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Thread: Inconsistent stitch length: help please

  1. #1
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    Inconsistent stitch length: help please

    Hello Everyone,

    I'm trying to do some straight line quilting on a king size quilt using my Pfaff QE4.2 machine. But my stitches are coming out inconsistent.

    Here's my set up:


    • Fabrics are quilter's grade cotton bought a LQS
    • Thread is from Superior (50 wt in bobbin) and from Coats and Clarks Quilters from JoAnn's, cross-wound
    • Thread spool is horizontal
    • New topstitch needle 80/12
    • Stitch length to 3.5
    • Straight line quilting
    • IDT engaged
    • Open-toe applique presser foot


    This is what I get:
    Name:  inconsistentStitchLength_org_cropped75_75.jpg
Views: 1212
Size:  853.1 KB

    FWIW, I am meticulous about cleaning my bobbin area with each new bobbin. I am sewing slowly but every once in a while I accidentally sew faster than intended. I don't know where to begin in fixing this issue. I spent three hours yesterday ripping out those tiny stitches and 15 minutes sewing before I realized it was all happening again. What am I missing or doing wrong, please?

    TIA
    Attached Images Attached Images

  2. #2
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    Is this a regular sewing machine or LA? If sewing, do you have a walking foot for this machine?

    Next, is the quilt hanging off the edge of machine or is flat on an extension table?

    You might try to go up a size with the needle to a 90/14 one.

    Good luck!

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    Thank you, Rhonda. I had not thought of changing needle sizes. I will try that next.

    Just for thoroughness --
    It is not a long arm machine. Pfaff's answer to a walking foot is the IDT. So yes, I am using what is supposed to be a walking foot on my machine.
    I have pushed three tables up next to my sewing table so the quilt is supported on all sides.

  4. #4
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    My guess is that the fabric is not flowing evenly, possibly because the weight of the quilt is creating drag. Be sure the quilt is supported all around. Some people use an extra card table to their left to help support the quilt. Some people throw the quilt over their shoulder. Some use a pulley system.

  5. #5
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    Another thought is that you may need to adjust the presser foot for the thickness of the quilt sandwich.

  6. #6
    Power Poster feline fanatic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PumpkinHead View Post
    I have pushed three tables up next to my sewing table so the quilt is supported on all sides.
    Is your machine recessed down into your sewing table so the machine bed is even with all of the table surfaces? This really looks to me like drag created when the edges of the quilt hang over the sewing machine bed before it is reaching the needle (in cases where the machine is not recessed down into a sewing table)

    If it is recessed, I still think it is a drag issue. Maybe the weight of the quilt dragging off the edge of the table directly in front of you?

    If it isn't a recessed set up you could try piling up some phone books or something to have a larger surface area for the quilt to rest on as you are feeding it into the machine. A long time ago, someone posted a picture of their setup. They got some of the really thick foam insulation and built a surface all around their machine bed so everything was level with it. Another option is the one Dunster described building a system hanging from the ceiling to support the quilt's weight.

  7. #7
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    It is probably quilt drag. Using a walking foot could help.

  8. #8
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    I have found that I have the same problem with my Pfaff. Now, I set the speed way down. That seems to help a bit. Even following all of these good suggestions, it is still aggravating to have inconsistent stitch length.

  9. #9
    Senior Member jokir44's Avatar
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    Looks like you need to pool the fabric around your needle and keep it pooled. When the stitches start getting smaller there is pulling going on somewhere. Loosen it up and see what happens. I also wondered if your presser foot pressure needs to be adjusted.

  10. #10
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    I read an article awhile back that explained the difference between IDT and a walking foot. Although the end result when sewing two pieces of fabric together is similar, the mechanism by which it is done is completely different. If I can find the article again, I will link it. What I came away with from that article is that a walking foot is better for quilting than IDT. Does Pfaff sell a walking foot for their IDT machines? I don't know.

