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Thread: Total newbie needing advice

  1. #1
    Senior Member ruby2shoes's Avatar
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    Total newbie needing advice

    Okay, here goes...I'm a newbie...not sure if this is the right spot for this thread.....can you tell I'm blushing madly already???
    So I used to do hand quilting years ago and now I'm having fun trying to do machine quilting and free motion stitching. Only problem is that my machine is a 25 year old Janome. Now, using the walking foot and doing straight stitching on my practice quilts is just fine but oh dear, I am in a world of pain with my darning foot and trying to do free motion stuff. For some reason I just can't stop getting needle thread showing through on my backing no matter how I change my tension and presser foot pressure. I know a lot of my problem is "me" as a newbie but, is it possible that my little old machine is not helping me all that much? Am I solely to blame? What would be a good entry level machine for me to purchase to continue doing free motion stitching? So far I haven't minded mucking up my practice quilts but now I am keen to "do' a lovely big quilt and I want to "get it right". It's tricky getting myself to any classes as I work yucky hours so am basically "winging it" with the help of internet tutorials. Any advice would be great and please accept my apology if I have posted in the wrong spot or sound like a real newbie twit

  2. #2
    Super Member faykilgore's Avatar
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    Welcome to the quilting board! My first question would be, when did you last have the machine in for service? Many an old machine will work just fine, if it's properly tuned, cleaned and adjusted. I would start with that.
    Fay

    "You can't help that. We're all mad here." - The Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland.

  3. #3
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    You can successfully fmq with any machine as long is you have the right tools. You say you are changing the pressure on the darning foot. You shold not have to change this pressure if using the darning foot. Change the needle and hange the thread. Be sure the feed dogs are dropped or covered (even tho some say this is not necessary). Also be sure you are moving the fabric at an even pace. Since it is difficult for you to get to classes, you might consider a short private lesson to help you get tarted. The price may pay dividends in improving your skills.

    I also sugget since you say you have tried to adjust tension etc.....go back and set the machine for regular sewing and try and then start over in your adjustments It may be that something has become unblanced in your trying these things Also be sure you have the same weight thread on bottom and top and definitely a new neede that corresponds to your the size of your needle.
    Last edited by Holice; 12-08-2012 at 04:57 AM.

  4. #4
    amh
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    Frustrating, isn't it. I worked at tension for an entire day and it is finally correct. Sounds like your bobbin tensin might be a little too tight. However, my first suggestion to you is: Put in a new needle. Sometimes if they are a little dull, and that seems to make weird things happen. My machine performs best FMQ if I use jeans needles (size 16).

    You probably have some new needles on hand, but if you don't have a jeans needle, replace with a new needle -- the biggest you have, and see if that helps a little.

    amh
    Aileen
    Saskatoon SK Canada

  5. #5
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    if you decide to get a new machine for fmq. i recommend the 1600p by
    janome it does a fantastic job.

  6. #6
    Senior Member gail-r's Avatar
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    It is mostly practice, practice and more practice and not all on the machine. I know that sounds crazy but and lot of FMQ is muscle memory. So, if you practice drawing a design on paper or any thing that you can see (I say this because I used to have a micro-fiber rocking chair with big arms, perfect for drawing with my finger) and practice one design at a time along with practicing on your machine you will get good. Start by writing you name with your machine, first name, last name, then put a heart in the middle, then maybe add a star at the end or maybe a grapevine. It will come just stick with it. If you are having your thread show mostly on the curves you are probably moving your hands faster than the machine, just try to slow down a bit on the curves. Good luck, you can do it. Hugs.
    Gail in Utah

  7. #7
    Super Member DogHouseMom's Avatar
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    I agree with Hollice ... the first thing you need to do is set the tension back to normal and do some straight stitches with a regular presser foot on the machine - just using fabric (no batting) - using regular 50wt cotton thread and the appropriate size needle. If you are unable to get the tension back then your machine may need servicing.

    Oh ... did you change the top tension only or did you also attempt to change the bobbin tension?

    If you also changed the bobbin tension you will have to get that back to normal as well. Generally speaking, I never change my bobbin tension. Under normal circumstances, it's not necessary.

