Wednesday, December 2, 2009

This and That

The leaves, above, are printed on a sheer crinkly fabric that I placed on black so the design would show more clearly. I like it. It is an old blouse I never wear, and while I was packing it up for a donation box I loved the great leaves.

I am always noticing quilting motifs in everything, and with some tweaking this one would be great. Now, to sit at my machine and play with this a bit. It might make it, or it might end up on the cutting room floor.

I've had so many emails about silk thread and how to make it work in various machines. Usually it's wise to lower the top tension a bit, maybe a lot, and use a fine cotton in the bobbin and it will work very well. Do a small adjustment at a time, maybe half a stop, so if it is set at 4, go to 3 1/2 and quilt a bit and see what it looks like. Sometimes it needs to go much lower, depending on the machine. Always check the back stitches and the tension there too.

In my last class we had two machines that had very loose bobbin tension. If I held the bobbin case up by the thread it fell. It should feel like it is going to fall to the floor but doesn't. We adjusted the bobbin tension, a bit at a time, until it felt right, then tried it in the machine. Success! Perfect stitch.

There was one that was incredibly tight, and we loosened it and it worked perfectly afterwards.

If you have "fear of bobbin tension" syndrome, and are concerned about adjusting it yourself, take it in for a little field trip to your dealer if possible and have them show you, check it, get the right information.

I have used #100 silk thread by YLI on several models of Berninas and they all take it a bit differently, but in the end, perfectly. In my last teaching trip to Phat Quarters in Galena, IL I used a new Bernina 730 and it worked absolutely perfectly at the default upper tension setting with silk in the bobbin as well. Once you get the hang of how your machine and your thread get along you will know exactly what to do, and have great success, and great confidence.

And don't forget your technician at your dealer. They see it all, know so much, and have a direct link to the mother ship.

Exciting news! I finally twisted Ann Fahl's arm and she has begun a blog. Ann is an accomplished award-winning machine quilter and art quilter who will have many thoughts and tips to share with you. I love her advice about color in her first post, and agree totally. I know I will enjoy reading her blog with my morning coffee. Her blog is

Let's welcome her to the blogosphere!

Keep quilting, your work gets better every day!


Kim Brackett said...

Great information, Diane! I use your name as an example when my Bernina dealer tells me I can't do something with my machine! :)

Anonymous said...

Wonderful description of what the bobbin tension should feel like.
Judy B

Diane Gaudynski said...

For those of you who are unsure about bobbin tension and what it should feel/look like in your own machine, check with your dealer and get a lesson, and perhaps get a separate bobbin case that you can adjust for various threads or types of work. Keep your original case for normal sewing tasks.

Work with your dealer or service person, ask for advice so you can be confident about being the best possible pilot for your sewing machine.

Featheronawire Sally Bramald said...

And it can be different with two machines exactly the same. On one of my 440s I have the top tension at zero for YLI silk, on the other at 1½ and that's even using the very same bobbin case. (same day, same colour thread etc.)

Diane Gaudynski said...

Absolutely! On two separate machines, same brand and model, the tension on top may vary quite a bit for silk thread (or probably any thread, for that matter). On my own 730 I usually set it at about 2.0, or even 1.75, and on the one I used at the quilt shop for demo I lowered it only half a number and it did everything perfectly. Even on default it worked fine, but I lowered it a tad for some tricky circles and fast directional changes made in Headbands so bobbin thread wouldn't pop up. Mine has perfect stitches too, but at a different upper tension number than that same model/brand at the shop.

Don't worry about this - it is just a reference point for you. Changing the number on the upper tension is a very minor adjustment that you, the operator, can make. It is there for you to use so you can make the best possible stitch on your machine. No sewing machine manufacturer would want you to limp along with bad tension and be unhappy.

If you have an electronic machine remember it resets to default when the machine is turned off.

You might be able to save your setting in "favorites" but I just write my tension number in blue washout marker on my sewing machine cabinet each night when the machine goes to sleep. Next day there it is, and I begin at that number, and might have a different setting that day due to temperature, humidity, or gremlins that come in the night...

Lynne said...

Your work is lovely, and as an art quilter, I use your book, Quilt Savvy all the time when I hit a roadblock.