Purchased this machine to try to do simple stipple quilting projects with free motion sewing. I can lower the feed dogs, but the machine doesn't seem to want to sew - the bobbin thread just knots up behind. Is this not something the machine will do? There are no directions in the manual, so any help would be appreciated.
You need to set the stitch length to '0', use some stabilizer to help stiffen the material slightly (you can use it to trace your design onto as well) and try using an embroidery hoop this sometimes helps. When you start you must push the needle down through the material and up again using the machines wheel and pull the bottom thread through from underneath. Do a couple of stitches to fix the thread and then go.
The most important thing to try and get right is the machines tension, this can sometimes be trial and error I am afraid. My machine tension works best on about a '3'.
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There is a silicon sheet that is very helpful for free motion quilting. One brand is called "Supreme Slider" and can be purchased from several places on the internet. It seems expensive but is worth its weight in gold...
#26 is an embroidery foot. Why are you using an embroidery foot for free motion quilting? A #24 free motion embroidery foot will work but not the #26. Try using a darning foot that is just a smidgen shorter so there is space between it and the needleplate for you to freely move the fabric. (Adding a Supreme Slider sheet to the work surface of your machine helps make the fabric glide much smoother.) A standard presser foot is made to press the fabric against the feed dogs so the feed dogs will move the fabric. When free motion quilting, you would drop the feed dogs and move the material with your hands.
Depends which model Bernina you have (new or old style presser feet), which will work on your machine. There are also many generic darning/FMQ feet available that will work on your machine.
Oooh, consult your owner's manual. Frequently, industrial machines are limited in their capabilities so your machine may not have the feed dog lowering ability. Some other domestic machines without the capability can use a plate to cover the feed dogs while free motion quilting, but that probably wouldn't be a good thing to try if your machine is not made for sewing without the feed dogs in use.
I'm assuming your machine has a little plate you put over the feed dogs rather than a knob which disengages the feed dogs from moving to do free motion embroidery or something.
If this is the case there probably isn't enough room for your quilt sandwich under the foot.
You could try using a free motion embroidery foot rather than the regular foot with the feed dogs up and see if that allows you sufficient movement.
It would look like this:
It may take some practice still to get a smooth stipple if that is the effect you are going for.
You may find some other ideas on quilting websites to get around this problem or in a Yahoo group for quilters. I've only ever quilted in straight stitch using my walking foot so it feeds the quilt smoothly for me, never tried FMQ.
You're absolutely correct, you'll need to either drop the feed dogs (lever generally located near the bobbin case or on the outside base of machine) or cover the feed dogs with a plate (many machines have this included).
Then... you'll need to lower the presser foot - when you lower it, it should NOT touch the bed of the machine but sit slightly raised off the fabric surface. As you stitch the presser foot will lower onto the fabric to hold it taught as the needle penetrates.
Oddly enough it's easier to achieve smooth stitches when sewing at a faster speed, but begin by stitching fairly slowly until you get a feel for free-motion stitching. You'll be doing all the guiding and it may feel a bit strange and uncontrolled at first.
Position yourself at your machine so that when your hands on your fabric/bed of machine, your shoulders are relaxed (not all hunched up) and your elbows are slightly higher than the bed of the machine.
You'll want to stitch in a side-to-side or back and forth motion (as opposed to trying to turn the fabric.
Best of luck with this technique. Once you're comfortable with it, you're sure to enjoy the freedom of creating!
If the machine works on regular stitching and only messes up on free motion ,the most likely problem is the presser foot has not been lowered. Get everything ready to sew, lower the presser foot lever and pull on the upper thread near the take up lever. It should have tension on it. Raise the foot and try again, it should not have tension on it . If this is what you get, lower the presser foot lever and try it again. sewman7