Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Long Arm Troubles

I have a quilt that was on my frame that I sooooo want to quilt and return to my customer but unfortunately I started having problems with my long arm. I had quite a bit quilted and then I had to rip it all out because there were intermittent tension/stitching problems on the back of the quilt. Of course, every time I checked the back it looked perfect until that one time..... :(  I really wish the problem had revealed it's ugly face to me sooner because I had to spend a lot of time ripping.
Test sample back before adjustments
I made the above sample as a test  to try to diagnose what was going wrong. As I said the stitching on the front is good but on the back not so good. You can see that there are good stitches and then an example of the bad is on the right side running vertically in the photo. This problem was intermittent and so frustrating!!!

After all of the ripping, I tried everything to fix the problem, clean the machine, change the needle, change the bobbin case, try different thread, adjust the encoder wheels, check the timing, check the motor brushes, check everything I could think of and test....test.....test. Then I had to call the customer with the bad news that I wouldn't have the quilt ready for the agreed upon date. I felt really bad about that.

I called APQS support and they were able to give me quite a bit of help over the phone - thank you Angie! Unfortunately it hasn't been a total cure for what ails my machine, although things are much better. I have ordered a couple parts that I am hoping will be delivered within the next week. I will watch very intently while my husband installs them. ;))

Back of test sample after adjustments

Back after adjustments - close up
If you look really close at the 'after adjustments' sample you can see that it appears that a tiny bit of the very dark upper thread is showing on the back. When I run my fingernail over it there is no texture to indicate that it is coming to the back. I think what shows is the darker thread sitting in the needle hole in the center of the quilt sandwich. This is why I don't use contrasting threads in the top and bottom when quilting - I like 'em to match!

Front after adjustments - really close up
Front after adjustments - really close up

I also want to give a shout out to Cathy at Eagles' Wings Quilts because she has been so helpful with answering all of my questions and this isn't the first time she has been there for me with helpful advice. Quilt blogging friends are the best!!!!

My Millennium and I are making friends again!


Chantal said...

So sorry to hear about the machine acting up. I would love to get a (used) long arm machine but now ... not so sure. It looks more complicated than I thought. Hope all will be well after the new parts are installed. Good luck! ;^)

KaHolly said...

I'm going to look at a used long arm tomorrow. Your post makes me a little nervous! XO

The Joyful Quilter said...

It's all fun and games until the tension messes up!!