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Thread: Keeping FMQ stitches even

  1. #1
    Senior Member vivientan's Avatar
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    Keeping FMQ stitches even

    I've been attempting to do FMQ for the past 2 years and it's really not getting into me. I can't keep my curves even when sewing circles and stitches are never even. The biggest problem I have is not knowing the direction the needle should go and I always get caught in a corner. All quilters say practice makes perfect but perhaps FMQ is just not for me.

    Is there any advice on how I could have more even stitches...should I go faster, slower etc? I need lots of help here before I give up on FMQ totally.

  2. #2
    Super Member DOTTYMO's Avatar
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    If you can practise this. Middle speed with no foot control. Keep feet up and just try. At different speeds ,oing the fabric .i tried this. And it did help. Rules are all wrong but it is one way of getting use to just the fabric move.
    Finished is better than a UFO

  3. #3
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    I bought my Bernina with the stitch regulator because I was frustrated with my micro stitches. It isn't fool proof but my stitches are much better. If you have a speed control on your machine, set it at the speed you FMQ best at. You can put your pedal to the metal and just worry about your hands moving the quilt. I found this the most helpful before I got the BSR.

  4. #4
    Super Member klgls's Avatar
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    I have found using the stop and start button on my Janome 6600 and having the speed at medium - medium slow allows me to concentrate on just moving the fabric - it's helping to make my stitches more consistent.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Pepita's Avatar
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    Try free motion quilting with the feed dogs up. I tend to pull the fabric when I was free motion quilting, and I would end up pulling the needle etc. and you just don't get good results when you pull the fabric. See if this helps.
    Keep away from people who belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you too can become great. Mark Twain

  6. #6
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    Feed dogs up helps a lot and going very slow at first. I thought I was going slow enough this morning and noticed a few "eyelashes" on the back on some curves. Leah Day has started keeping her feed dogs up.

  7. #7
    Power Poster Jingle's Avatar
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    My FMQ stitches are not always the same size. Important thing is to be relaxed and try to move hands to match machine speed. Hands a bit slower than machine is going. Once the quilt is washed and dried, it isn't that noticeable.
    Just keep doing it and it will get better.
    Another Phyllis
    This life is the only one you get - enjoy it before you lose it.

  8. #8
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    The way I started is: Sew a line (regular settings) just as if you were sewing a garment. Go slower than usual and feel the rhythm of the fabric feeding, and the needle going into the fabric, pierce, pierce, etc the fabric. When you feel you have that, take a fabric sandwich and do the FMQ going the same speed, feeling the pierce, pierce of the fabric, moving the fabric (FD down, FMQ settings) just a little so that you feel each stitch. You can go faster as you start feeling the rhythm. You'll know when you are going too fast. It will take a while to find the zone. Good luck.

  9. #9
    Super Member Pinkiris's Avatar
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    Try this: http://www.quiltingboard.com/tutoria...g-t177072.html

    I found that doing this really gives me better control of where I'm going with my free motion quilting. Maybe it will help you too!
    Sue

  10. #10
    Senior Member vivientan's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone for the suggestions. I need to find ways to continue to motivate myself & not feel discouraged. I'm on medium speed now and most stitches look really long. Some quilters say going faster should shorten the stitches, is this true? The quilting machine I'm using didn't make it all easier. I'm using Janome 6320 & I've been getting tension issues since I started, even the service centre couldn't figure out what's wrong. Perhaps it's time to upgrade my machine.

  11. #11
    Senior Member vivientan's Avatar
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    Sorry how can I sew with no foot control as I've never tried this before? Tartan mentioned abt keeping the metal pedal down too.

  12. #12
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    If your machine can be set at a medium speed, then pressing the pedal down completely will only have you sewing at the top of the medium speed. When you don't have to think about pressing more or less to control the speed, it does help.

