Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Quilting Woes

Tell me again just *WHY* I make quilts? Grrrrrr......

Right this minute, I am taking a 'break' from my quilting...mostly so I won't throw things!

I have been having trouble quilting this one since the onset!

Tension issues, skipping stitches, shredding thread...I fix one issue and create another!

First, it was the tension problem I mentioned in my last post.

Then, the bleeding hand-dyed...which has still not been addressed.

Once I changed thread colors (and types) I started getting skipped stitches. I would go along just fine, then change directions, and wha-bam! Long stitches.

According to Diane Gaudynski, the causes of skipped stitches are almost always caused by one of the following:
  • • the needle being too small for the thread

  • • the batt being very thin and flat

  • • the presser foot pressure too low

  • • a defective needle

  • • threading done incorrectly

  • • hands too fast for the speed of the machine

I was moving so slow my stitches were tiny, so I could rule out that last one.

I rethreaded a thousand times, so that could also be ruled out.

The needle was changed ad nauseum...so I was pretty sure that wasn't it either.

But the pressure foot pressure? Hmmm. That is a possibility. So is the thin batting. BOTH of these work together...a thinner batting needs more pressure on the foot than a loftier batt. And duh, I am using a very thin batting! So I increased the pressure on the foot by quite a bit...there are no index marks, so I just turn the knob at will.

Also, on another forum (but I cannot remember which one) I read that it was NOT necessary to keep the quilt so tight than one could bounce a quarter off of it! Just keep it tight enough to be stable. Hmmm....I do tend to really keep the quilt taut on the frame, so I loosened it up a little.

The skipping stitches seemed better...and I sewed for a few minutes, feeling like maybe I would finally make some progress. Then the shredding began...

So, back to the internet to do more reasearch. Basically, shredding is usually caused by using the wrong needle. A TOPSTITCHING needle has a larger eye and is less prone to cause shredding. Plus, the larger needles have a larger scarf (groove) for the thread to ride in. But I had tried a larger needle (100) before and it was actually causing the batting to appear on the backside of the quilt!

That's right. Little white blobs on the black background fabric...not acceptable.

I had switched to the smaller needle (90) to prevent the batting poke-through, and it seemed ok until I reached a corner of the piecing, where the seam allowances were thicker...the thread would shred and break. But not every time! Good grief.

I decided that, in spite of the fact that I have now quilted several areas using this polyester embroidery thread, I was going to have to return to using cotton thread like I started out with. I only bought the polyester thread (Coats and Clark) in the first place was because the color I wanted was not available in the cotton (Gutterman). But I thought the shiny nature of the poly might be a nice accent. However, it is thinner and obviously less-strong.

So I changed the top thread and did a bit more stitching, still using the poly in the bobbin. Again, it worked for a few moments then wha-bam! breaking and shredding and skipping stitches.

So, back to the internet to do more reasearch.

Some suggestions for eliminating the shredding:

  • Turn the spool over to allow the thread to unwind in the other direction.

  • Don't put the thread through that last guide right above the needle.

  • Change the needle to one with a bigger eye, bigger scarf...a larger needle.

  • Loosen the top tension, and...

  • Use a HEAVIER thread in the bobbin.

This last one got my attention. While I had messed with the tension already, NOW I was using a thinner thread in the bobbin. So I changed the bobbin, putting in a cotton thread that was equal in weight to my top thread. I put my sample fabric back on the frame and stitched for quite a while...all fine! Stitch quality ok, no skipping, no shredding! Yea!!!

So I began stitching on the quilt again. Immediately, the shredding began again.

And that is where I am now.

Currently, quite frustrated.

I am wondering if using the basting-spray has anything to do with this?

I know, I am grasping at straws. But SOMETHING has to be causing it!!!


Sew4Fun said...

Oh how utterly frustrating!! I hate it when these things happen. It takes every ounce of my energy not to throw things, and of course I become super grumpy for days, which my family doesn't understand because sewing is suppose to be relaxing. Yeah right! :) I hope things improve after your break.

Ursula said...

Did you use that same basting spray before?
Did you have problems if yes?

etta said...

Have you tried liquid silicone on the thread or needle? It might be worth a try.

Laura said...

Reading all the things you've tried....have you cleaned out the bobbin housing? That once was one of my problems (with sewing machine, not "quilting" machine). Also, did you check the pathway of the thread--for something like a burr somewhere? That also was one of my problems. Mine occurred in the bobbin case on a plastic part. All it took was an emery board to fix it!!
I hope you figure it out....and are able to ENJOY the rest of the journey!!! :)

Trish said...

Ursula, yes, I have used this basting spray before, but I remember thinking as I was using it this time that perhaps I was being a bit heavy-handed with it...using too much. But I have had skipped stitches on the last few quilts...never as bad as this, though!

Trish said...

Etta, THANK YOU! I would never have thought of sewer's aid...but it is helping! I am fairly sure the spray basting is the main culprit and this helps the needle and thread 'glide' more easily through the quilt. finally making progress...

Trish said...

Laura, yes, I had cleaned and cleaned...felt around for burrs or snags...finding nothing. Finally today, I removed the throat place and although it was not too bad under there, I did find a few stray threads that were wound around...'something'...so I removed them. It is doing better now...still skipping occationally, but not as bad as it was doing. Thanks!

Trish said...

Belinda, thanks for your commiseration! It took a bit longer than just the 'break' but eventually, things are sewing more smoothly...only, now I am out of thread! I guess that is good...it means that I was able to sew enough to run out of this color! :)

LizA. said...

are you using batiks? I've found that the tighter weave of the batiks tend to cause me to have some issues when quilting them. I usually use a larger needle. I also like Superior Threads So Fine on batiks. as for how taut your quilt should be on the frame, we generally say you should be able to grab your fingertip when poked from underneath. on batiks this is especially important. you don't want to be able to bounce a coin off the top -- that's way too tight.

also, is it better going one direction than the other? sometimes some threads will only seem to quilt going from left to right and break when going other directions.

if you're using a very thin batt AND used batting spray, it could possibly be contributing to the problem. the thicker batts help give the batting spray someplace to go as the needle goes thru. I've had some brands gum up my needle and others not back when I used basting sprays and my sewing machine to quilt. if you're using your handiquilter, you shouldn't be using a basting spray.

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