These Stitches Are Driving Me Crazy!
You may recall that a few weeks ago, I was working on a twin-size quilt, and I was happy to get all the blocks sewn to the batting and backing.
Even though I was planning to quilt it with just a simple diagonal pattern, I felt like I should practice before actually working on the real thing. So I took some left over blocks and started a lap robe. The piecing went well and I was very happy with how the corners met. But as soon as I started to quilt, things went horribly, horribly wrong.
Even with a walking foot , I couldn’t get a nice straight line, the stitches were of all different sizes, and the thread kept breaking! Free motion quilting was even worse – it felt like the quilt was hanging up on something and wouldn’t move. Half the time the bobbin thread wouldn’t even interlock with the top thread, and I have never had that happen before.
What caused these problems? Was it the fact that I was using high-loft polyester batting after being used to Warm and Natural cotton batting? Was it that I was using size 40 cotton thread on the top and size 100 polyester thread in the bobbin? Was it that I was using pre-washed fabric for the backing, so it didn’t have sizing to help it slide around? The only thing to do was just keep working on practice pieces until I figured out the problem.
I have now made two lap robes and two small sample pieces, with four types of batting and backing, over three days, and I am still having issues!
Here are the variables I have tried:
- change the needle
- change the type of needle
- take out the bobbin case and replace it
- change the thread tension
- change the presser foot setting
- change the type of bobbin thread
Some things worked better than others, but nothing was really satisfactory.
I finally sat down with the book Quilt as Desired by Charlene C. Frable. It’s my favorite book about machine quilting technique, and I needed a refresher. She suggests using the same size and type of thread for top and bobbin, and that gave me improved results. The top looks much better, but on the bottom I am still getting irregular stitches.
At this point, the only thing to do is just stop. For one thing, I am getting really sick of these fall colors and manly prints. I am going to let these rest for a while, and take my machine in for servicing. Then, things will either go better, or I will know for sure it is something I am doing.
It’s a good thing my dye experiments are going well. I’ve been working with pear leaves and branches and I will be reporting about that soon.
If anyone has any helpful tips, I would love to hear them!
I would definitely be using same thread top and bottom, however I’m more inclined to use a slightly heavier thread on the top… it doesn’t seem to pucker then. Have you tried sewing through waxed paper? Sometimes that helps… Every machine and evan every needle is slightly different, so often experimenting is all you can do. My trusty Janome was doing this incessantly, despite all the tricks, I had it looked at and it had broken a gear.Not cheap, but it worked well… till 6 months later, when it did the same thing. Now it sits till I forgive it and have it fixed for my granddaughter.
I have not heard about the wax paper! I will try it!
I bought myself a spare machine at Goodwill, but I haven’t tried it out yet. I will have to, while my other one is at the shop!
I can just see your Janome in the time-out corner, pouting! 🙂
I say servicing is the thing to do. It is always best to take time to self clean your machine once in a while due the thread, batting, fabric and other pile up dust. Thank you for sharing, and I look forward to your next post. Be A Blessing because you’re Blessed. Mtetar
Yes, my old machine (that my mom traded me for) was really easy to open up and clean. This one, not so much. It says in its instruction book that it never needs oiling, but I’m not sure they expected it to be used for 35 years when they wrote that! 🙂
No, and not especially with quilting projects being done often. Be A Blessing because you’re Blessed. Mtetar
Mine was doing something similar and it also ended up having a broken part It wasn’t too expensive to get repaired but I suffer great anxiety when my machine is away from me 🙂
I bought a spare machine at Goodwill for just such an emergency, but I haven’t even tried it yet. So I know I will have anxiety too. The good sewing machine shop around here usually keeps them for a month!
How frustrating for you! I have no idea what the problem could be but I think taking it in to be serviced can only be a good thing. I hope your baby comes back soon. 😀
Thanks! It’s a good thing I have a loom and a dye pot to keep me company while I am deprived of my sewing machine!
Have you tried contacting your machine manufacturer or one of the shops that not only sell them but teach quilting also? Of course you may have to learn to write in Swedish if you choose to contact the manufacturer.
At this point I have not ruled out user error! I don’t think there is anything major wrong with the machine, if anything – I think it is just some little variable like type of thread. But I am going to take it in for a check-up.
I’m a long-arm quilter & feel your frustration! You did the right thing to match the weight of your top & bobbin threads. Remove the bobbin casing and make certain there is no lint in and around the casing (I use canned air – you’ll be surprised at the stuff that blows out!), then a good oiling. Re-thread the machine and re-set the bobbin in the casing and begin adjusting the tension until you get the perfect stitch. Often a piece of lint or a small thread can be the culprit. Another bizaaro tip — loosen your needle and turn it ever so slightly to the right – just the merest tad. Often this works (don’t know why) when all else fails. Good luck!
I will try that needle-turning trick!
This week I brought my machine in for a cleaning and check-up. The woman from the shop sat down with my machine to test its condition, and just stopped dead when she saw the bobbin thread. She said, “That’s like a rope in there!” It was just a size 40, like the top thread. I wonder what she thinks is the proper weight to use.
My old machine (a Kenmore) made it really easy to remove everything and clean out the lint. On this one (a Viking) I can’t even open the upper case where the thread head (whatever it’s called) goes up and down, and the bobbin case is just impossible to get into. I do need to use canned air!
Thanks for the tips!
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