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Free Motion Quilting tension on new machine

Free Motion Quilting tension on new machine

Old 10-24-2018, 06:18 PM
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Default Free Motion Quilting tension on new machine

I recently bought a second machine (Juki HZL-DX5). My primary machine has been an Elna 740 excellence, which has been a great machine. I have been trying to FMQ on the Juki. Feels a bit different than my Elna, but I'd like to have it as a back up for FMQing should I need it. However, I can't seem to get the tension right.

I am using a new needle (Schmetz quilting needle 75/11), Aurifil thread 50 wt in the top and bobbin, feed dogs down, Free Motion Quilting setting on the machine. If I go with auto tension, my stitches on top look nice and defined, but the stitches on the back somewhat seem to melt together. If I adjust to 1.5 on the top tension, the stitches on the back look better (more defined), but the stitches on the front don't look as nice.

Does this mean I might need to tweak the bobbin tension? What else should I be looking at? Hopefully my pictures show up correctly!
Attached Thumbnails auto-tension-front-med.jpg   auto-tension-back-med.jpg   1.5-tension-front-med.jpg   1.5-tension-back-med.jpg  

Last edited by DawnFurlong; 10-24-2018 at 06:24 PM.
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Old 10-24-2018, 06:20 PM
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when I'm FMQ on my domestic I usually use a #14 topstitch needle for best results. But I'm not familiar with the Juki.
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Old 10-24-2018, 06:37 PM
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No expert by any stretch, but I get much nicer stitches using a Superior titanium topstitch needle with auto tension on my Janome.
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Old 10-24-2018, 06:40 PM
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I also use a 90/14 needle (topstitch or Microtex normally) with Aurafil 50 on my Juki 2200. Occasionally, I've used an 80/12 but never as small as a 75/11.
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Old 10-24-2018, 06:45 PM
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I usually piece with an 80/12, and I usually quilt with the same (my Elna doesn't seem to be picky). I grabbed 75/11 by accident. I did try the 80/12 needle last night, same result. Just decided I'd go with a new quilting needle for tonight's test.

I've never used a 14 for anything. Though it's in my basket to buy along with some Superior threads (since it's the needle recommended by Superior for the threads I'm looking at). Would that make the stitches look different (such as improve the definition of the stitches on the back on Auto tension?)
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Old 10-24-2018, 09:31 PM
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If your needle size is smaller than the recommended size for the thread that will affect your stitching. I have an HZl different model can’t think offhand, but I followed Leah Days way and don’t drop my feed dogs.
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Old 10-25-2018, 01:59 AM
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I have had the Juki DX7 for a few years now and haven't had to adjust the bobbin thread. Try very small increments in the top tension. I use Aurafil 50 in both top and bobbin but I use Topstitich 14 or Microtex 14 needle. What foot are you using? I use the open toe free motion presser foot but I bought that as an option. Good luck!
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Old 10-25-2018, 04:45 AM
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Originally Posted by notmorecraft View Post
If your needle size is smaller than the recommended size for the thread that will affect your stitching. I have an HZl different model can’t think offhand, but I followed Leah Days way and don’t drop my feed dogs.
Originally Posted by Sailorwoman View Post
I have had the Juki DX7 for a few years now and haven't had to adjust the bobbin thread. Try very small increments in the top tension. I use Aurafil 50 in both top and bobbin but I use Topstitich 14 or Microtex 14 needle. What foot are you using? I use the open toe free motion presser foot but I bought that as an option. Good luck!


Ok, so a size 14 needle came with the machine (different label on the Organ envelope than I have seen). Compared it to my other needles, seemed same size (I had wondered if Juki accidentally put the wrong needle in my machine). Auto tension, left the feed dogs up and definitely better!! I'm very relieved, I have been playing around with this each day as I was determined to make it work!
I knew I'd find the answer here, and I am glad it seems to have been the needle.

I actually don't drop the feed dogs on my Elna; however, the feed dogs seem to be up slightly more on the Juki (and sharper on those front teeth) so I wondered about running my fabric over it. I do use a slider (teflon oven liner has worked fine for me). However, my feed dogs are partially exposed on my Elna - never noticed a problem with the back of my quilt. But wondering about the Juki as the teeth seem up more. I have accidentally sewn my slider to my quilt, so I do tape the edges. And this is why my hole in my slider is cut bigger than just the needle hole (so easy to sew it to the back of the quilt). I never thought about the exposed feed dogs on my Elna though, I'll admit.

Notmorecraft - do you use a slider of some sort? If so, are the feed dogs covered (as would be with a Supreme Slider) - or exposed in any way?

Sailorwoman - I am using the floating foot that came with my machine (it is not open toe, but I do plan to buy that one).

I guess I have been spoiled that my Elna has been okay with whatever is in the machine (and generally that has been a Universal 80/12). OR - perhaps I just didn't realize that my quilting could be improved by changing the needle I was using. Will be trying the size 14 on my Elna to see if I notice anything different!


Attached Thumbnails organ-size-14-needle-med.jpg   auto-front-size-14-needle-med.jpg   auto-back-size-14-needle-med.jpg  

Last edited by DawnFurlong; 10-25-2018 at 04:49 AM.
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Old 10-26-2018, 02:24 AM
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Dawn, interesting discussion. I have an Elna and have had trouble with the tension while FMQ. I fiddle with it and still can't get the bottom tension right. I do find leaving the feed dogs up helps, but I'm going to try the smaller needle to see if it works better. Will cut my slider to accommodate the feed dogs, too. Do you have any other suggestions?
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Old 10-26-2018, 04:50 AM
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I have had good luck using Jamie Wallen's method of adjusting the bobbin tension first before adjusting the top tension. It does not matter which thread or needle I use.
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