Welcome to the Quilting Board!

Already a member? Login above
loginabove
OR
To post questions, help other quilters and reduce advertising (like the one on your left), join our quilting community. It's free!

Results 1 to 25 of 25

Thread: Decorative Thread and a 503a Tension Problems

  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Posts
    123

    Decorative Thread and a 503a Tension Problems

    Last weekend I went round and round trying to be able to machine quilt with variegated thread on my 503a. The upper thread kept breaking down near the free motion foot. I had the tension at 0 and it would still break. It seemed like the tension was ok when pulling the thread through the tension disks, but somehow by the time it got through the needle it was too tight.

    The thread label says "YLI Machine Quilting 100% long staple Egyptian cotton" and I was trying to quilt a sandwich that was batiks top and bottom and Dream Cotton inbetween. I had the same thread in the bobbin. I'm not good at FMQ, although I've done some mostly I've used a walking foot.

    I did all the usual things - new needle, cleaned every trace of lint, rethreaded everything. I tried both the FMQ foot and a walking foot. I loosened the bobbin tension a little bit. The thread continued to break. Eventually I took it to a Sew & Vac (I was at a sewing retreat) and the owner diagnosed the problem as the thread being too thick. She noticed that the breaks were occuring at the curves in the FMQ, but when I went back to the walking foot it still broke. So I bought new polyester thread and the problem resolved. The center of the quilt is done with the poly thread, I've got the binding finished, but the borders still need something.

    My problem is I'm still longing to use this beautiful expensive thread (Mediterranean: blues to greens to purples) to finish quilting the borders. Does anyone have ideas on what might help me succeed with it?

  2. #2
    Super Member Candace's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Outer Space
    Posts
    9,839
    The 400 and 500 series Singers do not FMQ well. They are wonderful piecing machines and general quilting and sewing, but FMQing is not a good match for these machines. If you have a different machine, I'd recommend you use it for FMQing. I have close to 30 machines and the 400/500's are my least favorite for free motion. The thickness of the thread has nothing to do with your issues as long as you're using a 12 or 14 needle... The horizontal bobbin and raised feed dog plate do not help with stitch quality.

    Varigated thread can sometimes break in over dyed areas. I've never had any problems with YLI, though you may have also received a bad or old spool.
    Last edited by Candace; 02-24-2013 at 08:16 PM.

  3. #3
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Posts
    123
    ok, that's interesting and good to know. I wonder if that's why I've never had good success at FMQ - it's been the only sewing machine i've used until now.

    I do have *blush* a couple of other machines. fortunately, i know none of you will give me a bad time for having "options" in machines. I have a 15-91 and a 66 that are both out getting the electrical redone (cracked wires). I got them both in the fall and thought they needed a pro to make sure they were safe. I also have a FW, but that might be a little tough to fit this under the harp. Other than that, i have a 66 treadle, but i suck at the treadle - i keep breaking the thread on it.

    perhaps my best choice would be to put on my patience pants and wait for the 15-91 and 66 to come back and try those. so maybe it's not just my lack of talent that has kept me from being very good at the FMQ.

  4. #4
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Victorian Sweatshop
    Posts
    15,392
    Blog Entries
    2
    The 15-91 might be a winner for FM - I love my clones for FM - some of course are better than others.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

  5. #5
    Super Member lovelyl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    SW Ohio
    Posts
    2,103
    Blog Entries
    6
    I LOVE my 15-91 for FMQing! In fact, I purchased it specifically for FMQing after reading many positive comments about it here on the board.
    Linda
    There may be times we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest. - Elie Wiesel

  6. #6
    Super Member craftiladi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Nv.
    Posts
    2,226
    Blog Entries
    1
    Oh another good to know fact, i have both 401 & 403, love them both but i have never tried to FM..guess I won't. Also thought i read somewhere if using metallic or a dyed thread to not use it on the bobbin , am I mistaken?
    Dee Lowe
    Las Vegas Nv.

