Monday, June 13, 2016

A Startling Revelation!

My quilting machine problems have finally been resolved, but not without issue or tears.

After talking with quilt-y friends, five different sewing machine dealers, and much consideration, I decided I want a Janome 1600PQC. The three main reasons are:
  1. The three quilting feet from my Pfaff Grand Quilter fit the Janome 1600PQC.
  2. The price was lower than the Juki 2010Q.
  3. The Janome 1600PQC runs quieter than the Juki 2010Q.
With the decision to buy Janome made, I checked the website of the local Janome dealer and found an advertised price of $999... a price I had been told, just one week before by the same dealership, that they would not meet, nor would he sell the machine without a quilt frame. So, last Friday morning when I saw that $999 price advertised on his own website, I phoned him to point it out. He immediately back-pedaled, saying that Janome headquarters must have changed the price on the website the night before, and that he didn't know about it because he doesn't stock that machine.

I made a phone call to Nancy's Quilt Shop in Winter Garden (43 miles from me), and learned that she had a Janome 1600PQC in stock. I arranged to go there and determine if my Pfaff feet would fit that machine.

Just before I left home, the local Janome dealer phoned me to apologize for not checking further into getting a Janome 1600PQC for me. He even called himself "an ass." I let him know that I'd found a dealership with the machine in stock, and that I was going to look at it. 'Nuf said.

While at Nancy's Quilt Shop, I tried all three Pfaff feet on the Janome - walking foot, darning/FMQ foot, and ruler work foot - using my double batt quilt sandwich to quilt samples. The Janome quilted beautifully. And gosh, it's almost identical to my Pfaff Grand Quilter! No learning curve.

I bought the Janome and brought it home Friday afternoon. But I didn't get time to actually set it up and quilt until Sunday.

That's when I shed my first tears.

The new Janome machine immediately began skipping stitches and breaking thread. My hubs, Dan, heard my cries of alarm, disbelief, and frustration and came into my sewing room to help sort out the problem.

He has years of manufacturing education and experience in a methodical approach to resolving an issue. It's called Root Cause Analysis, and he brought those skills to bear on my sewing machine situation. Together and infinitesimally slowly, we went through the owner's manual to:

  • rethread the machine
  • rethread the bobbin
  • try Mettler 50-weight, then 60-weight thread, versus the Aurifil I always use
  • try polyester thread
  • change the needle (the one original to the Janome)
  • check the tension settings and pressure foot pressure, none of which I'd touched since being in the quilt shop
Every time I tried quilting, the top thread skipped and broke... and I cried. 

Dan suggested I quilt with the walking foot. The Janome worked beautifully. Then he suggested I try quilting with the ruler work foot. Again, it quilted beautifully. 

Then, I put the darning/FMQ foot back on the Janome. Skipped stitches and broken thread.

Revelation! This is the culprit.

We compared this darning/FMQ foot with the ruler work foot, and the only difference we can find between the two is the amount of tension on the spring. The darning foot spring is looser, perhaps from all the quilting I put it through since I use it 90 percent of the time.

I pulled back out my Pfaff Grand Quilter, put the ruler work foot on it, and it quilted beautifully.

I put the darning/FMQ foot back on the Pfaff. Skipped stitches and broken thread.

Then, I really bawled!

I had just spent $1,036 (tax included) on a brand new machine, when the problem all along has been the foot! The blasted foot!

Let me tell you, then there was real weeping and wailing! 

Dan, the voice of calm and reason, assured me that it wasn't my fault, and pointed out that the Pfaff tech in Ocala, and several other dealers I had spoken with about the problem had not suggested that the foot might be the problem. 

Dan also said I deserve this new Janome machine. 

So, wiping my tears and blowing my nose, I gave him a hug and kiss and decided to make the best of it. After that, I used the ruler work foot to do a little FMQ. But honestly, after the trauma of the day, my heart wasn't in it. I couldn't stop chastising myself for not recognizing that the foot was the problem all along.
Quilting with a ruler work foot.
On the positive side... I can now in good conscience, sell my Pfaff Grand Quilter. There's nothing wrong with it! 

I want to extend a warm and sincere thank you to Amy Johnson of Amy's Quilting Adventures (she's amys_fmq_adventures on Instagram, and follow her blog for great FMQ information) in Lynchburg, Virginia, for working with me late Sunday to get the correct new feet ordered for my Janome - a darning/FMQ foot, and a new ruler work foot which looks a little different than the one I've been using on my Pfaff. And, I treated myself to Circles on Quilts Template (rulers for ruler work) for making 2"-12" concentric circles.

