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Thread: beginner quilting help needed...

  1. #1
    Member lnlwhitt's Avatar
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    beginner quilting help needed...

    I am a new quilter making my first quilt in a class. This week we are supposed to be doing the quilting using our walking foot and a design stitch following our rows that have been assembled. I am getting variation in the stitches sometimes tight and then loose. I'm pretty sure it's not the machine but me...
    My questions are most important even with a walking foot am I the one ultimately responsible for the speed the fabric is feeding through to keep my stitches uniform? Hope that makes sense.
    Also with the walking foot should I be changing any thing on my stitch set up, should they be longer stitches or less tension. It is sewing fine just not uniform looking.

    I ripped out the 14" inches I did last night already....wow was that hard and need to start over. This is only wall hanging size but vertical and horizontal quilting is due on Wednesday. Not sure I will be able to do this part. Maybe I'm not meant to be a quilter or does part take time and practice. I know the free motion is learned but I didn't expect this part to be a challenge too.

    Thanks
    Lisa

  2. #2
    Super Member leatheflea's Avatar
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    It sounds like your quilt is dragging on something, not allowing it to move easily under the foot. Or your helping it to much. When you push it through faster than the machine is pulling you'll get a long stitch, when it drags you'll get a short stitch. Maybe a Supreme Slider would help. Is your quilting surface level or is the quilt hanging off the edges? It takes some practice to get it right. I too have problems with this but gets getting better.

  3. #3
    Power Poster ckcowl's Avatar
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    put together a practice (sandwich-some people use 12" blocks) and do some practicing- you have to coordinate your (foot speed) with the speed of the fabric/stitch- it takes some practice- it is always a good idea to practice on something (just 2 pieces of fabric with some batting in the middle works) before 'attacking' your actual project- but you can not expect perfection---it will not be perfect- people who have been doing it for years still have on occassion- some uneven stitches---
    if the stitches are very tiny- you are stitching faster than moving the fabric- if the stitches are big you are moving the fabric faster than the machine is going- it takes time to find a (rhythm)
    don't be so hard on yourself- when you go back to class you will find everyone will have some areas that are not perfect-
    i've seen some with stitch regulators- that still on occassion have the same problem-
    it certainly does not mean you are not meant to do this- it just takes time/practice and patience.
    if you use a thread that blends in to the fabrics- the little areas that are slightly bigger/smaller---are not going to be noticable- and no one is going to be there with a ruler measuring your stitches
    if you find the tiny stitches are the biggest problem you could try increasing your stitch length on the machine- but it really just takes some practicing ... and not expecting it to look as if it came from jc penneys- all hand work has variations---the difference between doing something yourself-and buying something manufactured---don't be so hard on yourself- or expect perfection---we strive for perfection- we never really achieve perfection
    hiding away in my stash where i'm warm, safe and happy

  4. #4
    Member lnlwhitt's Avatar
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    Thanks, I'll give it another try tonight. I do have a practice sandwich that we made and that's what I spent last night working on (after I finished ripping out on my good piece)and just didn't expect so much of this step to rely on me I guess. My machine is sitting on a table so it's not a level surface all the way across. Thanks for letting me know it's atleast a "normal" part of the process.
    I just thought it was me and not "getting it".

  5. #5
    Super Member faykilgore's Avatar
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    Lisa,
    Bless your heart and welcome to the quilting family! I've been doing this about 15 years now and I still rip out unacceptable work. Practice is a huge part of it. I still do a practice piece on scraps before starting on my real quilt, just to get back into the rhythm. I do "guide" the fabric under my walking foot, and I do dial in a slightly longer stitch. Guiding the fabric prevents the "pulling" that causes the tight or crooked stitches. It also takes some practice to find a "throttle speed" that works best for you. My recommendation is to practice your quarter inch seam on sewing 1 1/2 inch strips together, then practicing your quilting by quilting in the ditch along the seam lines. Keep your practice piece to run a couple of lines prior to working on the real project.
    Again, welcome. This is a fantastic board for experienced advice. There are a lot of articles under "articles" that may help you with some of the basic stuff.
    Fay

    "You can't help that. We're all mad here." - The Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland.

  6. #6
    Senior Member qwkslver's Avatar
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    Hang in there, you will get it. There are plenty of people willing to help you.

  7. #7
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    working with the sandwich is good, there are times mine works perfect on the sandwich and still messes up so just hang in there. we all have to "rip" but it's a learning experience. just take is slow and easy, if using the walking foot, let the foot pull the fabric through just make sure it isn't dragging or getting caught on something. I've been doing this for about 20 years and I "unsew" a lot on a project.