  7. #7
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Victorian Sweatshop
    Posts
    15,392
    Blog Entries
    2
    Thread breaking can be from the needle in wrong, burrs on the throat plate, tension too tight, dried up oil on a thread guide or in the tension, thread wrapped around the spool holder or thread not through the thread guides correctly. Some times with the old machines it is simplest just to rebuild the tension once in a while. I prefer my 15 clone for FM but it is possible it is the foot I like. I've tried it with different feet and am happy with a certain one. Some times you just need the magic of the right machine and the right foot. Try normal thread in the bobbin and fancy in the top do your tension adjusting before you start FM.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

  8. #8
    Super Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Anchorage, AK
    Posts
    1,294
    you didn't say what type of needle you're using...have you tried the topstitch? larger eye and scarf - used by many professionals as their only needle also the only needle Superior threads sells.
    Kate

  9. #9
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Posts
    123
    i had a new Schmetz topstitch needle in the machine, and i replaced it with another new one during the process of trying to figure out what was wrong. I don't usually use a topstitch needle and I actually wondered if it was part of the problem, but had read to use a topstitch one for FMQ, so left it.

    I was thinking more about this - the 503a just not being good for FMQ shouldn't explain all the issue. Even when I had the walking foot on it was breaking. I may try it with regular thread in the bobbin - except that it was always the top thread that broke. the sewing machine shop person did clean between the tension disks with alchohol and a bit of fabric, just in case there was dirt in there.

  10. #10
    Super Member Candace's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Outer Space
    Posts
    9,839
    Quote Originally Posted by oregongirl View Post
    i had a new Schmetz topstitch needle in the machine, and i replaced it with another new one during the process of trying to figure out what was wrong. I don't usually use a topstitch needle and I actually wondered if it was part of the problem, but had read to use a topstitch one for FMQ, so left it.

    I was thinking more about this - the 503a just not being good for FMQ shouldn't explain all the issue. Even when I had the walking foot on it was breaking. I may try it with regular thread in the bobbin - except that it was always the top thread that broke. the sewing machine shop person did clean between the tension disks with alchohol and a bit of fabric, just in case there was dirt in there.
    If you had a slant shank walking foot on and were still getting thread breakage, then there's something amiss. Because although mine is a terrible FMQ'er, it's a wonderful straight line quilter and piecer. I don't know if you've also switched out your bobbin, but some are just plain bad. Especially the "new" repro ones coming in from China. Your machine also may need some adjustment in the bobbin area. And honestly, if you can't get it to quilt with a walking foot, I'd take it to a different repair person. The "Too Thick of thread" comment over regular, 50 wt. cotton thread is just wrong.

    As those above said, the 15 will be your best bet for FMQing and I bet you see quite an improvement:>

  11. #11
    Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Eureka, California
    Posts
    1
    Have you tried a top-stitching needle? I use the variegated (both trilobal poly and cotton in my bobbin mostly) and then rayon in the needle when quilting. Breakage sounds like a needle problem, not a machine problem. If the groove in the needle and needle size is adequate, the thread shouldn't break.

  12. #12
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Victorian Sweatshop
    Posts
    15,392
    Blog Entries
    2
    There can be so many reasons for the thread to break. I just got in from my shop - I had an old White ZZer machine I just got. I fooled and fooled with it. Gave up and worked on a Kingston made by Brother 15 clone. Thread kept breaking - two in a row???. Hint. They came at the same time... So since I was lazy and didn't do it, I changed out the needles. AHA. Maybe I wouldn't have had to rebuild the tensions and fool around with the bobbin tension and look for burrs all over the place after all. NAH - needed to do that anyway. Oh well, two very nice working machines. Then I got out an old Atlas - guess what - that one's needle was in backwards too. Go figure. These all must have come from the same place. At any rate all three work just fine now. The Atlas is sure ugly but a good working machine. I just looked - I had 10 calls today while I was trying to work. No wonder I was distracted. GGGGRRRRRRRRR. Next time the voice mail will get them.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

  13. #13
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    New England
    Posts
    864
    I do a lot of free motion quilting, and I've had so much trouble with YLI thread that I no longer buy it even if it is beautiful. The few spools I still have say "Warning! YLI thread!" on a tag attached to the spool. I use it only for couching on wall hangings.

