πŸ™‚ I think it will be a butterfly, but in doing that, I will probably do 3 to 5 of them and just scatter around the quilt. There are a couple of other “troublesome” spots, but they aren’t as easy to spot as the one I circled. πŸ˜‰ May have to bum some time on a friends die cutting machine or get my scan n cut unburied on my desk and give it a go. πŸ™‚ Thanks for popping by !


  6. Hi Mary, so proud of your tenacity and talent in your quilting journey. The quilt is beautiful and I like the idea of a applique on your rear. You are my hero.


  7. Pingback: Butterflies dancing across the quilt | Stitching Grandma

  8. You are very brave to share your quilting troubles, and I bet your post is encouraging to others who may be experiencing similar issues! Beautiful finish! πŸ™‚

    I am frustrated because Betty Boop…my workhorse machine…has been in the hospital for over a month awaiting new parts! I hope she can come home soon…I sure miss her!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thanks Laura for the kind comments. We may sit alone in our sewing rooms, but we can always encourage others. I know some might have wadded the whole mess up in a ball and stuffed it in a bag, but I have a stubborn streak, and won’t let myself be “beaten” by mistakes. Hope your BB is back soon.

    Liked by 1 person

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