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Thread: Machine quilting help- uneven/wobbly stitching

  1. #1
    Member Hikeaddict's Avatar
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    Machine quilting help- uneven/wobbly stitching

    Good evening everyone! It has been a while since I quilted anything so I haven't been on the board in a while. I've now crawled out from under my career training rock, so I have started sewing again. I am making a baby quilt for a friend who is having twins (surprise!) and am struggling with the quilting. I'm super rusty, so the piecing wasn't perfect, but I'm overall happy with that part. The quilting is another story... I am having issues with the stitches not being the same length, presumably because the fabric isn't moving through at the same rate. I am also getting a lot of wobbles in the lines themselves- this problem in the worst where the foot has to go over a meeting point for lots of pieces as you might expect. I did press my seams very thoroughly before I started quilting. Any tips or thoughts about what I might be doing wrong? I am using a walking foot. I am quilting on a regular, and rather cheap Brother that I've had for about 15 years. I am not sure if that has anything to do with it. Anyway- some pictures:
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  2. #2
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    What size/type needle are you using in your machine? Try a Topstitch 90/14.

    What stitch length are you using? Try a 2.5 or even3.0 length.

    Hopefully, the real quilters will come along with more help too.

  3. #3
    Power Poster sewbizgirl's Avatar
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    Actually your results are not bad considering the machine you are using. What might help you with the ‘flow’ of the fabric is to lighten the presser foot pressure. If your machine has the option to do that, or to raise the height of the foot, it could handle the thickness and intersections better.

    If it doesn’t have either of those adjustments and you plan to quilt more now, it may be time to look for a machine that was made for quilting.
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  4. #4
    Member Hikeaddict's Avatar
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    Well, this is embarrassing. I have no idea what needle I'm using... I'll check. And my stitch length is around 2, so I'll try lengthening that. Thanks!

  5. #5
    Member Hikeaddict's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sewbizgirl View Post
    Actually your results are not bad considering the machine you are using. What might help you with the ‘flow’ of the fabric is to lighten the presser foot pressure. If your machine has the option to do that, or to raise the height of the foot, it could handle the thickness and intersections better.

    If it doesn’t have either of those adjustments and you plan to quilt more now, it may be time to look for a machine that was made for quilting.
    I was afraid of that. I don't think it has either of those options, but I'll look it up in my manual. I was just recently pondering getting a better machine, but couldn't think of anything I hadn't been able to do just fine with mine...maybe I found it. Thanks for your input

  6. #6
    Junior Member stitch678's Avatar
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    Lengthen your stitches to 3 or even 3.5, and use a #14 topstitch needle rather than a " quilting" needle. Next, be sure to support the excess quilt fabric ...either put an ironing board set same height as sewing table, or just pile it on sewing table...don't expect the machine to pull it up from your lap. If your machine doesn't have an extension table, you can make one of styrofoam covered with plastic ( just tape plastic in place).This gives you a bigger surface to place your hands for guiding in a straight line. If you feel you're still getting " hung up" on seams, stop before the seam allowance with needle up, left presser foot, manually move fabric a tad, lower foot, use handwheel to make the stitch & repeat as necessary ( it should take @ 4 stitches).
    Last edited by stitch678; 05-15-2019 at 06:22 PM. Reason: Spelling/ grammar

  7. #7
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    Your quilt looks lovely and the colors are great! You're doing wonderfully. Keep it up!

    A couple thoughts:

    I'm guessing your machine isn't inset into a table so that the bed of the machine is level with the surface of the table. This is actually the single most important thing that I felt really changed how I quilted. I spent about $20 and built myself a foam insulation table topper (https://youtu.be/g14govA4pIM) following that tutorial except I also taped the vinyl down around the edges so that there is no exposed foam and the vinyl stays perfectly smooth. I even piece with this topper on - it's fabulous. It's really important to have no drag around the machine. Any drag will cause you to fight the weight of the quilt and that causes uneven stitches even with a walking foot.

    You can build a temporary surround for yourself out of boxes, books, magazines, or anything to bring the level even with your machine, but any of those will still create a little bit of drag. Plus, magazines will sometimes catch on the corners and it's annoying, but at least those options don't require building anything. It really only took me a couple hours anyway and it was cheap.

    My machine is a $250 Janome that I still love and I've quilted many quilts on it. It's certainly possible for you to do this on your machine! I see that you pin basted. Did you spray baste at all? My one experience with spray baste also left me with very uneven stitch length because the spray baste was causing so many more issues for me. If you did, you can iron it to set it better and I've heard that helps.

    My machine doesn't have the option to lighten the presser foot pressure but slowing down and making sure my hands were really helping to keep the drag off the needle really helped alot. Lots of people use gloves of some type to help get better grip on the quilt - gardening gloves, grippy sponges, shelf liner, and they do make quilting gloves too. I love Machingers gloves.

