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Thread: So very frustrated with free motion quilting

  1. #1
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    So very frustrated with free motion quilting

    I started free motion quilting on my old Kenmore & just loved it. Did a couple of quilts with feathers & felt like I did a decent job. I just knew that if I had a little more throat space and needle down I'd be a whiz. So, I got a Janome 6600 about a year & half ago and love the space, the needle down, etc., but my free motion stitches just aren't that great and I feel like I've tried everything. On my current frustrating project I'm using Superior Bottom Line in both the needle and bobbin. I have the blue dot bobbin case and I'm using a Superior Topstitch 90/14 needle. I can see little dots of bobbin thread on top and get some eyelashing on the back around the curves. And if I'm not seeing bobbin thread on top I'm seeing needle thread on the bottom. No such thing as balanced stitches. It hardly seems to matter where I set the top tension or whether the feed dogs are up or down. And I know to slow down going around those curves. Actually, what has started working best is to leave the machine on Mode 1 with a 3.5 stitch length and drop the feed dogs. The stitches look better that way, but still not perfect. I just feel like I was doing better work when I started out on the Kenmore using Coats & Clark & whatever needle I'd had in my machine for the past six months. All my attempts to improve seem to have set me back....skill wise as well as money!

    Thanks for listening!
    http://www.thingsthatarenotperfect.blogspot.com/

  2. #2
    Super Member ArchaicArcane's Avatar
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    I don't know anything about the new fangled machines

    One tip I heard recently is if you don't like the throat space for FMQ on the machine you have, turn it 90 degrees.

    Face the nose of the machine. Voila - "infinite" throat space. Obviously this doesn't work for machines built into tables unless you want to lay like you're Superman, but maybe it gives you some ideas? This is really just like having it on a frame, with no frame.

    Maybe since you did well with the Kennie but wanted more space you could use the Janome for everything else, and keep going with the Kennie for FMQ.

  3. #3
    Super Member Ripped on Scotch's Avatar
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    I have the same issue with my newer machine... I finally gave up playing with the tension and pull out my old machine to do the free motion on it.

  4. #4
    Power Poster ManiacQuilter2's Avatar
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    OK, I have been quilting on a Bernina for over a decade. I always try to have matching thread in the bobbin because you can not move the fabric precisely as the sewing machine does. I know that newer Bernina do have an automatic stitch regulator which would probably resolve your problem. Also check if the bottom surface is as smooth as your other machine. Just for your information, I used Mettler silk wrapped thread when I quilted. Hang in there. Use a sandwich using muslin on top to write the settings down next to the stitching. Hopefully with other members posting suggestions, we can get you back up and quilting.......
    A Good Friend, like an old quilt, is both a Treasure and a Comfort

  5. #5
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    Sorry to hear of your frustration. I sure would not use Bottom line in the top and bottom with a 14 needle. That thread on top is way to fine for that large of a needle. Give it a try with nothing finer than wt. I also would increase the top tension.

    Saw your blog---your quilts are beautiful; can tell that you are no amateur. I would never use bottom line on the top; however, I really like thick threads on top like 28 wt. Keep on trying. Good luck!

  6. #6
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    Smile Nix the bottom line on top

    Sorry to hear of your frustration. I sure would not use Bottom line in the top and bottom with a 14 needle. That thread on top is way to fine for that large of a needle. Give it a try with nothing finer than wt. I also would increase the top tension.

    Saw your blog---your quilts are beautiful; can tell that you are no amateur. I would never use bottom line on the top; however, I really like thick threads on top like 28 wt. Keep on trying. Good luck!

  7. #7
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    First, I apologize for pitching a hissy fit here on the board. Re-reading my initial post sounds like a two year old tantrum!

    Thanks for your replies. Tammi, I think I will try a little fmq on this project my old machine for a comparison. It's just a pain to switch everything out and the Kenmore isn't set up for fmq with the necessary tables & all to support the quilt.

    Ripped, isn't that a shame to have to go back to the old machine? I'm going to give this my best shot, but if I just can't get it right on the new machine, I think I'll trade for something with fewer bells & whistles; maybe just a straight stitch like a Juki.

