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Quilting a Batik Quilt and Tension Issues - Update at #16

Quilting a Batik Quilt and Tension Issues - Update at #16

Old 02-05-2016, 09:08 AM
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Default Quilting a Batik Quilt and Tension Issues - Update at #16

Hi. Be forworned, this is a saga....
Have any of you using a longarm or midarm quilting machine ever noticed a difference in thread tension when quilting a Batik Quilt? I have been working on quilting a completely batik pieced quilt, I.e. Front and back all batik, with a Hobbs 80/20 batting, spray basted. I quilt on a Sweet Sixteen midarm sitdown. I am quilting with Glide polyester thread. I've had more tension issues than ever with this quilt, trying to get a balanced stitch. I always do a test stitch on a practice piece and in this case have used a sandwich of the exact same fabric. I can get the tension so it looks perfect on top, at least very good, with slight pokies, but I'm using same thread top and bottom, so expect once I wash it that'll disappear completely, but that back is another story. It looks good on testing and then when working on the quilt find the tension gets iffy on the back meaning the stitches go through periods of being less defined, like the tension is too loose, other areas look great. I had many incidents where the thread appears to 'catch' and then my tension is off for about an inch and then resumes stitching fine, or sometimes just throws a bunch of top thread into a nest on the back. Of course I have to stop to clean it up but couldn't figure that one out until I called a dealer and she told me that what was limit happening was the Glide thread was popping out of then tension discs intermittently and then popping back in. So, to alleviate this, wind/loop the thread through the tension discs so it can't. Of course you have to adjust/dial back your tension as a result. I also upped my needle size from a 14 to a 16. So I've pretty much solved that problem. However, I wonder if winding that thread around the tension disc area is now giving me inconsistent tension issues of a different sort. Anyone with any insight on this? I've done a ton of quilting with Glide and not had so many issues! I've got 4 Million stitches on my machine, you'd think I'd have it down pat by now :-(.

Now, onto the bobbin thread area. I get a lot of grief with backlash or over spin or whatever you want to call it, so to alleviate that I have to increase the tension the backlash spring puts on the bobbin, especially when the bobbin is full, with the extra weight of a full bobbin. of course as the bobbin empties and becomes lighter, I think the tension on the bobbin thread changes and that also might be affecting my tension, and so I'd need to readjust my backlash spring tension again, backing off the pressure to counteract that. Does this make sense to you experienced longarmers? I am so frustrated with playing with tension on my machine I could drink more! I rarely seem to get the perfect stitches that I see on quilts quilted by the pros and it's really disappointing. I've tried dialing back my expectations, but I need to figure this out. Any comments? Just as an additional note, I've seen comments by Midarm users that they only wind their bobbin to 2/3 or 3/4 to alleviate backlash or other issues, but what's the point of having a high capacity bobbin if you can't fill it?? (M Style in S16).

So to summarize, does batik cause any behavioral issues? Are my tension issues fixable? Are my expectations realistic to get that perfect stitch? Is there something I could do differently to remedy my tension woes?
Thanks for your sympathies, if nothing else 😉😀!
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Old 02-05-2016, 09:19 AM
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I usually use a 14 needle when I am piecing batiks usually a new needle.
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Old 02-05-2016, 09:44 AM
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Originally Posted by ManiacQuilter2 View Post
I usually use a 14 needle when I am piecing batiks usually a new needle.
Thanks. I use a Microtex Sharp 70/11 to piece on my Janome, without a problem, but my issue here is about quilting the quilt on my Sweet 16.
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Old 02-05-2016, 09:55 AM
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So sorry for your troubles!
I quilt on a Gammil Classic Plus and have never had issues with batics. I don't change anything.
Have you slowed way down, maybe you are moving too fast?
I was told when quilting with metalic thread to slow way down and then I would not have any issues, maybe it might work on your situation even though your thread isn't the same. Sounds like you're doing things right.
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Old 02-05-2016, 10:22 AM
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I have also had problems with batics they are a tighter weave like a bed sheet. You need to have looser tension and the fabric has to be looser in the frame. Well these things have worked for me
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Old 02-05-2016, 11:06 AM
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I quilt on a frame and have a different machine. I have not had tension issues with front and back batik so I can't help you there. But for backlash about the only thing that works for me 100% in eradicating it is using the magnaglide prewounds. You have to remove your anti backlash check spring to use them.
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Old 02-05-2016, 11:12 AM
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I am not an expert on this topic, by any means. From what I have gleaned on the internet, it is important to launder a batik backing before layering. Many quilters have reported more difficultieswhen quilting batiks (especially batik backings) because of the tighter weave associated with batik fabrics.

Suspending your quilt may help. Here is a link to a commercial suspension system, although you can also find directions for making one yourself with PVC: http://www.jennoop.com/quilt-suspenders.html

This thread on inconsistent tension and fixes may be helpful:
https://www.handiquilter.com/forums/...istent-tension

Are you winding your own bobbins? If so, you might want to switch to magni-glide pre-wounds.