  8. #8
    Super Member paulswalia's Avatar
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    Are you sure you have the feed dogs "UP"? The walking foot should evenly feed the fabric under the needle with an even speed, consistent with how fast you are asking the machine to work via the foot pedal. The fabric should feed thru the needle just like sewing with a regular foot on it when you are doing piecing of blocks.

  9. #9
    Super Member jmabby's Avatar
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    Quilting takes time to learn, there are many phases to perfect and in a class you have to do them all in a short time. Be patient, you will do fine. I still always have to tell myself "Only God is perfect" Good luck!!

  10. #10
    Super Member Surfergirl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lnlwhitt View Post
    I am a new quilter making my first quilt in a class. This week we are supposed to be doing the quilting using our walking foot and a design stitch following our rows that have been assembled. I am getting variation in the stitches sometimes tight and then loose. I'm pretty sure it's not the machine but me...
    My questions are most important even with a walking foot am I the one ultimately responsible for the speed the fabric is feeding through to keep my stitches uniform? Hope that makes sense.
    Also with the walking foot should I be changing any thing on my stitch set up, should they be longer stitches or less tension. It is sewing fine just not uniform looking.

    I ripped out the 14" inches I did last night already....wow was that hard and need to start over. This is only wall hanging size but vertical and horizontal quilting is due on Wednesday. Not sure I will be able to do this part. Maybe I'm not meant to be a quilter or does part take time and practice. I know the free motion is learned but I didn't expect this part to be a challenge too.

    Thanks
    Lisa
    I'm not an expert and have only been quilting for a short time and am still learning, but if you're doing free motion, you need a free motion foot or a darning foot. A walking foot can be used for SID or straight-line stitching. Hang in there, it takes a lot of practice and you will improve.
    Lynn

  11. #11
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    If your using a walking foot, & its in good working order, all you need to do is be sure your keeping your fabric. straight The walking foot, machine, and feeddogs should carry the material through evenly. May have to check on the stitch length and tension however. Don't give up like others have said it just takes patience, trying things, practice, and time. You'll get there.

  12. #12
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    i guess I didn't read the original question like others did and I didn't read all of the answers. So.....
    Inlwhitt said she is using the walking foot. So therefore stitch length has nothing to do with pushing the work thru or speed of the motor.....So lets start over. However, there is a sentence after walking foot that puzzels me. Are you doing both walking foot and some free motion. This is confusing.

    If only walking foot - I suggest you lengthen the stitch slightly to accommodate the extra layers of fabric. My machine is set on 2.5 so I lengthen it to about a 3. Fee dogs up and hold the fabric so there is no drag.
    Should give a consistent stitch.

    If you are using the walking foot - you are not responsible for the length of the stitch. The feed dogs do that.

    Also you said "this week we are supposed to do th quilting.......etc" Should you be doing this in class or was it homework. If homework then I would assume the instructor gave some information about how to do it.
    If not homework
    then perhaps should wait for the class for instruction.

  13. #13
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    Decorative stitches can be problematic for anyone. I think the problems (for me at least) occur when the stitches build up a little bit too thick and then the fabric doesn't feed evenly. The feed dogs are pulling the fabric through, and your hands should only be guiding it gently. You might want to experiment with changing the stitch length and/or stitch width on your machine until you are satisfied that the decorative stitch will work with your quilt sandwich. Practice on a quilt sandwich using the same batting and similar fabrics until you have it adjusted to your satisfaction. Some of the advice you've been given is excellent advice, but meant for FMQ (free motion quilting), not for your current situation. The speed you're slowing at doesn't affect the length of the stitches when you're using the walking foot (feed dogs engaged) and you can't do decorative stitches when you're doing FMQ.

  14. #14
    Super Member fivepaws's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by leatheflea View Post
    It sounds like your quilt is dragging on something, not allowing it to move easily under the foot. Or your helping it to much. When you push it through faster than the machine is pulling you'll get a long stitch, when it drags you'll get a short stitch. Maybe a Supreme Slider would help. Is your quilting surface level or is the quilt hanging off the edges? It takes some practice to get it right. I too have problems with this but gets getting better.
    Thanks so much. This has been happening to me also. I appreciate you help. I believe that you have hit the nail on the head with this answer.

