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Thread: Free Motion quilting

  1. #1

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    I have a question on free motion quilting. I do practice runs on the same kind of material and batting to get my tension set. And then I start the quilt. It is very hard to get a nice pretty stitch on the back of the quilt no matter how much time I spend getting the machine set. Then when you have to put in a new bobbin in the middle of the quilt, I almost need to remove the quilt and do some more test runs. I have a Bernina 170 and was not satisfied with the stitching on it. I brought a Elna 7200 with the wider area and in all honesty the stitch on the bottom is sure not what I thought it would be. Please help with suggestions. I have a pretty decent looking stitch on top.

  2. #2
    Leslee's Avatar
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    Your practice stitching is coming out fine? That sure is a mystery. Is the problem that the stitches are uneven on the backside of your quilt...or are there little "nests" or loose loops of thread when you look? Every machine seems to be different, but with mine (Janome) both the tension, feed dogs and presser foot have to be adjusted to darning. That seems to solve the balls and loops of thread problem. If it's the stitches that're uneven, that's practice, practice, practice! I always have to remember to relax and watch my machine speed. Hope this helps :D

  3. #3

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    My biggest problem is that on the bottom it looks like the thread could be pulled out in one pull. So it has to be the tension setting. The practice piece has a few places where the bottom thread looks like it is laying on the top of the material. Sometimes I wonder if I am pulling it too fast. I know it takes practice.

  4. #4
    Catherine's Avatar
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    I seem to have this same problem with free motion quilting. Top stitches look great but bottom looks like it's all over the place. I haven't practiced enough I suppose, and feel discouraged to do this, even tho I want to sooo bad! Bernina has a new foot out now to help with this...unfortunately I don't have a bernina. sometimes I feel there is still too much space between my quilt and foot. It can be very frustrating!!!

  5. #5
    Super Member ceannastahr's Avatar
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    I remember when the stiching on my practice quilt was looking good. So I started on the real quilt and it was like I never sewed a stich in my life.

    I figured out I was so nervous that I would mess up that I did. At first was going way to slow then got a little faster. Also noticed the certain motions were easy to do then other and iI would speed up on a certin design turn.

    The thing you need most to remember is find a comfortable pace for youself and practice practice practice Enjoy and go with the flow on free motion don't fight it

  6. #6
    Mandy Keating's Avatar
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    I've been quilting for a few years now, and am still terrified of free-motion quilting! I wish I could do it, but the idea of messing up my quilt with a wonky needle or crazy stitches keeps me with a hoop and needle....

  7. #7
    Moderator kathy's Avatar
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    taketimetosew, i know EXACTLY what you're talking about. i have a singer engenuity(sp) i have spots that are perfect, top and bottom then i have spots that look like the top tension is 0. i know if you change directions too fast it will do it, just about the time i get a good rythm going i run out of room or bobbin thread. in other words.i feel your pain. the one i'm working on now i'm going to finish then look at the back and take some of it out and do it over. some of it i will just have to grit my teeth and accept becuase i can't aford a longarm (machine or quilter) and i aint gonna live long enough to do them all by hand. i know i didn't help you any but at least ya know that it's not just you! LOL
    kathy

  8. #8
    Catherine's Avatar
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    thank goodness for that...I was beginning to doubt my abilities... I have a hard time slowing down cause I want to see the end results of a quilt so i can start on another one. You've made me feel better...I am not alone!!!!

  9. #9
    Super Member ceannastahr's Avatar
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    have you figure it out you have to have more then one going at all times.

    you always run out of bobbin thread just as you finaly get settlte on a good pace and everything is going smooth. then you start up and back at square one. Gotta love quilting

  10. #10

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    I'm not trying to be a brat here, but I started free motion quilting about a yr and a half ago. I praticed and praticed, till I got my speed in check. I'm not experiencing any problems that your talking about. My top and bottom stitches are good, I go with a large type stippling method. My problem is still with my turns every now and then, but I curve around instead of turning. If I turn to quickly, it skips a stitch or two. I haven't tried following a quilting pattern with free motion, So maybe thats why I'm not having those problems.

  11. #11

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    I also use gloves when I'm free motion quilting. I don't use quilters gloves, I use just slimple ole garden gloves, with the little hard plastic bumps. I can control my movement with the fabric better, and have a better grip. I don't know why but the fabric moves easier, useing the gloves. (For Me), the bigger the piece is that I'm quilting the slower I set my speed. A smaller piece I can go faster, These are just some things that help me.

  12. #12
    Catherine's Avatar
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    Now this idea makes sense.....I never feel like I have complete control because hands can have a hard time griping fabric easly. I'm going to try this!

  13. #13

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    Just another FYI, I picked up my gloves at the dollar store, and they really work very well. They were 99 cents.

  14. #14
    Carla P's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by taketimetosew
    My biggest problem is that on the bottom it looks like the thread could be pulled out in one pull. So it has to be the tension setting. The practice piece has a few places where the bottom thread looks like it is laying on the top of the material. Sometimes I wonder if I am pulling it too fast. I know it takes practice.
    I would suggest you lower your bobbin tension a bit and MAYBE increase your top tension a little (if the bobbin tension adjustment doesn't fix the balance). Also, as already mentioned, irregular speed can cause some of this problem. Another thing to consider is your thread/needle size combo. Smaller combo sizes seem to help relieve some of these problems. For example, I use a size 70/10 Microtex Sharp needle with a size 60 or 70 thread, or a size 60 needle with a size 70 or 100 thread (especially for background fill). These smaller sizes tend to create stitches easier than the larger thread/needle combos. They also reduce the birds nest effects, tiny knots on the back (stitch build-up), allow for tighter fill stitching if you want, and reduce thread pop-ups (dots of bobbin threads showing through on the front like a dotted line or visa versa). The idea of going smaller is usually intimidating to a beginner, but I believe the smaller combos make it easier to achieve consistancy and more importantly confidence as a new free motion quilter (mistakes are much less evident). Ceannastahr mentioned being nervous and she is right; being nervous will cause you to mess up EVERY time. I use these types of combos to teach new FMQs, and their confidence is almost immediately established which allows them to start learning and developing good habits. I hope this helps a little.

