30.8 I understand why Carlotta was kicked out of the opera

July 7, 2013

First off, many thanks for those of you who responded to my last post where I decided to step away from podcasting.

I have listened to many of you, and I know that a lot of what I said in the episode I posted was about (my) hurt feelings and that is a portion of the reason to step away. There was a little something else though. A constant feeling of “oh you’re not recording this week, why not?” that was constantly playing in my head.  A solution to that monologue would be to record every week, but the time & effort I wanted to take to do that would have been too great.

I was very calm when I recorded, but by the end of the day last Sunday I was sad & weepy about the whole thing.  I have listened to myself in the episode and the calm reassurance is there that it was the right decision at this time.

What’s funny is that since last sunday, I’ve been really wanting to “audio journal” things, say them outl0ud, get myself sorted through. And I think I am going to do that anyway, and just journal them for myself and keep them for myself. Strange how that happened that I want to go back to the mic to get away from the mic.

I’ve purposefully waited until the (virtual) dust has settled before posting a new post (this one!)

***** sweeping away the dust for now *****

Okay, the title of the post is about Carlotta. My sewing machine.


Now this is totally my fault for not getting it taken care of sooner, I had a whole two months where I wasn’t quilting anything at all, just sitting around playing Sims video game.

So during THAT time (middle of May until end of June) I should have either taken Carlotta in to get serviced, or the hand-me-down Bernina that I have had since Christmas time which is old & has all the parts, but I haven’t wanted to use until I get a nice cleaning and good bill of health for.

Did I do either of these? NO. Of course not.

And guess what is coming up, slamming itself faster and faster towards me?  The biannual quilt show.

For which I should have gotten a few more of my larger projects done, but I also HAVE to finish my charity quilt to give away.

There is something wrong with the sewing machine’s take-up lever.  The part that has a spring on it that lets the thread travel back toward the top of the machine. This helps to balance the tension on it, I would assume that the spring allows the thread to be able to handle a change of tension on the bottom and can help the thread adjust accordingly by reducing tension through the spring in the lever.

Well the take up lever is not really moving or acting very springlike anymore.  For the life of me I don’t know what it looked like before I noticed it, but now it’s either stuck too low or stuck too high and nothing about the whole thing is very springy.

So the top which I already had to set the tension to pretty much zero BEFORE the tightening spring problem is way too tight on the top now.

Sometimes it works. Carlotta is temperamental. Like the opera star in the Phantom of the Opera. Very beautiful voice when working, but otherwise, just good at being a B@TCH, and being stubborn.

Which is why I named her what I did.

So I was on the path to microstippling the auction quilt.

I finally had a plan. Last weekend through the 4th of July I worked on the middle section. I put Carlotta in time-out and got out Molly, my original machine that I haven’t touched in the last two years.

And Molly is gone. Her motor started up “okay” when I started and within 3 minutes the motor was not running at all.  I need to properly ‘bury’ Molly (aka throw her away somehow), and as you can see she can be easily & cheaply replaced.


I got Carlotta back out & swore I could deal with the broken needles (broke 4 just trying to slowly microstipple before putting Carlotta in time out).

And on the 4th I was able to sew straight lines (with my darning foot, pretty straight and great practice for control I might add) on the outside of the quilt for the auction.

hexadaisy quilted inside outside one sectionAnd Carlotta cooperated long enough to sew the microstippling in the middle of the quilt.

microstippling in the middle hexadaisy

And I wanted so badly to continue this look of microstippling bands on the outside of the quilt, to mimic the center and the outside to tie the thing together. So I got these three lines done with only minimal birds nests (3 I think).

microstippling in corner on hexadaisy

Yesterday morning (saturday morning) I sat down to do this on all the other corners of the quilt, in addition to the two sides one section of microstippling.

And NO was the answer I got back from Carlotta. Not only NO but “H@LL NO”. Birds nest after birds nest. Rethread after rethread, cleaning out the bobbin area after recleaning, switching types of needles, switching bobbins, putting the magic genie washers in the bobbin area, taking them out of the bobbin area.  Broken needle after broken needle.

I went on an hour walk to calm myself, came back and still the thing wasn’t cooperating. Still, still, still.

So I decided to rip. Rip Rip Rip. I wanted some good break up songs to break up with my stitches.

But you know how long it takes to rip out microstippling? Or how long it takes ME to rip out microstippling? An hour a strip. To get all the threads off the thing, and catch everything. And I had to rip out 3 sections of good microstippling, and one section of bird nest microstippling.

stupid birds nest could not get rid of these

The bird nest parts did not take an hour, they took less time since there was so much mess. But I had to come back off and on to the quilt, it made me so frustrated!  If it would have worked the way it was supposed to, I would have done the original design by 8 or 9 in the morning, not taken me until 4PM to remove all the hard work that I had liked that I had done.

This AM I have worked on getting the binding pressed.  A light binding, but a fun one.

hexadaisy before binding

And now before I sew it down, I am going to make two sleeves, one for the side and one for the top, so it can be hung either way by the recipient, as the recipient chooses.

And yes I am giving this away to our guild, I have another version of this that is larger that I am keeping for myself, but I do not want to touch until Carlotta or my other machine has been in the shop. And I am NOT going to do either until after this week is over, I have TOO MUCH other things to do before the show.

If I get my act together, I may reintroduce you to the quilts I am hanging in the show at the end of this week (friday & saturday).


  1. I feel your pain. I can’t imagine being under the gun to finish something with a deadline only to be cursed with a disobedient machine. It certainly takes the fun out of this fun pastime. In the other hand, the winner of your auction item is going to me absolutely thrilled with their win.

  2. The quilt is beautiful, Darla. Sorry you had so many issues with it. It certainly does suck the fun out of sewing when the machine is acting up.

  3. You worked it out with the quilt. The recipient will be very lucky to have that beauty.

  4. Oh, I know what you are going through! But who knew, back in May, that you’d have a two month lull? Now you are in a sewing mood and you don’t want to take the time off to have your babies serviced. Been there, done that!

  5. Oh my, what a way to start back into quilting again. The quilt it wonderful, certainly worth the effort.

  6. Ugh, and Carlotta is so pretty! What a shame that she is being difficult. And sad about Molly, too. Does the Bernina have a name yet? Love the quilt. You were right about wanting to stipple the outer areas, it looks awesome in the center.

    • I’m thinking Lenny for the Bernina. Maybe a shortened version of Lenore or similar name. I will have to try her out sometime soon.

  7. Will miss your podcasts but a girls gotta do what she feels is right for her. Take care of yourself first, then you can do for the rest of the world a lot better 🙂 hopefully will still hear from you on twitter and your blog?

  8. […] post where I was very frustrated at the FMQ of my old vintage machine is here if you want to relive my stress over the auction […]

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