  13. #13
    Super Member carslo's Avatar
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    I too, would get stuck in places when FMQ so now I start in the corner and work my way around the quilt sides and end up finishing in the middle. I sandwich my quilts with Elmer's Washable School glue, homemade spray gllue or 505 so they do not shift and I find this the easiest way for me.
    A bed without a quilt is like the night sky without stars.

    http://californiaquilting.blogspot.com/

  14. #14
    Super Member AliKat's Avatar
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    I draw it first. Then I put an even melody in my head and let the music guide me. The music keeps me from speeding or slowing. The key is an even tune.
    Have fun quilting! If it isn't fun, you will miss a lot.
    ali

  15. #15
    Junior Member lizzieann's Avatar
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    I found going really slow helped keep my stitches more even.
    lizziebeths.blogspot.com

  16. #16
    Super Member IBQUILTIN's Avatar
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    I have been spending time with my machine and instruction manual for it. I am learning a lot. The most important was adjusting the tension when FMQ, the other was adjusting the pressure of the pressure foot. I have done two quilts now with no eyelashes and a much more even stitch. Sometimes we have to go back to square one to start over

  17. #17
    Super Member MacThayer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vivientan View Post
    Thanks everyone for the suggestions. I need to find ways to continue to motivate myself & not feel discouraged. I'm on medium speed now and most stitches look really long. Some quilters say going faster should shorten the stitches, is this true? The quilting machine I'm using didn't make it all easier. I'm using Janome 6320 & I've been getting tension issues since I started, even the service centre couldn't figure out what's wrong. Perhaps it's time to upgrade my machine.
    Do you adjust both the top and bottom tension when you quilt? Most shops won't show you how to adjust the bottom tension, because it's "OK", and you only have to adjust the top. That's BS. I've been adjusting bottom tensions for over 40 years, with good results. Whenever I quilt, I have to adjust the bottom tension, and how much will depend on the material and batting used. I have a Janome MC 9700, awesome machine. I now have 3 bobbin cases for it. One is for regular sewing, one is for embroidery (because it has to be so tight on the bottom) and one for quilting. It saves me a lot of "tension tweaking", but not all obviously.

    Look for the small screw on the front of the bobbin case. This is your lower tension adjuster. (And it looks the same on my new Janome as it did on my old Brother, and even on my early one-stitch Singer, so I'm guessing they haven't changed much and may be universal.) Hold the bobbin case with the screw facing you. Don't adjust more than a quarter turn at a time. Tightening the tension means you "screw down" the screw by turning it to the right. Loosening it means turning it a quarter turn to the left. Then test it on a "sandwich" you've made that is the same thickness as your quilt. Put one of those "slider bobbin washers" in the bobbin before you put the thread into the case. This really helps prevent all that "snaggling" of thread on the back of the quilt.

    In my experience, going slower shortens the stitches. The trick is to work up to a uniform speed so your stitches look alike. My Janome has a speed regulator, which really helps maintain a consistent speed; look for that on yours.

    Please ask if you have any more questions! We love questions!
    Last edited by MacThayer; 06-08-2013 at 12:24 PM. Reason: additional message
    MacThayer

  18. #18
    Member piecNpat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vivientan View Post
    Thanks everyone for the suggestions. I need to find ways to continue to motivate myself & not feel discouraged. I'm on medium speed now and most stitches look really long. Some quilters say going faster should shorten the stitches, is this true? The quilting machine I'm using didn't make it all easier. I'm using Janome 6320 & I've been getting tension issues since I started, even the service centre couldn't figure out what's wrong. Perhaps it's time to upgrade my machine.
    Some of my friends say the newest Janomes are wonderful. I have a 6600P and a special adjustable free motion foot and special bobbin case with a blue mark (instead of red) and with feed dogs down and a super slider, I am fearless. Really gives me results. And best of all it is fun. I know things are going well when I catch myself smiling. Keep at it! The machine and tools do make a difference!
    Pat

  19. #19
    Super Member jmoore's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by klgls View Post
    I have found using the stop and start button on my Janome 6600 and having the speed at medium - medium slow allows me to concentrate on just moving the fabric - it's helping to make my stitches more consistent.
    same here. I think I have finally found my comfort speed at medium. However, I keep practicing FMQ'ing on smaller projects like table runners and potholders until I find designs that fit my groove, like making vines and loops. I enjoy practicing and hope to have the confidence someday to FMQ a large quilt on my Janome 6600