Now that I've slept on this for one night, that Janome 1600PQC is looking more like a good investment in my quilting future. Ahh. Linda

17 comments:

  1. Oh, dear, I wish I knew how to console you. Since I have fought so many of the same battles, I gave up for big projects. You have been a real analyst and have had so much patience, and a wonderful problem solver for a husband. Anyway, I hope your new machine lives up to your expectations and you will continue to do beautiful work.

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  2. I have that same machine and love it. Best machine I ever bought.

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  3. Sorry, not sure where to post question so you can see it. I am trying despertely to locate the pattern for the Iowa embroidery you posted some time ago. The shop "Stitch' you referenced is closed and if you would be so kind as to post the designer of this pattern I will continue my hunt. Would love to make this for my husband who is from Iowa. This is the best design I have seen and I am anxious to find it. Thanks so much.

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  4. Quiltz4you - I am unable to respond to your comment because you are a no-reply commenter (no email address linked to your comment), so I hope you see this! That stitchery is one of four that were available through the Stitches shop in downtown Des Moines. As you noted, the shop has gone out of business since my friend bought them for me, and sent them. The designer's website is LisaOrgler.com. I hope this is helpful!

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  5. What a saga! But all is well that ends well, right? I'm sure you are going to enjoy your new machine.

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  6. Oh Linda, you poor thing. I feel your misery, but at least you will recoup some money when you sell your Pfaff. Also you have upgraded wear and tare wise with a new machine. I had a Pfaff expression 4 and never had great success with it, but after selling it and buying my new Bernina I just love my sewing again!

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  7. Oh and I meant to say...imagine how you'd feel if you didn't have such a helpful and kind husband who thinks you deserve the new machine. So, no more tears now! haha!

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  8. As your husband rightly pointed out, not even sewing machine experts picked up on your problematic foot! Sorry that it caused such angst! No onwards and upwards to fabulous quilting!

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  9. Oh you poor dear. What you've been through to find out it was the foot, was unbelievable. Why is there not a dealer or sales person at these places that would have suggested to try different feet or at least offer you a new foot. Don't you think someone else might have had a problem with their FMQ foot too? Maybe no one else is buying this machine to use for quilting?? Glad you and your hubby figured it out.

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  10. I have so much admiration for how methodically you both went through this process! And it's such a blessing to have a wonderful husband (like I do too) who really gets us! Interestly enough I have been having a problem with thread breaks on myBernina and just while piecing or top stitching, most annoying!i was ready to take marine in for servicing when I switched feet, I have 2 1/4in feet and like you it sewed just fine after the trade out. And every time I go back to the one that I had been using the thread starts breaking. It looks fine but there must be some nick I can't see. So with your experience I am going to always check the feet when thread and bobbin changes don't do the trick! And congratulations on your new machine, looking forward to seeing your creations!

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  11. What a surprise to find it was the FMQ foot causing the problem all along! Having used the foot for ages with no problems there is no way you could have been expected to realise it was the culprit. I'm glad it's finally been resolved - though sorry it ended in tears first. Selling the Pfaff will hopefully ease the financial pain a little, and I hope you will enjoy quilting on your beautiful new Janome.

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  12. whew! What a story, girl!! All I can say is ENJOY YOUR NEW MACHINE!

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  13. Oh good heavens!! So much time and effort in this process only to find the real culprit is the foot. But your Pfaff has served you well, and this new machine will do likewise now that you have the answers you need. It seems so often our problems result from not knowing which questions to ask. Who would ever have thought "is it the foot?" No- we pretty much all would go through the manual troubleshooting guide as you did. Your husband was a wonderful support.

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  14. How upsetting all this must have been for you! I'm so glad your husband figured it out and then let you know you deserved it. We're always so hard on ourselves - and never want to "waste" the money. Thankfully, your husband saved the day on several fronts!

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  15. What a journey. But that's all behind you now. Have fun going forward.

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  16. Oh, man. How frustrating :( But I'm going to agree with your husband and say you deserve a new machine.

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  17. Oh wow that is some real stress but I'm happy for you that all is well in the end. That other store guy? Shame on him for making your shopping experience not a great one and I'm sure you'll be telling plenty of others. His one mistake will result in lots more lost sales.

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