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Basic Sewing Techniques

Bringing Up the Bobbin Thread

To prevent the bobbin thread from forming “rats nest” each time the stitching starts, you should bring the

bobbin thread up to the top and secure it in place. Two ways to bring up the bobbin thread are described here.

At the Start of Stitching

At the beginning of the stitching both threads are loose and this is a quick way to use the top thread to bring up the bobbin thread. At the end of stitching, the threads are attached to the quilt and this method does not work.

While holding the top thread take a single stitch where you want the stitching to start.

Continue to hold the top thread and move machine 2-3 inches away then pull the top thread up which will pull the bobbin thread to the top.

Move the machine back to start position.

Grasp both threads and hold them to the side while making 4 or 5 securing stitches.

Hint: Move the threads slightly when making the securing stitches to ensure you don’t stitch in the same location.

At the End of Stitching

When you reach the end of stitching and after the stitching is secured, use this method to bring up the bobbin thread to cut it.

Move the sewing head a few inches away from the stitching.

Grasp and hold the top thread then move the sewing head back to the last stitch. It isn’t necessary to go back to the precise location of the last stitch but the closer you get, the smaller the thread tail will be after it is cut.

While still holding the top thread, take a single stitch then move the sewing head a few inches away.

As you pull on the top thread the bobbin thread is pulled up as well. Cut both the top and bobbin threads at the surface of the quilt.

Crossover Threads

As you stitch, especially for custom quilting, you sew a segment in one spot then move over a short distance to stitch another spot. Instead of stopping to cut the threads between these segments and, after you secure your stitches, you can simply move the sewing head to the new location and leave a thread trail connecting them. These connecting threads are called crossover threads.

Note: You will need to secure the stitches before and after crossing to the new location.

As you complete the stitching in an area you can leave the crossover threads to be cut later. Before advancing the quilt, it is a good idea to clip all the crossover threads in the area on the top of the quilt. The crossover threads on the back of the quilt can be clipped later.

When all the quilting is complete, the crossover threads on the top of the quilt will all be cut, leaving the crossover threads on the back. To quickly cut all the back crossover threads, unpin the quilt from the backing roller and go to the back of the machine.

Unroll enough of the quilt to lay on the top of the table. Cut all the crossover threads on the portion of the quilt on the table. After all those threads are cut, unroll more of the quilt and continue cutting crossover threads until the end of the quilt is reached. Unpin the quilt from the pick-up roller.

Securing Stitches

To prevent threads from unraveling, you need to make locking stitches at the beginning and end of each segment of stitching. You can do this by backstitching or by taking tiny stitches. Look for places to hide the locking stitches in places such as the biding seam allowance, busy fabric, or seam lines.

To backstitch at the start of sewing, start approximately ¼” inside the stitching line. Backstitch to the beginning and then proceed with the stitching. With this method, you are taking three or four stitches on top of three or four other stitches to secure the threads. At the end of stitching, simply backstitch for three or four stitches.

To lock the stitches with tiny stitches, simply move the machine a little slower to produce very tiny stitches that are not easily removed. Locking stitches in this way is not possible when using stitch regulation since all the stitches are the same length. You can either turn off the stitch regulation or use the needle up/down or single stitch feature.

Note: It is extremely important that stitching be secured at both the beginning and end of each sewing segment. Monofilament thread requires more securing stitches than cotton or polyester threads. Unsecured stitching will unravel.

Ripping Out Stitches

One of the most frustrating, time consuming things to do in long-arm quilting is to rip out stitches. Stitching that takes only seconds to put in can take hours to rip out. Choose a ripping tool that is small and sharp. You want to be able to lift and cut one stitch at a time while being careful not to rip the fabric.

Start at one end of the quilting stitches to be removed, and clip every third or fourth thread on the top of the quilt. If you are systematic and do this for the entire line of stitches, you will save time in the long run. After you have clipped every third or fourth stitch from the top, reach under the quilt and pull the bobbin thread to release all the stitches.