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Thread: Longarm Quilters

  1. #1
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    Longarm Quilters

    I have been sewing for over 50 years and have had the opportunity to sew on several makes and models of sewing machines including embroidery and midarm quilter. A little over a month ago, my husband had purchased a sitdown longarm machine for me to enjoy free motion quilting on applique quilts. With no support, besides my husband, question: What thread (weight & brand) are used on a longarm machine? No domestic machines, longarm. The frustration, wasted hours I have gone through to get the machine to sew due to tension problems and proper thread, I am at the point this was a very bad investment. Any help would be appreciated. Thank You!

  2. #2
    Super Member donna13350's Avatar
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    The simple answer is that you can use any brand of thread to longarm with that you used on your domestic machine. The longer answer is more machine specific. You should tell us what machine you have. Some machines don't like some threads. I don't think your problem is thread, since you've tried many brands and are still having tension issues. There are tons of youtube videos on longarm tension..some are general, some are machine specific...I found them very helpful when starting out. What type of tension issues are you having? Also..with a new machine, you may not have threaded it properly, be sure to check that, and make sure you are using the correct needle.
    Last edited by donna13350; 11-30-2018 at 04:53 AM. Reason: spelling

  3. #3
    Super Member hcarpanini's Avatar
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    Is it possible e to visit the shop where the machine was purchased to get a lesson in tensioning the machine? I use all types of threads in my longarm. Each thread needs to be tensioned and the needle needs to match the weight of the thread as well. There are many great You Tube videos on this subject as well. Your dealer should give this info with the sale of the machine.
    Harriet
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  4. #4
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    I started with a very inexpensive machine (bailey) that is basically a stretched domestic machine and the tension was the same as a domestic machine and I had no problems with it. I loved quilting so much I upgraded to a HQ Fusion - and started having all kinds of tension problems. After several months of ungoing frustration and quilts with lots of tension problems I was really regretting what I'd done and felt I'd possibly wasted $10,000 (not a good feeling!)

    There is a good ending to my story, I bought a towa gauge so I could make sure I had my bobbin tension correctly. I'd tried the drop tests and all that, and even bought a second bobbin case. Turns out I had two problems, some of my bobbins were bad and so I didn't get a good, even pull coming out of the bobbin, and the second was that I wasn't setting them correctly. Now I set them at 180 no matter what thread is in there - and then adjust the top tension.

    The other thing I did was get a digital readout for my tension (you may not have that option) and know I have much better idea of where my tension is. I found I was often turning it the wrong way or not turning it enough.

    I also discovered my new machine didn't like all the thread (Connecting thread's cotton) I'd bought that they Bailey loved. I do much better with poly thread, though now that I've got the other problems figured out I've only run into problems with Issacord embroidery thread (only thread I had backlash problems with). I use Maxi-lock most often, and the dealer that sold me the machine stocks it as he said it seems to be pretty universal that the HQ machines really like it and it's not expensive.

    Though this does not pertain to a sit down machine as much, I also learned that my Bailey liked a tight quilt, and my Fushion likes a loose quilt, so I had to learn that difference too.

    I love my Fushion now - and want to encourage others to just keep working at it and trying different things until you get it resolved.
    My name is Cathy - and I'm addicted to old sewing machines and their attachments.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Pagzz's Avatar
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    I like the glide thread. my machine does really well with the magna bobbins. Jamie Wallen has a good video on tension issues https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1mRhcquZTM I also suggest these forums for help with longarm issues and general fun http://mqresource.com/forum/ I agree that maybe the dealer can come out and get it running smoothly. hang in there
    Peggy

    "Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are."
    -Chinese proverb
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  6. #6
    Super Member luvstoquilt301's Avatar
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    I bought my HQ16 from craigslist. It did not come with a bobbin winder. I use Bobs prewound bobbins from Superior and I believe they have on Bottomline. I use Connecting Thread Essential Pro. I quilt for myself and lots for charity. I am totally self taught before there were many videos. I stick with this combo as it works all the time.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1mRhcquZTM

    This is how I learned to get good tension.

  7. #7
    Moderator QuiltnNan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Macybaby View Post
    I started with a very inexpensive machine (bailey) that is basically a stretched domestic machine and the tension was the same as a domestic machine and I had no problems with it. I loved quilting so much I upgraded to a HQ Fusion - and started having all kinds of tension problems. After several months of ungoing frustration and quilts with lots of tension problems I was really regretting what I'd done and felt I'd possibly wasted $10,000 (not a good feeling!)

    There is a good ending to my story, I bought a towa gauge so I could make sure I had my bobbin tension correctly. I'd tried the drop tests and all that, and even bought a second bobbin case. Turns out I had two problems, some of my bobbins were bad and so I didn't get a good, even pull coming out of the bobbin, and the second was that I wasn't setting them correctly. Now I set them at 180 no matter what thread is in there - and then adjust the top tension.