  15. #15

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    Carla that's a great tip I've been using a 100/denim weight. I wondered about the needle. Whether I should get some feed back on the different types and sizes as far as quilting goes. I'm used to sewing apparel or drapes, that kind of thing. My machine does not have an adjustable bobbin tension. Or feed-dogs that lower. It does have an adjustable tension for the presser foot; from really firm to practically no pressure, which makes it possible to free motion. Tho my only attempt at free motion quilting was on a throw-pillow top without batting. I thought for practice I would just give it a backing, which was a piece of sheet. I noticed some of that uneven bottom thing happening. But by time I finished the pc. Only 15 X 12" I thought "well I need more practice but, it doesn't look half bad, Even if I'm not ready to win any quilting contests it looks great on my sofa." :) I used the quilt block of Patrices arrow-head pattern! So I will try a smaller needle on the second one! I think I may even use quilt batting to get a better feel for it.

  16. #16
    Community Manager PatriceJ's Avatar
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    i just hope i read you correctly and the arrowheads were the top.

    hee hee hee :mrgreen:

  17. #17
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    I do 99% of my quilting with a Schmetz 75/11 quilting needle, and either 40wt or 50wt cotton thread.

    Tension should be checked for every project, as different fabrics, battings and threads all change things... sometimes even a color change of the same thread will cause the tension to need to be adjusted!

    Make certain you're not moving the fabric too fast, this along with improper tension, can cause loopies on the back.

  18. #18
    Senior Member k_jupiter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cjtinkle
    I do 99% of my quilting with a Schmetz 75/11 quilting needle, and either 40wt or 50wt cotton thread.

    Tension should be checked for every project, as different fabrics, battings and threads all change things... sometimes even a color change of the same thread will cause the tension to need to be adjusted!

    Make certain you're not moving the fabric too fast, this along with improper tension, can cause loopies on the back.
    I found the Schmetz 90 quilting needle worked well for the 40 wt. thread. Of course, that could just be it was easier to thread.

    tim in san jose

  19. #19

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    Rebecca, I am curious as to what you mean by "large type stippling" I am not familiar with that term I was under the impression that stippling meant with multiple needles.

  20. #20

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    Yes Patrice your arrowheads are the tops. :lol:

  21. #21
    Carla P's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by k_jupiter
    I found the Schmetz 90 quilting needle worked well for the 40 wt. thread. Of course, that could just be it was easier to thread.

    tim in san jose
    Get a stronger prescription for your glasses, a smaller needle, some smaller thread, and get out of the ditch!! :lol:

  22. #22
    Moderator kathy's Avatar
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    stippling is just free motion with one needle but it is very close(1/4) together. I generally do what is called meander which is just random patterns (like a jigsaw puzzle) but not real close together, mine is probably 2 inches apart at the widest but almost touching in places. It's like doodling with thread.

  23. #23
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    These are my tips for FM quilting;
    You definitely need to have a balanced tension. Use a white on the top and black on the bottom so you can easily tell what's happening. If you are getting loops on the bottom, then turn tension to a higher number.
    Always remember to lower the feed dogs as well as to lower the presser foot on your machine even if you are not using a foot.
    Nubby gloves is a must in my opinion, in order to move your fabric while holding it taut.
    I started practicing with a piece of large motif fabric with a lot of space between the motifs. This fabric was made into a sandwich with batt plus backing.
    I started with outlining the motif design. I then continued with "echo" quilting lines by just continuing to outline the motif.
    You can then switch to "stipple" style, which is small, size of a pea, all-over quilting, but don't cross over previous sewn lines.
    Then there is "meadering" which is similar to stippling but just much larger curving loops, still not crossing over previous stitchlines.
    You can also practice leaves, vines, feathers etc.
    You can always switch the upper thread to a darker color and just do it all over again. This is just for practice so get the most out of it.
    I would also reccomend taking a crayon and paper, even old newspaper, and just start free-handing feathers etc. to get the feel of the movement needed to do this. It will really free up your inhibitions when you know you can just toss your practice sheets. You can also sew onto the newspaper sheets with your sewing machine if you want to try it. You will need to replace your needle when finished.
    Here's to free-motion freedom!
    Joyce Raab

  24. #24
    Super Member Yvonne's Avatar
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    I have heard so many times, that when you are quilting you should NOT cross over previous stitching. My question here is, "Why not?"

    I know there are no quilt police so who made up this rule and "Why?" I'm sure there must be an explanation and maybe it goes back to our hand quilting ancesters but I cross over whatever gets in my way when I'm quilting! Hasn't seemed to cause any earthquakes so far and I live in California!

    History lesson anyone?

    :P

  25. #25
    Moderator kathy's Avatar
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    well now I know why we had all those storms in Texas!, Yvonne

    I think someone decided it looks better if you don't cross, I'm like you, if it don't want to be crossed it better learn to move outta the way!

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