Though the name suggests it should be simple to do, free motion quilting is similar to any other sewing done with a machine and prone to the same annoying issues.
When your machine starts acting up - just stop, take a deep breath, and use this short list of common issues to troubleshoot the problem and get it resolved fast.
By knowing what could go wrong and how to fix it, it will be possible to keep free motion stitching as free and easy as possible and get your quilt finished!
Thread Keeps Breaking
Of all the issues you could have with a quilting machine, a snapping thread is likely a very common one seen and probably a highly annoying one as well.
Breaking thread is usually caused by two things: a dull needle or incorrect thread tension.
Start out with the easy solution first and change to a sharp, new needle and give it another go.
If that takes care of it, keep it in mind that quilting involves making a ton of stitches on a machine, so the needle is going to dull a lot faster than it might if sewing something much smaller.
If that doesn’t work, look into resetting the thread tension as mentioned in the next point.
Thread Tension Is Off
When a high-quality machine like the Janome MC6650 Sewing and Quilting Machine starts making uneven stitches that are either too tight or too loose, this indicates a thread tension problem.
As mentioned above, broken needles may also suggest thread tension problems which are fortunately easy to resolve.
Just unthread the whole machine including the bobbin thread, give everything top and bottom a good cleaning, and then carefully rethread.
Test the tension on some scrap fabric and adjust the upper and lower tension until the stitches are even on both sides of the fabric.
One Side of the Quilt Looks Wavy
If you started off with a perfectly flat and square quilt and end with it being a little wavy to one side, it probably means the free motion design was stitch-heavy on one side with not enough stitching on the other side.
Stitching tightens up the quilt slightly, so it’s essential that free motion designs done on a quilting machine be applied evenly throughout the entire quilt.
Remedy this by adding more stitches to the wavy side of the quilt that has a lighter stitch concentration to pull in that fabric a bit more and eliminate the waviness.
Can’t Decide What To Stitch
Deciding on a quilting design to use can be one of the most challenging free motion quilting issues of them all - and we’ve all been there!
For inspiration, look at pictures of other quilts, in books and magazines, and even look at stitching templates for ideas to add into your own collection.
Draw out a design on some paper ahead of time to create a guide for yourself, then go to it.
Even if you don’t stick exactly to the sketch, free motion quilting can be random and spontaneous too!
Just be sure to keep an even stitch concentration over the entire quilt or you could end up with a wavy side.
Keep Free Motion Quilting Fun
Machine quilting without adhering to the confines of straight lines or following the shapes of the fabric pattern can be a fun and relaxing technique to use for finishing your beautiful quilt project.
When problems happen that make free motion quilting more frustrating than it is fun, one of the above issues is usually the cause.
Follow these steps to again enjoy the process of creating attractive thread designs rather than fighting with your quilting machine!