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Can you tell me what to do to keep my thread from breaking when I FMQ on my sewing machine (not longarm)

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Debbie-do posted on Mon, May 13 2013 1:51 PM

Help!  I'm hoping someone can help me out.  I finally stopped procrastinating and started quilting my MQ5 this weekend.  After pin basting I Stiched in a ditch around each of the 20 blocks with my walking foot... no problem.  Then I put on my free motion foot and decided to take it easy on myself (since it's my first big quilt that I've ever done FMQ on ) and just do a roomy stipple on each block.  I had cleaned the bobbin area before I started .  I practiced on a small sandwich of the same fabric and batting (same thread I had used on the SIAD)... no problem. 

Started stippling on the quilt, got through about 1/3 of the first block... funny sound, snagged and broken thread.  Frogged it back to a good point and started again... same thing happened. 

Ooops, realized feed dogs are up and I forgot my slippery slider.  ... That didn't help. 

Changed my old topstich 80 needle for a new one.  Didn't help. 

Changed the upper tension to about 4.5.  Didn't help. 

Finally after working through 5 blocks this way I finally got a block that the thread didn't break.  I had changed to a quilting 90 needle and moved the tension back to automatic.  From then on it was every other block that gave me fits.  I rethreaded my needle what seems like 100s of times, from the spool on down, replaced the bobbin a couple of times, made sure my needle was in all the way. 

At this point I'm pretty frustrated and wonder what else I should try to adjust to keep the thread from breaking as I'm quilting the borders and the sashing.  Your suggestions will be well received!  Thank you!

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You have done all the right things, I always use a bigger needle to FMQ as it handles the seams better.  The one thing you did not mention checking was your bobbin tension.  This sometimes has to be changed when you FMQ.  Also I have found with stippling that the direction does make a difference.  Slow down a litle when you are going side to side or around a curve.  Good luck, 

 Elizabeth

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Another suggestion would be to pay attention to the direction you are moving the fabric when the thread breaks happen.  Are you moving the fabric backwards, to the left, to the right?  If you are only getting the breaks when you are going in one direction...that may be your answer.  For example, some machines just aren't happy with moving backwards in fmq.  If it turns out that is when you are having the problem, you may need to turn your quilt more often...so you don''t need to move the fabric in that direction (under the needle). 

 Winthrop, WA

 

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Debbie, sometimes I find that the problem is the way the thread feeds off the spool.  Have you checked that?  Whenever I try to economize by buying bigger spools of thread,  I have problems with the thread tension and breakage.  Sometimes the thread will get caught at the rims of the spool, pull taut and break at the needle.  Then you re-thread the machine and everything is fine for a while; then it catches on the spool again and breaks.

Can you tell how the breakage is happening?  If the thread is fraying at the needle, then changing the needle may help.  If it is not fraying and just seems to snap, then the thread has probably gotten caught somewhere else in the path.  Also, what kind of thread are you using?  I find cotton works best.  I also have good results with size 100 silk, and I use a lot of size 40 rayon.  The rayon frays occasionally, but not enough to make me stop using it since I like the sheen.  I have more breakage trouble with trilobal polester and size 60 Bottom Line - my Bernina does not seem to like those threads, even though many quilters use them.

Of course it could be a maintenance issue on your machine - FMQ can reveal problems that don't show up in other types of sewing.

Good luck,

Shirley

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Debbie I sent you and answer on the FMQ site , but I have a feeling its your thread and needles . Try using some Poly Thread  Leah Day recommends it and I have used it on my quilting several times with good results. But the heavier your thread the bigger your needle needs to be ,and make sure you are using a sharp needle and not one of those with a ball ping end. It is very hard to tell the difference , Ask your quilt shop for some sharp needles for  quilting . direction can also be tricky , when going up and to the left  I have to be very careful as my stitches will do just what your talking about .  Sometimes all it takes is just a little change in direction to fix that.  anyway good luck and let us know how it all comes out. Barbara

