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Thread: FMQ learning curve - try what?

  1. #1
    Super Member JanTx's Avatar
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    FMQ learning curve - try what?

    I got a Janome 6600 in February and thought it would solve all my FMQ issues - skipped stitches, breaking threads, nests on back ... well ... until I've finally been patient enough to deal with one variable at a time those problems went with me from my old Brother to my new Janome. So ... after much frustration and much ripping I finally have some things narrowed down. I'm not trying to recreate LA quilting - I don't think that's possible. My stitching may be a bit primitive, but I'm okay with that. I'm certainly no expert, but I have moved a little farther down the path.

    What I've learned:
    Read everything you can because some of it will make sense - both on here and in books/magazines.

    Try stabalizing the quilt with some zigzag or scallop stitches that divide the quilt into sections. Then FMQ within each section. I spray baste and this has worked very well. Also allows me to start quilting in the outer blocks without concern that the whole thing will shift as I sew.

    Develop a repertoire of simple stitches. Use them until you're tired of them and then work on a few more. I started with the simple meander, added loop-de-loops, hearts, flowers, leaves (I think these are really feathers, but they feel like leaves to me), and echo quilting.

    If thread is breaking it could be - tension too tight - change it a TINY bit looser, could also be dust bunnies in bobbin case

    If skipping stitches try a larger size needle - I'm currently using a 16/100. After you've done that if still skipping stop and rethread both top and bottom.

    When things are working take a picture of your machine to save the settings.

    If stitches are not right on back - little loops of threads - tension is too loose. Tighten it a TINY bit. If big loops on back then tighten two tiny bits. Also slow down your hand movements.

    Clean out dust bunnies from bobbin case with every bobbin change. Change needles with every quilt.

    Be sure the weight of the quilt is supported - I put a stool next to my chair, but know people like to use small tables and ironing boards for this. I sew on my dining table with the machine far to the right - that leaves room on the left for some of the quilt.

    I was making too many changes to too many degrees and creating problems as I solved other ones. So tiny changes, then sew to test the change.

    Check the back OFTEN so you don't end up ripping miles of stitches.

    I have made many FMQ quilts, but with varying success. I understand the idea of making practice sandwiches, but ... so far... haven't done that. Trying to finish my last project I got so frustrated I pulled out my little old Brother to finish. Hopefully writing down these hints will help ME remember what I'm doing that's almost working. And hopefully ya'll can add some others or refine mine.

    What can you add to this list? (Edited to add: I have no idea why my sewing machine is upside down - interesting - or why the pic of the block is fuzzy, but hopefully you can still see what I'm talking about.)
    Attached Images Attached Images




    Last edited by JanTx; 05-04-2013 at 02:02 PM.
    So many quilts, so little time.

  2. #2
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    Thanks for the info. I have just started to FMQ and the back is not pretty. For my first one, I was ok with it. Now I hope to improve the tension.

  3. #3
    Super Member Dina's Avatar
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    Your work looks really good!! Well done. I am still happy with SID, but I will save your suggestions, just in case I get brave some day. Thanks!

    Dina

  4. #4
    Member jeaniedrain's Avatar
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    I too have begun to play with FMQ. I want to be comfortable doing my own quilting. I only have a DSM, and I am totally infatuated with FMQ. I have done many of the same things that you suggest. Iwas wondering what is the timeline for you, from start to where you are now?

  5. #5
    Super Member JanTx's Avatar
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    Timeline - hmmm - not quite a year? I know last June I was at a quilting retreat and had started doing some. A girl there was doing FMQ and people were very impressed. I had done several at that point so was very interested in what she was doing. She favored an allover pattern. I've done some of them, but like to do my little patterns better for now. The quilt I'm working on right now will be #95. Probably the last 30 have some sort of FMQ in them. If I'm in a bigger hurry - or just don't have the time to experiment and rip - I still do straight line diagonals - starting corner to corner with a marked line then sewing parallel lines from there. I like the way that looks, but the FMQ is so much more fun!

