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By Dan Novak
Have you ever quilted a quilt without any problems and then started another one and had nothing but problems?
This is something that happens more often then we would like to admit. If this ever happens to you, sit back, relax and think about it for a few minutes. “What Changed?”
Have you changed the thread? If this thread is very different from the last quilt, you will need to change your tension. You have probably noticed in the past that threads can be completely different from each other. Usually you will find that machine quilters will stick with the same kind and types of thread to avoid these problems. If you take the time to think about “What Changed?” you will be able to adjust and overcome the fear of using different types of thread. If you have changed the bobbin, you might want to double check to make sure that the bobbin is in correctly. Sometimes we get in a hurry and don’t pay attention to the little things. If the bobbin is in backwards, this can make a difference in the tension. Sometimes this can stop the machine from picking up the first stitch. Take the time to look this over. Check the threading of the machine, is it threaded properly? Did you skip any thread guides? Is the thread wrapped around anything? Is the thread all of the way between the tension discs? Is the thread over the take-up spring? Is the take-up spring still in tact?
If you are using a different type of batting, it may be necessary to change the height of the presser or hopping foot. If you have changed to a very lofty or thick batting, the presser or hopping foot may bind and restrict the movement of the machine. This could also cause the foot to catch on any seams or laps on the quilt. If you have changed to a much thinner type of batting, it may be necessary to lower the foot so that it will slightly press the quilt top.
Another thing that is easily over looked is the height of the take-up roller. After removing the finished quilt, it is easy to forget to lower the take-up roller. This can cause the machine to handle roughly because the machine is trying to travel up hill on the quilt. Make sure that the roller is just high enough to allow the machine to travel smoothly up and down the table.
Make sure that you have not over tightened the quilt on the rollers.. When the quilt is stretched too tight, this closes the pores in the fabric, making it harder for the needle and thread to pass through the material. This can also cause the needle to flex more than normal, adding to tension problems, thread breakage and skipped stitches.
Be sure to change the needle if needed. A dull or burred needle can cause many issues. Sometimes a dull needle will push the batting through the back of the quilt. You can usually tell if a needle is dull just by the way it sounds when it pops through the fabric. For the cost of a needle, it is cheap and easy to keep a fresh one in the machine.
After changing the needle, give it a second look to make sure that it is in properly. It is very easy to turn the needle and not notice that you have. Also make sure that the needle is in all of the way. If the needle is not in all of the way, this can have the same effect as the hook timing being off.
Before making any adjustments to your machine or blaming your machine when you are having problems, Always sit back, relax and ask yourself “What Changed?”