  15. #15
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    I've noticed that stitching decorative stitches over intersections where seams meet changes the size and shape of the stitch. My solution was to use the more simple stitches and to lengthen the stitch a little. Also--don't look too closely at your stitches--we tend to be overly critical of every little error. I know you want to do your best and learn correctly and that is good but I don't think perfect is a goal many of us achieve every time. Sometimes we have to accept and just keep working at getting better. So glad you are learning to quilt, it is a great trip even with a few bumps in the road.
    jackie

  16. #16
    Power Poster amma's Avatar
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    I lengthen my stitch to 3 and 3.5+ if the batting is extra thick when using a walking foot.
    As said in previous answers, make sure your quilt sandwich is laying nicely so it feeds through evenly. You may have to start and stop a lot to adjust it, but the results will be much better
    If the decorative stitch you are using is intricate, it can give you problems. I would suggest the Serpentine stitch, or one that is very open and simple. Change this stitch too, longer and maybe a little wider also, but check that it is not too wide for your foot
    As you get more experience, you can try out more complex stitches
    “The simplest toy, one which even the youngest child can operate, is called a grandparent.” Sam Levenson

  17. #17
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    Like many have said I think the decorative stitch you are using may be a problem. Choose a very simple one.

  18. #18
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    I think with the walking foot it is made to walk forward best. Any fancy stitch that reverses to make a pattern may be problematic?

  19. #19
    Member lnlwhitt's Avatar
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    I do have the feed dogs up and will try again tomorrow. I sure hope it goes better. sigh...Thanks for all the advice it helps alot. Atleast I feel up to trying again. I just want to be ready for our last class on Wed but if I'm not I guess I'll deal with it.

  20. #20
    Member lnlwhitt's Avatar
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    I am not doing free motion quilting (yet) as someone asked just the quilting along the seam line using a decorative stitch. We were given instruction and practiced on our practice sandwich the week before and I did okay then. I think I just must not have had the quilt and all the weight correct on the table and machine so it was dragging. Hoping tomorrow is better. Thanks for all the tips and suggestions.

  21. #21
    Super Member quiltjoey's Avatar
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    I use my walking foot with the feed dogs up when I do straight stitching to quilt. To do FMQ, I drop the feed dogs, use a slider, and move the material with my hands. There is a kind of rhythm to FMQ. I found I can't pull the material, I just guide it and found it is easier to do at a faster sewing rate than a slow one. It like driving a car in first gear rather than third, if that makes any sense. ( shows my age driving a stick shift vehicle). Also, does you machine have "fm" built in on your computer screen? Just practice, keep your shoulders relaxed and don't give up.

  22. #22
    Senior Member VickyS's Avatar
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    Lisa,
    Don't be hard on yourself. It takes awhile. I've been doing this steadily for about a year and have the same issues you are having. Only difference? Fewer times and farther apart. Bottom line? Don't sweat the small stuff....it's ALL small stuff.

    Do what you can and take it to class. You will be amazed at what folks will bring back. Some will look perfect - generally that's the folks who have sewn a LONG time. Most will look like yours, and some will look WAY WORSE.
    (That's usually where I am when I take classes ).

    Welcome aboard the Quilting Board. This is a REALLY good group to use to learn and practice with. If you ever have a question, don't be afraid to ask! We have all had those days (and weeks, and YEARS) where stuff just doesn't want to work. Sometimes it is just better to set it aside. You will see when you go to your next class.

    Have fun and good luck.
    VickyS

  23. #23
    Super Member irishrose's Avatar
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    I have not tried to do a decorative stitch with my walking foot engaged, but as Tartan said, that may be the problem. Other people have indicated that some machines and some walking feet refuse to anything but forward when working together. Some machines won't zigzag with the walking foot on. Mine will do that.

    Remove the walking foot, do your fancy stitch then replace the walking foot and straight stitch. If both of these are successful, then it may be the combination.

  24. #24
    Super Member sparkys_mom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by leatheflea View Post
    It sounds like your quilt is dragging on something, not allowing it to move easily under the foot. Or your helping it to much. When you push it through faster than the machine is pulling you'll get a long stitch, when it drags you'll get a short stitch. Maybe a Supreme Slider would help. Is your quilting surface level or is the quilt hanging off the edges? It takes some practice to get it right. I too have problems with this but gets getting better.
    If she is using a walking foot, then the Supreme Slider would not help as it covers the feed dogs.
    Pat

  25. #25
    Senior Member coldquilter's Avatar
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    Good advice given about but the thing that most stood out to me was that free motion should not have the walking foot on. If you are doing free motion, you will need to get used to feeding the fabric at a steady speed as the feed dogs will be down. If you are using your walking foot, feed dogs should be up and the machine should mostly feed itself and you will just need to "guide" it more than push it.
    Michelle

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