what on earth do I keep doing wrong? please help :-( :-( (fm quilting)

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on 30 Aug 2014 11:00 AM


Ive been free motion quilting for a while - ive had a wee gap from it, only to return to it unable to quilt ANYTHING without the top stitch breaking. It breaks in a very particular way, splitting and ravelling up (please see pic below) im desperate to fix this as I want to enter a competition - but cant even continue atm :-( :-(

I have tried the following things without any change/improvement.

- cleaned machine

- changed to a thicker needle

- messed with tensions

- feed dogs up/down

- changed threads, even tried hand quilting thread!! - normally use gutterman

- rethreaded/thrown things/cried - doesn't work either! 

I use a Janome jem platinum 760. Please somebody help I'm desperate :-( :-( :-(

Thank you 




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Dale Kathryn wrote
on 30 Aug 2014 7:10 PM

How frustrating for you! Have you checked that your bobbin thread is wound and/ or  is feeding in the right  direction?  Is your needle pushed  in as far as it will go?  Have you tried regular non-fm  stitching on some scraps to see if the machine is stitching correctly? Is your bobbin case inserted in its holder correctly? I don't have a Janome, but perhaps someone will chime in with something. Good luck.


"To create one's own world in any of the arts takes courage." - Georgia O'Keeffe

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shpat wrote
on 30 Aug 2014 11:22 PM

My Janome 7330 was doing something like this. My dealer told me to use a needle with a bigger eye..... like a topstitch needle. Also, Janome has a low tension bobbin case for fm. Are you using it? Good luck.

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ckquilter wrote
on 3 Sep 2014 3:31 AM

don't give up yet.   you just need to keep working on figuring out what is going on.  and that can be a lot of different things.

if your repair person is close by - make an appt, and take YOUR thread and samples. and see what gives.   sometimes it IS the machine. and something needs to be fixed.

with the thread breaking -  sounds like it is above the bed of the machine problem.  using a good quality cotton thread in top and bobbin - and doing regular straight line sewing with the feed dogs up - do you still have the breaking problem?

thread can get old and brittle.   so try several spools.  and not the delicate stuff - just good standard sewing thread.

it can also be the needle. if you have changed the needle, and work with a new one. very rarely, even a brand new needle, right out of the package  will be bent or dull. so also try a new needle from a different package.

you have rethreaded the machine. and totally removed the bobbin, and rethreaded it. 

the thread breakage is usually due to a bad needle; or the machine not being threaded properly (sometimes the thread will slip out of a guide).; or a needle is too small (for a standard weight cotton thread, you will need an 11, 12 or 14 size needle - preferably a quilting or sharp, if you are using cotton fabric.);

another way of breaking thread is if you stitch in one spot more than 2 or 3 times - the needle will cut the thread because it keeps going into the same hole (one of the reasons you go back to feed dogs up to check).    this can also happen when using metallic threads - they are sharp and can actually cut them selves if you stitch over the same spot more than once - which is why you use a sturdy cotton thread to check.

your thread spool is not sticking and is allowing the thread to feed ? no sticky bits of label ?

hand quilting thread is NOT designed to be used in a machine. and usually will NOT sew well in a machine. it is stiff and will NOT feed thru the needle properly. that stiffness will also cause it to jump out of the thread guides.     

i personally do not like gutterman thread. it never runs well thru my machine.  i would recommend working with a different cotton thread. or a good quality rayon should also be ok to work with while trying to figure out the problem.      it is also possible to get a bad spool of thread. it sounds like you have eliminated that possibility - by trying the others.  

you have checked the bobbin tension ?

another possible source of thread cutting - your needle plate. if it has gotten nicked - it is now a thread cutter. and depending on where that nick is, feed dog up sewing may be ok, but free motion, because you are moving all directions, and thus the thread runs across the needle plate opening all the way around - the needle plate could be cutting the thread. so take your needle plate off, and check all the way around the opening, that there are no nicks (often caused by a needle hitting it and breaking).

you have played with the tension - that can also cause thread breakage.  and have made sure the thread feeds evenly. 

here's to hoping you get it figured out soon. and get back to happy quilting                                      ckquilter

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Jen_E wrote
on 23 Oct 2014 11:17 PM

I am a super newbie at free motion (like, just this week) and this was happening to me today too.  I pulled the thread out of that last guide right before you thread the eye and that seemed to do the trick. Maybe with the feed dogs down, all that moving around was causing too much friction within that last thread guide.  It seemed to be fraying right at that spot. 

I am addicted/obsessed with thread sketching in less than a week!



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ckquilter wrote
on 24 Oct 2014 2:55 AM

hi jen

you are absolutely right about the last thread guide.  did not even think of it because it has been so long since i fixed mine.

i have a bernina 170. the last thread guide on these machine is very tight and sharp. and it will shred any thread that is not smooth and tough.

BAD !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

the other problem with it - i thought i could just bypass it . but - within one or 2 stitches the machine kicks the thread into theguide anyway, and then shreds the thread. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

so i had the  service tech remove the guide entirely.    no more problems (i did that about 18 years ago.)

my mom has a top of the line bernina, that is the generation before mine. fantastic last thread guide. smooth bar. works fantastic. simple, elegant.

why did they change it ?????????????????     sometimes newer is NOT better . they need to fire the new designer -

anyways, you are right. check your last thread guide. if its tight, or sharp - it can be eat your thread.if so, get rid of it.   ckquilter.


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on 30 Oct 2014 11:57 AM

Did you try using the upright thread holder instead of the horizontal?  Sometimes, makes the difference for me.  For some reason as thread is used off the spool - it tends to hang up on the edge of the spool - then breaks -  by using upright thread holder - eliminates the problem.  Good Luck!

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