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Thread: Machine quilting trouble

  1. #1
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    Machine quilting trouble

    Hi. I have another thread on which I'm asking for new machine suggestions. But I'm afraid to buy a new one only to have the same headaches quilting on it that I have now! For instance, I just finished quilting a small blanket, 46x36, and even on that small of a project the fabric pushed in the direction I was quilting! I used approximately 300 pins on that small piece, that has to be enough. I've tried spray basting one quilt-no better outcome, I've tried glue basting-didn't work, AND I antique get less puckering when I DON'T use the walking foot. I'm about ready to give up hope.
    Someone here mentioned having a local quilt shop/quilter do the basting. What exactly would they do? And how much would it cost? I did jane one quilt that was a wing gift professionally quilted, but at $110 for a 68x72 or so quilt I can't do that beefy often! Help! In weekday way might a new machine help?

  2. #2
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    Are you straight stitching with a walking foot or free motion quilting with a darning or FMQ foot? Are you using polyester or 80/20 cotton batt? I have never had much luck FMQing on polyester. It just moves too much. I have better luck with the 80/20 cotton batt.
    Is the quilt fully supported up on your quilting table so there is no drag? Are you quilting from the center out so any extra fabric moves to the edges? You might visit some sites to watch quilting done on domestic machines to pick up some pointers. Try watching Leah Day on the the Free Motion Quilting Project.

  3. #3
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    Without knowing what sewing machine you are using, it's difficult to tell what is going wrong. Some machines are just not very good.

    Unless you did something dramatically wrong with the glue-basting and spray basting, those should have helped a lot. This makes me think it is your machine.

    To get really good advice, you need to provide details about your machine. Also, are you using a polyester batt? Polyester slips around a lot more than cotton.

    Going to a long-armer for basting is more often used by hand quilters. This is because hand quilters clip basting threads as they work. Most machine quilters do not want to be doing that because you need to clip a much larger area at a time. If you quilt on a domestic machine (which sounds like your situation) and you want to get a quilt basted by a long-armer, I would recommend talking to the long-armer to see if he/she can use water-soluble thread. This way you don't have to do any clipping; the basting thread will dissolve when the quilt is washed. Cost depends on where you live, how big your quilt is, and how willing your longarmer is to baste.

    I recently attended some Jamie Wallen classes, and for basting he recommends doing an all-over meander instead of the more common cross-hatching. Not only is it easier for the long-armer, it's a more stable basting method.
    Last edited by Prism99; 11-25-2015 at 06:10 PM.

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    You have not said what machine you are sewing with, and if you have made any adjustments to settings, such as pressure on presser foot, or if that is adjustable on your machine. I'm no expert, but what you describe is more frustration than most people would endure.

  5. #5
    Super Member Irishrose2's Avatar
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    Does your machine drop the feed dogs? Can you lessen the pressure of your presser foot? It sounds like your machine is shifting the fabric with too much pressure. I have a wonderful vintage Elna that has a self adjusting pressure foot and doesn't drop the feed dogs so for those reasons she doesn't quilt. My cure?? Another vintage machine - a 1956 Singer 301, which was born to FMQ, IMO. Vertical bobbin feeds the thread better, slant needle helps you see where you're going, feed dogs drop easily, a SITD foot available, adjustable presser foot, etc. I've heard there is no good walking foot for the 301, but so far I don't need one. To straight line quilt, I would leave the feeds up, reduce the pressure of the presser foot and use the stitch in the ditch foot.

  6. #6
    Power Poster PaperPrincess's Avatar
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    Without more info (batting type, machine model etc.) I have a couple things I would try/check:
    - Ease up on your presser foot pressure. Check your manual to see how to accomplish this.
    - Make sure there is no drag on your quilt. It should be supported front back and sides enough so that the machine is able to pull it thru. The quilt sandwich may be dragging in the front. This may cause the backing to get caught but allow the batting & top to move pushing it toward you.
    "I do not understand how anyone can live without one small place of enchantment to turn to."
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    Paperprincess, I do have my quilt supported but I'll pay closer attention to that. I will also adjust the presser foot pressure. Thanks

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    Super Member Bree123's Avatar
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    I got 3 different "soles" with my Bernina walking foot. The one with the ditch guide caused me all kinds of problems. When I went with the flat open-toed "sole" for my walking foot, I started getting much better results. Also, make sure that when you start your quilting (and pinning), that you start in the middle & work your way out. This is true whether you are doing straight line stitching with a walking foot or whether you do FMQ with a darning foot.

    Also, make sure to increase your stitch length when you are doing quilting with a walking foot. Someone else here recommended that to me -- to increase to 2.5-2.75mm and it made a huge difference. My stitches came out more even and the fabric didn't shift so much (I also later lowered the pressure of my presser foot & switched out the sole of my walking foot & that finished resolving the issue).

  9. #9
    Power Poster ManiacQuilter2's Avatar
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    If you are basting with straight pins, yikes, that can really hurt. Usually when I pin (using safety pins 1"), I pin a little bigger than my fist or about every 4 or 5 inches. I use Hobbs cotton batting and the quilt tends not to shift. Are you doing FMQ or straight stitching?? You do need support for your quilt on your left side and behind the machine to make sure the weight of the quilt doesn't tug. Most of my quilting life, I have had two Bernina to quilt on and I still have both of them.
    A Good Friend, like an old quilt, is both a Treasure and a Comfort

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    Maniac - Just curious why do you need 2 machines to quilt a quilt? Does one do something special that the other does not or do you just like one better for piecing and the other for quilting or something? I use the same Bernina for all phases of my quilting and it works just fine. I'm wondering what I'm missing.

