Needles, Minnie and Me

I think that I have now got to the stage where I can offer a real quilt to Minnie for quilting – how exciting is that!  If you’re new to my blog, then I must explain that Minnie is my new longarm quilting machine and I have had a catalogue of problems in getting her set up so that my quilting stitches don’t look like an attempt at lacemaking or crochet on the back.

Loops on the back of the quilt

Loops on the back of the quilt

Trying different needles

I had reached the stage where I had adjusted everything that I could think of and the quilting was nearly there but I was still getting missed stitches, so I bought several different needles to try.  Yesterday with great excitement I began to test them.  For starters, I engaged my brain before beginning and used a plain dark fabric on both front and back of the sample panel that I made up – that way both you and I can see the stitching better.

I did one run with Minnie using the needle that had been in the machine before.  What you see is the back of the quilt and those loops would normally indicate that the tension in the spool (the top) is too loose.  As a general rule of thumb, loops in the back of the quilt indicate spool tension too low while loops on the quilt top indicate bobbin tension too low.

I had the tension cranked up quite tight and I didn’t really think that was the problem.

So – I tried to put in the first needle that I had bought to try out.  It’s titanium (expensive!) and should made a difference – oops, it can’t because it’s made for an industrial machine and doesn’t even fit in my machine, having no flat edge.  Oh dear, what a dunce I am.  The second needle that I bought hasn’t arrived yet because the supplier sent my order to someone else so I’m still waiting for it.

A few missing stitches

A few missing stitches

Ok, that leaves the Inspira needle that was suggested to me (thanks, Gail).  I had bought a selection box and was using the 75 for this quilting.  There was a huge improvement.

You can see where I am pointing there is a gap of about half an inch where the stitches were missed, but overall the quilting stitches look pretty good.


Changing speed

Quilting stitches on the front

Quilting stitches on the front

Anyway, looking at my quilting stitches I decided that I needed a few minor tweaks rather than anything major.  I increased the machine speed because I think that I tend to move the quilt too quickly when I’m doing curves – keeping the speed constant is a challenge, but increasing the machine speed usually helps with that.

Previously I had bought some pre wound bobbins (plastic) when I did that workshop on using longarm quilting machines and I didn’t feel that they fitted the bobbin holder as well as the metal ones that came with the machine, so I swapped that.  I have no real way of telling which if any of these tweaks made the difference – or if they made any difference – but overall they worked!

The quilting came out just the way I wanted – I was so thrilled that I even began to experiment with ideas for my duckling quilt.  You can see a fairly scrawny looking duckling there with loops around him.

Back of the quilt

Back of the quilt

Here on the back of the quilt you can see the same section.  Apart from the fact that the duckling is facing in the opposite direction, the quilting looks just as good.  I can’t tell you how elated I felt!  This is where I had been hoping to be several weeks ago.  I now feel that I can offer Minnie a real quilt for us to work on together.

Thanks for visiting my blog.


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  1. Dear Rose

    One thing I have learned while quilting on my Janome 1600P is that the needle has to suit the thread you are using. I frequently change the needle depending on the thread. Barnyarns website has some invaluable information about needles and threads. I label all my needles with the names of the suitable threads which saves time. I find I don’t have many problems now.

    • Thank you so much, Anne. That is very helpful. I love the baynyarns newsletters – they are really informative. Labelling the needles and threads that match is a wonderful idea.

  2. Dear Rose,
    I must say you have had quite a job with your Minnie I never realised they were so difficult, but patience have paid off ,what you have achieved is looking good, little duck looks at home, good luck for next week hope all goes well
    Have a good weekend weather is not going to be brilliant here maybe better where you are . Kind regards Rhoda

    • Thanks, Rhoda. I’m not sure if it was difficult or if I just took a long time to try everything needed to correct the tension. Yes, our weather is wonderful at the moment – hope yours improves!

  3. Shirley says:

    Well done Rose. You are so clever to have mastered Minnie so quickly. I would LOVE a long arm quilting machine – trouble is I would never do any housework etc – too buy playing with Minnie. Could you make a video of the machine in action? I would love to see it working. Cant wait to see some of your finished quilts. Keep up the good work. Have a great weekend with your sister.

    • Hi Shirley. I’m definitely planning a video showing her in action. There didn’t seem to be any point before now because none of you want to see me feeling annoyed with her!

  4. Gail Thompson says:

    One other thing Rose. When you can, invest in a stitch regulator. It’s worth the price of gold. You won’t have to worry about going too fast/slow. I’ve done mine with and without. :)g

    • Hi Gail. I was offered a stitch regulator but I had already stretched my budget buying the rest of the setup. They look really good, but I’ll have to sell a lot of quilts first, I think. Thanks again for your tip about the needles. I’m still looking for a supplier to wholesale them to me.