  20. #20
    Senior Member vivientan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MacThayer View Post
    Do you adjust both the top and bottom tension when you quilt? Most shops won't show you how to adjust the bottom tension, because it's "OK", and you only have to adjust the top. That's BS. I've been adjusting bottom tensions for over 40 years, with good results. Whenever I quilt, I have to adjust the bottom tension, and how much will depend on the material and batting used. I have a Janome MC 9700, awesome machine. I now have 3 bobbin cases for it. One is for regular sewing, one is for embroidery (because it has to be so tight on the bottom) and one for quilting. It saves me a lot of "tension tweaking", but not all obviously.

    Look for the small screw on the front of the bobbin case. This is your lower tension adjuster. (And it looks the same on my new Janome as it did on my old Brother, and even on my early one-stitch Singer, so I'm guessing they haven't changed much and may be universal.) Hold the bobbin case with the screw facing you. Don't adjust more than a quarter turn at a time. Tightening the tension means you "screw down" the screw by turning it to the right. Loosening it means turning it a quarter turn to the left. Then test it on a "sandwich" you've made that is the same thickness as your quilt. Put one of those "slider bobbin washers" in the bobbin before you put the thread into the case. This really helps prevent all that "snaggling" of thread on the back of the quilt.

    In my experience, going slower shortens the stitches. The trick is to work up to a uniform speed so your stitches look alike. My Janome has a speed regulator, which really helps maintain a consistent speed; look for that on yours.

    Please ask if you have any more questions! We love questions!
    I've heard quilters talk about adjusting the lower tension, but the manufacturer strongly advises against it! If this is working for u, perhaps it's something I could explore to see if it improves things. As I'm looking at the bobbin case now, there are 2 screws. Which is the one I should adjust? The star one or the other one? For the speed regulator, I believe you are referring to the speed control lever on my Janome? Some quilters mentioned about setting on medium speed and setting the metal pedal down. I'm not sure how I could set it down completely on my Janome, while I focus on moving the quilt at regular speed.

    How about the foot pressure? I had it on 3 on my Janome.

    How can I quilt nice circles and curves? They are not very nicely curved as far as I can see.

    For your info, I'm doing/using most things that's possible on a Janome, such as the blue tip needle, blue bobbin case, bobbin washers, super slider, quilting gloves...it's the tension that I regularly struggle with.

  21. #21
    Super Member MartiMorga's Avatar
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    Thank you for the question, ones that I have too! And thank you fellow quilters for the answers, I have been practicing FMQ, took a class at the Paducah Quilt Show and the machine supplied had a stitch regulator on it. Not a fan, but of course that is a novice telling you that, lol. Anyway, I am just trying to keep my "movements" matching the machine speed. After a bit I can get the groove, but a day later I got to start all over.
    God Bless Quilters and Sewers
    Marti

  22. #22
    Super Member M.I.Late's Avatar
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    Thanks for asking the question. I think I needed this info too. Gonna try to do some more and see how it goes. Tired of sending out even the small stuff that I'm gifting since I'm an uneven FMQer too. :-)

  23. #23
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    First of all, I have a Viking Diamond Deluxe and never have to adjust my tension the machine does all of the thinking. It may not be necessary to change yours. I was told to set the speed control (if you have one) to the slowest and then push the pedal to the metal when you quilt. Don't grip your fabric and keep your shoulders in a relaxed state. Gloves, even gardening gloves with the little nubs on them work great for moving fabric. Try practicing your designs first on a paper or dry erase board; know it in your head before you start. Try practicing on 12 in squares w/batting and backing fabric. You can always make a play quilt out of the squares or a dog blanket, no one will care about the quilting. It does take practice. It's good to get advice then find what works for you after trying different things. You just haven't found your groove yet; it'll come.
    Judy

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