You've been having great results and then something happens. Check the threading, change the needle, tweak the tension. Most of the time it will straighten out. But occasionally you will be beset with a perplexing intermittent problem. Perfect stitches for good long run followed by 6 or so tangled stitches and then everything is fine again.
|A tangled loop of top thread on the back of my quilt.|
Check all the typical variables but it keeps happening. It could be a burr in the needle plate that only hits threads when the quilt moves a certain direction. Maybe a stray thread in the thread path. Maybe the quilt is hanging up on something. Sometimes it's a run of bad thread. It can be very perplexing.
For me, it can be a poorly wound bobbin. That's what I want to focus on in this post today.
Sad to say, it is usually operator error when it comes to my bobbins. I get in a rush and don't pay attention. That's what happened to me recently. Now, I only have Janome bobbins here. That's not always the case with a lot of sewists. We get a lot of machines into the shop that are loaded with very much the wrong bobbin. That can cause a bunch of trouble that is easily fixed. Check your bobbins.
The poorly wound bobbin above was the result of me being careless and leaving my machine cluttered with extra feet and needles in the path of the bobbin winding thread path. I love the storage on top of the machine, but I wasn't paying attention and the thread was rubbing on the top of a foot that was out of place.
I stripped off that last bit of thread and started sewing. All was well for about 30 minutes, then I heard a little snick sound. I've talked before about learning the sounds your machine makes. Everything looked fine so I kept stitching and listening. Snick. Check the stitching. Fine on the top but there was a tiny nest of thread on the back. Did a little pulling and confirmed it was top thread. That tells me it was a bobbin area issue.
Check the bobbin and found this knot in the middle of my bobbin with thread wrapped around it. I had my suspicions right away but did a strip search anyway. After pulling off several yards of thread, I realized that when I held the tail of the thread while the bobbin was winding, I held it too long and the thread doubled up on itself into this tangle. Then the rest of the bobbin thread covered it up.
There's a new feature on some of the newer Janomes that completely eliminates this operator error. It's a plate that looks like a plastic saw blade that the bobbin sits on as it is wound. You set the bobbin in place, wrap the thread around the bobbin a few times and then tuck the thread between any of the plastic fingers/teeth of the the plate and it cuts off the excess thread and holds the end while the thread is wound. I don't have this lovely feature.
My solution is just to be more mindful when I wind the bobbin! I ought to know it by now, but I forget from time to time in my hurry to wind the thing and get back to quilting. Any snags, knots, and other things that cause the bobbin to go bad, will cause you grief.
In most cases, a poor bobbin will give you tension issues. In this case, the knot was keeping the thread from unwinding until it was tugged enough by the top thread, which would cause the top thread to get pulled too deep into the machine and make the hook grab it and make a nice nest.
I'm not a bird, I want no nests on my quilts!
So there's one of those things that can give you mystery issues when quilting. What's an issue you found that caused you such intermittent problems that you've figured out?