  11. #11
    Power Poster PaperPrincess's Avatar
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    It also looks like drag to me. Remember that the machine should not be expected to actually feed the weight of the quilt thru the machine. You need to have a small 'bump' of fabric in front of the foot so the IDT can actually function. Puddling the quilt is usually a better way to go than spreading it out in a single layer.
    "I do not understand how anyone can live without one small place of enchantment to turn to."
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  12. #12
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    Is the surface around your machine flat? Here is a pic of a table to show you an example.

    https://www.sewsteady.com/collection...oducts/sst-big

    If the quilt is dropping off the edge, it will cause drag or pulling on the quilt.

    You can also stack large books around the edge of the machine. Other options for adding height could be copy paper, scrapbook boxes, etc.

  13. #13
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    Another thought - could the quilt be bunching up behind the foot, causing it to not feed through, or even getting caught on the IDT. Both have happened to me and I could never get used to using a walking foot or the IDT.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dunster View Post
    Another thought is that you may need to adjust the presser foot for the thickness of the quilt sandwich.
    Jackpot! Thank you so much Dunster. I really appreciate this.

    I read through some articles and found two helpful videos:
    https://youtu.be/ilpqoN87Siw
    which explains how to adjust the presser foot pressure on my machine

    and https://youtu.be/Ox8qRhWF3CI
    which explains how to adjust the pressure based on what is being sewn and multiple machine types. She has a great explanation of how it all works together.

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    Quote Originally Posted by feline fanatic View Post
    Is your machine recessed down into your sewing table so the machine bed is even with all of the table surfaces? This really looks to me like drag created when the edges of the quilt hang over the sewing machine bed before it is reaching the needle (in cases where the machine is not recessed down into a sewing table)


    If it is recessed, I still think it is a drag issue. Maybe the weight of the quilt dragging off the edge of the table directly in front of you?

    If it isn't a recessed set up you could try piling up some phone books or something to have a larger surface area for the quilt to rest on as you are feeding it into the machine. A long time ago, someone posted a picture of their setup. They got some of the really thick foam insulation and built a surface all around their machine bed so everything was level with it. Another option is the one Dunster described building a system hanging from the ceiling to support the quilt's weight.

    Hello Feline Fanatic. After considering this and presser foot pressure, I did some experimentation and found the presser foot pressure has had a very good effect. Still not right but getting closer. As soon as I can get back to sewing, I will adjust my table setup as well. The table behind my sewing surface is a foot shorter than the surface. Luckily, its height is adjustable. I will work with it today. I'm feeling optimistic about these changes and hope to post a picture of consistent stitch length. Thank you!

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    Hello Prism99. I would love to read that article. My, limited experience, has made me question the effectiveness of IDT for quilting. I have a walking foot for my Brother and get such better results even though it is an inexpensive, entry-level machine...I will see if it can be used it on the Pfaff.

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    Nannykins8 -- I will try this. It sounds logical to me that it would help the IDT better engage. Thank you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gay View Post
    Another thought - could the quilt be bunching up behind the foot, causing it to not feed through, or even getting caught on the IDT. Both have happened to me and I could never get used to using a walking foot or the IDT.
    Yes, Gay, I have seen evidence of this already. It improved when I was able to set a piece of glass behind my machine. It also made the remainder of my table the same height of my Sew Steady extension table. I'm definitely going to keep an eye out for a way to remedy this pooling. Thank you.

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    I had not thought of this before, PaperPrincess, but it certainly makes sense. I will try this. Thank you.

  20. #20
    Super Member quiltedsunshine's Avatar
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    The open toe foot is not flat on the bottom. It is cut out for thick thread stitches. Try using the "standard" foot that is flat on the bottom. It will give you better traction.
    Annette in Utah

  21. #21
    Senior Member carol45's Avatar
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    Maybe it's happening when you reach a seam on the back, so it has to slow down to get over the hump? Reducing the pressure could help with that as well.

  22. #22
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    Thank you everyone. I was doing several things wrong. Once corrected, the inconsistency went away.

    Quilt drag was, indeed, the culprit. There's how I fixed it:
    1) Leveling all the tables I had brought near my sewing table
    2) Pooling the quilt in front of the presser foot and ensuring nothing pools behind the presser foot
    3) Swapping presser foot from the open-toe applique foot to the recommended quilting foot (0A in this case)

    Now I can frog the inconsistent quilting lines, fully confident in the ability to improve the results. And there is still some time left in weekend to quilt. Wahoo!

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