    The other thing I did was get a digital readout for my tension (you may not have that option) and know I have much better idea of where my tension is. I found I was often turning it the wrong way or not turning it enough.

    I also discovered my new machine didn't like all the thread (Connecting thread's cotton) I'd bought that they Bailey loved. I do much better with poly thread, though now that I've got the other problems figured out I've only run into problems with Issacord embroidery thread (only thread I had backlash problems with). I use Maxi-lock most often, and the dealer that sold me the machine stocks it as he said it seems to be pretty universal that the HQ machines really like it and it's not expensive.

    Though this does not pertain to a sit down machine as much, I also learned that my Bailey liked a tight quilt, and my Fushion likes a loose quilt, so I had to learn that difference too.

    I love my Fushion now - and want to encourage others to just keep working at it and trying different things until you get it resolved.
    great information!
    Nancy in western NY
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    Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we are here we might as well dance.

  8. #8
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    I am by far no expert, I have a Janome Artistic 18 sitdown. I have found that I need 2 different bobbin holders, one for polyester thread, one for cotton thread. With the polyester thread, I have to use a thread net or I have all kinds of tension problems, keep trying, I did. I have only had my machine for 6 months, and I am fairly new to free motion, about a year or so. I have faith in you. You can do it

  9. #9
    Super Member Dolphyngyrl's Avatar
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    I have heard getting a towa guage helps. I am a newbie to my longarm with same issues. I do like superior threads and glide
    Brother (XL-3500i, CV3550, SQ-9050, Dreamweaver XE6200D), Juki MO-2000QVP, Handiquilter Avante

  10. #10
    Super Member quiltingshorttimer's Avatar
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    Towa gauge--well worth the $$. I check every bobbin in insert even when there is some consistency in my winding them after 5 years. But changing thread does make a difference. Also, my tech said on my long arm that if you set the top tensioners about in the middle (if no # then where they are level with the screw)its usually the sweet spot--little adjustments from there. Most of the tension adjustment on long arms is done on the bobbin case. Definitely check for a FB page for the brand you have--other owners can be so helpful.

  11. #11
    Super Member Christine-'s Avatar
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    I have a 26" Tin Lizzie Ansley LS and am going on 7 years with it. I use Signature and Connecting Threads Essential Pro most of the time. I've got a few spools of King Tut and have no trouble with just about any thread I've tried. I love this Lizzie, it's a real work horse, never a tension problem and it always runs smooth. Let us know what machine you have, maybe there is something machine specific we can help with.
    https://quiltdasher.blogspot.com

    I like to make lists. I also like to leave them laying on my sewing table and then guess what's on the list while at the fabric store. Fun game.

  12. #12
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    Hi and welcome to the board. You've gotten some good answers so far and I agree your issue is not thread. There shouldn't be any reason you can't use many different types and weights of threads on your sitdown LA. And there are many, many things that can affect your tension, from poorly wound bobbins to bobbins out of round to a thread guide needing to be tweaked a fraction of an inch rotation. While I quilt on a rack mounted LA there are some similarities to sit down but one we can eliminate from the get go is having the quilt loaded to tightly on the rack.
    LA tension is much fussier than domestic and I think you need to pinpoint if your issues are on top or bottom. Can you describe what tension issues your are experiencing? For example pokies of bobbin thread color showing on top or getting eyelashes on the bottom. Are the issues intermittant? Do you get good tension when you first start then suddenly it goes wonky on you?
    I agree a Towa is a good investment for many but even though I have one, I rarely pull mine out. Have you viewed Jamie Wallen's you tube about bobbin tension on a LA? This is a good place to start: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1mRhcquZTM

    Tweaking tension is something you have to do much more on a LA than a DSM. I check my tension with every bobbin change and periodically mid bobbin, you never know when you get a blob of lint stuck in the tension spring so when using cotton thread or I have a flannel backing (both make a lot of lint), I check frequently. This is one reason I don't use cotton very much for quilting. I prefer to stick with polys that don't make any lint. Please don't be frustrated, it takes some time to get used to the extra bit of futzing about with tension on a LA but once you get it, it will become 2nd nature to you and you will get into a routine. Also don't limit yourself on threads. There are so many wonderful and pretty threads on the market and they should sew fine in your machine, through trial and error you will discover ones that you won't like for whatever reason but don't stick with just one brand/type of thread as different styles of quilting dictate different types of thread. You say you do a lot of applique and I will often use invisifil 100 wt polyester or monofilament thread to ditch applique, then a different thread to do background quilting.
    Last edited by feline fanatic; 12-01-2018 at 06:04 AM.

