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Tension and speed questions - non-stitch regulated machine

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Hello. Newbie here. I have been practicing on my new to me non-stitch regulated Ultimate 2 for about a month and have a few questions for the experts here. My practice quilt sandwiches have been muslin/batting/muslin and I was finally getting pretty good stitch quality and decent stitch length - not perfectly consistent length, but not horrible either. Sooooooo, I decided to try some small charity quilts (Quilts for Kids). On the first two, it just seemed like I couldn't get into a rhythm, not sure if it was nerves or what (the finished quilts did look okay, though) - and I noticed that there were sections where the stitches looked fine and then all of a sudden there would be a section about an inch or so long where it looked like the thread was stretched tight. The stitches weren't any longer than the section before or after it, so I'm wondering - could it be a tension issue or is it a result of me moving the machine too fast or a little of both? The stitch quality on the third quilt seemed much better and more consistent. So is it just PPP? I used Glide thread on top and prewound bobbins on all 3 quilts. The batting was a little heavier on the third quilt and I believe the fabric was better quality as well. Does that make a difference?

Also, for those of you that use non-stitch regulated machines, how fast do you set the speed control? The control on my machine goes from 0-10 and the last quilt I stitched on #6. Just curious what others do. I've noticed that if I speed up a little, my circles and curves are smoother than when I go slowly. Is this normal? How fast is too fast? My machine gets noticeably louder the faster it stitches - I'm assuming this is normal? I haven't had too much exposure around other longarms and I don't want to blow anything up!

One more question (okay maybe two) - How can I tell if I need a new bobbin case? How do you know if the tension check spring or tension control assembly needs to be replaced? Other than cleaning the bobbin area and oiling the wicks, are there other maintenance steps that I should be doing/checking to keep everything in good shape?

I am really enjoying getting to know my Ultimate 2. I had no idea how much there is to learn and have never adjusted thread tension so much in my life! LOL Thanks for all your help!!!

I should note that I was using a pantograph for the above quilts, if that makes a difference.

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Congrads on your UII. Great machine, I had one for 14 years. Drop your needle to the lowest position & then see if the needle bar knock back and fourth by grabbing the needle screw. You may need needle bar bushing. Then again no. Try turning up the motor speed & moving the machine at an even movement. You may need to clean your tension assembly. Take it apart piece by piece& lay them in order. Clean the dics and put it back together the opposite way you took it apart. Zeke. 916-689-4992


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by the hour.........................

APQS Ultimate I/Compuquilter

Millennium

ztrbrg@yahoo.com

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Well, you've already done some things that challenge you a little.  With pieced tops, the Ult 2 isn't the easiest machine to do pantos with because of the scooting foot.  Glide isn't the easiest thread to work with.  Since your third quilt was an improvement over the first two, your practice is paying off.

 

You can get different stitch quality from different machine stitching directions.  It's called directional tension, and it's why some of us prefer to stitch as much as we can in one or two directions.  Like Zeke said, needle bar bushing wear can contribute to it.

 

As you increase the speed, the motor makes more noise.  Those universal motors are noisy like routers.  Nothing wrong, just more noise.  I almost never stitch in unregulated mode since I had an Intellistitch stitch regulator installed on Zelda my Ult 2 nearly 4 years ago.  Before that I would normally sew in the upper half of the speed range 6, 7, 8 depending on what I was doing.  As far as bobbin cases go, do yourself a favor and invest in a TOWA bobbin tension gauge.  That will help you determine if a bobbin or bobbin case needs to be replaced.  It will also help you deal with tension adjustment and tension issues.  Cost $60-$80 new, or you might be able to find a used one for a bit less.  Best money you'll ever spend.  Keep up the practice and ask questions as the come up.  Good luck.  Jim

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Just a thought, you mentioned that you were quilting on charity quilts.  If you made these yourself then you are aware of the type of fabrics that went into them.  If someone else made them and you are just quilting them that could be part of the issue.  My guild makes and donates a huge number of quilts each year.  I know when I have brought some home to quilt I have had some interesting results as they often made of several different types of fabric in the same top.  It a can be a challenge getting the tension set so that it is reasonable for the polyester sheet fabric block bang in the middle of cotton blocks or the high thread count poly sheet used on the back!

 

Also make sure that the quilt isn't too tight on the rollers.  It should have enough slack in it that you are able to poke your finger from underneath the quilt and grab your finger from the top of the quilt.

 

Have fun with your new machine.


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Thanks for all the suggestions.  I will do all of the above. :)

 

I will check the needle bar.  To remove/clean the tension assembly, does it just unscrew from the machine?  I couldn't find any directions for this in the paperwork that came with the machine.

 

Based on Sue's post, I think I'm tightening the quilt too much on the rollers, so will back off a little on that.  I was paranoid about having wrinkles/puckers and also that the scooting foot would get hung up on a seam.  I quilted a table topper that had some bulky seams and quickly discovered I needed to raise the foot.  :angry: 

 

My logic for doing pantos was I thought it would force me to learn to move at a consistent speed.  Not sure if there's a better way to learn that?  Seems like I can keep a more consistent speed when working from the front.

 

Will definitely look into the TOWA bobbin tension gauge. 

 

I do have a few cones of YLI LAP thread, so will try that on the next quilt and see if that makes a difference. 

 

Thanks again for your help!

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The tension assembly is held in place by a set screw that you access from the back side of sewing head.  If you look you will see a small hole adjacent to the assembly.  The screw is an allen type.  You loosen it enough to allow the tension assembly to just pull out.  Jim

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