So, I went down to the LQS today to talk to them about the batik backing on the Summer Fish Quilt the owner had a few ideas.
1. the salts used in the batik dying process cause the fabric to be very stiff, so prewashing (with vinegar to prevent colour bleeds) might help soften it.
2. Use a lighter weight thread in the bobbin, so that the machine doesn't struggle so much to maintain tension.
3. the ripping should "close" over once the quilt has been washed.
4. Use the thinnest sharpest needle possible. I was already using a #11 Blue tip, however when we looked a bit closer at it next to a #11 Top Stitch Needle, the Top Stitch actually looks a touch thinner, so she is going to research into what the actual difference between the needles is, because while she knew what they were for etc, she didn't know how they work, if that makes sense.
So my plan of attack is this:
Use the backing currently on the table runner as my sample piece.
First up is to remove the stitching currently there.
Wash the backing only throughly - will the stiffness decrease & the holes close over?
Then try the lighter weight thread on the bobbin, which she sent me home with free of charge until I figure out if it helps. If that doesn't work, fiddle with the tension on the needle (not bobbin.)
Looking at the quilt, it's only the fish & bubbles that are really bad, if the ripping can be improved by washing that is. Granted the tension isn't going to change, but if the ripping & the horrible fish and bubbles aren't there I think I could live with it. So I will rip them out and get a new quilter to do them.
I also got the name of a new quilter who was well recommended by the girls at the shop who does custom work as opposed to just continuous line. I was told that many quilters simply aren't accepting any new work atm because of the push for Christmas, I'm at the point that I want it done right, not right now, so hopefully this works out!!
One of the ladies also gave me some quilting ideas for the red & aqua table runner that should create an interesting pattern, without scaring me off of machine quilting!
Nothing concrete yet but lots of good information! Wish me Luck!