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My machine is a Janome Horizon 7700 and I'm using Isacord thread. I don't know how old it is because I bought it on Ebay. I had tried other threads on my machine and Isacord is what it liked best. I was starting to wonder if was the thread itself because I had another spool that did fine, until it didn't. Other spools I've had no problems with. I'm using the same thread in the bobbin to match the fabric. I won't swear by it but I'm pretty sure it's happening when I travel right to left and maybe as I'm going up (trying to relive all the frogging I did to remember ). The needle was new... I had tried a topstich 80, at topstich 90 and ended up with a quilting 90.  The machine was clean and the test piece worked like a charm, backwards, forwards up and down! I wasn' t going very fast at all simply because I couldn't. The thread was snagging at the needle and the only time it stopped short was when the bobbin was real low and ran back on itself.  The machine was serviced in January and everything was in good order

I really appreciate everyone's input!

Southwest of San Antonio

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Debbie ,right to left is just what mine does so I try to avoid it ,I'll turn the fabric so it doesn't do this ,sometimes you just have to turn it a small amount . I use Glide thread a lot when I'm quilting it is really wonderful poly thread and my machine loves it.  nice thing to it comes in the cones .  good luck and let us know how it all comes out .Barbara

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Agnes replied on Mon, May 13 2013 11:22 PM

A lot of good suggestions for you but in reading through the answers I didn't see what sometimes helps me. I may sound corny but just taking a break and going back after half an hour can make a big difference. My conclusion to that working is that I have got uptight and am probably causing some of the breaking with my movement. I go away, become more relaxed and things work so much better.

Agnes in NW Ontario

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ls2116 replied on Mon, May 13 2013 11:30 PM

I've run into similar breakage problems and finally just thru out the sool of thread and used a different one with no breakage ... hope this helps.

Quilting My Rainbow

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Agnes, I actually did walk away a couple of times.  I think it was after I yelled at my poor machine and clenched my fists and shook them a little that helped some :o)  Even gave my mom a call to wish her a happy Mother's day in the middle of the ordeal.  I'm beginning to think it may be the thread.

It's a queen sized quilt I think and the biggest one I've ever tried to FMQ on and all I did was a stipple.  I did manage to get through all the main blocks but still have sashing and borders to work on.  My step-daughter will be thrilled to finally get it and I really don't think she'll care too much about the stops and starts, if she even notices at all.

Everyone's suggestions and ideas have been helpful and very appreciated.  This is a great community!  Thank you all for your help.

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Debbie, I just ran across a brief discussion of thread breakage (cotton vs polyester) at: http://www.thequiltshow.com/os/blog.php/blog_id/5627  This is information from Superior Threads, and reminded me that they have a lot of terrific information on their web site about threads, needles, etc.  You might find some of it useful.

Shirley

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Thanks Shirley!  I'll check it out!

Southwest of San Antonio

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Thank you all for your input.  I especially want to thank PennyWyo for putting up with all my whining Saturday night.  I was able to finish quilting the quilt without any more thread breakage, thank goodness, but I wasn't doing anything but stitching forward (fmq and sitd).  Not terribly thrilled with my work in the sashing and I realized too late that my tension wasn't right on some of the earlier FMQ stippling blocks.  I've stitched down two sides of the binding and when it's done I'll post a picture.  At least the recipient won't care too much about the quality of stitching and I probably won't see the quilt again and be able to beat myself up over the work.  This was my first large quilt that I've done any amount of quilting on so I realize it's a learning experience and with time, I will hopefully improve.  I was just hoping for perfection right out the gate!!  LOL

Thanks again!!  :o)

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Frances replied on Mon, May 20 2013 12:18 PM

Debbie,

Do i dare ask how the quilting of the GFG is going.

lots of love

Francesxx

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Frances, it's on the back burner right now.  I was thinking about bringing it to work on in the car on our upcoming road trip but my hoop may be too big.  We shall see.  Honestly, I forget to work on it.  Once I get started and am happy with the results, I'm sure I'll keep at it.  Thanks for asking  :)  .  How about yours?  Are you making progress?

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