Over the weekend I was working on a very large custom quilting job on an almost vintage quilt top. The quilt was a dark blue calico mixed with a solid cream fabric and the pattern was an 8" snow ball. The customer chose a very pretty block pattern called time after time, which essentially is interlinked double hearts. In the borders she wanted me to quilt a linear pattern called Pumpkin Coach.
I spent day one quilting the upper border and several rows of thes blocks. Each block required me to set the block pattern up, walk around the machine, check layout and centering, walk back around the machine, set the threads, trim, sew the pattern, stop, walk back around, set and trim threads and repeat. Mike watched me one afternoon and he was amazed at how much walking and movement I had to do. I think he understands why some nights I am tired from just quilting. It was another one of those quilts that strengthened my desire for a computerized longarm.
After the first day of quilting, I cleaned and oiled the machine so it would be ready for the next day's early start. The following morning with a steaming mug of joe, I headed to the studio and began my quilting day. I decided to quilt little double hearts into the snowbal corners. I started to stitch from the front of the machine and I noticed, the oil had soaked onto the needle and bobbin threads and created a dark line in the stitching. I was beside myself. This didn't happen in the dark pieced section, it happened on the lightly colored cream fabric and cream printed background. I immediately stopped and took the stitching out and wiped out the bobbin and needle to remove the excess oil. I stitched on a fabric scrap to ensure the oil was gone. I marked the section with a small safety pin and kept on quilting. I was really mad at myself for not remembering to do this before I started to stitch.
That evening, I did some ruler research online and found this set of videos by Rusty Farrell. As we watched Ancient Aliens on TV, I worked my way through his YouTube video channel and I really enjoyed binge watching most of them. He has one video on how to clean and oil your long arm. He was working on an Innova machine, but I figured I can always learn something new. As he was putting the bobbin case back in he casually mentioned that if you ever get oil on a quilt the easiest way to remove is with a touch of SEW-Clean or Dawn dishwashing liquid. I thought, wait, what did he just tell me how to fix that problem with the oil in the quilt? I backtracked and listened intently to the video 2 more times. Sure enough, there was my answer! THANK YOU RUSTY!
I googled Sew-Clean and realized it was not easy to find locally on short notice and expensive. So I decided to try option 2. Thankfully I use Dawn dishwashing liquid in my kitchen and for cleaning around the house. I had a bottle of white Dawn. I found a new baby toothbrush in the cabinet, put a little dab of Dawn in a small dish and headed down to try it. I also grabbed a microfiber towel en route.
I carefully put a little Dawn on the toothbrush and gently scrubbed the area on both sides of the quilt. I let it soak for a couple of minutes and then added some water to the dish and rinsed the brush. I dipped the brush into the water mixture and continued to brush the fabric. Low and behold, the oil disappeared!!! I blotted with the microfiber towel and rinsed the brush again with clean water. Rubbed it again onto the quilt top and back to remove the residual soap. I repeated this on the back of the quilt until I was sure there was no oil or soap left in the quilt.
I am happy to report, the quilt was saved. When it dried, there wasn't a trace of the offending oil or dark stitches. One important note: Dusty did say to only use clear Dawn, not the original blue formula which might discolor light fabric until the quilt is washed. I would recommend using the clear or white Dawn formulas if your quilt is light colored and use it sparingly.
While I am usually very careful to ensure that my long arm is well maintained, cleaned and oiled, accidents happen and I was really happy to find this great solution to a problem that I am sure is not unique to me. I just had to share it with you in case you ever need to figure out what to do like I did.
I learned two important lessons this weekend. Always wipe down the machine needle and bobbin every morning BEFORE stitching begins and DAWN works really well to get rid of sewing machine oil should lesson #1 be forgotten. I hope you never need this time, but if you do, remember, DAWN to the rescue!
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