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Thread: So frustrated! Why wont my machine do freemotion correctly

  1. #1
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    I am new to quilting. I finished my quilt top and it turned out great. I wanted to do some freemotion stippling on the outer perimeter and watched video after video and even read a few books. I started practicing. EVERY time the same thing. The top thread ends up with a huge nest on the underside of the quilt. Even at best I have a large loose loop of the top thread on the bottom. I have adjusted the tension in small amounts from +3 to -3 and NOTHING has helped. I have left the feed dogs up (have a supreme slider in place so it wont move the fabric) because one instructor said this might help and it made no difference. I have a singer 7426. Does anyone else this model or a singer that can help me shed some light on a solution here. There is no way to adjust anything on here but thread tension, stitch length and needle placement. I have tried matching threads in top and bottom, using poly thread on top and bottom. I just have no idea what I am doing so wrong. PLEASE HELP ME! Till now my experience with quilting has been such a positive one. But I am so stuck. There is a DVD that helps but I am not going to buy one that will simply tell me the same things I have already been told in the utube instructions and then have the added frustration of having paid money I dont have and STILL be stuck.

  2. #2
    Super Member Theresa's Avatar
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    There was another person on the Board recently having the same difficulties with the "nest". Do a SEARCH from the topics at the top of the page and you'll find lots of helpful information. (Am sooo sorry. This has got to be very frustrating.)

  3. #3
    Super Member thepolyparrot's Avatar
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    Are you sure you're putting the presser foot down? (I miss this occasionally and this is the symptom I get)

  4. #4
    Super Member Honchey's Avatar
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    Your top thread could be jumping off the take up lever...the bobbin thread might not be engaged in the bobbin casing.

  5. #5
    Junior Member Rymer's Avatar
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    this was the problem I was having when mine made the "nest" on the underside. make sure it's down! hope it is as easy as this! good luck

    quote=thepolyparrot]Are you sure you're putting the presser foot down? (I miss this occasionally and this is the symptom I get)[/quote]

  6. #6
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    Yes, I could see me missing it once, maybe twice but I have so many practice sandwiches that have the same mess on them and I cant see me doing it every time.

    I wish so much that someone had my model and could give me some direction on tension. It is working fine doing all other sewing and works fine with the walking foot. But the minute I go to freemotion it is the same story over and over.

  7. #7
    Senior Member 1000projects's Avatar
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    first, make up a practice sandwich. That way you won't be damaging your nice quilt.

    next, do a total re-thread - bobbin, top thread, AND replace needle. Check for lint in the bobbin case.

    finally, turn off the machine, count to ten (or have a cup of coffee) an turn it back on.

    check your machine one last time with a "regular" stitch.

    good luck!

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Honchey
    Your top thread could be jumping off the take up lever...the bobbin thread might not be engaged in the bobbin casing.
    sorry, new to sewing so could you please elaborate what you mean.

    Ironically, I took to sewing fast and LOVE it! I am disabled with Lupus so finding this has been a dream come true..very theraputic. The sewing part I did great. I have my first quilt finished (had to go with SID to finish it. It was a dresden plate and I love it. But would have preferred to do freemotion filler work on it.

    Will a singer do FM?

  9. #9
    Super Member thepolyparrot's Avatar
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    Congratulations on getting your quilt made, by the way! :)

    Does your machine have a drop in bobbin (lies horizontally in the case) or a vertical bobbin? (stands up on end in the bobbin case)

    Do you have a practice sandwich for testing your stitching? I just use two pieces of muslin with a piece of batt in between. Lets me test the tensions, designs, etc, without committing them to the quilt.

    Practice on your sandwich and get all the quirks ironed out before taking it to the quilt. :)

    Thread your machine with the presser foot UP, so that the thread can get all the way in between the tension disks, but don't forget to lower the presser foot before you actually start sewing. The way this foot is made, it can look like it's lowered when it really isn't. There isn't such an obvious reminder there to put it down.

    Big loops and nests on the underside almost always indicate that there is not enough tension on the needle thread.

    This can be from not lowering the presser foot, from not threading the machine with the presser foot up, from a piece of debris between the disks that is preventing their clamping onto the thread, etc. Something is preventing there being enough tension on the needle thread. :)

  10. #10
    Moderator QuiltnNan's Avatar
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    if the nesting is sporatic, it's possible that your thread is not feeding smoothly. perhaps a thread net over the spool would help.

  11. #11

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    My experience has been that it helps to bring the bobbin thread up through the quilt by tuning the wheel by hand one rotation, hang on to both threads with your left hand, drop your pressure foot and then start sewing. But my first thought was maybe it is the brand of thread, or dull needle. My Janome embroidery machine is particularly fussy about that.

  12. #12
    Super Member Scissor Queen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nanasrcool
    Yes, I could see me missing it once, maybe twice but I have so many practice sandwiches that have the same mess on them and I cant see me doing it every time.

    I wish so much that someone had my model and could give me some direction on tension. It is working fine doing all other sewing and works fine with the walking foot. But the minute I go to freemotion it is the same story over and over.
    If the tension is correct for regular sewing, there's nothing wrong with the tension.

