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Thread: How do you compensate for not having "needle down?"

  1. #1
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    How do you compensate for not having "needle down?"

    I'm doing some free motion quilting on my old machine that doesn't have the needle down option. It's certainly a wonderful thing to have but I know there are probably a lot of you doing wonderful work without it. Do you have any tips for keeping your line of stitches straight and smooth when you have to stop to reposition your hands? Do you always put the needle down into your fabric before you re-start your fmq? I'm thinking as long as you hold your fabric firm & steady you don't really have to. I'm also having a little difficulty on my old machine keeping my speed at a steady pace. I'll press down so very slowly on the foot peddle and the motor will whine & suddenly I'm zooming! Any ideas on that? Looking forward to reading your replies.
    http://www.thingsthatarenotperfect.blogspot.com/

  2. #2
    Super Member MaryMo's Avatar
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    I have the same problems, but I've learned I have better control when I manually put my needle down before I begin sewing. The second problem of steady speed is still a problem but I am getting better with practice, but there are many times the speed gets to me. I'll be looking forward to advice from others. Thanks for posting .....

  3. #3
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    I don't know how you can compensate for needle down if your machine doesn't have it. I would try to stop in a place where I was going to change direction anyway but it would be really tough to do smooth meandering.
    Before I had adjustable speed on my machine, I found a way to limit how far down I could press the foot pedal. I duct taped a little piece of wood molding to the back of the foot pedal so no matter how hard I pressed on it, it would only go to medium speed. I don't know if you could do something similar on your foot pedal.

  4. #4
    Super Member ArtsyOne's Avatar
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    I've never had needle down, so don't even know what I'm missing. When sewing to a point where I need to stop and turn, I just lay off the pedal slowly, bring my right hand to the fly wheel and as the stitching comes to a stop I manually give it an extra turn to stop with the needle down. After 40 years I can do it without even thinking and wouldn't know what to do if I had a machine that made decisions on its own.
    A fabric stash is always missing that one fabric needed to finish the quilt on which you're working.

  5. #5
    Super Member Mitch's mom's Avatar
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    If your machine is whining it probably could use a drink of oil. Place a drop every place metal meets metal, even under the machine. Turn your hand wheel so you can see what moves and oil it. As for the needle down, do just as ArtsyOne said. Put your needle into the fabric when you stop the machine, before you lift the presser foot. Problem solved.

  6. #6
    Power Poster BellaBoo's Avatar
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    Needle down sure makes it easier but you have to go with what you got.
    Got fabric?

  7. #7
    Super Member DOTTYMO's Avatar
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    Every time you stop get into the habit of putting needle down by turning wheel.
    Finished is better than a UFO

  8. #8
    Super Member ghostrider's Avatar
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    Isn't that kind of like asking how you change gears in a stick shift if you have an automatic?

    I did it by instinct for decades on my old Viking, and sometimes still lower it manually now that I don't have to anymore.
    The Earth without art is just "Eh".

  9. #9
    Super Member Candace's Avatar
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    Yes, you should put it down manually(turn the hand wheel) every time you readjust your hands or fabric if you don't have an auto needle down. It's not really that big of deal and you'll find it will look better than not doing that.

  10. #10
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    Definitely manually lower the needle before turning your fabric if you want a smooth line.

    It is not that big of a deal to do it.

    I have also learned that the bobbin thread can get " weird" if I try to turn or reposition the fabric when the needle is not in the fabric.

    Try it both ways and check it out for yourself. Perhaps your machine behaves differently than mine do.

  11. #11
    Super Member Lori S's Avatar
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    I am so used to not having it that I forget I have it on my newer machine. I just use the hand wheel.

  12. #12
    Senior Member omaluvs2quilt's Avatar
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    Well, I'm sorry I can't be helpful, but I guess I'm just not that patient. My first attempt at fmq was so frustrating with my little Janome Gem Gold, and I had my eye on the 6600, that after hours of frustration I got on the phone and told my shop to have one ready, I'm on my way. Life has been good ever since, lol!

