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Tension different in different directions when FMQ?? Can we discuss?

Tension different in different directions when FMQ?? Can we discuss?

Old 02-27-2018, 07:34 AM
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Default Tension different in different directions when FMQ?? Can we discuss?

Ladies, so I finally quilted my latest project. What I noticed was when I quilted in one direction (toward me or away...I can't remember) the quilting was beautiful. When I quilted in the other direction, you could see the bobbin thread. I was FMQ. I was doing lines, swirls, a little of everything. I noticed the bobbin thread was definitely coming through through the majority of it, pretty much except when I was doing lines that (I think) were when I was pushing the quilt away from me. Is this just the way it's gonna be? An imperfect world?

Thoughts welcome. I'll try to upload pics but so far it hasn't been successful! Ty!
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Old 02-27-2018, 07:50 AM
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I am not a great authority on this subject and will follow this post to learn more. I can only tell you that I have struggled for years trying to perfect my FMQ. I believe, in my case, that when what you describe happens to me, it is because I am moving my fabric too fast. FMQ is the art of getting your foot pedal speed and your hand movement speed coordinated throughout the process. I just keep practicing. I am finally falling in love with FMQ. Another thing I've noticed, is that when I take closeup photos of my FMQing, it actually looks much better than I believe it is. Also, was told to try a larger needle, 90/14. This didn't help me. Good luck!
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Old 02-27-2018, 08:28 AM
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I usually never change my tension for that. when talking to my sewing machine repairman, he said I could buy a separate bobbin holder for FMQ. did that but don't' think I've used it yet.
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Old 02-27-2018, 08:55 AM
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Moving too fast could be the problem. You need to practice over and over and concentrate on consistent speed of movement in all directions. After a while it becomes automatic to you. Not sure how much tension or needle size could affect this but any changes you make, do them one at a time so see if any one of them helps the problem.
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Old 02-27-2018, 09:01 AM
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Moving too fast could be contributing, but it seems that even if I'm moving slow it would still happen. I'm really just baffled by the fact that when I was quilting away from me (or towards me?!!! Argh), it would be great, and the other direction...not great. Just so odd. These were uneventful, boring straight lines when FMQ *should* have been simple.
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Old 02-27-2018, 10:05 AM
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FMQ makes me crazy.
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Old 02-27-2018, 10:06 AM
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I have noticed the same thing, and have done FMQ on several different machines. And different machines would have different "least favorite" directions. I had the least problem with a Singer 15 which has the bobbin mounted horizontally, facing the side. Had the worst problems with a slant needle machine going away and to the left, it's bobbin faced the front. It worked fine in every other direction, so I would make sure to turn fabric instead of going that way. I only did one small quilt on that machine and moved to another.

If you think about the way the hook meets the needle to grab the thread, and how fabric may be putting pressure on a different side of the needle than where the slot is, you can have some rubbing that could affect tension - as it's adding tension to the thread due to friction.

I have not tired to FMQ with my Juki, but it's got the same bobbin setup as the Singer 15. But it was made specifically to do FMQ, so I expect it would do fine.

One would think that an embroidery machine would be made to sew good stitches in every direction, so they would also be good with FMQ. I've also not tried to FMQ on my embroidery machine.

Machines that were only made to sew forward and backwards (not considering swing needle) may not have the ability to sew a consistant stitch in every direction.
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Old 02-27-2018, 11:48 AM
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Because you are moving side to side, the needle flexes side to side and may affect your timing just enough to throw off your stitches. A stiffer needle, perhaps larger or a different type, might help.
Don’t know if this would work or is possible on your machine but on the sweet sixteen they suggest turning the eye of the needle just slightly towards the five-thirty position instead of the six o’clock position if you are having thread shredding which is also a timing issue. Maybe something similar would help you.
Next time you take it in for servicing ask them to check the timing and set it correctly if it is off even a little. That may help.
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Old 02-27-2018, 12:56 PM
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Are you using an open toe foot? Which machine do you have?
I know for mine it says not to move the layers towards me if
I'm using the open toe.
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Old 02-27-2018, 01:03 PM
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If you are FMQ on a domestic machine, not a dedicated FMQ like the sit down long arms, then there are several things that could cause this problem.: 1. moving your hands too fast in relation to the machine speed. 2. top tension too tight. 3. location of the bobbin can make some machines finicky when moving the quilt sandwich in one particular direction.

Based on what you've described, I suspect it is a combination of 1 and 2. Try loosening your top tension slightly to see if you get better results. You may have to loosen your top tension more than a little depending on thread--there have been times when I've had my top tension all the way down to between 1 and 2 while FMQ because that's what the combination of thread, quilt sandwich etc. needed in order to get good consistent stitch formation. You probably won't need to do that at this stage if you are using the same thread in the top and bobbin and if the thread is a good quality 40-50 wt cotton or poly like Aurifil, or Isachord. C and C Dual duty is also a good one to start with as it is fairly strong and medium wt. Use a 90/14 or 100/16 Topstitch needle with all of those when FMQ.

Also be super aware that when changing direction or making circles, spirals, loops, etc. the tendency is to speed your hands up as you go around the curve, that will cause eye lashing. You want to make sure you don't speed your hands up as you go around curves or change direction. And, make sure you are using a sturdy needle. I like to use a topstitch needle and even if I'm quilting with very fine thread I usually use either a 90/14 or even 100/16.


Last edited by rryder; 02-27-2018 at 01:11 PM.
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