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Thread: Tension and Free Motion Quilting

  1. #1

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    Hi, I'm new here....I've been into quilting for awhile, but have alway paid someone else to do the actual quilting part. I decided to dive in and try it on my own. I bought a quilting foot and have been practicing and it is SO fun and addicting! BUT, I'm so bugged 'cause I cannot get the tension right on my bobbin! I have a brother CE-5000PRW. I didn't have this problem with my normal sewing. Is there a secret to this with Free Motion quilting?



  2. #2
    Super Member Eddie's Avatar
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    I think it just takes some experimenting based on your individual machine. I tried it a little a while back and found that my machine's default tension setting is 4.0, but I had to set it up to 6.0 when doing free motion quilting. Not having that presser foot down really makes a lot of difference!

    P.S. Welcome!

  3. #3
    Super Member justwannaquilt's Avatar
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    Another thing to remember is if you are moving the fabric around to fast it will apear to be a tension problem. But in reality it could just be the movenment in the fabric being to fast. maybe slow down your movement, and speed up your needle and see if it "fixes" it. you could also try doing some straight lines. I know seems pointless when FMQ but this is how I learned the right speed becaue I know for myself I tend to go faster around curves and loops. try not making any "sudden" moves either it can pull the bobbin!

    above all practice, change the tension just a little at a time and sew some, see if it gets better. if not change it again!

    Good luck! and Welcome!

  4. #4
    Junior Member muffins's Avatar
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    Did you lower your feed teeth? Need to do that for stippling.

  5. #5

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    Wow....Thanks for all of your replys so far:-) I did lower my "feed teeth" But I was also lowering my presser, should I not do that?

    When you adjust your tension, are you ONLY adjusting the upper tension?


    Ok, really, I love it here...I can already tell I'm going to learn so much:-)

  6. #6
    Super Member Eddie's Avatar
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    When I was practicing a while back (haven't actually done FMQ on a real project), I lowered the feed dogs and kept the presser foot up. I increased the tension on the bobbin thread.

  7. #7
    Super Member Susy's Avatar
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    I lowered my feed dogs and pressure foot, I think it takes a lot of practice but I love doing it (though mine is pretty sloppy still), mainly lots of practice & "relax" from what I gather. And yes, you will love this forum, you will learn so much and get so "addicted"(like, who cares about a clean house, meals, company, yard work, life in general)

  8. #8
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    I believe you are always supposed to have the presser foot down when free motion quilting; otherwise, the upper tension discs are not engaged.

    I would experiment with the upper tension only first. Instead of loosening it, I would tighten it and see what happens.

    Most people lower the feed dogs for FMQ, but some find it easier to FMQ with the feed dogs up. Just make sure, if the feed dogs are up, that your stitch length is set to 0.

  9. #9
    Super Member justwannaquilt's Avatar
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    As long as you have a quilting foot, you should put it down before sewing, it not you are going to have a MESS believe me I have forgotten to put it down because it looked like it was in the down position boy was I wrong. I had a lot of picking to do that evening! lol

  10. #10

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    YAY! I am finally getting good tension! Thank you all for your help!

  11. #11
    Super Member Moonpi's Avatar
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    Some machines let you adjust both top and bottom tension. If you have the type with a separate bobbin case, there usually is a screw that lets you control the bottom tension. Be sure to mark the starting location before you change it, or you could be in for headaches trying to return it when you asre done.

  12. #12
    Super Member joeyoz's Avatar
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    I found that with my free motion quilting I have to loosen my tension just a little. I have a practice piece of muslin sanwiched with batting that I can practice on until I get the tension just right and just to practice. It's always a little scary at first.

    Joey
    Quote Originally Posted by cent
    Hi, I'm new here....I've been into quilting for awhile, but have alway paid someone else to do the actual quilting part. I decided to dive in and try it on my own. I bought a quilting foot and have been practicing and it is SO fun and addicting! BUT, I'm so bugged 'cause I cannot get the tension right on my bobbin! I have a brother CE-5000PRW. I didn't have this problem with my normal sewing. Is there a secret to this with Free Motion quilting?


  13. #13
    Super Member joeyoz's Avatar
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    DITTO DITTO DITTO!
    Quote Originally Posted by justwannaquilt
    Another thing to remember is if you are moving the fabric around to fast it will apear to be a tension problem. But in reality it could just be the movenment in the fabric being to fast. maybe slow down your movement, and speed up your needle and see if it "fixes" it. you could also try doing some straight lines. I know seems pointless when FMQ but this is how I learned the right speed becaue I know for myself I tend to go faster around curves and loops. try not making any "sudden" moves either it can pull the bobbin!

    above all practice, change the tension just a little at a time and sew some, see if it gets better. if not change it again!

    Good luck! and Welcome!

  14. #14
    Super Member joeyoz's Avatar
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    For free motion you should use a quilting foot or darning foot. That makes a big difference.

    Joey
    Quote Originally Posted by cent
    Wow....Thanks for all of your replys so far:-) I did lower my "feed teeth" But I was also lowering my presser, should I not do that?

    When you adjust your tension, are you ONLY adjusting the upper tension?


    Ok, really, I love it here...I can already tell I'm going to learn so much:-)

  15. #15
    Member RhondaKay's Avatar
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    I also have a brother and they make a "free-motion open toe quilting foot" it's great and I did change my tension but later found I went back to the set tension of the factory 4.2 because problem I was having was not the tension it was me. Like the earlier blog, you have to figure out the speed and the hand movement to be matched together or you will get that bad tension look.
    Brother SA187 part number
    Hope this helps.

  16. #16
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    I have a baby lock professional quilter and it stitches straight just great. I get a lot of quilting done with no problems. Then I start doing free motion and I check the back and it doing fine, sew some more and thing are still fine and then I really get into it like maybe a couple of hours and I forget to check the back and my tension goes all loose and makes a mess and when I discover it, usually when the bobbin runs out, I have a Hugh mess to tear out. I think the bobbin may be getting warm enough to warp. I hate this machine! But, back to your problem. Practice doodling on paper what you want to sew , loops, stippling what ever, it trains the brain to do the motions and makes it much easier.

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