You might want to consider replacing the check spring on your upper tension. They can wear out.

Instead of winding the thread twice around the tension discs, you might want to try adding additional thread guides on the machine -- such as taping short lengths of straw before and after the thread guide to try to keep it from jumping out of the discs, or possibly taping a closed safety pin (could be bent to stick out a bit from the machine) and threading through the circle portion of the safety pin.

What brand and type of needle are you using, in addition to size?

There are so many possibilities, I would start with the easiest things to try and work from there.

Edit: I honestly think there is something other than tension that is causing the problems. I would leave tension as-is while experimenting with some of the other things, and I would be careful to change only one thing at a time. The fact that your practice piece can be fine but you still have problems with the quilt itself indicates to me that the size and weight of the quilt may be the primary issue -- something a suspension system would resolve.

Switching to the magnaglide prewounds would be an easier place to start, though.

Last edited by Prism99; 02-05-2016 at 11:16 AM.
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Old 02-05-2016, 12:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Prism99 View Post
I am not an expert on this topic, by any means. From what I have gleaned on the internet, it is important to launder a batik backing before layering. Many quilters have reported more difficultieswhen quilting batiks (especially batik backings) because of the tighter weave associated with batik fabrics.

Suspending your quilt may help. Here is a link to a commercial suspension system, although you can also find directions for making one yourself with PVC: http://www.jennoop.com/quilt-suspenders.html

This thread on inconsistent tension and fixes may be helpful:
https://www.handiquilter.com/forums/...istent-tension

Are you winding your own bobbins? If so, you might want to switch to magni-glide pre-wounds.

You might want to consider replacing the check spring on your upper tension. They can wear out.

Instead of winding the thread twice around the tension discs, you might want to try adding additional thread guides on the machine -- such as taping short lengths of straw before and after the thread guide to try to keep it from jumping out of the discs, or possibly taping a closed safety pin (could be bent to stick out a bit from the machine) and threading through the circle portion of the safety pin.

What brand and type of needle are you using, in addition to size?

There are so many possibilities, I would start with the easiest things to try and work from there.

Edit: I honestly think there is something other than tension that is causing the problems. I would leave tension as-is while experimenting with some of the other things, and I would be careful to change only one thing at a time. The fact that your practice piece can be fine but you still have problems with the quilt itself indicates to me that the size and weight of the quilt may be the primary issue -- something a suspension system would resolve.

Switching to the magnaglide prewounds would be an easier place to start, though.

Thank you Prism for such an in depth response! I appreciate the time it took you!

-I prewash all of my fabric, so that shouldn't be an issue.
-I have a suspension system, which I have used somewhat on this quilt, but with my quilting path, have found it more of a hinderence this time than with others, so pool it at lot, so the quilt moves freely under the needle.
-I will definitely check out that link. I did watch a HQ Webinar that came out in November 2015 on tension and They were the ones that said to wind the thread around the tension discs one turn to deal with that problem. They specifically identified the problem and that it was Glide thread they were using.
- I do wind my own bobbins which are wound well and firm. I have tried magna glide prewounds and did find the tension issues disappeared on another quilt (not a batik one, just regular cotton). That was an awesome experience, but I resist switching to magna glide for all of my quilting for two reasons, a) you can't match all thread colours and b) the cost and I guess a third reason is that I'm a bit stubborn as this machine is supposed to handle all threads and use bobbins you wind yourself, so it should in my book.
-I've not thought about the tension spring but that is something worth checking. I have noticed, but forgotten about it, that it does seem to stick a bit at times. Thanks for thinking of that! No one has ever mentioned it, it proves the power of many minds!
-I never thought of adding an additional thread guide, but my husband suggested moving the one that's on it to change the angle, and I guess we could start there. Duh! Then try an extra guide if that doesn't do the trick.
-I am using Organ brand 134R needles and this is a size 16, brand new, which I've changed to trying to trouble shoot this from a 14. They came with the machine, and I've run their use by HQ. I know they sell Groz Beckert and I have a few of those, but not much of a size selection on hand, so stick with the Organ brand.

Thanks again! I shall try to report back any progress!
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Old 02-05-2016, 12:36 PM
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I will say that it is common for Handi Quilter instructors to tell you to loop the thread around the tension disks. I have a Avante (18" on a frame) and when I had problems with thinner thread, that's what they told me to do.
I also have the same issue with varying tension on the bobbin. Bobbin genies seem to help: http://www.allbrands.com/products/53...-backlash-wash
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Old 02-05-2016, 06:11 PM
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Yes, those little genies might help with your bobbin problem....
i quilt on an APQS....never any of those priblems and some clients don't prewash their fabrics.
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