    I was in a class at a major quilt festival where everyone was given YLI thread to use, a promotion of the YLI company. There were 32 people in that class with 32 different machines of various features, ages, and models. All quilters were familiar with their machines. Of the machines, 30 out of 32 got seriously messed up with thread so badly wrapped around the innards that the machines couldn't sew. We spent the day cleaning thread out of our machines instead of sewing, and still, six machines had to go in for repair. Obviously, the quilters with those machines were out of luck with their classes on subsequent days.

    I was using my trusty Singer 301, which had never had trouble with any thread before (or since). Many of you know that a 301 is ideal for free motion quilting. This machine takes any thread (except YLI). But YLI thread appears to be too loosely twisted, and I had major problems with it. It got itself so wrapped around the parts of the machines that it took me five hours to dig out all the thread - which of course frayed badly - and another three hours after that to get it to sew again. I saw thread in places I've never seen thread go before, and all sorts of little wisps of thread caught everywhere. I should mention that I had all the proper tools with me and that I am a certified sewing machine mechanic. I've worked on 301s many times; usually, they behave very well. I've also worked on many other machines. When I got home, I carefully tried the YLI thread on other machines with the same results, even for regular sewing. It looks to me like it does not have enough cohesion to sew properly; it apparently is made of very short threads which easily fray and come apart. (I've taken classes in thread construction, too.)

    I mentioned this to the YLI rep at the show and she said it "shouldn't" have happened. Yet when 30 out of 32 machines had major problems with the thread, it has to be the thread!
    Last edited by cricket_iscute; 02-25-2013 at 01:22 PM.

  14. #14
    Super Member purplefiend's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Round Rock,Texas
    Posts
    6,155
    I use a 90/14 top stitch needle when I want sew use variegated thread for quilting. I agree that the 15-91 would be a good choice for FMQ. I have a 15-90 that is one of my favorites for FMQ. You don't want your tension on "0", you want the stitch length on "0". I had a 500a, never could get that machine to do FMQ it just said nope not doing this.
    Sharon

  15. #15
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Posts
    123
    i sure appreciate all the ideas! i wonder if the thread itself is the problem. If 30/32 machines had trouble with the YLI . . . .that seems pretty damning of the thread. My machine is really a gem and i've never had problems with any thread breaking before, even if it isn't the perfect FMQ machine. And it was so weird that when I pulled the thread ONLY through the tension disks, the tension seemed fine. Then I threaded it the rest of the way and pulling it through the needle, it seemed too tight. I even tried skipping a thread guide here and there because I'd read that as a suggestion if you had too much tension. That just seemed weird and didn't seem to make a difference.

    purplefiend, I only moved the tension to zero because i was trying to reduce the tension because of the thread breaking. Normally I have it around 3 or 4 and it's a good stitch. I had the stitch length regulator to zero.

    miriam and spiralt, I did try 2 different brand-new Schmetz 90/14 top-stitch needles.

    Just got a call from the guy repairing my machines and they are ready! I got the machines both in Sept/Oct and haven't really played with them yet. Got them cleaned up and they worked, but I was afraid of the electrical. Turns out that was a good thing. He said the 15-91 had to be rewired back to the motor - the wires were rotten from too much oil, or something like that. The wiring for the 66 was ok, though. That 15-91 had been neglected horribly in a garage and when I got it ($35 including its case) it was filthy. Shined up beautifully - I can't wait to try it.

    This is the website of the guy that's worked on them - they restore old machines SO beautifully! http://stagecoachroadsewing.com/

    I think I'll try the YLI thread in the 15-91 and see what happens.

  16. #16
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Victorian Sweatshop
    Posts
    15,392
    Blog Entries
    2
    Quote Originally Posted by oregongirl View Post
    i sure appreciate all the ideas! i wonder if the thread itself is the problem. If 30/32 machines had trouble with the YLI . . . .that seems pretty damning of the thread. My machine is really a gem and i've never had problems with any thread breaking before, even if it isn't the perfect FMQ machine. And it was so weird that when I pulled the thread ONLY through the tension disks, the tension seemed fine. Then I threaded it the rest of the way and pulling it through the needle, it seemed too tight. I even tried skipping a thread guide here and there because I'd read that as a suggestion if you had too much tension. That just seemed weird and didn't seem to make a difference.

    purplefiend, I only moved the tension to zero because i was trying to reduce the tension because of the thread breaking. Normally I have it around 3 or 4 and it's a good stitch. I had the stitch length regulator to zero.

    miriam and spiralt, I did try 2 different brand-new Schmetz 90/14 top-stitch needles.

