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Thread: Free motion quilting on an old machine

  1. #1
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    Question Free motion quilting on an old machine

    I have a some questions about using my machine for free motion quilting, namely stippling to begin with. I have a '48 Singer 66-16 that I use to sew and quilt my projects. I bought a generic FMQ foot. I have been watching Leah Day's videos and have modified my foot.This is my first time ever stippling a project. I have managed to set the correct tension for my stitches, but I am still having problems with skipping stitches and breaking thread. Does anyone else FMQ on their vintage machines? If so, do you use a particular brand of needles, size needles and also a particular brand of thread? I have found that the polyester thread seems to break more frequently when I try to FMQ, but I have used it to stitch in the ditch without problems, using a walking foot. I still consider myself a beginner quilter, so any advise you can give me would be greatly appreciated. Until I get these problems tweaked, my wallhanging will remain unfinished. Thanks, Sue
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  2. #2
    Super Member Stitchnripper's Avatar
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    I have a similar Singer so I will be watching to see what everyone recommends.

  3. #3
    Super Member vintagemotif's Avatar
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    First off, you can FMQ with a Singer 66, but that isn't the best vintage Singer machines to FMQ with. The Singer 15s (15-89,15-90,15-91) are the better choice since the bobbin (rotary) is situated in such a way that the thread picks up in a manner more beneficial to FM.

    A Schmetz Univeral 90/14 should work for needle. I use cotton thread, like Coats and Clark.

    I have found that if I have spray basted the quilt, I will always get skipped stitches. So, I no longer spray baste; plus, that stuff is nasty on the lungs.

    You have your darning foot on, but I don't see a layer of material and batting for your stippling practice.
    You need to practice with all the layers.

    All I can suggest is for you to continue to practice and follow any suggestions that Leah Day has put out there.

    Each machine is different, so you will have to play with the machine. Looks like your machine has a motor. So, practice with the speed to see what develops.

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    Smile

    Thank you vintagemotif. I usually make little quilt sandwiches and use them to practice. I have been using Coats and Clark machine quilting thread also. So I will switch to the Schmetz needles and see if they make a difference. Thank you for your advise!
    Sue

  5. #5
    Super Member quilt addict's Avatar
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    Disclaimer: I have yet to be very successful with FMQ. So this is just ideas from what I have read. The bigger needle suggested may help. Or just try a new needle.

    Thread breakage can be caused by the thread being abraided on some edge. It may touch an edge due to the motion of moving the quilt will pull the thread to a side of the plate that it doesn't on normal sewing.

    So i would start with a new needle, then if still a problem, look at the hole in you needle plate and around your bobbin case to see if there may be a small burr or something that may fray the thread.

    Good luck!
    Lisa

  6. #6
    Super Member BarbaraSue's Avatar
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    Thanks for posting this question. vintagemotif, thank you for the info too. I haven't as yet FMQ on my 15-91. I've used the walking foot and I have the darning/FMQ foot to use. Just need to pratice more.
    To make lots of quilts, is to have lots of scraps, and I do, and I do.
    BarbaraSue

  7. #7
    Senior Member VickyS's Avatar
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    Recommendation - Don't use a bigger needle. It will just make bigger holes in the quilt sandwich.

    I've been using my Featherweight quite successfully in FMQ, with all types of thread - Coats & Clarke, Aurefil, Hand quilting thread - both polyester cotton coated and 100% cotton are the most I've used so far. Older thread will break, especially older 100% cotton thread.

    I get skipped stitches if I move the material too quickly for the speed I am sewing, or I have a dull needle, or my needle is not properly threaded or the needle is installed incorrectly in the machine (i.e. backwards to where it should be).

    The thicker the thread, the larger the needle you have to use to help cut down on thread breakage. Coats & Clarke is thicker than Aurefil because it is predominately used for clothing and general sewing. I generally use a 14 needle for Coats & Clarke (generally 30 weight), and an 11 needle for 50 weight Aurefil (which is a lot skinnier than Coats & Clarke).

    Both produce beautiful FMQ with practice. It just depends on what you have available to use and how much practice you put in.

    I would say I am an intermediate FMQ'er - past the beginner stage, but not good enough to just sit and do it.

    PRACTICE, and work with the needle/thread combo until you have something that works. There were days when I would SWEAR everything was done correctly, and yet I would still have problems. Some days I just want to SCREAM because the stuff just doesn't want to flow. Then you will have days when the moment you sit down it flows beautifully. So DON'T GIVE UP. Just do it as the advertisers say! You can do it and you will be very happy you did!