  13. #13
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    What others have posted reminds me of another problem I had - I was winding my bobbins way to tight. The bailey was a class 15 machine so I used my old Singer 15 to wind bobbins, and would hold the thread between two fingers to help guide to so I a had a nice evenly wound bobbin.

    The fusion came with a winder, and I cranked the tension a bit and with also using cotton thread, I was actually stretching the thread on the bobbin - it caused me to have very inconsistant tension.

    I am also very diligent on cleaning lint out of the bobbin shuttle area and the bobbin case, including under the tension spring. I've had lint build up behind the bobbin race (where you couldn't see it) and it started forcing the bobbin case a bit forward and that started causing top tension issues as the thread was getting hung up a bit as it slid over the bobbin case. I have a small vacuum cleaner with a narrow hose end to suck lint out of the machine. I was told not to use compressed air as too often it can blow stuff further in - but that is for my specific machine, HQ recommends using it on the Infinity.
    My name is Cathy - and I'm addicted to old sewing machines and their attachments.

  14. #14
    Super Member nanna-up-north's Avatar
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    I just went to my LA Club class today and tension is always a topic. The leader told us today you should always check the bobbin tension when you change a bobbin and adjust the top to fit the bobbin if necessary. I try to have a scrap sandwich along the side of my quilt to check my tension when I change a bobbin or see a problem.

    I use magna glide prewound bobbins because I didn't get a bobbin winder when I bought my used HQ Sixteen. I use Superior threads but am going to start trying some new threads like metallic, etc. for some quilts.

    Having a LA Club only a half hour from me is wonderful Those ladies solve so many problems for me. You should call HQ and ask it there is anyone in your area.
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  15. #15
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    Would like to thank everyone for their help and support. I had purchased the Janome Artistic SD16 brand new. Included was the bobbin winder with two per-wound bobbins, Tru Stitch Regulator, bag of sample thread from Superior Threads and accessories container. To start my husband and I out, we had picked up the machine & table from the dealer about 60 miles from us. To find out as we unloaded the machine, here it was packed upside down from the factory, with no damage and contacted the dealer. Start out with Aurifil 50/2 and assuming the per-wound bobbin was Bottom line.

  16. #16
    Power Poster feline fanatic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mooseybjm View Post
    Would like to thank everyone for their help and support. I had purchased the Janome Artistic SD16 brand new. Included was the bobbin winder with two per-wound bobbins, Tru Stitch Regulator, bag of sample thread from Superior Threads and accessories container. To start my husband and I out, we had picked up the machine & table from the dealer about 60 miles from us. To find out as we unloaded the machine, here it was packed upside down from the factory, with no damage and contacted the dealer. Start out with Aurifil 50/2 and assuming the per-wound bobbin was Bottom line.
    Just an observation or two. Superior prewound bobbins, the ones on the cardboard core do have a reputation in the on line longarming community of having very poor tension the last 1/8 or so of the bobbin. I rarely use superbobs so don't have a whole lot of experience with this but I can confirm it has happened to me. Most longarmers live with the issue because they really like the prewounds and use that last bit to hand sew bindings or give to their clients to hand sew the bindings. I prefer magnaglide prewounds, their tension is good right to the end. And I had no issues when I used to wind my own.
    Aurifil 50/2 is a great thread and you can use it to LA but I would recommend using something just a bit heavier to start out until you are used to tweaking your machine. Because it is a 2 ply it breaks more readily than something like a 3 ply 40 wt or 3 ply 50 wt. Once you are more familiar with your machine and the little adjustments you need to make there is no reason you can't use it, just trying to save you a bit more frustration while you are learning.
    Also if your dealer offers any classes, it is well worth the 60 mile trip to take advantage of those. You may learn some little tricks to help make the whole process more enjoyable.

  17. #17
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    One thing that really helped me about taking classes - was to really look at the thread tension on the samples the demonstrator brought with. It helped me to realize that I was being way, way to critical of what my results looked like.
    My name is Cathy - and I'm addicted to old sewing machines and their attachments.

  18. #18
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    I have had my APQS longarm for over 20 years, and have had very few problems with tension. I use prewound bobbins and MaxiLock thread. I have not had problems with Superior prewound bobbins, but I tried some more expensive threads such as Superior, and my machine did not like them (thread broke many times while quilting a quilt). I never mess with my tension. I have been very happy with my machine.

  19. #19
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    You story is just like mine. I upgraded to a Q'nique 21 this year and have only had minor operator error problems. I use essential threads from Connecting Threads, as well.
    A quilt is like a good life. It's full of mistakes, but, in the end, it looks pretty good.

  20. #20
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    Sad, but true, sometimes you need a new bobbin case. Even if the machine is brand new, the bobbin case can be bad and not hold tension well.
    Last edited by cathyvv; 12-02-2018 at 01:05 PM.
    A quilt is like a good life. It's full of mistakes, but, in the end, it looks pretty good.

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