    Once you get the machine back to running a nice smooth and even straight stitch seam with 50wt thread you can start over again.
    May your stitches always be straight, your seams always lie flat, and your grain never be biased against you.

    Sue

  8. #8
    Super Member jemma's Avatar
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    soo much good advice --welcome from a fellow aussie [well in truth ex pom]

  9. #9
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    the trick to making sure your machine is in correct tension balance is to sew a line on the bias of fabric and then gently pull the fabric holding ends of stitching. If the tension is in correct balance then the stitching should not break. If one side breaks then that is the tension that is too tight and needs to be adjusted . I do not adjust my bobbing tension. but only the top. Also I have found that I do not need to adjust the tension when FMQ . I use invisible thread on the top and thread matching backing on bobbin UNLESS the bobbin thread is too dark for the top and few of the stitchs show thru. EG- black thread shows thru on gold top.

  10. #10
    Senior Member BeckyB's Avatar
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    I agree with the bobbin tension! That is usually my problem area!
    It is easier to be wise for others than for ourselves.

  11. #11
    Super Member DOTTYMO's Avatar
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    Welcome to the board. I would finish this quilt with the walking foot straight lines.
    Then make small sandwiches 20 inches roughly. Now this could be fabric you like
    And will join them into a quilt or keep as sample as.just practise. Remember all those handwriting
    Lessons at school , or learning to drive and co- ordinations the foot hand ye etc. we have all
    Spent ages practising. Some people just using paper and with a very upright pencil practise the movement
    Of the material under the needle. You may find it is not the machine but that you are just changing tensionunnecessaryil. Keep going it is fun but not on your precious quilt.
    Ps we have all had to undo
    Finished is better than a UFO

  12. #12
    Super Member soccertxi's Avatar
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    I agree with all this good advice. If you DO decide to get it serviced, ask the technician to show you how to adjust the bobbin tension. I thought I knew how, but when I had my long arm serviced, the tech showed me I was not turning the adjusting screw far enough. I still don't do too much at a time, but I am more confident now.
    Beth in AZ
    www.bzyqltr.blogspot.com
    Innova 22' with Lightning Stitch and Pantovision
    Keep away from people who belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you too can become great. Mark Twain

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    I can't help with your tension problem, but wanted to tell you that NO question is a dumb question & we all had to begin learning at some point. We didn't just wake up one day & know how to quilt. I am a newbie also, & I ask a lot of questions. That's how we learn & it is such a blessing to have access to the bountiful knowledge of all of these wonderful people on this QB. I couldn't do it with out their help. I would say you were a newbie twit IF you didn't use the resources that were available to you. So, no you are not a newbie twit, but, one smart lady. Hang it there!
    Vonda-Texas MiMi of 4 Beautiful Grandbabies

  14. #14
    Senior Member Tashana's Avatar
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    My DSM is very simple so no bobbin tension adjustment. I noticed also little dots of top thread showing on the back. I read a few posts on the board and found out that those little dots of thread generally disappear once the quilt is washed. Just to make it safer, I try to use the same color thread for both the bobbin and the top thread. Good luck!

  15. #15
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    I have a Singer Golden Touch & Sew. In order to do "darning", according to the manual, I have to use an embroidery hoop & have my cloth very tight. It would only make birds nests without this hoop. There is no mention of FMQ in the manual. That being said, I have not used this Singer machine for any real FMQ because I have a long arm.

    Have you read your manual? If it's missing, you might could go to the manufacturers website & look under the "Support" tab for a copy. Perhaps your machine is Picky & requires extra adjustment or apparatus to do the FMQ correctly.
    Sew a Little, Love a Lot & Live like you were dying!

  16. #16
    Power Poster mighty's Avatar
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    Allthe advice given is right on!!! Welcome to the board from Southern CA!!!!!

  17. #17
    Senior Member ruby2shoes's Avatar
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    Thanks so much everyone...have noted all suggestions and will dutifully try them out.

    I'm having a sewing afternoon today so will check my tensions the way you suggested bigsister and see how I go. Yes Fay, the machine was serviced not so long ago and has been sewing fine so I suspect it is my technique and my mucking around with the tension perhaps. Nice to know that the little Janome 360 can possibly manage it if only I can get things right! Hmmm but the lure of a new machine is tempting! Hadn't thought about a private lesson Holice...excellent idea, I'll certainly look into that in the New Year!