    Of my 95 completed quilts I've sent maybe 6 to a long-arm quilter. I like to do mine from start to finish, but the biggest reason is budget. Just can't afford to add the cost of LA quilting to what it takes to complete a quilt.
    Last edited by JanTx; 05-04-2013 at 02:51 PM.
    So many quilts, so little time.

  6. #6
    Senior Member sewplease's Avatar
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    I think you are really doing great. The leaves look fantastic and I LOVE your flower motif. I've been tracing it on the computer screen, but where exactly did you start?
    Laura

  7. #7
    Super Member JanTx's Avatar
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    For the pictured flower I started from the lower right corner of the block - entered the block then did a loop-de-loop then not quite a straight line to the center to make the little circle that is the center of the flower - then just make petals for as many layers as I have room. That flower has pretty defined petals for the inner ring. Others I've made have the inner ring looking pretty much like the outer rings - maybe more like a camillia than a daisy. It doesn't matter what corner I enter from - depends on what I've done just before.
    So many quilts, so little time.

  8. #8
    Super Member EasyPeezy's Avatar
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    Your FMQ looks really nice. What thread do you use with the 16/100 needle?
    Is this quilting needle or something else? Thanks for sharing your experiences
    with us.
    Last edited by EasyPeezy; 05-04-2013 at 04:10 PM.

  9. #9
    Super Member JanTx's Avatar
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    I was using Aurofil thread for the needle and a quilt shop pre-filled bobbin for the bottom. THat's one of the things that I changed. Now I use exactly the same thread on top and bottom. I now have a Connecting Threads thread in the top and in the bottom. So ... when I'm quilting anyway - no more prefilled bobbins for me. For piecing it seems to work just fine. THe needle is simply a larger one. Someone on this board recommended I go to it to avoid the skipped stitches I was having. I usually use a 14/90. The 16/100 is the next size up. It may also be called a denim needle. I'd rather use the smaller one, but ... no skipped stitches since I changed.
    Last edited by JanTx; 05-04-2013 at 04:36 PM.
    So many quilts, so little time.

  10. #10
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    I think you've got it!

  11. #11
    Super Member JanTx's Avatar
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    I think I'm getting closer. In another year who knows where I'll be, but I'm not where I was.
    So many quilts, so little time.

  12. #12
    Super Member deedum's Avatar
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    Your free motion looks great to me. I quilt my own too, just because I want too. Mine aren't as pretty as along arm but I do the best I can.

  13. #13
    Power Poster QuiltE's Avatar
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    JanTx ... your work looks really great

    The Janome 6600 is a great machine. Til I had it, I had no use for FMQ, as it just didn't seem to click for me. What made the difference for me was ... the blue dot bobbin case as well as the FMQ special packet of three interchangeable feet. I really liked the clear plastic foot. With these, I seldom had problems with the back threads.

    You didn't mention whether you have these or not ..... so I thought I would suggest them to you.

    Another suggestion for all ... when you are changing things to get it right, only make one change at a time. If you make more, you have no idea what works, or what doesn't. Trying different variables can be time consuming, but at least you know.

    Though, with the above extra accessories, it took very little effort to get my machine set up whenever I wanted to FMQ.
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    Sew many ideas ... just sew little time!!
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  14. #14
    Super Member JanTx's Avatar
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    I do have the blue dot bobbin case - but have better luck with the red dot one. Go figure. I also have the clear foot - that works great for me.
    So many quilts, so little time.

  15. #15
    Super Member JanTx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JanTx View Post
    I do have the blue dot bobbin case - but have better luck with the red dot one. Go figure. I also have the clear foot - that works great for me.
    Okay - went back and traded out the red dot bobbin case for the blue and --- those back stitches are as perfect as I think I'm going to get. One of the variables I had changed was using the regular case- the red dot - since the blue one - made for FMQ with slightly looser tension - didn't seem to be working as well. Now that I may have the other variables in place putting that one back in was the strawberry on the sundae. QuiltE - thanks for pushing that one little step farther along the way!
    So many quilts, so little time.

