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Tension differences - a learning experience

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    Tension differences - a learning experience

    I am machine quilting a quilt that has a cotton top and cotton batting, with a flannel backing. The first thing I did was SITD (stitch in the ditch) to stabilize the quilt. I used 50 wt cotton thread from Connecting threads. I have a BabyLock "Quilter's Choice", and had my tension set at 5.0. No problems, quilting went well.

    I then switched to YLI 40 wt thread on the top, still the 50wt Connecting Threads on the bottom. (Changed the needle from #80 to #90). I also switched from a walking foot to a FMQ (darning) foot. I was surprised to find that I needed another tension adjustment! I had to take my tension from 5.0 to 6.0! Even though I am using the FMQ foot, I am still straight stitching. I use the FMQ foot so that I can straight stitch to the left, right, and backwards instead of having to completely move around the quilt to straight stitch with a walking foot.

    I am in my 6th year of quilting, my 4th year of FMQ. I was really surprised to see how different the tension was in this situation. I don't know if it was the difference in the thread, or the difference in the method of quilting - or a combination of both. I am still learning!
    If you are not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you are determined to learn, no one can stop you.- Zig Ziglar

    #2
    Re: Tension differences - a learning experience

    In a way it's disconcerting to hear that after doing this for 4 years, you are still learning. But at the same time I guess it is nice to know there is always something else to master. It depends on my frame of mind at the time.

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      #3
      Re: Tension differences - a learning experience

      I'm glad you know how to fix tension problems!
      I like your idea of FMQ straight lines. It may be a better option than wrangling a quilt in different directions continually. Thanks for the suggestion!

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        #4
        Re: Tension differences - a learning experience

        Sylvia - I've definitely found tension differences with the same threads when switching from SITD to FMQ. In fact, I have a totally different bobbin case that I put in my Janome 6600 when switching - but usually still have to do some tension adjustments. I rarely use the walking foot anymore because I really like not having to turn that quilt so much - easier to use a straight ruler and FMQ. My go-to ruler is the straight ruler by Accents in Design.
        ***Kathy***

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          #5
          Re: Tension differences - a learning experience

          Originally posted by klgls View Post
          Sylvia - I've definitely found tension differences with the same threads when switching from SITD to FMQ. In fact, I have a totally different bobbin case that I put in my Janome 6600 when switching - but usually still have to do some tension adjustments. I rarely use the walking foot anymore because I really like not having to turn that quilt so much - easier to use a straight ruler and FMQ. My go-to ruler is the straight ruler by Accents in Design.
          Thank you for sharing your experience. I have not used a ruler with my FMQ. I am just learning about that technique. Right now, I am depending on the markings on my FMQ foot and a steady hand. But the 'straight' lines are sometimes wavy! For one quilt, I drew the lines with an air erasable pen. I may have to go to that technique for this quilt as well. It is very time consuming, though.

          I will have to check out the ruler you recommended.
          If you are not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you are determined to learn, no one can stop you.- Zig Ziglar

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