  5. Gail Thompson says:

    Hi Rose. As for my opinion, I still think the needle made the difference. I have the same machine you do and did try everything you did also. I got the lace on the back, skipped stitches and the like. I changed to the Inspira needle and it was all good after that.
    I love your little duck. I can’t draw anything and am still on stippling. LOL
    I don’t care. It’s fine for me. I love seeing your progress tho. Hugs to you, Gail

    • Thanks, Gail. I always think I’m hopeless at drawing, but thank you for your comments. I’m sure you’re right about the needles – amazing how much difference they can make.

  6. Jean Ransome says:

    Hi Rose, Well done, you have done great with Minnie. But don’t worry, you will get some up and down days with Minnie, you are getting there. I love what you have done so far on Minnie. Hope you will have a lovely time with your sister this weekend. The weather looks good for us, enjoy the sunshine.
    Hope all will go well with your quilting on Minnie next week.

    • Thanks, Jean. I’m sure you’re right – there will be days when I feel that I have a lot of unpicking to do, but at least now I know roughly which things to tweak to get back on track.

  7. carole yoxall says:

    Yippee Rose, how wonderful to hear that you and Minnie have got to know each other and sorted out your problems.The sample quilt looks really good and the duck quilting brilliant.So thrilled for you,and I’m looking forward to hearing all about your first quilt with Minnie.Have a lovely weekend with your sister,the weather forecast is good,Kind regards Carole

    • Thanks so much, Carole. The weather here has certainly been amazing this week – long may it continue!

  8. Don’t worry about taking a long time in getting to know Minnie. You are getting to grips with it very quickly, be very proud of your lovely little duck Rose. I have had my Husqvana for four years now, had two courses on the embroidery part and still cannot remember how to use it. A friend has offered to go through it with me, so maybe it will stay with me this time. I will not take it up until the autumn as I am too busy in the garden at the moment. So, it is well done you!

    • Thanks for the reassurance, Jennie. I think that practice is the main thing. Now that I’m happy with the tension I’ll try and work with Minnie as often as possible.

  9. Rose Nice quilt. I enjoy reading about your challenges
    with Minnie.
    I hope you have a lovely time with your sister.
    Thank you for all the patterns you share with us every week.

  10. practice makes perfect…way to go Rose! I just bought a new Bernina 750 EQ, so I have been machine quilting my first quilt…not perfect, but I love it anyway.

  11. It is now starting to look really good. Well done you.

    • Thanks, Janny. To be honest, I feel that I must be a real thick-o to have taken this long to become comfortable with Minnie!

      • No, not thick at all. New machines can be very confusing.

        When my mother died I inherited her Bernina but must admit I mostly continue my old and trusted Frister Rossmann which does not have half the facilities but which I can use on automatic pilot. I’m a thicko too.

        • Hi Janny. I think we just need a teenager to explain things to us. I didn’t bother to learn how to set the TV and things like that when the kids were still at home because they were so much quicker than me at doing anything technological (by which I suppose I mean anything that needed brain power!).

          • I know what you mean. My daughter insisted on buying me a tablet 2 years ago. I still have to ring her to explain it to me.

            Hope you have a good time with your sister and forget about Minnie for a while. When you come back fresh you will manage everything. I think you’re doing great anyway. Love the wee duck.

          • Thanks, Janny. Have a great weekend, too.

  12. So very pleased to read this Rosie – go Minnie! I think she will be very busy 🙂

    My longarm tuition was a disaster, the machine would not sew properly (tension problems, so I really know how you felt). I did get enough experience to know that I love the feel of the frame guiding the quilting rather than my painful hands! So I shall be investigating frames that will take my Brother V5, fit into a very small space and not brake the bank! Definitely can’t afford a longarm though!

    Have fun Rosie & Minnie….


    • Hi Toni. It’s a very different feeling, isn’t it – moving the frame instead of the fabric. I’m hoping that Minnie will pay for herself by enabling me to finish (and sell) more quilts. I have an embarrassing pile of unfinished quilts cluttering up the children’s rooms.

  13. It’s starting to look really good. Just remember everything takes time. And I love your little duck 🙂

    • Thanks, Sandra. I know that getting used to longarm quilting will be a long process, but it feels far more rewarding now than it did a month ago!

      • Elizabeth says:

        Hello Rose I have just seen you email for the quilting with the Longarm and it really is great but must have been so tricky to and difficult, I think I would get in a pickle trying to do it, even doing quickly. Was it done free machining on the longarm or did you use a frame of some sort. It is very good. Elizabeth

        • Thanks, Elizabeth. I used free motion quilting for the duckling – as with any design you can get your hands used to moving in that shape by repeating it often. I need to make the duckling a little fatter, I think, and then I’ll aim to show you how I quilted it on to the duckling quilt.

  14. Well done Rose!