Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tension and Stitch Length!

More information arrives from quilters who are dealing with new, electronic machines. Mercy recently explained her tweaking with the Bernina830 and silk thread, and she reports now that if the stitch length is set at "0," the thread tension on top gets very tight.

I have noticed on some Bernina 440's that when the BSR is used, the tension gets tighter than if a normal free motion foot is used, but of course can be adjusted down so a proper stitch is achieved.

Many things can affect the thread tension on top, even the humidity or color of thread. Dark threads may need a slightly different top tension than ecru, in the exact same thread.

In my first book, Guide to Machine Quilting, I suggested setting the stitch length to zero if you drop the feed dogs and free motion quilt. This was back in the Dark Ages when I used a mechanical machine, no brains, no sensors. Now I don't even think about doing that because my machine knows if I lower the feed dogs I don't NEED stitch length and allows them to rest comfortably in the basement, not moving at all. So I never touch that stitch length dial when the dogs are down.

On the Bernina 830 Mercy found that if she did use the zero stitch length the top tension became way too tight. If you own this machine, don't change the stitch length at all when the dogs are lowered.

All things are interconnected. Be aware.

Hope you are not slaving away too hard here in the US where we have our big Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday. I am hoping to get in an hour or so of quilting today on some ideas I've had before I forget them, and take a break from cleaning and polishing, shopping for food, cooking.

Keep quilting! Your work gets better every day.


Kelly said...

Love your book: Guide to Machine Quilting. I have had it a week and it has helped me immensely!

Diane Gaudynski said...

Thanks kheli - I'm glad it is helping and that you like it! I think it really gives some basic good info on machine quilting on a home machine. As things change I will update them here, so stay tuned....

Jane Macdermott said...

I love how you have so many great hints. I love your blog.

Diane Gaudynski said...

Thanks Jane! I started this blog to give you information, update things from classes and my books, and share the questions and answers I had for years via emails. Now everyone can hear the answers. Glad you like it!

flavia said...

Jane!!!! sono disperata perchè io ho la mia Bernina 440 QE con il bsr e usando due colori differenti seta bianca(madeira)sopra e sotto poliestere viola con ago 75 per quilting...ottengo che sopra mi si vede un pò il viola e sotto un pò il bianco.
potrei sapere che cosa fai per regolare al meglio la tensione???

Diane Gaudynski said...

flavia commented:
I am desperate because I have my Bernina 440 QE with bsr and using two different colors white silk (madeira) above and below 75 for polyester purple needle quilting ... I get over that I can see a little purple and in some white.
I know what you do to better adjust the tension??
thank you

A: It's very difficult to balance two very high contrast colors like purple and white. You could try threading the "finger" on the bobbin to see if that keeps the thread from showing on top, but sometimes that makes the bobbin tension way too tight on the back.

If you can't prevent this from happening, I use the same color in the bobbin and in the top. Don't worry about matching the backing. If you don't want to do that, a more neutral color in the bobbin like a grey or tan might help.

If the balance is very bad, have your service tech give it a look and see if the tension might need checking on your machine.

Hope this helps!

flavia said...

ti ringrazio moltissimoo per la risposta!niente da fare! anche se regolo la vite della bobina...non riesco a trovare la soluzione...anche perchè se uso la stoffa bianca,in questo caso per il mio quilt,uso filo bianco e sotto essendo la stoffa viola uso filo viola.......risultato un trapunto che non mi piace esteticamente perche appunto si vedono le annodature. allora il BSR non va bene per questo tipo di lavoro.

Lindi said...

Thank you so much for your insight. I will definetly not change my stitch length next time. L