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Thread: Flexible machine stitching

  1. #1
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    Flexible machine stitching

    What are the factors that contribute to having a nice, relaxed (but neat) line of quilting stitches made by machine? Am I correct in adjusting the tensions (upper and lower) as loose as possible while still maintaining a neat stitch? Longer stitches are better, I assume; what's the limit? What thread do you prefer?

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    Power Poster Onebyone's Avatar
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    I use size 3 stitch length. I adjust the tensions to have a balanced stitch, not to loosen the tensions. I use Glide thread and Glide prewound bobbins for 95% of my machine quilting. I love that thread.
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    Power Poster PaperPrincess's Avatar
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    I'm assuming that you are talking about straight line stitching, with or without a walking foot, not FMQ. The tensions don't need to be as loose as possible. It varies by thread weight and sandwich thickness (type of batting & backing). May need to adjust to get a nice even stitch. I also use a stitch length of 3.
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    It's true that you don't adjust a stitch length for FMQ.

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    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    Other than having your tension adjusted, which you need for any sewing, I think the most important thing is that the fabric is free to move and not hung up on anything.

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    Having your tension adjusted how?

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    Power Poster PaperPrincess's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Manalto View Post
    Having your tension adjusted how?
    Make up a practice sandwich with the same ingredients as your quilt. Hold the mustard. Using the same weight thread you are planning on using in your final quilt, load a bobbin with one color and thread the top with another color, ideally you want colors that you will be able to easily see on your practice piece. Now adjust the tension so that you have an even stitch and you don't see the top thread on the back or the bobbin thread on the top. Write down your starting tension and first try to just use the top tension adjustment only. If you see the bobbin thread on the top, try loosening your top tension. If you see top thread on the back, tighten the top. If necessary, make minute adjustments to your bobbin case, again after noting the original setting. Although the no thread showing on the other side is ideal, it is pretty hard to achieve, so just get as close as you can. This is why most people use the same color thread in the top and bobbin.
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    Super Member OurWorkbench's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Manalto View Post
    What are the factors that contribute to having a nice, relaxed (but neat) line of quilting stitches made by machine? Am I correct in adjusting the tensions (upper and lower) as loose as possible while still maintaining a neat stitch? Longer stitches are better, I assume; what's the limit? What thread do you prefer?
    I was pointed here from http://www.quiltingboard.com/vintage...t272512-2.html I'm not exactly sure what you are asking about. I would think that longer stitches and wide spacing would be more flexible than smaller stitches closer together. I'm thinking that things like store bought comforters are stitched with long stitches and six or so inches apart. Of course they have higher loft as well. I know that if one does several rows of stitching 1/4 inch apart will make what you are working on stiffer than just a piece where rows are further apart. Maybe an experiment is needed. Maybe just a few samples would help to confirm the longer/shorter stitch question when it comes to flexibility.

    Janey - Neat people never make the exciting discoveries I do.
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    Thanks for responding, Janey. In another thread (I've forgotten where), someone mentioned a particular weight (ply count) of cotton thread and how it has a tendency to stiffen a quilt. It got me thinking about the other factors that might come into play. When I was adjusting the tensions on the 99, I had the stitches perfectly balanced, but the tension was so high it felt unusually stiff for a single row of stitching. I re-adjusted, backing off considerably, until the thread was no longer sitting against the fabric (too loose) then increased the tension slightly. The result was neat, balanced stitches that contributed a minimum of stiffness to the test fabric.

    I'm almost certain that longer stitches are more relaxed. This is important to me because I'm just about to embark on a simple quilt that I want to have as much drape as possible. I'm not willing to use silk batting for practical reasons, so I'd like every decision I make to be carefully considered. I'll gladly sacrifice a degree of durability so that the result is a supple quilt. Maybe long stitches under light tension is the answer.

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