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Thread: Free motion quilting on an old machine

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Warrensburg, NY

    Question Free motion quilting on an old machine

    I have a some questions about using my machine for free motion quilting, namely stippling to begin with. I have a '48 Singer 66-16 that I use to sew and quilt my projects. I bought a generic FMQ foot. I have been watching Leah Day's videos and have modified my foot.This is my first time ever stippling a project. I have managed to set the correct tension for my stitches, but I am still having problems with skipping stitches and breaking thread. Does anyone else FMQ on their vintage machines? If so, do you use a particular brand of needles, size needles and also a particular brand of thread? I have found that the polyester thread seems to break more frequently when I try to FMQ, but I have used it to stitch in the ditch without problems, using a walking foot. I still consider myself a beginner quilter, so any advise you can give me would be greatly appreciated. Until I get these problems tweaked, my wallhanging will remain unfinished. Thanks, Sue
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  2. #2
    Super Member Stitchnripper's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Mableton, GA
    I have a similar Singer so I will be watching to see what everyone recommends.

  3. #3
    Super Member vintagemotif's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Blog Entries
    First off, you can FMQ with a Singer 66, but that isn't the best vintage Singer machines to FMQ with. The Singer 15s (15-89,15-90,15-91) are the better choice since the bobbin (rotary) is situated in such a way that the thread picks up in a manner more beneficial to FM.

    A Schmetz Univeral 90/14 should work for needle. I use cotton thread, like Coats and Clark.

    I have found that if I have spray basted the quilt, I will always get skipped stitches. So, I no longer spray baste; plus, that stuff is nasty on the lungs.

    You have your darning foot on, but I don't see a layer of material and batting for your stippling practice.
    You need to practice with all the layers.

    All I can suggest is for you to continue to practice and follow any suggestions that Leah Day has put out there.

    Each machine is different, so you will have to play with the machine. Looks like your machine has a motor. So, practice with the speed to see what develops.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Warrensburg, NY


    Thank you vintagemotif. I usually make little quilt sandwiches and use them to practice. I have been using Coats and Clark machine quilting thread also. So I will switch to the Schmetz needles and see if they make a difference. Thank you for your advise!

  5. #5
    Super Member quilt addict's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Southern California
    Disclaimer: I have yet to be very successful with FMQ. So this is just ideas from what I have read. The bigger needle suggested may help. Or just try a new needle.

    Thread breakage can be caused by the thread being abraided on some edge. It may touch an edge due to the motion of moving the quilt will pull the thread to a side of the plate that it doesn't on normal sewing.

    So i would start with a new needle, then if still a problem, look at the hole in you needle plate and around your bobbin case to see if there may be a small burr or something that may fray the thread.

    Good luck!

  6. #6
    Super Member BarbaraSue's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    near Peoria Illinois
    Blog Entries
    Thanks for posting this question. vintagemotif, thank you for the info too. I haven't as yet FMQ on my 15-91. I've used the walking foot and I have the darning/FMQ foot to use. Just need to pratice more.
    To make lots of quilts, is to have lots of scraps, and I do, and I do.

  7. #7
    Senior Member VickyS's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    in hiding
    Recommendation - Don't use a bigger needle. It will just make bigger holes in the quilt sandwich.

    I've been using my Featherweight quite successfully in FMQ, with all types of thread - Coats & Clarke, Aurefil, Hand quilting thread - both polyester cotton coated and 100% cotton are the most I've used so far. Older thread will break, especially older 100% cotton thread.

    I get skipped stitches if I move the material too quickly for the speed I am sewing, or I have a dull needle, or my needle is not properly threaded or the needle is installed incorrectly in the machine (i.e. backwards to where it should be).

    The thicker the thread, the larger the needle you have to use to help cut down on thread breakage. Coats & Clarke is thicker than Aurefil because it is predominately used for clothing and general sewing. I generally use a 14 needle for Coats & Clarke (generally 30 weight), and an 11 needle for 50 weight Aurefil (which is a lot skinnier than Coats & Clarke).

    Both produce beautiful FMQ with practice. It just depends on what you have available to use and how much practice you put in.

    I would say I am an intermediate FMQ'er - past the beginner stage, but not good enough to just sit and do it.

    PRACTICE, and work with the needle/thread combo until you have something that works. There were days when I would SWEAR everything was done correctly, and yet I would still have problems. Some days I just want to SCREAM because the stuff just doesn't want to flow. Then you will have days when the moment you sit down it flows beautifully. So DON'T GIVE UP. Just do it as the advertisers say! You can do it and you will be very happy you did!

  8. #8
    Super Member purplefiend's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Round Rock,Texas
    I have 2 drop-in vintage/antique Singers (models 66 and 201), haven't had good results FMQ with either. The Singer 15 and 237 both work beautifully for FMQ.
    Sharon W.

  9. #9
    Senior Member pippi65's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Central, Illinois
    How do you set up your FW to FMQ? What do you set the stitch regulator at? How do you cover your feed dogs? My husband modified a walking foot to use on it, but I would really like to FMQ with it as it's in a table and that helps with the quilt dragging. Thanks so much.
    Be kinder than necessary,everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

  10. #10
    Member alisainfl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2010

    Cool FMQ on Featherweight

    i just bought an original f/w with the booklet included. Upon reading the info about quilting, I discovered that when you thread the machine - after you thread the tension disc and go to the lever just to the left of the tension disc, make sure the thread is in the HOLE of that lever (lower one). I haven't tried it, but this info comes from the book. I looked at my other f/w and saw that the thread was in the hole - then I realized that's why I couldn't adjust the stitching when I sat down to sew on it.

    Try this and see if it works on some scrap material.

    good luck

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