Oh, how I love being seated in front of my beloved Bernina®, moving my latest creation under the needle in a steady rhythm, free-motion quilting away until...the thread breaks; I notice the stitches are skipping; or a little tug tells me there is a problem underneath the fabric, like an unsightly nest of bobbin thread.
|My free-motion quilted fly ATC.
That's when the tension starts to get to me—and I don't just mean the kind that lodges in my shoulders.
Let's face it: sometimes stitches go bad, and tension is usually the culprit. But not always. Sometimes there is a problem with the needle, the thread, or even (cough) lax machine maintenance.
I put together a little video about how to pull up the bobbin thread to avoid those unsightly bobbin nests.
As for the other little issues that can create annoying machine stitching problems, Australian textile artist Dijanne Cevaal has some very helpful advice.
|Click on the arrow to view
"How to Pull Up the Bobbin Thread."
As a quilting teacher and author of several books, she really knows her stuff.
Though Dijanne says you shouldn't worry about your stitching looking absolutely perfect, when stitch issues get in the way of your quilting enjoyment and artistry, you should consider the following:
Regardless of what the instruction books recommend for your machine, you will almost certainly have to adjust your tension for free-motion machine quilting.
It is impossible to say exactly what tension you should use, as it is dependent on the thickness of the thread, the needles you are using, the thickness and density of the batting you are using, and the backing fabric.
It is best to keep a small sampler piece of the materials you are working with so that you can check that the tension is right for the materials you are working with.
If you are having problems with the top of your work, such as threads breaking or stitches skipping, first check your needle; you may need to change it.
If you have changed the needle and the problem continues, there is usually something going on with your bobbin. Give it a good cleaning and then rethread it, making sure that your bobbin is properly wound.
If there are problems underneath your work such as tension or bunching of threads, it usually means there is a problem with the top of your machine. Rethread the top of your machine completely. With free-motion machine stitching it is possible for the threads to slip out of the tension plates, and tension is needed to make good stitches.
Armed with Dijanne's machine stitch tension tips, I feel more relaxed already!
You can see Dijanne's machine stitching method for adding texture with thread and read many more of her tips in Quilting Arts In Stitches Vol. 4, now available.
P.S. Have you ever "dared" to alter the tension on your bobbin? Success, failure, tips? Share them in the comments section below.