problems with free motion embroidery

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on 24 Oct 2010 10:30 AM


I'm new to quilting and machine embroidery.  For many years have been a hand embroiderer /weaver using  paper and now want to change direction slightly by using fabric.   In particular I want to  free motion embroidery.   Have had several goes  - boy what a problem!  

I am using a new  Pfaff expression 2.  Have done everything the instruction book says but moving the fabric is like trying to move a brick wall and all the thread builds up underneath in a huge ball.  Have tried using a hoop, using fabric with a stabiliser and no hoop, all sorts of fabric - all to no avail. What am I doing wrong? In every other aspect the machine is fine.  Help please?



Princess Peach 

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Posts 135
on 24 Oct 2010 11:58 AM

In order to free machine, you need to drop the feed dogs on the machine, as its the operator who controls how and where the fabric moves.  I would also put an embroidery foot on the machine, or a darning foot.  This protects fingers from the needle and also serves as a reminder to drop the presser foot lever.  These type of feet do not touch the fabric, they are not meant to.  Now, forgive me, have you put your fabric in the hoop the right way round?  For hand sewing, embroidery tends to be done so the fabric is flush to the edge of the hoop, for machine embroidery its the other way around, so the fabric will sit flush to the plate of the machine, and you have the "walls" of the hoop to hold on to, (by putting your fingers on the top edge so you don't lift the hoop at all), and I'd say you need the fabric tight, drum tight.

To start stitching, put fabric under the  needle,  and then turn the flywheel by hand, or a quick tap on the foot pedal, so that your bobbin thread comes through to the top surface.  Put both the bobbin and top thread ends under your fingers holding the hoop, very important to remember, lower the presser foot lever,  and start.  Having both thread ends on the top and held in place by you, stops the fouling up underneath.  Once you've done a little sewing you can let go and/or snip them off.  The trick is to run the machine fast, possibly a lot faster than you are used to,  the size of the stitches, the direction of the stitch is controlled by you moving the fabric, which you hold flush to the machine.  It is a matter of practice.   Have fun!!!

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Pippin5 wrote
on 28 Oct 2010 11:29 AM

I would also add that cotton thread is much better for free motion embroidery than polyester asit stretches far less.


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arlijohn wrote
on 29 Oct 2010 12:21 PM

Beverley gave you great advice. One thing relax!  Remeber feed dogs down, presser foot bar down. It's nerve racking when first trying to learn. Make some quilt sandwiches to practice with. Most people don't move their fabric enough or the machine fast enough. It does get better.

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fatcal wrote
on 30 Oct 2010 3:18 PM

I would like to add that I have a Phaff, not an expression 2, but on my machine you can lower the pressure foot to only half way.  Just have to gently push back as you lower it.  Hope  this helps.

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Posts 166
on 1 Nov 2010 7:07 AM

All good advice.  One thing that I invested in that help immensely was a pair of quilting gloves - cotton gloves with little rubber dots on the palm.  They hold the fabric better than your bare hands and take some of the stress out of the movement.  Also, if you have your sewing machine at a level so that your arms are bent at a 90 degree angle it is much easier on your shoulders - when you are relaxed, your free motion becomes more relaxed. 




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