    The problem is something else. Make sure you are bringing the bobbin thread to the top when you start and hold your thread ends when you start. Make sure you put the presser foot down.

    Then the key is fast machine, slow hands. The needle needs to go pretty fast compared to how fast you move the quilt.

    Keep practicing. You wouldn't expect to pick up a paint brush and be Rembrandt in a week!!!

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by thepolyparrot
    Are you sure you're putting the presser foot down? (I miss this occasionally and this is the symptom I get)
    Yep, number on problem with FMQ, we forget that the tension disks need tension and the pressure foot needs to be down....
    One way to check just before you put pedal to the metal pull on the top thread.... if it zings through your needle without any tension your pressure foot is still up. If it takes a little more effort to pull the thread through it is down. To test try it when you have your 'piecing' foot on...

  14. #14
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    Are you using a FMQ foot or darning foot? Does your bobbin have a tiny screw on it that can be adjusted? I wish I had some experience with your machine so I could be more helpful. Sorry this is taking the joy out of your nice quilt project.

  15. #15
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    check to see if there is a Yahoo group for your machine brand and ask the questions there. Those on that site will be most familiar with your situation.

  16. #16
    Super Member Scissor Queen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tartan
    Are you using a FMQ foot or darning foot? Does your bobbin have a tiny screw on it that can be adjusted? I wish I had some experience with your machine so I could be more helpful. Sorry this is taking the joy out of your nice quilt project.
    Leave the bobbin tension alone. Tension problems are almost never the bobbin.

  17. #17
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    OMG you guys are absolutely the BEST!!!! I have been struggling with this for days thinking me doomed to either SID quilting or finding another machine!!! It was me not lowering the presser foot. I also switched to using the upright thread spool holder from the horizontal to see if that helped in feeding the top thread more smoothly.

    NO MORE NESTS!!

  18. #18
    Super Member QuiltnCowgirl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nanasrcool
    OMG you guys are absolutely the BEST!!!! I have been struggling with this for days thinking me doomed to either SID quilting or finding another machine!!! It was me not lowering the presser foot. I also switched to using the upright thread spool holder from the horizontal to see if that helped in feeding the top thread more smoothly.

    NO MORE NESTS!!


    :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup: Happy FMQing!!!!!

  19. #19
    Senior Member AnnieF's Avatar
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    Lots of wonderful suggestions.....mine is pretty basic to Singer....and it's from experience.....make sure your needle is in right.....some Singers make you put the needle with the flat side to the side and some with the flat side to the back. If it's in wrong, it won't engage the bobbin correctly and the nest will be all you get.

  20. #20
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    make sure you are not moving your hands too fast. work to find a good balance between machine speed and hand motion that is smooth and not jerky.
    Go slow if you need to to achieve this balance. Many try to go too fast with either machine or hand - mostly hand I have found and then get longer stitches. Slow down to medium. I teach a lot of FMQ and I know of what I speak.

  21. #21
    Super Member thepolyparrot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nanasrcool
    NO MORE NESTS!!
    Yayyyyyyyyy - that's terrific! Now you're in for a lot of fun! :)

    This is not strictly a newbie mistake, by the way - I've been free-motion quilting for several years and the quilt before last, every time I turned around, I was forgetting to put the presser foot down! :?

    Fortunately, my main quilting machine snarls up badly enough that I can't continue to sew for very long before the thread binds and stops the machine. I wish it would do this when my tension isn't tight enough, too. :)

  22. #22
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    Make sure that you have the correct bobbin in the machine. I think that your machine takes 15J which is the same as my "singer confidence" machine. Size 15 looks the same size but is a little bit smaller and so it will jump out of the bobbin holder causing it not to feed correctly. Also make sure that the bobbin is threaded correctly in the holder. I just had this problem and the bobbin thread had come unthreaded in the holder. All this will make a difference in reqular sewing but seems to make a bigger difference whn FMQ. Good Luck!!!!!!!

  23. #23
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    OMG the huge difference!!! I cant believe all this time it was me not putting the presser foot down! :shock: I expected that it will take practice (and expect lots of it) to get my stitches smooth and flowing but not the mess I was getting and I had changed threads, bobbins, tension over and over and nothing I did helped. I had all but given up on it and figured this machine just wouldnt do it. I had purchased all the required things (on a VERY tight budget at that) because I want so badly to do this and do it well. All I got was frustration!

    You see, I have lupus and this matters so much to me because I am trying to make my family all quilts. I want them all to have something personal made by me. I never know how this will all play out. I have progressed pretty rapidly and dont want to end up at a point where I want to do this and cant. So I started this endeavor and have really given it my all.

    My first quilt shows it to be a first project but not too badly. I can hang it on my wall without feeling ashamed and my only remaining task is binding. That will be done today.

    I am attaching a picture of it. Luckily I started practicing before attempting to do any FMQ on my project! I can only post the one I uploaded a couple of days ago. I have since completed the quilting on the right side to match the left, trimmed it and have it ready for binding.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  24. #24
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    You may be moving the fabric too quickly with your hands. If I don't go at what seems like an absurdly slow pace that is what happens to me.

  25. #25
    Super Member orangeroom's Avatar
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    I hope you solve your issues with FMQ. Good luck.

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