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Thread: Decorative Thread and a 503a Tension Problems

  1. #1
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    Decorative Thread and a 503a Tension Problems

    Last weekend I went round and round trying to be able to machine quilt with variegated thread on my 503a. The upper thread kept breaking down near the free motion foot. I had the tension at 0 and it would still break. It seemed like the tension was ok when pulling the thread through the tension disks, but somehow by the time it got through the needle it was too tight.

    The thread label says "YLI Machine Quilting 100% long staple Egyptian cotton" and I was trying to quilt a sandwich that was batiks top and bottom and Dream Cotton inbetween. I had the same thread in the bobbin. I'm not good at FMQ, although I've done some mostly I've used a walking foot.

    I did all the usual things - new needle, cleaned every trace of lint, rethreaded everything. I tried both the FMQ foot and a walking foot. I loosened the bobbin tension a little bit. The thread continued to break. Eventually I took it to a Sew & Vac (I was at a sewing retreat) and the owner diagnosed the problem as the thread being too thick. She noticed that the breaks were occuring at the curves in the FMQ, but when I went back to the walking foot it still broke. So I bought new polyester thread and the problem resolved. The center of the quilt is done with the poly thread, I've got the binding finished, but the borders still need something.

    My problem is I'm still longing to use this beautiful expensive thread (Mediterranean: blues to greens to purples) to finish quilting the borders. Does anyone have ideas on what might help me succeed with it?

  2. #2
    Super Member Candace's Avatar
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    The 400 and 500 series Singers do not FMQ well. They are wonderful piecing machines and general quilting and sewing, but FMQing is not a good match for these machines. If you have a different machine, I'd recommend you use it for FMQing. I have close to 30 machines and the 400/500's are my least favorite for free motion. The thickness of the thread has nothing to do with your issues as long as you're using a 12 or 14 needle... The horizontal bobbin and raised feed dog plate do not help with stitch quality.

    Varigated thread can sometimes break in over dyed areas. I've never had any problems with YLI, though you may have also received a bad or old spool.
    Last edited by Candace; 02-24-2013 at 07:16 PM.

  3. #3
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    ok, that's interesting and good to know. I wonder if that's why I've never had good success at FMQ - it's been the only sewing machine i've used until now.

    I do have *blush* a couple of other machines. fortunately, i know none of you will give me a bad time for having "options" in machines. I have a 15-91 and a 66 that are both out getting the electrical redone (cracked wires). I got them both in the fall and thought they needed a pro to make sure they were safe. I also have a FW, but that might be a little tough to fit this under the harp. Other than that, i have a 66 treadle, but i suck at the treadle - i keep breaking the thread on it.

    perhaps my best choice would be to put on my patience pants and wait for the 15-91 and 66 to come back and try those. so maybe it's not just my lack of talent that has kept me from being very good at the FMQ.

  4. #4
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    The 15-91 might be a winner for FM - I love my clones for FM - some of course are better than others.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts. Winston Churchill

  5. #5
    Super Member lovelyl's Avatar
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    I LOVE my 15-91 for FMQing! In fact, I purchased it specifically for FMQing after reading many positive comments about it here on the board.
    Linda
    There may be times we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest. - Elie Wiesel

  6. #6
    Super Member craftiladi's Avatar
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    Oh another good to know fact, i have both 401 & 403, love them both but i have never tried to FM..guess I won't. Also thought i read somewhere if using metallic or a dyed thread to not use it on the bobbin , am I mistaken?
    dee fox
    cedar city ut and i am a fabricaholic & i have a few other addictions-scrap booking is right up there w/ fabric

  7. #7
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    Thread breaking can be from the needle in wrong, burrs on the throat plate, tension too tight, dried up oil on a thread guide or in the tension, thread wrapped around the spool holder or thread not through the thread guides correctly. Some times with the old machines it is simplest just to rebuild the tension once in a while. I prefer my 15 clone for FM but it is possible it is the foot I like. I've tried it with different feet and am happy with a certain one. Some times you just need the magic of the right machine and the right foot. Try normal thread in the bobbin and fancy in the top do your tension adjusting before you start FM.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts. Winston Churchill

  8. #8
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    you didn't say what type of needle you're using...have you tried the topstitch? larger eye and scarf - used by many professionals as their only needle also the only needle Superior threads sells.
    Kate

  9. #9
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    i had a new Schmetz topstitch needle in the machine, and i replaced it with another new one during the process of trying to figure out what was wrong. I don't usually use a topstitch needle and I actually wondered if it was part of the problem, but had read to use a topstitch one for FMQ, so left it.

    I was thinking more about this - the 503a just not being good for FMQ shouldn't explain all the issue. Even when I had the walking foot on it was breaking. I may try it with regular thread in the bobbin - except that it was always the top thread that broke. the sewing machine shop person did clean between the tension disks with alchohol and a bit of fabric, just in case there was dirt in there.

  10. #10
    Super Member Candace's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oregongirl View Post
    i had a new Schmetz topstitch needle in the machine, and i replaced it with another new one during the process of trying to figure out what was wrong. I don't usually use a topstitch needle and I actually wondered if it was part of the problem, but had read to use a topstitch one for FMQ, so left it.

    I was thinking more about this - the 503a just not being good for FMQ shouldn't explain all the issue. Even when I had the walking foot on it was breaking. I may try it with regular thread in the bobbin - except that it was always the top thread that broke. the sewing machine shop person did clean between the tension disks with alchohol and a bit of fabric, just in case there was dirt in there.
    If you had a slant shank walking foot on and were still getting thread breakage, then there's something amiss. Because although mine is a terrible FMQ'er, it's a wonderful straight line quilter and piecer. I don't know if you've also switched out your bobbin, but some are just plain bad. Especially the "new" repro ones coming in from China. Your machine also may need some adjustment in the bobbin area. And honestly, if you can't get it to quilt with a walking foot, I'd take it to a different repair person. The "Too Thick of thread" comment over regular, 50 wt. cotton thread is just wrong.

    As those above said, the 15 will be your best bet for FMQing and I bet you see quite an improvement:>

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