Thursday, October 27, 2011

Feed Dog dilemma

I have been getting questions about why I leave the feed dogs up when I am FMQ, so I thought that I would give a fuller explanation.

First let me say, I am no expert!! I am a relative beginner at quilting and FMQ. When I first started I was having a lot of problems with the tension, little "eyelashes" on the back,  and thread breaking. It is VERY frustrating....enough to make you want to quit FMQ!! So I started doing a lot of reading and asking questions.

There are actually a lot of web pages that have "trouble shooting" ideas for problems.  And I have tried them all !!  I had a checklist of things to try...and tried them all!

Here is what Leah Day ...the FMQ guru, from  The Free Motion Quilting Project has to say. Check out THIS PAGE about dropping feed dogs.

Things seem to be working well right now, and here is what I am doing at the moment......
I am using this attachment on my machine (Janome Horizon)

You can also adjust this up or down so that it is not too tightly touching the fabric.

  • I have a "topstitch" needle size 12., although I have also used "quilting" needles that seemed to work too.
  • I have tried different threads..Gutterman, Mettler, Coates & Clark....not sure that I have a favourite right now. I have also tried 100% cotton, 100% polyester, and blends, and really don't have a favourite on this either. 
  • I often need to adjust the tension of the top thread, so do a little test patch first and check the stitches. They should be even on the top and bottom, not pulling right through on either side. 
  • I do not drop the feed dogs, and set my stitch length to zero.
  • I feed the top thread under the spool while threading the machine. (this may be just superstition on my part LOL)
  • change the needle on a regular basis...I think they suggest about every 10 hours of sewing, or at least at the start of every new project.

If I have any issues, I rethread both the top and bobbin thread to reset the tension. Or sometimes, just like my computer, shut everything off and then start again!

Right now things seem to be working well, and that makes FMQ fun!! So hope you have fun too!


  1. Thank you for sharing your experience and thoughts - and I agree Leah is the 'go to'. You have come a long way baby!

  2. Thanks a new question; what is the Janome Horizon for? Is it just for snugness?? I

  3. LOL - I love on your "about" you that you say you are like a butterfly flitting from one thing to the next - I have a feeling a lot of us quilters are butterflies! I know I am like that too.

  4. The fmq on your ?origins quilt is lovely, thanks for the tips. I just got a new machine so I'll be doing a few testers to see what I like best as far as tension, feed dogs, etc. My old machine didn't really have many options so I just did what I could!

  5. Your quilting is just gorgeous!!

    It seems one way or the other with the Horizon. If you don't drop the dogs then you need to change the tension. I drop the dogs, engage the needle plate, change the bobbin case... and then the tension is fine. Either way, there seem sot be a lot of fiddling.

    I don't recall FMQ being so fiddly on my older machine. Although... I was less picky too and maybe didn't notice the bobbin thread on top all the time! lol

    GOSH that's pretty! lol I can't get over it.

  6. Wow, your MQ looks great. Thanks for all the tips!


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