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Thread: New to machine quilting and have a couple of questions

  1. #1
    spatulagirl's Avatar
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    Hi, all! I'm new here :).

    Thanks to my love of piecing tops (I have about 5 tops to quilt :oops: - it's relaxing to hand-quilt, but I would really like to have these quilts done before my 2 year old goes to college! ), I have decided that it is high time to start machine quilting a lot more. I've done 1 1/2 quilts by machine and I really enjoy it, but I'm having a few small issues. I will admit, the second time around is going much better than my first attempt. I only have a cheapie machine from Target, although it's been better than I expected (it's a Brother). There's a quilting 'table', although it doesn't stay put, so at times, it becomes more of a hindrance than a help. :roll:

    Anyway - I've only quilted in the ditch on the two quilts that I've done. I'm trying to stay simple. The first was a quick baby quilt (the cornerstones - I can't remember which book), and I decided to go VERY simple on the second one so that I could give it a good practice on an easy top - I used the rail fence pattern out of Alex Anderson's Start Quilting book (and I had a fat quarter pack of Robyn Pandolph's Flirt line that I desperately wanted to use - it worked out beautifully!).

    On both, I've had the same problem. I'm doing what's advised - I'm basting the crap out of them, and then I'm starting in the middle on both. I'm quilting usually the middle two blocks completely, and then I start quilting the seams from the middle out.

    But at points, I'm getting issues where the blocks start pulling - and I end up with a small overlap of fabric at the end of the block (but not the entire seam). It's not happening everywhere, but it's happening enough to bother me (so far, it's happened 2-3 times on this quilt and I've quilted all of the long seams, but not to the extent it happened on my first attempt at machine quilting).

    I would really appreciate any advice on this! :) This is not something that happens to me when I hand-quilt :lol:

    (I hope it's not my machine. I'm saving up for a nicer machine, but it's going to be awhile!)

    Also - I'm planning to try my hand at using some stencils on the outside border. This may sound like a silly question, but it's the same as what I would do hand quilting, right? I trace them onto the border, and then sew what I've traced? :?: And when you use stencils, do you use the walking foot or the free motion foot?

    Thanks so much for any advice! I've been reading all morning and I have a feeling I'm going to enjoy this site! :)

  2. #2
    Senior Member crashnquilt's Avatar
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    Welcome to the wonderful world of machine quilting. I hope I can help you with your problems as I have done the same thing myself.

    First off, how are you basting the quilt? If you are hand basting with needle and thread, you may be basting it a bit too much and the fabric has no room to "move" a bit. If you are using the safety pin method, you may be having the same problem. Your basting, pin or thread, should be about a hand width apart. This will allow you to "manipulate" the fabric under the presser foot if need be.

    If I am correct, sometimes you are getting a very small "tuck". I had this same problem when I was quilting on my domestic machine as well. This "tuck" should be happening when you come towards the end of the seam and the adjoining seam has already been stitched. I hope I can explain this so it can be understood. As you STD (stitch in the ditch), look ahead to where you are stitching too. If you are coming to an already stitched seam, sort of stretch the fabric a bit while you are sewing. This should help eliminate the "tuck" at the end. Also, if possible, adjust the pressure on your presser foot. What is happening is your fabric is being pushed a bit by the presser foot.

    On the outside borders, you should do them with free motion quilting method. Just remember, if you have any curves in the design, SLOW DOWN on the curves. Everyone has a tendancy to "speed" around the curves, if you do this you will get "eyelashing" on the back of the quilt. That is where the bobbin thread pulls the top thread to the back side and the result looks like eye lashes. You can also STD using free motion and you may not get the "tucks" since you will have little to no pressure on the presser foot.

    As far as your sewing machine is concerned. Don't think that if you spend a great deal of money you will be getting a better machine. Example: I bought a machine for $2500 and thought I was getting a really great machine. My daughter thought she wanted to start sewing, so I bought her a $500 machine, same brand as mine, for Christmas. That little machine of hers will sew circles around my machine! In fact, I even tried to TRADE machines with her and she said NO WAY!

    When you do go to purchase a new machine, be sure to do LOTS OF RESEARCH, and try the machine using your own fabric and threads! DO NOT buy a machine strictly because of the name brand.

    Hope this helps you and please keep me posted on your progress.

  3. #3
    spatulagirl's Avatar
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    Oh, Crash, if I could hug you right now, I would :lol: .

    I think you may have solved my problem. I think I'm over-basting. I baste with safety pins, and I've been putting them about 1 1/2 inches apart. I can't change that on this quilt (but I'm looking at it again in the light of day, and I don't think it's as bad as I thought, luckily! I think I'm more critical of myself than anyone else would be!), but now I know for the next one. That makes me feel much more confident.

    And thank you for the advice on the machine! It will be quite awhile before I am able to buy one (DH and I have put ourselves on the Dave Ramsey plan, and are snowballing some debt and trying to build up a huge down payment for our next house), but I'm starting to look around and get an idea of what I would like. I bought the current machine because I didn't think I'd be using it much - well, it's being used every night and I think it's been used enough to justify the $120 I spent! :D So my DH is actually okay with my saving for a new one since he can see that I'm not about to give up quilting.

    Thank you so much for the advice! I'm looking forward to trying it out!

  4. #4
    Super Member quiltwoman's Avatar
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    Just another thought--are you using a walking foot? When stitching in the ditch without one, I tend to "pull" my fabric thru the machine. I just let the walking foot do the work when stitching in the ditch.

    I have an inexpensive Brother cs6000 and I LOVE to free motion quilt on it. I often have to remind myself to SLOW DOWN!! I found that I can set the speed w/the machine's control and it will not let me go too fast when I push on the pedal.

    As far as machines, the previous post was right. Spend lots of time trying them out. I have a cheapie ( I LOVE IT) and a mid priced machine that I never use any more. I just bought a really expensive one but I plan on doing embroidery work for school/contract and I need the reliability and 20 year warranty. I'm sure you'll be able to find one that fits your needs.

    Also, have you ever used the basting spray?? Saves oodles of time and beats all that hand basting--------wish I had used it years ago!
    HTH,

  5. #5
    Super Member twistedstitcher's Avatar
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    I also recommend using basting spray, it save so much time and no pins to work around! :D

  6. #6
    spatulagirl's Avatar
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    Julie, I am using a walking foot - I think I might be having issues with letting it take control, too. I'm not a control freak or anything :oops: .

    I will try the basting spray! Thanks for the recommendation - is there one that's preferred over the other? From looking online, it seems as if the Sullivans is preferred over the June Tailor.

  7. #7
    Senior Member crashnquilt's Avatar
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    When using the basting spray be sure to SPRAY LIGHTLY! My experience has been if I spray to heavy I can get skipped stitches and gunk build up on my needle.

    To help with the gunk build up, if you have some SEWERS AID, wipe you needle with it and you won't get the build up. You will need to do this about every 30 to 45 minutes of sewing.

  8. #8
    triciasquilts's Avatar
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    My advice for you: Relax as much as possible!!! I found when I was all stiffened up, I had a harder time with the free motion. And then I'd be sore as heck when I finished. And breath!!!!
    But all the other advice you've rec'd is right on!! Relax, relax, relax!!!!

  9. #9

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    You might try lowering the feed dogs on the bottom side and releasing ALL the tension on the top side of the quilt. This way you have complete control over where the machine sews. Oh, this hint was given to me bymy 87 year old Aunt who has been qulting "forever" Hope that this will help

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