Apr 5, 2014

D271: It all my fault! Yey!!

I'll start with the key point here...

Tip of the day: If you love your machine, use quality thread.  It affects the tension and the debris and build up in the machine (at least). The quality of your machine's performance begins with the thread.

The poor quality thread in the bobbin is fluffy
My sewing machine dealer provides a free lesson on any machine purchased.  Today I used mine.  While I waited for the previous lesson to finish up I mentioned I'd had trouble with my machine's tension and was worried about the timing.  The technician plugged it in and, after looking at my trial swatch, did these things:
  • Changed the needle
  • Oiled the only user-accessible oiling spot available.

Thunking sound gone.  :0  
Stitches even and beautiful.  :O
Me stunned. 

And delighted!!  It was me!  I'm not sure which thing made the difference - he didn't run it between the changes to see - but there are three things that may have caused the problem.
  1. The needle may have been bent. This is highly likely when I think of the fifty or so pivots I've done, on the nine or so zigzags so far.  This involves manoeuvring a lot of heavy fabric, which I'm very careful about, but it's only the needle holding it in place.
  2. The thread fluff may have collected in the oil.
  3. The thread fluff or quality may have affected the tension pads.

A low quality thread, such as a brandless bulk-buy three-pack spool I may or may not have been using, it can be uneven in it's thickness and fluffy.  The fluff can pack up corners and lubricated points.  The thickness can make the tension pads lose their even grasp on the thread as they adjust from thick to thin patches.  Top-thread loops on the back of your work can ensue.

I thought that, like with my old workhorse machine, I could throw anything at this one and it would suck it up.  I wrongly assumed that a higher quality, more refined and sensitive machine would adjust itself it all sorts of thread - coz it's awesome right?  Nope.  It's sensitively means it needs consistency and, well, protection.  Cheap and nasty thread was okay on my old 807 as it wasn't sensitive enough to notice.  My 530 needs better quality thread.  Like I said, the quality of it's performance begins with the thread.  Also, like a commenter on my quilting forum discussion mentioned, it's not really the machine, in the end; crap thread is crap.

I also learned that 'quilting' needles aren't desperately important; regular universal needles are fine.  It's more important to match the needle to the thread thickness and to the fabric.  Can I mention my awesome Bernina, again, and the page in it's manual dedicated to different needles and their purpose? 

So, with all that under my belt, I finished quilting the white zigzags tonight.  I plan to tie up all the loose ends and remove most of the basting, and then do the coloured zigzags.

I'm working from right to left in all the initial zigzags because, even though I'm using a walking foot, I want to avoid twisting or pulling the fabric by working back and forth.  It means that I'm not sewing the quilt in the most convenient way, which would be to put whichever end is closer through the machine throat. Instead I'm putting the same side through and rolling up its bulk, when necessary, for easier management.
Here is me working through the last of the zigzags with as much bulk as possible being put through the throat.

Top: At the start, I support the length of the quilt over my shoulder and change shoulders as I zig and zag.
Middle: Managing the bulk of the quilt through the throat of the machine is challenging, especially midway when pulling it all back through as I pivot to go up the zigzag (the 'zig'!). I keep a firm hold on the roll to ensure my sewing area is flat.

Bottom: To keep the quilt weight from pulling on the machine I hold the tail of the sewing with one hand and guide with the other.  I don't know if I could do this with a full-sized quilt!

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