    Thanks for the encouragement, Maniac Quilter. If I ever get this project off the machine I think I'll go back to cotton thread for quilting, although I hear great things about Isacord. May have to try that one. I've loved the Bottom Line thread in the bobbin for piecing.
    http://www.thingsthatarenotperfect.blogspot.com/

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    SmickChick, thanks for the sweet comment. I wondered about the needle too but I'd gotten that advice somewhere, or maybe I misunderstood it, which is likely. I was using Bottom Line in the needle in order to match my bobbin because I thought that way I might be able to use a different color thread on top & bottom as long as they were the same brand & weight. Anyway, I'll change out my needle and give it another go.
    http://www.thingsthatarenotperfect.blogspot.com/

  9. #9
    Super Member jillnjo's Avatar
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    You have a great machine to FMQ! I have the 7700 Janome, but have quilted with ladies who use the 6600 and they do beautiful work. So, I do think the issue is with threads and needles. Machines can be cranky about that! I have found that it is extra nice to find a thread you can use in the top and bobbin, so there are no issues with little peeks of the thread showing on the wrong side. I love 50wt thread for fine stitches, but heavier wt. is better if you like to really see the thread work and it is more durable for wash and wear quilts. Don't give up, you have a machine that really purrs!
    jillnjo

  10. #10
    Super Member jillnjo's Avatar
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    Just saw your last post and I LOVE Isacord thread, it has a beautiful sheen to it. I have only used the 50 wt. in that brand.
    jillnjo

  11. #11
    Power Poster Jingle's Avatar
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    I FMQ on a Juki TL98QE, I have it in a table. FMQ on it almost all the time. Beautiful stitch and as good as I am. If the Kenmore does a better job, that is what I would use.
    Another Phyllis
    This life is the only one you get - enjoy it before you lose it.

  12. #12
    Super Member ArchaicArcane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wishfulthinking View Post
    First, I apologize for pitching a hissy fit here on the board. Re-reading my initial post sounds like a two year old tantrum!
    No worries! That doesn't sound like a tantrum. It's frustrating when your equipment doesn't work the way you want it to / it should.

    Thanks for your replies. Tammi, I think I will try a little fmq on this project my old machine for a comparison. It's just a pain to switch everything out and the Kenmore isn't set up for fmq with the necessary tables & all to support the quilt.
    Is the Janome recessed into its own table, or do you have it on a table and things built up around it? Trying to think of a way to make the Kenmore more convenient.

  13. #13
    Super Member carolaug's Avatar
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    I found thread makes the difference. I do find that I have the best luck with Gutterman when FMQ'ing. I think if I was better about knowing more about tension I could use other threads with same results. I also found the gene white washer works really well.

  14. #14
    Senior Member SlightlyOffQuilter's Avatar
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    machines can be very picky about what thread / needle combos they like and do not like. We have 4 different machines in our house ( I am not the only one that uses them LOL ) and each and every one of them have different preferences for needles and thread. Try a bunch of different thread / needle combos to see what works for yours ! It does not have to be expensive to find out, you only need a small spool of each brand to test with on some small scrap sandwiches until you find what works best, it saves on buying a large cone of thread only to find out your machine hates it. Also, I know this goes against most of what has been heard, my Brother PQ-1500s has NO problems with different threads from top to bobbin. On alot of projects I use surger thread in the bobbin and Essential Threads from Connecting Threads on top. Just play around with your machine and try the unheard of !

  15. #15
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    Switched to an 80/12 needle and at first though it was a little improved, but no, not really. So I moved my thread and bobbin over to the Kenmore. My top stitches are beautiful. Took a little jiggering with the top tension. I went from 4 down to 1 1/2 on that and no more bottom thread dots on top. Absolutely no eye lashing on the bottom regardless of the top tension. I may try to finish this quilt on the Kenmore. I'll have to move things around and get some tables situated to support the weight of the quilt but that can be done. I'm just so tired of fighting with the Janome and so disappointed. Guess I thought it would be a dream come true. More like a nightmare! May call the dealer in the morning & talk to them; maybe they can help me sort things out with the Janome.
    http://www.thingsthatarenotperfect.blogspot.com/

  16. #16
    Super Member ArchaicArcane's Avatar
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    https://www.superiorthreads.com/medi...guide-home.pdf
    This is the best reference for Superior threads especially, but even a great starting point for most thread / needle / tension combinations.

    I'm not familiar with the Janome, which way is the bobbin oriented? Horizontally or Vertically? Horizontal (according to SM shop I talked with) requires higher tension for FMQ than the Vertical, but it shouldn't be astronomically higher... it should be possible to balance the tensions. 98.9% of my FMQ to date has been on vertical bobbins

  17. #17
    Super Member EasyPeezy's Avatar
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    If it was me I would take my machine to the dealer and let them adjust it.
    Then you will know what tension, needle, thread combination works best
    on your machine. Sewing machines can be so temperamental sometimes.
    Hope you can solve this problem soon. I feel your pain.