    Oddly, and I forgot to mention this in my previous post, when I try to do FMQ on a practice swatch the stitching comes out a lot better....could it be that it is just my inexperience in moving the weight/bulk of the quilt that is contributing to the crappy stitching on the back?

  18. #18
    Super Member Thumbelina's Avatar
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    I agree with Holice. You can FAQ with any machine. Welcome from NE Ohio, USA.

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    My suggestion is to take yourself off to Coles or Woolworths and get some large (giant or supersize) big anyway Chux wipe cloths (used as temporary dishcloths). Pin three together (like a sandwich) and put into practise what the other quilters have suggestsed with all their ideas, and free motion quilt them. Do this until the packet is empty and when finished overlock around the edges. They will be thick strong dishcloths that will last a year or two and you will have become "Miss Practise Makes Perfect".

  20. #20
    Super Member pumpkinpatchquilter's Avatar
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    Oh my, I hope you don't go out and buy a new machine just to free motion on!!! You don't need to!! It really is all practice. You can even free motion on a TREADLE and people on this board do!

    I agree with those who say it sounds like a tension issue. What thread are you using? I tend to use a REALLY high tension with cotton threads and a really low tension with polyester threads. Just do a LOT of playing. Seriously - get a test sandwich put together and start with your tension at 1. Go all the way up the dial slowly and look for improvement on the back AND front as you go. It's like playing "hot and cold". Once you find that magic spot you're good to go! You can pretty much count on being able to turn your tension to that number whenever you are using that particular combination of fabric/batt/thread/needle.

    OH YES, what needle are you using too? THIS is huge! People don't often realize what a BIG difference needles make. If you're using 40wt or 50wt cotton you want something like a 90/12 sharp - if you're using a 30wt or 40wt poly you're going to want something like a 70/10 sharp. The difference between the two is when you're using the wrong needle you'll get skippet stitches and thread breaks.

    Good luck!!!
    Valerie Smith - pumpkinpatchquilter
    Obsessed Quilter and APQS Long Arm Machine Quilter
    www.pumpkinpatchquilter.com

  21. #21
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    Welcome to the board! I'm sure you'll find your way around with all this good advice.
    Bobbin tension is a tricky thing. Many people will NEVER touch that little screw on the bobbin case. But it's not so hard to find out if there is a problem there.
    Take your bobbin case out with a bobbin of thread in it. hold it up by the thread. With a little jerk, the bobbin should lower a little and then stop. If it won't lower at all with a small jerk, then the screw is too tight. Loosen it just a little, not an eighth of a turn. If it lowers and won't stop, the screw if too loose. Tighten it just a little and try again. Sometimes the tiniest amount of turning that screw will make a big difference. Keep working until you can hang onto the thread, give a little jerk and the bobbin lowers a few inches and stops. Then it's perfect.
    Mavita - Square dancer and One Room School Teacher

  22. #22
    Super Member nhweaver's Avatar
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    Along with getting your machine "tuned", make sure the top and bottom threads (100% cotton) are from the same spool of thread. My 11 year old Janome works with any thread, but my husky 857Q only works with 100% cotton.
    Let us know how you progress.
    If life gives you lemons, make a margarita.

  23. #23
    Super Member PS Stitcher's Avatar
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    I just wanted to tell you that all this advice is right on and I can't add anymore to it. And NEVER be afraid to ask a question here! Everyone on this board is so helpful!
    Mom to 2 Future Stitchers....Wife to One Great Hubby!
    "Once A Phi Sigma Sigma, Always A Phi Sigma Sigma!"

  24. #24
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    You should check Leah Day's class on Craftsy - Free Motion Quilting A Sampler - or at least her website-FreeMotionProject.com. She is great at FM quilting and her class was very informative and fun. You can also see some of her designs on youtube - just search for Leah Day. good luck and your older machine can handle it just fine!!

  25. #25
    Super Member Greenheron's Avatar
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    Don't ever be embarrassed to ask a question, only to remain in ignorance.....welcome to QB, the place to find good ideas and great people.

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