Friday, July 21, 2006

Knee His, Batting, and a Long Arm

I have been working on a customer quilt all week--not because it is a difficult quilt, but because I was spending more time frogging than quilting. I was 2/3 of the way through quilting this queen size quilt when the thread started breaking and bird's nests starting appearing on the back.

I changed the needle, changed the bobbin, changed the bobbin case, checked timing, and adjusted the tension. Nothing I tried came close to fixing the problem.

I was using Bottom Line thread in the needle and in the bobbin. This is a very high quality thread -- something that has been no-fail for me in the past. My machine has always loved this thread and behaved wonderfully.

I noticed as I was quilting that the thread would feed off the thread cone fairly evenly and then it would all of a sudden loop back on itself and feed through the tension disks. I had checked everything else and not discovered the problem. Was it possible that my problem was as simple as the thread not feeding off the cone evenly?

I surfed the internet looking for other quilters who may have had similar problems. I came across a comment someone made about using a knee hi to cover the thread spool to control the thread feeding off the cone. Someone else mentioned putting a bit of polyester batting in the first thread guide.

What could I loose, so I gave both suggestions a try. What do you know--problem fixed! I have posted a picture below so that other long armers who read this blog can have a look at the simple solution that worked for me. Hopefully, I can save someone else a week's worth of time should they ever experience the same difficulty. Note the placement of the batting in the first thread guide and the knee hi on the thread cone. Not the most attractive set up, but definitely worth repeating.

Because of this easy fix, I finished the customer quilt tonight. Here it is....
It is a queen size Yellow Brick Road--93" x 110". It feels good to have finished this quilt.

I am exhausted! It is surprising how much stress you put on yourself when you don't understand what is causing a problem. Once the job is done and you can relax, you realize just how tired you really are.

I am going to reward myself tomorrow by working on one of my own projects in the cool of my air conditioned studio. Ahhhhhhhhh.....relief from the heat wave outside!


  1. I'm happy that you were finally able to find such an easy, if not attractive, fix for your stitches. The internet is a great resource! I've seen so many variations of the YBR pattern - this blue and yellow one is actually one of my favorites - still not sure I like the pattern - but it is popular. Enjoy sewing for yourself.



  2. Pretty clever!! I admire how you thought to look up the issue. My biggest fear is getting oneog those machines and thinking it is too hard to use.

    Can't wait to see you own projects.
    Be sweet--

  3. I wonder what the batting in the thread guide does? And will you have to always use that set-up or is it just this particular thread cone that is badly wound? I find the internet invaluable for sewing problems. I discovered several things about my new Pfaff online that the dealer hadn't mentioned.

  4. glad you were able to solve your problem, as it can be sooooo frudtrating until you at least know what is wrong... I'm sure your machine appreciated the extra cleaning/care you gave it this week regardless :-)

  5. You must have been at wit's end cleaning, changing and trying everything you knew to get those bird's nests to stop forming. Great idea to see what others might suggest to help out--use the internet for the information gathering spot it can be. Might not look the greatest but it got you done with this quilt. Earned every bit of your fee, I would say.

    Hopefully your own project will be less frustrating. Bet you are happy that a/c got installed about now---as hot in BC as in WA, OR right now??

  6. I love bottom line as a bobbin thread but haven't used it in the top before. I'll keep these hints in mind if I ever do use it as a top thread.

  7. how infuriating to have something go wrong when it was all going so smoothly! Glad you were able to solve the problem and thanks for sharing the solution with the rest of us. I'm fairly new in the long/mid arm arena, so I'll keep this in mind. I only have used the bottom line in the bobbin.

  8. Problems can be so frustrating and tiring. But aren't you proud of yourself for being so resourceful and finding a solution? Good work!

  9. I'm so glad that you got the problem fixed. I would still be angry that you have to jerry rig a very expensive machine to work. I might ask the manufacturer what they suggest - even if you have figured it out, you don't want this problem to continue or reoccur.

  10. I was reading your title as 'knee his' and was wondering what his knees had to do with quilting snarls ... lol

    Then I got to the part about the knee high stockings and the lightbulb came on. :)

  11. I am happy you got your problem solved. More time for quilting :-)

  12. so glad you found such a simple solution to your problem! love the landmark photo and so glad the customer quilt is done!

  13. What a smart gal you are Norma...and what a good, inexpensive and on target solution..*VBS*
    Isn't life just the most interesting thing we could be trying to do..*S* Makes me shake my head sometimes. Great job on getting the YBR done, it's a very, very pretty quilt...enjoy your down time!!

  14. I know how frustrating it is when you're working on something and then have to stop to figure something out.I always find my answer in the internet.Who would've thought to use a knee high but it's cheap and it worked.Good for you.That quilt is so pretty.

  15. Wow, I finally came across your blog! I have seen your comments and clicked to your profile, but it doesn't list a blog name, so I hit a dead end. So hi! It's nice to see where you "live"! Love your angel in the mountain. That is really neat!