    As for the issue at hand, I think the questions many have asked are great questions. I always use either cotton or 80/20 batting because the poly will shift too much. And yes, the biggest problem might be the drag of the quilt if it is not properly supported. I finally invested in a good table where my sewing machine actually sits flush with the bed of the machine and it has made all the difference for that reason. Of course where there's a will there's a way so I used to put extra tables (little tray tables work pretty well) all around my area to support my quilt at the back and on the left of my quilting area. You would be surprised how much difference some of these ideas mentioned will help you. Try them all until you figure out what works. Then happy quilting!

  11. #11
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    also check your stitch length ---- use a longer stitch, as they tend to get shorter with thick layers.
    If you use safety pins as suggested that should help. I use warm & natural, but NOT bamboo variety -- it tends to be less stable and move around.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Sheri.a's Avatar
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    I recently had a twin quilt basted by my quilt shop. They charged .015 per sq inch. I did the math wrong (normally I'm good at math). I figured it was going to cost around $35. Imagine my surprise when it cost $95.

    But I really like it. I quilted stabilizing lines around the 10 inch squares and did stitch n the ditch around the borders. I then removed the basting (very easy). I had no problems with the fabric on the back getting puckers. I'm now doing the quilting in each square.

    My my cousin owns a long arm and has offered to let me use it. I am thinking about basting my own. But it was really great having it done.

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    I'm not sure what the sole of the walking foot is.
    There were several things people asked me to clarify. My current machine is a Singer Scholastic, nothing fancy at all. It does allow me to drop the feed dogs, I tried FMQ with little success. I know that takes time to master, I also think that getting a slippery surface for the sewing machine bed will help because my biggest problem was that all of a sudden the quilt would slip and the stitches would become long.
    I have tried a walking foot, but I get more puckering than when I use my zig zag foot.
    I do have the quilt supported well, though the bed of my machine is not even with the table top, I quilt on the kitchen table.
    I have not started my quilting by making 4 quadrangles. That is something I will definitely do! If I'm channel stitching the quilt would I just do one half and then the other?
    I have a hunch that my machine, while fine for making clothes and other projects, isn't suited well to quilting.
    Anything else I left out that would help you all to diagnose my problem? Thanks!

  14. #14
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    The walking foot is not meant to be used with free-motion quilting, only for straight sewing to help the top fabric feed evenly with the bottom fabric, so take that foot off as most are bulky and will restrict movement of the quilt. Your needle position should be set at zero with the feed dogs down. Try using a normal foot, or an open-toe one. If you still have problems you may have to get a 'hopping' foot, which has a spring, so the foot bounces as it stitches. Hope this helps some.

  15. #15
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    Do you mean you are using a zig zag foot when you drop the feed dogs? If so, this may be your problem. You need to use a hopping foot, darning foot, or floating foot to FMQ. A zig zag foot requires the feed dogs to be up and does not allow for FMQ.

    Edit: Once you have the correct foot, you can experiment with dropping the feed dogs or leaving them up. On some machines it is easier to control the quilt with the feed dogs up. I FMQ on my machine with the feed dogs up, but I am using a hopping foot (darning foot).

  16. #16
    Super Member Buckeye Rose's Avatar
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    I use poly batting all the time without problems shifting.....the key is basting well (glue lines about 3-4" apart)....I am more inclined to think that you need to reduce the pressure on the presser foot and to make sure you have the right foot for the right job....walking foot to do straight line quilting with the feed dogs up.....hopping foot/darning foot to do fmq with feed dogs either up or down (personal preference) with stitch length set to 0....on my machine, if I want to do fmq, I also have to set my thread tension tighter (8-9) to get a good stitch.

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    I'm sorry I was unclear about the different feet. I am familiar with which foot to use, walking and FMQ hopping one. I think the presser foot pressure may be an issue, I have grandkids and it may have gotten moved from the factory setting.
    I also think that not starting in the center of the quilt and quilting in quadrangles might be causing puckering. Do you all quilt in quarter sections?
    Also, is it important to have precisely the right needle? When I'm stitching through only two pieces of fabric the needle seems like it's not going through the layers of fabric without making an effort with a 90/14 that the guy who owns a sewing machine/vacuum shop said to use. That seems way too big to me. I had been using a 75/11 quilting needle for quilting and piecing. Can a needle cause a problem with the feeding of the quilt through the machine if it's not piercing the fabric easily?
    And haven't been fussy about which thread I use either. I've simply been using Dual Duty Polyester, but my quilting book says to use cotton. How important is it to have a specific thread?
    Thanks for the help!

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    I would suggest some instruction such as a Craftsy class. They are inexpensive, frequently $19.99 (like they are today). I especially enjoyed the class by Ann Peterson. If you go to the website, you can get little preview blurbs and lesson descriptions of the class. Some classes are quite basic and others are much more advanced. It is so hard to evaluate the difficulties someone is having by verbal description. It is easier to see someone else (who is skilled) demonstrate the skill and allow the viewer to consider a comparison of techniques and change styles.

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