QUILTING IN THE HOOP
I reccently uploaded a video on creating quilt outlines from lettering in the Bernina Designer Plus software. I’ve embedded it at the end of this post, but it occurred to me that it might be helpful to post about the process of quilting in the hoop.
GETTING YOUR QUILT IN THE HOOP.
It is much easier to quilt each block of your quilt before you join it together. Quilting a large completed quilt in the
hoop, even with the longer arm machines can lead to all sorts of problems. The weight and bulk of the quilt could
easily impede the movement of the embroidery arm. Keeping the parts of the quilt, not being embroidered, clear of the embroidery area would be very difficult. In short, I would not recommend attempting large quilts in the hoop. Having said this, smaller quilted projects, such as table runners, small throws and individual blocks are easily machine quilted in the hoop. I will post next week on how to join your blocks after quilting.
The thickness of your wadding will determine how you hoop. It is possible to hoop your quilt “sandwich” if you are using pellon or a simmilar thin wadding. The wadding itself assists in stabilising, but depending on your design you may need to add additional stabiliser. I have used a sheet of tearaway slid under the hoop, but if
your quilting is intricate and you don’t want to pick out lots of tearaway you could baste a water soluble on top.The heavier weight solvy should be fine.
If your wadding is too thick to hoop, you will need to hoop an adhesive stabiliser of your choice ( there are watersoluble versions available) and lay your quilt sandwhich on to this. I recommend doing a basting stitch to hold the layers together. Use a fine needle, so that you are not left with needle marks when you remove the basting. No additional stabiliser should be necessary.
ALWAYS TEST FIRST, which brings me to the next point.
Most embroidery machines automatically drop the upper tension down to about 2 for
embroidery. This ensures that the bobbin thread does not pull up to the top. However this results in the top thread being pulled to the back.I did a sample with the default embroidery tension using green thread on the top and red thread in the bobbin to illustrate.
We all want our embroideries to look their best and tension is one of the factors which affects the quality of the stitch out. The tension for machine embroidery is different from the tension for normal sewing. When sewing normally the tensions of the top and bottom thread should be equal, so that the upper thread does not show on the bottom and the lower thread does not show on the top. When embroidering the upper tension is looser than the lower tension so that the upper thread is drawn to the underneath. This ensures that the bobbin thread never shows on the top, and the edges of the embroidery are crisp and neat.
If your machine has Auto Tension the change in tension is set automatically when you select the embroidery option. If you have manual tension you will need to set the tension yourself. Check your machine’s instruction manual for the correct settings.
You can check your tension by doing a test embroidery. Using the inbuilt lettering on your machine, stitch out the letters EPNS in a block type font. Choose a size about 20mm high.
If you look at the underside of the embroidery, you should see the upper thread on both sides of the letters. The upper thread should cover about 1/3 of the letter on each side, with the bobbin fill covering the remaining third in the centre of the letters. There may be some variation around the curves.
Other incorrect tension indicators are:-
loose stitches and or looping on the top
looping and or tangles on the bottom, and
constant thread breakages.
If you are having tension issues and your machine has been regularly serviced, you can try the following:-
Double check the threading. (we all have bad days)
Replace the needle. Where possible use an embroidery needle
Clean the bobbin area
Check for stray bits of thread in the bobbin area, in the bobbin case and and in the upper part of the machine.
Clean between the tension discs with a piece of folded muslin or calico.
Check that the bobbin is wound correctly. It should not feel spongy.
What bobbin fill are you using? It is surprising how much variation there is between brands. Some brands of machines have their own bobbin fill. Their tension has been set for that thread and best results are achieved by using it. I am not a fan of pre wound bobbins unless they are wound on a genuine bobbin. Having said that, if they work for you and your machine that’s great.
Try a different upper thread. Quality and handle vary between brands and fibre content. Even with the same brand you occasionally get a bad spool. Thread does deteriorate over time. If your thread is old and causing problems, throw it out. It is not worth the hassle.
Try using a thread stand. The more distance between the spool and the machine, the more time the thread has to “de kink” and relax.
Try adjusting your tension setting. You may only have to do this when you are using a particular thread. If you need to do it all the time and especially if it needs more than a minor adjustment, you should see your machine mechanic.
If after all of the above you are still having problems see your mechanic.