Wednesday, May 29, 2013

WIP Wednesday and the Top Five FMQ Frustration Solutions

Thanks to all who posted empathetic comments and/or suggestions about my FMQ tension problems. At that point in the day, I just didn't want to sit down and figure it out, so I let it go until the next night. It all worked out!

I figured out what my problem was (and it was a dumb one). The bobbin tension was off big time. It was off because, twice in a row (as in, even when I changed bobbins), I wound the bobbin the way I used to on my old machine. Let me explain in pictures. Here's what I am supposed to be doing:

Here's what I did. Apparently I'm not used to using my thread stands still after 3 months of sewing almost every day! My brain must have gone on automatic mode and I just didn't realize.

 Either way, still in LOVE with my auto bobbin winder :D

So, I think this is why my bobbin threads weren't coming out right. It just got worse as I went. To fix this problem, I filled one more bobbin and also rethreaded my machine, and everything was perfect! Look! (I edited the picture a bit so you can see the stitches pop)

I'm still working on my stitch length. It's a work in progress, like I said :)

So, as it stands, my top five tips for any kind of FMQ frustration:

1. Rethread the machine - this has worked for me as the only solution so many times, I can't even count.

2. Take out and reattach your bobbin, or rethread one completely - the first option, just as common for me as #1, and the second, just this time. Only try the second one if you *think* something really weird is going on with the bobbin after you've taken it out and reattached. I feel like I know my machine like my own flesh and blood at this point (even though I've only had it for a couple months), but I'm surprised I didn't hear something off during bobbin winding (there you go - I'm naive!).

3. Change needles - also very helpful. My friend from the CJMQG, Robin, especially recommended this one.

4. Clean out your bobbin case - sometimes it just needs a good clean. Like everything else. Right?

5. Pray to the sewing gods - this one has worked for me before, too. Things will get better and that quilt will get quilted - promise :) Also, stepping away (which I usually need to do) works well.

If you've read down this far, you deserve a peek at my favorite quilt square yet on my wedding quilt (unfinished in the photo, though finished by the end of tonight!):

I'm so proud of it and I can't wait to finish! Four more FMQed blocks to go (and the white binding!)
Do you have any other FMQ frustration tips?

Linking to:


  1. Having the bobbin wound incorrectly was actually my most recent tension problem too! I was also threading it the way of my old machine. Hard to break old habits!

  2. A couple of times, I have just shut off my machine and walked away until the next day. I have often thought it was because it got to hot or something. Then again, it could have been just me, as FMQ for several hours can be hard on my old body and eyes!

  3. I have to add that sometimes we are too hard on ourselves. When you fmq you are about 18 inches from the quilt. You see every tiny detail. Once the quilt is finished it is never looked at this way again. After washing it even changes dramatically. (Sometimes tension "issues" are erased when the batting fluffs up and draws the eye lashes back into the sandwich.)

  4. I'm glad you figured it out. Many sometimes it make me want to scream if can't figure out what I'm doing wrong. Your quilt is going to be beautiful when finished!!

  5. That is my list of fixes too. And take a break/go to bed! When I get tired the quilting does not go well.

  6. :) SO glad you figured this one out. FMQ is hard enough and has so very many variables that it is always hard to know what's wrong. :)

  7. As to your stitching - yes, too hard on yourself! Looks good. :)

  8. Beautiful quilting. You forgot the most important tip - swear. Turn off the machine. Eat chocolate. Try again! But praying to the sewing Gods is a good second!

  9. glad you found the problem.. i find times when i had wind the bobbin unproperly and tension would occur too.. but i am sometime so lazy to unwind it but you'll just have to..nice quilting!

  10. I'm glad you figured it out! I love the tips especially number 5.

  11. Great tips, I'm glad you got it sorted.

    As you can see, I'm still way behind on blog posts! Yesterday my machine came home from its vacation with the service man (I was having one so my machine did too) but I haven't felt inclined to use it yet!


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