  8. #8
    Super Member purplefiend's Avatar
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    I have 2 drop-in vintage/antique Singers (models 66 and 201), haven't had good results FMQ with either. The Singer 15 and 237 both work beautifully for FMQ.
    Sharon W.

  9. #9
    Senior Member pippi65's Avatar
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    How do you set up your FW to FMQ? What do you set the stitch regulator at? How do you cover your feed dogs? My husband modified a walking foot to use on it, but I would really like to FMQ with it as it's in a table and that helps with the quilt dragging. Thanks so much.
    Be kinder than necessary,everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

  10. #10
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    Cool FMQ on Featherweight

    i just bought an original f/w with the booklet included. Upon reading the info about quilting, I discovered that when you thread the machine - after you thread the tension disc and go to the lever just to the left of the tension disc, make sure the thread is in the HOLE of that lever (lower one). I haven't tried it, but this info comes from the book. I looked at my other f/w and saw that the thread was in the hole - then I realized that's why I couldn't adjust the stitching when I sat down to sew on it.

    Try this and see if it works on some scrap material.

    good luck
    alisa

  11. #11
    Muv
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    Glad to see this topic. I've recently done my first ever free motion quilting, using my 15K treadle. The feed dogs don't drop, so I set the stitch length to zero, then there is no need to cover them. I use a hopping foot. I'm very impressed with Vintagemotif's technical info on needles and thread. I'm far more slapdash. If the needle isn't blunt, I use it. If it's blunt, I chuck it in the tin with all the others. Then when I get a needle out I haven't a clue whether it's blunt or sharp so I have to jab one into my fingertip to find out. The louder the yelp the sharper the needle.

    I have some pics of a doll quilt I have done with FMQ but I can't show you yet because it is in the post to my partner.....

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    VickyS Thanks for the tips. My thread is all new thread. I usually use a 14 needle and I just bought these. That's not to say that I can't have a bad new needle. I will switch it out again. I try to keep the speed of my machine about the same as when I sew regularly. It seems happier at that speed. LOL! I can relate to the wanting to scream days! I just have to step away from it for a while. I will definitely keep practicing and if I ever master it so I can finish my wallhanging, I will post it. Sue

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    I'm almost done FMQing my first, full-sized quilt on a vintage Singer 403A. It's been a total headache for me. Some of the stitching looks OK, some looks terrible. I can't tell you how many feet of stitching I've had to tear out. I've watched Leah's videos and at this point, I think I've had a good amount of practicing, but I still have, "bad stitching sessions." I'm with Sue, if you have any more tips, please share.

  14. #14
    Super Member vintagemotif's Avatar
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    Practice, practice and practice!!!
    Start with a small size 25x25 inch and increase from there.
    If quilt is hanging off the table or cabinet, then it will pull on fabric which will cause issues.
    Spray basting will cause skipped stitching. Has happen to me on Janome TB30 as well as my Singer 15-90.
    I do NOT use spray basting now because of that-plus bad for your lungs.
    Re-read Leah Day's tips.
    Read Diane Gaudynski "Guide to Machine Quilting".
    Adjust your tension dial to make the stitching look nice and pretty.
    Keep bobbin area clean of threads and lint.
    Play with speed of machine while moving fabric in straight line and curves; take note of where issues occur and make adjustment by either speeding up or slowing down.
    RE Watch Leah Day's tutorials.
    Practice, Practice, and Practice!!

  15. #15
    Super Member vintagemotif's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tropit View Post
    I'm almost done FMQing my first, full-sized quilt on a vintage Singer 403A. It's been a total headache for me. Some of the stitching looks OK, some looks terrible. I can't tell you how many feet of stitching I've had to tear out. I've watched Leah's videos and at this point, I think I've had a good amount of practicing, but I still have, "bad stitching sessions." I'm with Sue, if you have any more tips, please share.
    Your Singer 403a is a class 66 machine, which means it has the drop in bobbin.
    As I stated, the better machine to FMQ with are the class 15s.
    Singer 15-89, 15-90, 15-91
    Necchi Supernova or Necchi Bu

    So, If you can find another machine that is a class 15 for a steal-get it!
    Last edited by vintagemotif; 03-09-2012 at 09:18 AM.

  16. #16
    Muv
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    Vintagemotif is right, Singer 15s are great fun. Here is the first FMQ I have done on a quilt, and I used my 15K treadle. I did the first try out on a Friday, did three big practice pieces over the weekend, each big enough to cut up to make six potholders, then did the first little quilt on the Tuesday.