  13. #13
    Super Member citruscountyquilter's Avatar
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    I don't have a needle down option on any of my machines as they are all older. I just use my hand and the wheel to put the needle down or many times as I'm slowing down I'm able to stop the machine with the needle in the down position. It's just a matter of what you get used to. As far as the whir and breakneck speed issue I also start the machine with a little help by slowly pressing the pedal and at the same time moving the wheel to get it going. Once it is going it is much easier to maintain speed. I love my old machines and I figure the money I don't spend on a fancy machine I can spend on fabric

  14. #14
    Junior Member DixieLee's Avatar
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    I had a problem with my foot pedal zooming away so I took it to the repair store and it was just some kind of minor adjustment. Theey said it happens to all foot pedals over time. I don't know too much about it but now it is great.

  15. #15
    Super Member running1's Avatar
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    I really can't help you and will be reading all these posts... but... when my machine was doing what your's is doing...running away with just a little pressure on the foot feed... it needed a new foot feed... but that fixed the problem and now I have the control I should have. It is only a consideration, of course...
    "... let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."

  16. #16
    Super Member Rose Marie's Avatar
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    Needle down is a must for me. I keep it that way all the time even for piecing. LOve that it lifts the foot just a little with the needle down so useful.

  17. #17
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    I love my needle down button on my Janome and use it 99% of the time. However, sometimes I need to use another machine without that option, so I just move the flywheel to make sure the needle is down when I stop. It's extra work, but I'm always ready to begin where I left off.

  18. #18
    Super Member Evie's Avatar
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    My newer (20+ years) Singer has an automatic needle down whenever you stop sewing, which I love. However, when I learned to sew (way more than 20 years ago ), I was taught to manually use the flywheel to position the needle down. That habit has saved me more than once!
    "I keep my end tables full of needlework and quilting so I don't have to dust them." ~ Author Unknown but I agree!

  19. #19
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    I do like Artsy1 to stop needle down. As far as motor taking off at race speed, I give the handwheel 1 turn as I start to press the peddle and the machine starts smoothly.
    Shirley in Arizona

  20. #20
    Power Poster nativetexan's Avatar
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    that's what I did, use my hand to turn the wheel to lower the needle. keep your left on the quilt and don't move. of course then I wasn't doing FMQing.
    "From hence only infer that an Englishman, of all men, ought not to despise foreigners as such and I think the inference is just, since what they are today, we were yesterday, and tomorrow they will be like us"
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  21. #21
    Super Member Rose_P's Avatar
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    I recently got my first machine with needle down and really love it, but I've used an old Bernina for FMQ and just formed the habit of manually putting the needle down every time I stop - unless I forget. On most machines you can give the handwheel a little boost toward you as you put the pedal down, and that will reduce the revving. If your machine is one that needs you to oil it, that might also help you get a smooth start.
    True self-care is not salt baths and chocolate cake, it is making the choice to build a life you donít need to regularly escape from. ~Brianna Wiest

  22. #22
    Super Member MacThayer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tartan View Post
    I don't know how you can compensate for needle down if your machine doesn't have it. I would try to stop in a place where I was going to change direction anyway but it would be really tough to do smooth meandering.
    Before I had adjustable speed on my machine, I found a way to limit how far down I could press the foot pedal. I duct taped a little piece of wood molding to the back of the foot pedal so no matter how hard I pressed on it, it would only go to medium speed. I don't know if you could do something similar on your foot pedal.
    I did the same thing with my foot pedal. First of all, see if you can take it apart, oil it, and change any padding they have in it (mine had padding - absolutely no idea why). Then I created two different "pedal controls". One was a piece of wood that would only allow me to go down so far, but sometimes that was trouble because my very old machine would take off like greased lightening until it hit that piece of wood. So then I took a pillow that wasn't being used and was made out of the "memory foam". I cut a piece of the memory foam to put in place of the wood. It took me a few tries to get the right "depth" or thickness to the foam, but that worked like a dream! My food could only go down on the pedal in a controlled fashion, and only so far. Only problem with that is that it comes up slowly too, so you have to start letting up on it before the end of the seam, or whatever.

    I've never had an automatic needle down. It's just a habit to put the needle down when I stop sewing. I don't even think about it.

    Hope you solve your problems!
    MacThayer

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