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7 tips for successful quilting in the embroidery hoop

by Elaine Theriault

Yesterday, I chatted about ruler work. For those of you who love free-motion quilting, the rulers provide a wee bit of control when a straight line is needed. Or if you’re trying to break into free-motion, the templates provide physical support.

Today, it’s all about quilting with your embroidery machine! I’m using the Husqvarna Viking Designer EPIC 2 to walk you through some great tips on quilting in the hoop.

Let’s check this out.

Husqvarna Viking Designer EPIC 2 with embroidery unit attached

TIP 1 – Use thin battings

When hooping a quilt sandwich in the embroidery hoop, it’s a challenge to hoop a batting with a thick loft.

For your sanity, I highly recommend you use Inspira Fusible Fleece or a very thin quilt batting.

The Inspira fusible fleece has the added benefit of not having to be basted, at least on one side.

Note: I like things quick and easy and if I can get away without basting a project, I’ll do it. But make sure those layers are pressed together well and at each step (whether in the embroidery hoop or free-motion) check the backing for wrinkles and tucks. Check and then check again. Start in the center and work outward to ensure all the fullness moves to the outside edges of your piece. I only use this technique for small projects – about 40″ and less in size. 

Fusible fleece or thin batting makes it easier to hoop your quilt sandwich

TIP 2 – Open up the embroidery hoop

Make sure to open up the tension in the embroidery hoop to accommodate the batting. The Husqvarna Viking hoops have a screw and a spring clip. Open up the tension by loosening the screw.

Once I get the correct tension and I can close the clip, I’ll tighten the screw and then I try not to touch the screw for subsequent hoopings for this project. However, after every hooping, I touch the screw to make sure it’s still tight.

Make sure the project is well secured along all four sides of the hoop. The last thing you want is for the project to become loose partway through the embroidery stitch out. Or you didn’t have enough fabric and the needle got caught.

If necessary as you move to the outer edges of your quilt, you may have to add an extra strip of fabric if your backing isn’t large enough.

The tension of the outer hoop has been loosened to accommodate the quilt sandwich

TIP 3 – Hoop on a flat surface

This goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. It’s absolutely critical to hoop your project on a flat surface with any size of embroidery hoop. You don’t want wrinkles and tucks on the back of your project. You don’t want the edges to get caught in your work.

Hoop on a flat surface and hoop carefully.

Hoop your project on a flat surface to accommodate the size of hoop you’re using

TIP 4 – Turn the Automatic Jump Stitch Trim off

As you move from Embroidery Edit to Embroidery Stitch Out on the Designer EPIC 2, you’ll get this menu of options.

Make sure that you turn the Automatic Jump Stitch Trim off. While this option is extremely useful when doing regular embroidery where the underside of the work will be covered up, you don’t want to see the thread jumps and little bits of thread on the back of your quilt.

I just turn all the thread cutters off and do everything manually.

The menu options for Embroidery Stitch out

I’m so used to having the Thread Cutter on, that whenever I get this message, it throws me. That’s because the Designer EPIC 2 will stitch for a few stitches and then stop. I think – what happened? Oh yes – I need to cut the thread tails.

I like the fact I have options depending on what I’m stitching out.

Pop-up menu to cut the thread tails

TIP 5 – Bring up the bobbin thread

Once the design is placed, bring up the bobbin thread through the quilt project. I do this manually using the flywheel. It’s super easy to do.

This is something you should be doing for any type of sewing or quilting. Always!  It prevents all kinds of thread nests on the underside of your work!

The bobbin thread has been pulled to the top of the quilt sandwich in the embroidery hoop

TIP 6 – Ensure there is enough room around your sewing machine

It’s important to make room around the embroidery machine when you’re working. Hey – that’s important for whatever type of project you’re stitching.

You want to ensure the quilt is adequately supported so the embroidery unit and especially the embroidery arm are not supporting the weight of the quilt. That wouldn’t be good news for your embroidery arm and can cause premature wear.

The second reason is you don’t want stuff flying off your worktable as the quilt is moved around when the design is being stitched out.

The project is supported by the sewing machine table

You now have a chance to see the back of the Vivid Sunset colorway of the Husqvarna Viking Designer EPIC 2. Remember this was a special order colorway when the sewing machine was first introduced. It’s been fun to play around with it this week.

But look at how the quilt is supported on the table. And don’t forget when you hoop your project to reach under all sides of the hoop to ensure an edge didn’t get caught beneath the hoop. Oh yes – it happens.

The quilt project is supported on the back of the sewing machine table

TIP 7 – Check the tension

It’s extremely important to check the tension – always. While the Designer EPIC 2 does an amazing job at reading your mind and provides automatic tension settings, it’s not a bad idea to double-check the tension when you try something new. That’s because we’re always pushing the limits and the Designer EPIC 2 doesn’t always know what you’re trying to do. That’s why communication is so important.

The more testing and experimenting you do, the more you’ll learn about these settings. Do not be afraid of making changes. Once you turn off the Designer EPIC 2, these settings will go back to the default. No need to worry.

The Designer EPIC 2 technically has two systems for getting the thread to the needle. One is the regular tension system. You know – with the tension disks. When I hooped this quilt sandwich to test the tension, it was automatically set at 2.8.

The top looks great and I was happy with it.

A test sample of machine embroidery on a quilt sandwich with a tension setting of 2.8

The second system for delivering thread to the needle is the deLuxe Stitch System which is a metering system where the specific amount of thread needed per stitch is metered out through a series of rollers. It’s unique and I love it!

The Designer EPIC 2 is smart enough to switch between the two systems depending on what settings you have selected in the JoyOSAdvisor. You can also override those settings and choose either one.

The default setting for the deLuxe Stitch System was 50 and so I stitched out another sample.

A test sample of machine embroidery on a quilt sandwich with the deLuxe Stitch System setting of 50

From the front, both samples looked pretty much the same. The backs look very similar but here’s another way to check the tension. Feel the front of the work. Is it smooth and soft? Feel the back of the work. Is it smooth and soft? If it’s not, then you’re likely feeling the top or the bottom thread poking through.

In this case, the back of the piece stitched using the traditional tension disks was a bit rough meaning the top tension was too loose and the threads were popping to the back of the work.

That’s an easy fix – just tighten the top tension (it was set to 2.8 so perhaps a 4.0 might be better) so the top thread wouldn’t pop to the back.

The backs of the two test samples

For the project I’m quilting tomorrow, I used the deLuxe Stitch System and I increased the setting so the back would be as smooth as the front. The stitches in my design are quite dense and I wanted the back to be as soft as the front.

Too bad we can’t touch things on the internet so you could feel what I’m talking about. The touch test will tell you if the tension is correct even if your eyes can’t.

The bottom line on all this is the flexibility. I can try both systems to see which works best. Above all, you must, must, must check and set the tension correctly.

The setting for the deLuxe Stitch System has been increased to 65

There you have it – some great tips using the Husqvarna Viking Designer EPIC 2 for quilting in the embroidery hoop.

I’m sure you noticed the project I was working on in today’s photos and I can’t wait to share with you tomorrow how easy it is to position all those intricate designs with amazing precision.

Have a great day!

Ciao!

This is part 4 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 3: 5 tips to ruler work success: quilting on a domestic sewing machine

Go to part 5: 2 essential tools for precise positioning of embroidery designs

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