    You can also quilt with a pillow in your lap to raise the height of the quilt bulk closer to the table and machine. If you don't have something like your ironing board to the left of you, you should set it to the height of your table to help handle the weight. It's also good if you can figure out a way to prevent the quilt from falling off your table. If you're quilting on a dining table, maybe push extra chairs against the table behind the machine so the quilt doesn't slide off?

  8. #8
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    The problem with straight line quilting is, keeping it straight. I have better luck using my Bernina serpentine stitch in lines across a quilt. If you haven’t gone very far it might be something to consider.

  9. #9
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    Don't forget that when the quilt is washed, your stitching will melt a little more into the quilt. I can't sew in a straight line at all but somehow after the quilt is washed, it all looks fine.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hikeaddict View Post
    Well, this is embarrassing. I have no idea what needle I'm using... I'll check. And my stitch length is around 2, so I'll try lengthening that. Thanks!
    Also make sure you don’t have any constriction on the movement of the quilt while stitching. Such as hanging up on the edge of something where the feed dogs cannot pull it though.

  11. #11
    Power Poster Jingle's Avatar
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    Very good help from the people on this quilt board.
    Another Phyllis
    This life is the only one you get - enjoy it before you lose it.

  12. #12
    Member Hikeaddict's Avatar
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    Thank you so much everyone! I tried the 90/14 needle, made myself a surround out of books and ironing board, put a pillow in my lap, lengthened my stitch length to 3- and it looks Much better! It is by No means perfect, but I'm much happier with it and think I can get better with practice and positioning changes.
    Funny story- I didn't have time to stop on the way home to get needles because my pup needed to go outside. I wasn't sure if I had any 90/14 needles at home, but just planned to check. I recently rediscovered a pouch that was sent to me in a swap On this board a few years ago- and what did I find in there when I got home? Universal 90/14 needles!! I love this board and the community here. Thanks everyone. For anyone interested in a non-close up of the project in question:

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    Last edited by QuiltnNan; 05-16-2019 at 04:15 PM. Reason: shouting/all caps

  13. #13
    Senior Member Cactus Stitchin's Avatar
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    Cute quilt! And it looks good even when I enlarged the picture for a closer look!

  14. #14
    Senior Member ruby2shoes's Avatar
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    Glad you got it sorted out. Your quilt looks lovely.

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    Super Member liking quilting's Avatar
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    Glad you got it sorted out. I think you did very well for taking on a project for your friend. Your "rusty" skills are now getting bright!
    Mavis

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    Beautiful quilt! Thank you for sharing your quilt and your question. We all need refreshers on quilting and support. Your friend will be touched and happy with your original quilt that stand out from store bought blankets. Nothing better than a quilt for a baby to play on or wrap in when older. I have a picture of a twin grand-child who wrapped herself in her quilt 'like a burrito'. Precious! I love the pinwheel quilt; it is lovely. Is the second twin a boy or a girl?

  17. #17
    Super Member Irishrose2's Avatar
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    When you do purchase needles, don't buy universal ones. Quilting cotton likes sharp needles, not the slightly rounded tip of a universal.

  18. #18
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    I'm glad you posted and got help in figuring it out - the thread answered some questions in my head, too! Your quilt is really pretty.
    A man only has the right to look down at another when he helps him to lift himself up. - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

    Linda

  19. #19
    Super Member SusieQOH's Avatar
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    What a lovely quilt! You don't look rusty at all.

  20. #20
    Super Member osewme's Avatar
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    Your quilt is so pretty. Glad you were able to get help here. Thanks for posting your questions as it helped me a lot with some questions I have had in the past.

  21. #21
    Member Hikeaddict's Avatar
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    I'm glad my questions were able to help other folks as well! That's the beauty of this community, so many wonderful people sharing their advice and experience! The other twin in a boy. I may try to make him one as well before they arrive. I did get him a gift as well, just not a handmade one. I'm a slow quilter.
    Silly me assumed "universal" needles just meant they could be used with all machine brands...sounds like I need to read about needles...haha.

  22. #22
    Super Member meyert's Avatar
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    your quilt is just adorable!! remember no one looks as close at your quilt as you do

  23. #23
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    Your quilt is adorable and thanks for asking the question. Refreshing is good for everyone.
    Create something beautiful from scraps.

  24. #24
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    A walking foot would also be helpful. My first walking foot was $15 at Joann’s and worked just fine. If you are going to invest in a better machine, a lot of them come with a walking foot.

  25. #25
    Super Member Irishrose2's Avatar
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    A Universal needle means it can be used with both woven and knit fabric, but, in truth, it doesn't do a good job with either. Too rounded for wovens, except very loosely woven ones and not rounded enough for knits (you want a ballpoint here). I like Schmertz Microtex needles, size 12 for piecing and most FMQ, but Organ needles from ebay are great priced and work well, too.

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