I am quilting a baby quilt with simple straight lines (I've made several) but today my machine is not cooperating. The bobbin thread is bunching up and sometimes loose in the same seamlines. My fabric is tucking on the underside as well. Help! I'm tired of ripping out seams...What should I do?
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Tension for stitching a quilt sandwich is tricky. It helps if you use the same color for top and bobbin thread,. If your quilting thread is not the same weight (either heavier or lighter) than thread used for regular sewing, then the bobbin tension may need to be adjusted. My quilting thread is lighter weight so I have a separate bobbin case whos tension has been adjusted specifically for quilting. The goal is have both threads meet in the middle of the sandwich. If the top thread is showing under the sandwich, you probably need to tighten the top tension so it will pull the bobbin thread up into the sandwich. Do the reverse if the bobbin thread shows on top.
It may also make a difference by changing the type and size needle. I tend to prefer a top-stitch needle. An embroidery or microtex may also work for you.
Quilting is a bit more finicky than regular sewing. Be sure to ALWAYS RAISE the presser foot when threading the top thread. FWIW, I use a separate bobbin case for FMQ that I have tightened the tension to keep the bobbin thread from coming to the top of the sandwich, but I tend to use a finer thread for quilting so adjusting the bobbin takes care of it. In your case, however, it sounds like the top thread is staying under the fabric. I would try tightening the top tension. Also, install a brand new needle--a top stitch, embroidery, or microtex needle seem to work well for me. Test well on a sandwich made of the same fabric and batting and get it adjusted well before sewing on your quilt. Sometimes sewing speed will affect stitches under the fabric, or even on top.
Sounds like the upper tension needs to be tightened, or the bobbin thread needs to be loosened. At any rate, the tension is correct when the two threads meet in the middle of the fabric for general sewing.
For free motion quilting, the tension should be adjusted so that the bobbin thread does not show on the top of the fabric, however, it should not lay in a straight line like it sounds like it may appear currently. What you are currently producing is a gathering stitch where the bobbin thread can be easily pulled.
12 wt thread generally will not work well in the bobbin...
"Aurifil 12wt Thread
Aurifil 12 wt thread is ideal for hand quilting, big stitch hand quilting and machine quilting. 12 weight thread creates a more defined and often primitive look. It's great for designs that use a longer stitch length if using a machine. When machine quilting with 12 wt thread, use 40 wt in the bobbin, increase your stitch length, lower your tension, use Topstitch size 90 needles and stitch slowly."
from what you said about the bobbin thread continues to break check for burrs in the following area--even the smallest burr can cause problems bobbin bobbin case needle plate needle could be damaged or bad thread
My experiences with thread breaking with machine on a quilting frame make me look at the upper tension being set too high, the needle being worn or movement of the machine is too fast. Reduce the upper tension first, then sew in straight lines at first. See if you can sew slowly, in straight lines and reduce the upper tension until the thread stops breaking. If so, try some 1-2 inch circles, again going slowly. If the needle thread is pulling to the back, you will need to increase the upper tension again until the stitches meet in the middle of the fabric. If you can't locate a balanced spot where the needle thread is not pulling to the back side and thread doesn't break, try taking the machine off of the frame and sewing on a table. If it won't sew this way, it needs some professional help. If it does, you will probably save a lot of time taking it in for service, making sure to explain to the repair center that you have problems on a quilting frame, not while sewing normally. When the machine is adjusted to sew normally on a table and you move it to the frame, you will probably need to reduce the tension by 1-2 complete turns of the tension knob.
My friend and I both have the Juki 98Q but on different frames - we were both having problems (needles breaking, thread getting tangled) we removed the thin metal thing inside the bobbin case and have had no problems since (over a year now!).