So What is With This Stitch


Running into problems already – seems every time I finally decide to try machine quilting I run into problems!

I got it all pin basted just as I do when I hand quilt.  Ok well that is a photo of the pins dumped out Smile


I had stitched about 6 inches of a length of the row and went back and looked at my stitches to check and see how it was going – started out ok and then the stitches got really tiny – I took all the stitches out and did a practice sandwich once again checking out the tension (same weight of fabric and batting) – did a minor adjustment and it seemed fine so I went back and started over again.

It all seemed find so I kept on going – should have stopped to check!  about half way through it would go back to a tiny stitch then normal, then tiny ect.  I ended up taking the whole row of stitches out.  Did a practice piece again and this is what was happening.  See where I am pointing to with the seam ripper – tiny stitches – then normal size at the 3.0 setting.   I have tried adjusting the tension and it works for a little bit then keeps going back to this.  I have a Janome Jem Platinum 720 machine – tension is set at about 3 1/2.  I go back and forth with it between 3 and 4 and it keeps going back to stitching like this.  I have the quilt supported – it is not hanging having weight pulled on it.  Any ideas?

On the quilt – more than this little space I show here —  it looked like a straight line of thread with no stitches if you know what I mean – and the thread was not just sitting on top – I tried to tug the thread out so I didn’t have to use the seam ripper and it would not budge – the threads were connected I had to use the seam ripper the whole way to get that row of stitches out.


It certainly didn’t look good to me and I took it all out.  This is why I always end up back to hand quilting – other than I love the look of hand quilting that is.  I always have problems with the machine – I am not a machine person!!  It is noisy and not relaxing – if I can’t find an easy fix to this I will hand quilt it – I have no patience with sewing machines!

Hand quilting is so darn easy – thread the  needle and get busy stitching – I could have had the entire area of the hoop finished already and moved on to the second.

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10 comments… add one
  • Kim Dec 4, 2012

    A couple of thoughts. Could be an issue with the walking foot. Are you sewing at a consistent speed? If you are sewing faster in the areas that are getting small that could be part of it. I have had to replace a walking foot a few years ago because it was not working properly. Sorry I am not more help but I don’t use the machine any more then I have to. Mostly I use it when the arthritis in my hands won’t allow me to hand stitch.
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  • Nedra Dec 4, 2012

    This is the same reason I send my quilts out to a long armer who knows what she is doing. But that can be expensive, too.
    Once the quilt is washed, the variation in stitch length will not be very visible.

  • Sarah DiDomizio Dec 4, 2012

    Sometimes I have this happen when the material gets “caught” on the machine bed behind the pressure or walking foot. If your machine has a throat plate with a large square opening where the feed dogs sit, the fabric may be getting bunched up at the back of the pressure foot which won’t let additional fabric move smoothly… thus getting lots of tiny stitches. Also, if you’re using pins, the pins may be hanging up on something that causes the quilt top not to feed properly.
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  • Wanda Dec 4, 2012

    The feed dogs that pull the fabric through sound like they might be the problem. I would drop them and raise them to be sure they are up in the right position. Are you using a walking foot? Do you have it on properly? Even thought the little machines are lightweight and easy to move around, I’ll take a higher priced model any day and I have no problems with the way it stitches.
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  • Cathi Dec 4, 2012

    I’ve had that happen when I’ve machine quilted as well, although I think in my case it’s because my space is so small that the quilt just doesn’t have enough room as it feeds through the machine. I’m interested in reading the answers you get to this post.
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  • Emily Dec 4, 2012

    I’ve had a similar problem before, and like you I tend to hand quilt rather than struggle with the machine. I would say the speed at which you’re pushing the quilt through the machine may have something to do with it. If you’re moving the quilt faster through, it will have the more even stitches, but if you pause to get your hands repositioned and the needle remains at the same speed you may get more stitches close together. I think the advice above about making sure your walking foot is letting the quilt come through is good advice.
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  • Charlotte Dec 4, 2012

    The very reason I don’t machine quilt either! I even have trouble sewing the binding on before hand stitching it. And I know how difficult it is to take out those tiny stitches! Sorry I’m no help. Maybe other answers will give you a solution.

  • Are you sure you’re not pushing/pulling the fabric through without realising? Or are the safety pins getting caught on the walking foot? (I have to be careful as this tends to happen to me if I’m not careful!) Make sure you’re keeping to a consistent speed, even if it does feel slow, and check that the quilt isn’t getting bunched up behind the machine and also causing problems. Oh, and check you’ve got the walking foot on correctly – it’s easier than you’d think to forget to put the bar above the needle clamp (or whatever the technical terms are!). Keep persevering, you’ll find a solution soon x
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  • audrey Dec 4, 2012

    I knew it! I can’t possibly be the only one who really, really struggles with machine quilting! Hope you get it figured out soon so you can buzz through a couple quilt.:)

  • Doreen Dec 4, 2012

    The problem appears to be most likely in the walking foot. The little “grabber” portions are not doing their job (grab, pull, lift & advance forward for another ‘grab’). Sometimes these 2 little sawtooth pieces remain in the fabric working their way to the back of their slot and almost get wedged (at which time the stitches get very tiny!!!) then they will free up, jump forward and the stitches return to the longer length. When you stitch watch them to make sure they are lifting and grabbing properly. Good luck. I have this happen to me on many projects that require this foot. Make sure the foot is totally free of lint build-up in all the crevices, also. I have notices the sawtooth pieces can get a bit sticky on each side edge and don’t move freely.
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