    FMQ on a treadle is hot work - you really have to keep the speed up!
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  17. #17
    Super Member deedum's Avatar
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    I have a 15 that is all I do with it, FM! I love it! So much so, all this talk makes me want to buy another one! Which will be my third 15 when I find it! I am so excited! My second one I piece with, and my newer machines, eh....are my spares!

  18. #18
    Super Member irishrose's Avatar
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    My Singer 301 does a great job as long as I don't fill the bobbin too full. I use a Singer size 11 needle, feeddogs either up or down, a hopping foot, gloves and a piece of plastic. If I fill the bobbin past 2/3 full, then the thread jumps out. It doesn't with piecing but does with FMQ. She didn't like a Schmretz needle to FMQ the first time I tried, so I just keep Singers for her. It is another machine with a vertical bobbin. Sometimes I have to adjust the tension slightly for a really fine rayon embroidery thread, but rarely. I haven't tried with the 15 yet.

    Muv, your FMQ looks good. You have my admiration using a treadle.

  19. #19
    ro
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    so excuse my ingnorance as i am new to featherweights having gotten one in a garge sale for $25. right now it is being cleaned. can you please tell me who is leah day and where are her videos. a gentlemen at the quilt show told me to just put the machine on zero and i dont have to worry about the plate. is that correct. thank you for your help

  20. #20
    Super Member vintagemotif's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ro View Post
    so excuse my ingnorance as i am new to featherweights having gotten one in a garge sale for $25. right now it is being cleaned. can you please tell me who is leah day and where are her videos. a gentlemen at the quilt show told me to just put the machine on zero and i dont have to worry about the plate. is that correct. thank you for your help
    I know some say that they use their FW for FMQ, but I wouldn't since the harp space is so small. I'm not saying it can't be done. FMQ can be done in small sections or blocks as a quilt as your go method, which could be done on a FW-just that I wouldn't because of the harp space.
    Here is the link to Leah Day:http://freemotionquilting.blogspot.c...tart-here.html

    Congrats on your $25 FW! That's a very nice find!
    Last edited by vintagemotif; 03-16-2012 at 08:47 AM.

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    Smile

    Muv, I love your quilt! I hope I can conquer my FMQ. I think I will look around for a 15 and just use my 66 for regular quilting. Thanks for all the help........I'll be back to pick everyone's brains once I locate another machine!
    Sue

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    Smile Tips for quilting on a singer 201

    I taught myself how to quilt by trial and error,my practice was on my quilts ,well maybe one quilt sandwich to set my tention to start .I told myself every stitch and pucker only give it more character ,after all its a quilt.Most say to drop the feed dogs but with my singer 201 it quilts and moves better with the feed dogs in the normal feed mode plus the stitches look much nicer .I set the tention dial to between 0and 2or less ,then I set the stitch size to medium,on my machine it would be between the middle and closer to the bottom setting ,if anyone is interested I can take the time to post pics of the machine in the quilt setting mode .I bought the sewing cabinet and stool with intentions on putting another machine in it until I did a little test run and instantly fell in love with this old machine.I took my quilts to a new quilt shop and they were shocked when I told them that I quilted them on a machine that is older than myself and I am over 50. I use any thread I have available and mainly buy the white cones from Walmart and no issues with thread breaking and I always use the universal heavy duty needles mainly because they are easier to thread with my aging eyes .I have a seperate pole thread holder I use for the big spools of thread,I bought a weighted one off e-bay .

  23. #23
    Muv
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    Has anyone used a Supreme Slider on an old machine? I have looked at them online but never seen one in real life so can't imagine how they stick in place. I wasn't keen on forking out nearly thirty quid without being sure of what I'd get so I have been taking the cheap option and using clingfilm. It stays in place and costs next to zero.

  24. #24
    Super Member Teacup's Avatar
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    I am getting ready to try FMQ on a 201 and 301 in the near future, am trying to finish getting the machines restored and have to get one into a refurbished cabinet. I posted questions on another thread and am gathering all my equipment. I took Irish Rose's suggestion to use the heavy-weight clear vinyl like you would use to cover tablecloths. I bought some at the fabric store last weekend. Video recommending this is here: http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=...5790FB&first=0

  25. #25
    Super Member nanna-up-north's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Muv View Post
    Vintagemotif is right, Singer 15s are great fun. Here is the first FMQ I have done on a quilt, and I used my 15K treadle. I did the first try out on a Friday, did three big practice pieces over the weekend, each big enough to cut up to make six potholders, then did the first little quilt on the Tuesday.

    FMQ on a treadle is hot work - you really have to keep the speed up!
    You did that on a treadle?? I'm impressed!! Great job!!

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