Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Struggeling with quilting

I am quilting my third quilt on the frame and I am struggling. I was really wishing that I had a long arm teacher and did not have to figure everything out on my own. My Bernina do not like invisible monofilament thread when I quilt on the frame. So I was so glad when my order of Invisafil arrived. This is a lovely fine, fine thread and on my white quilt would have the invisible look I want for ditch quilting.

My thread indicator continuously show thread breakage and the machine stopped. There was none, so after several "unnecessary" stops I switched the indicator off. Then my thread started to brake as soon as I speed up a bit. Frustrated and feeling helpless I googled Invisafil and longarm quilting.  I read that a longarm quilter said she has to go super slow when using Invisafil and think she will charge clients more if they insist on her using it for their quilts.

I started to work more slowly, I switched the thread breakage indicator on and the machine stop before the thread brake. I then see that there is a spin on the thread as soon as I speed up. Using the thread stand on top of the machine did not eliminate the problem. Decreasing the tension even more (to 0.5) made it a bit better. This is really a lovely thread and it produce stunning results- it is nearly invisible without the tension problems that the monofilament create.

As soon as I started to do free motion patterns in the border no cure wanted to work. So I have decided  I will use this thread as a bobbin thread and on a low low tension for ditch work.

I am a follower of the blog: Expert Enough and this article relates so well to machine quilting. We so often hear that to become good at machine quilting there is just one thing and that is practise, practise, practise. Corbett Barr say in this article that without quality added to make it deliberate practise, all this practising will not bear real fruit.

When I teach machine quilting I try to be very encouraging just to get students going- fear of stitching can turn a machine quilting class into a non sewing class. Yet, I realise I should also teach students to really look at what they stitched, what the ideal look is and urge them to narrow that gab with deliberate practise.

Diane Gaudynski is the Free motion teacher of the month at Sewcalgal. I have learnt machine quilting with the help of Harriet Hargrave and Debra Wagner's books but it was with Diane's input (through her books) that I really strived to do better. In this article she emphasis working slowly and precisely. I am once again inspired to do deliberate practise on the frame (I was ready to quit yesterday). Video's of longarm quilters create the impression that it is so easy. I can tell you it is hard!

For me the difficult thing is to have the same control I was used to when I was free motion quilting. Now I must 'drive' the machine and to get straight lines and smooth curves where you want it, is not so easy. I do have the advantage that what I want to quilt is already part of my DNA so I only have to concentrate on moving the machine to carry these patterns out.

Are there any other mid arm or frame quilters that can encourage me? Have you become an Expert Enough and what was the secrets of your deliberate practise? Please share these with me.


  1. Thank you for posting this information. I found the article on expert practice to be very good. I am sorry you are having trouble - you don't say what you are working on? Machine? Frame? It sounds to me like the problem might be related to your bobbin tension. Until I learned to adjust the bobbin tension I had nothing but headaches with thread constantly breaking and stitching just horrible. Bernie

  2. Invisible thread can be frustrating on all machines! I like Superior Threads the best, it seems to break less often. Just wanted to let you know that I listed you on my Versatile Blogger Award. Here is a link to the post:

  3. It sounds like your having issues with tension, you never said what type of thread your using in the bobbin.
    I follow the blog of Wendy Sheppard - Ivory Spring who is a mid arm quilter and her quilting is fabulous, she also gives tips and lots of pictures.

  4. It sounds like your having issues with tension and wonder what type of thread are you using in the bobbin?
    You might try checking out Wendy Sheppard's site "Ivory Spring" she is a domestic sit down quilter who's quilting is fabulous. She shares lots of tips and pictures as to how she does her quilting.

  5. Did you watch the video shared by the Tollgate Quilters on Topstitch needles? These eliminated many of my frustrations with thread breaking.

  6. Hi Marie,
    I picked up that you were having problems with invisable thread.
    A couple of things with this thread.
    If you are quilting on a frame, you need to check the tension of the quilt on the frame. You should be able to "tent" the quilt with a finger from underneath.
    Again, with a frame, you should be using a size 70 TOPSTITCH needle for domestic machines and you need to set your top tension quite loose.If you have a frame, didn't your dealer show you how to put a practice piece on the side of your quilt?You ALWAYS check your tension on a small practice piece first.

    You REALLY do need to join a long arm list like Home Quilting Systems. It's an American long arm list and all the answers to your questions are there.IF you want details e-mail me on

  7. Great work! I will positively try it. Thanks!


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