Solving Common Quilting Machine Problems

Lets start with a quilting maching that’s in great working condition, but even if a brand new machine isn’t practical, it’s still possible to turn out great projects on your old one, provided you perform some basic maintenance to keep things in good running condition.
To keep quilting machines running well for a long time, you should keep it both cleaned and oiled. Adjusting tensions and changing out the needle are two more ways to keep things shipshape.

Let’s take a look at a few of the most common quilting problems and how to resolve them.
If the owner’s manual is handy, check that first for problem-solving. If you are quilting on a garage-sale special that never had a manual, try these troubleshooting techniques.

If the machine is skipping stitches, try changing the needle. If it is “pulling stitches” and “drawing-up” the seam then check both tensions: bobbin and top tension, or the machine could simply be dirty. Thread lint could be clogging the bobbin case or in the feed-dog (little teeth under the presser plate). Use good quality quilter’s thread for less lint and thread-breaking.

To clean your machine, remove the bobbin case and check the tension for stray lint. Check the top tension for hidden thread-lint or dust. Remove the tiny screws from the presser plate and lay the plate aside. Use a small, clean paint brush to remove any debris or lint. Put the presser plate and bobbin back into place.

To oil your machine, use a good recommended oil. Check the owner’s manual for correct method or visit the company website.

Oiling is done at the end of a quilting session, and afterwards, a piece of scrap fabric is placed under the presser foot. Before quilting again run a piece of scrap fabric under the needle, and sew some sample stitching to check for any excess oil. Don’t be afraid to waste thread or scrap fabric here – even a faint trace of oil on a finished quilt block will never do. Sew some lines of stitches and check until satisfied that the machine is clean. Check the quilting line top and bottom for a good stitch.

Change your needle often. Keep a sharp needle in the quilting machine. It makes everything a lot easier. Set the machine at 10 – 12 stitches per inch. A long basting stitch won’t work for finished quilt-top seams. Even some vintage quilt seams are hand-finished at 10 stitches per inch. Vintage quilts have sometimes been passed down for generations and the stitches need to stay put.

So now that the quilting machine is ready, lets have some fun quilting!