    Just got a call from the guy repairing my machines and they are ready! I got the machines both in Sept/Oct and haven't really played with them yet. Got them cleaned up and they worked, but I was afraid of the electrical. Turns out that was a good thing. He said the 15-91 had to be rewired back to the motor - the wires were rotten from too much oil, or something like that. The wiring for the 66 was ok, though. That 15-91 had been neglected horribly in a garage and when I got it ($35 including its case) it was filthy. Shined up beautifully - I can't wait to try it.

    This is the website of the guy that's worked on them - they restore old machines SO beautifully! http://stagecoachroadsewing.com/

    I think I'll try the YLI thread in the 15-91 and see what happens.
    I think I would not be trying it out on that first thing - I would do other stuff first but be ready for servicing it just in case
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

  17. #17
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Posts
    123
    oh - so you're thinking the thread could cause a problem with the machine? yikes. i don't want that!

  18. #18
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Victorian Sweatshop
    Posts
    15,392
    Blog Entries
    2
    If you try out the machine just use different thread
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

  19. #19
    Super Member chris_quilts's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    leavenworth, ks
    Posts
    3,029
    Blog Entries
    19
    This is weird. I use YLI all the time for piecing and quilting, including FMQ, and never have an issues except operator head space ones aka carbon based unit ones. I use mostly my 301 for both piecing and quilting with the YLI with almost no issues and used some when I was mending/darning hubby's work pants. It was what I had in the bobbin at the time. I agree it might have been the thread or might have been something else.

    Chris
    I meant to behave......but there were too many other options

  20. #20
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Victorian Sweatshop
    Posts
    15,392
    Blog Entries
    2
    Quote Originally Posted by chris_quilts View Post
    This is weird. I use YLI all the time for piecing and quilting, including FMQ, and never have an issues except operator head space ones aka carbon based unit ones. I use mostly my 301 for both piecing and quilting with the YLI with almost no issues and used some when I was mending/darning hubby's work pants. It was what I had in the bobbin at the time. I agree it might have been the thread or might have been something else.

    Chris
    you must be number 31
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

  21. #21
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    NE Indiana
    Posts
    8,105
    Splices in the thread.

    I just had three splices in two rolls of C&C thread. Broke the thread every time as the splices will pass through the guides, tensions but won't pass through the eye of the needles. Bamm broken thread.

    May not be your problem, but next time it happens look close for a little tiny tied off splice at the end of the thread.

    Joe

  22. #22
    Super Member chris_quilts's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    leavenworth, ks
    Posts
    3,029
    Blog Entries
    19
    Quote Originally Posted by miriam View Post
    you must be number 31
    Miriam, I am not number 31, I am # 3 because I haven't had any issues with YLI and my 301.
    Chris
    I meant to behave......but there were too many other options

  23. #23
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Victorian Sweatshop
    Posts
    15,392
    Blog Entries
    2
    Quote Originally Posted by chris_quilts View Post
    Miriam, I am not number 31, I am # 3 because I haven't had any issues with YLI and my 301.
    Chris
    my bad - I can't count
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

  24. #24
    Senior Member happyquiltmom's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    NE Indiana
    Posts
    564
    I had trouble with thread breaking while FMQing on my 401A. No matter what I tried, it always broke when I tried to move to the left. I finally gave up and now use my vintage Bernina exclusively for FMQing.

    I still quilt with my 401A when using the walking foot, no problems there.
    Cindy

    Curator of an 1889 Singer model 27 Fiddlebase Treadle, a 1951 Singer Centennial Featherweight, a 1956 Singer 401A, and a 1982 Bernina 830 Record.

  25. #25
    Super Member chris_quilts's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    leavenworth, ks
    Posts
    3,029
    Blog Entries
    19
    Quote Originally Posted by miriam View Post
    my bad - I can't count
    No biggie. Neither can I most of the time.
    I meant to behave......but there were too many other options

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

SEO by vBSEO ©2011, Crawlability, Inc.