  16. #16
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    this quilting looks fine to me,, i am not seeing a problem
    Create something beautiful from scraps.

  17. #17
    Super Member EasyPeezy's Avatar
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    Thanks, Jan. I really want to try FMQ again. Last time I tried I couldn't even sew a
    straight line without having all kinds of nests at the bottom.

  18. #18
    Power Poster QuiltE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JanTx View Post
    Okay - went back and traded out the red dot bobbin case for the blue and --- those back stitches are as perfect as I think I'm going to get. One of the variables I had changed was using the regular case- the red dot - since the blue one - made for FMQ with slightly looser tension - didn't seem to be working as well. Now that I may have the other variables in place putting that one back in was the strawberry on the sundae. QuiltE - thanks for pushing that one little step farther along the way!

    Oh please don't see it as pushing .... you hadn't mentioned it or the extra feet, and I know a lot of people with the 6600s have never been told by their dealers that they are available. Keep up the great work.
    Last edited by QuiltE; 05-04-2013 at 08:18 PM.
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    Sew many ideas ... just sew little time!!
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  19. #19
    Super Member JanTx's Avatar
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    You "pushed" me to the strawberry on top of the sundae! (Should have been cherry, but oh well.) I was ready to turn this machine back in - somehow - and it was such a big deal to break down and get it. Slowing down my changes - doing one thing at a time - and listening to the fine folk on here - each one a tiny little nudge in the right direction. Thanks!
    So many quilts, so little time.

  20. #20
    Power Poster QuiltE's Avatar
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    Cherries on Sundaes are always good .... just don't forget the whipped cream, first!
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    Sew many ideas ... just sew little time!!
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

  21. #21
    Super Member snipforfun's Avatar
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    Harriet Hargraves machine quilting book is full of info for fmq. I took classes from her and her book is invaluable. She specializes in teaching beginners. Amazon has her book. Be sure it is the blue book. More current than the red one.

  22. #22
    Super Member QultingaddictUK's Avatar
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    Jan Tx, thank you for sharing your FMQ journey so much of it brought back sore memories A tip that I would add that I found in Charlotte Frable's "Quilt as Desired" book is to use topstitch Needles, they cut down considerably on thread breaking and fraying, in fact she says that a lot of quilters like them so much that they use them all the time, I do now.

  23. #23
    Swap Hosts Krystyna's Avatar
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    What a wonderful post. I have a Janome 6500 and I'll try all of them. It looks like your tension is at 6 and the other settings are 3.5 and 0?
    Krystyna
    Feel the fear and do it anyway!

  24. #24
    Senior Member petpainter's Avatar
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    I think I read in a QB newsletter that if you practice a design everyday for 3 weeks, you'll have it down pretty good. That's what I've been doing and can see a big difference. I finished my second quilt top and want to do the whole thing myself, but is applique with Large open spaces- I want to do bubbles there since the quilt is whimsical. It's much easier to do a confined space instead of this, but it's the look I want and just don't want to mess it up too bad. I'm determined not to work on another one until I get confident enough to tackle it! Practice practice and a lot of reading. I practiced on paper first.

  25. #25
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    I appreciate the original poster who suggested a step by step approach to solving her 'problems'. FMQ is a challenge because most machines are really designed for straight stitching and have lots of stitch variations. When we FMQ we have to over ride the machine's design. We see lovely machine quilting on a DSM. Patience is rewarded in the learning process. I took Harriet Hargrave's class and have her books. They are very well done. I've also incorporated information from lots of others to find my own path-and I'm willing to try just about anything any of you suggest. I do think that the right needles (topstitch) and the right size thread are essential.

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