  18. #18
    Super Member tuckyquilter's Avatar
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    I have the very same "top thread showing on bottom" with my Janome. Mine is a very inexpensive Janome 415 model that I bought to carry around. The tension on the stitches has been an issue forever. had the darn thing in the dealer numerous times. Just got it back, did about 50 inches x12 inches free motion on a quilt and the bottom thread was already getting loose. I have changed threads, slowed down, used different stitch lengths, and no better results. I'LL NEVER BUY ANOTHER JANOME, nor will I ever recommend one either. My old 1967 Singer is a consistent machine. BUT the feed dogs don't drop. I'm working on figuring out a way to do my FMQ on that machine. The tension is good even if I don't get it serviced but every 10 yrs.. literally.... Keep taking your machine in with examples and see if they can fix it. OR replace the machine as a lemon....

  19. #19
    Super Member ArchaicArcane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tuckyquilter View Post
    My old 1967 Singer is a consistent machine. BUT the feed dogs don't drop. I'm working on figuring out a way to do my FMQ on that machine. ....
    Your dogs don't need to drop. Set the stitch length to 0 and quilt. What model? Leah Day doesn't drop her dogs.

    What happens on the Janomes if you tighten the bobbin tension a smidge? Like 1/16th of a turn to maybe an 1/8th?

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by ArchaicArcane View Post
    Your dogs don't need to drop. Set the stitch length to 0 and quilt. What model? Leah Day doesn't drop her dogs.

    What happens on the Janomes if you tighten the bobbin tension a smidge? Like 1/16th of a turn to maybe an 1/8th?
    I haven't touched the bobbin tension. The "blue dot" bobbin case is a separate case allegedly designed just for fmq. Supposedly you wouldn't have to adjust it. The bobbin is a horizontal drop-in bobbin. On the Kenmore it's vertical & think I've read somewhere that's supposed to be better for fmq.

    Tuckyquilter, my Kenmore came with a little plastic darning plate to cover the feed dogs. I think I've read that you can cover them with a card or something too.
    http://www.thingsthatarenotperfect.blogspot.com/

  21. #21
    Super Member ArchaicArcane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wishfulthinking View Post
    I haven't touched the bobbin tension. The "blue dot" bobbin case is a separate case allegedly designed just for fmq. Supposedly you wouldn't have to adjust it. The bobbin is a horizontal drop-in bobbin. On the Kenmore it's vertical & think I've read somewhere that's supposed to be better for fmq
    See, I don't agree with that. That sounds like marketing to me. You can fmq with any wt of thread you want, how would the bobbin thread tension be right with a 60 wt or a 30wt equally? Your bottom line thread is a fairly light weight thread. It may be that the case is letting it slip through too easily. Just like we need to adjust top tension for different weight threads, so does the bottom need to be.

    Vertical is a little friendlier, but horizontal isn't impossible.

  22. #22
    Senior Member csharp's Avatar
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    I actually have the blue dot bobbin with my Janome 6600, and I found it was not adjusted tight enough to get good stitches. I adjusted the tension screw tighter and kept playing with it until I was satisfied. I practiced on a sandwich of like material as the quilt before I put my quilt on and the results were better that way. I have also turned my machine to face me and fmq'd like on a long arm. This works when you have such a big quilt to manage. Smaller projects I don't do this but I do make sure I use the super slider mat to make the quilt surface slippery and have even used spray wax to polish the machine bed. Sprayed on a paper towel and polished the surface before beginning. Good Luck.
    with a passion for quilting and vintage machines..Singers: 99, 4 featherweights, Redeye 66, Lotus 66, Phoenix 27, 15-91, 301A -- Janome 6600P and Janome embroidery 350 machine.
    Colleen S.

  23. #23
    Super Member ArchaicArcane's Avatar
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    That's what I was looking for on my phone but couldn't find it:
    http://www.superiorthreads.com/educa...bobbin-tension

  24. #24
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    Tammi & Colleen, thank you both so much for this info! I'm going to try the bobbin drop test and try adjusting the blue dot bobbin. Never occurred to me that I'd need to adjust it. Won't it be great if that works?
    http://www.thingsthatarenotperfect.blogspot.com/

  25. #25
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    I used to have trouble with spiderwebbing on the back, a real mess. After a visit to the local LYS, where they had the same trouble after a try on their high end model even after playing with tension and thread changes. Slowing down on curves and putting a teflon washer called Magic Bobbin Washers in the bobbin, most of the problems have been resolved. I keep the washers in the bobbin case all the time now.

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