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Anchoring seams on your quilts using the FIX function on the Opal 690Q

 

Did you find a mat to anchor your foot pedal? I’m still getting used to the fact that my foot pedal stays in one spot. I’m very happy about that!

Today, I’m exploring another feature on the Husqvarna Viking Opal 690Q and that is the FIX function. I’m going to show you when to use it and why to use it. Let’s get started.

 

Husqvarna Viking Opal 690Q
Husqvarna Viking Opal 690Q

 

The FIX function is conviently located on the front of the Opal 690Q in the function panel. A small light is illuminated to indicate the function is activated. You can temporarily deactivate the function by pushing the FIX function.

 

Function panel of the sewing machine with the FIX function light activated
FIX light is illuminated to indicate the function is active

 

The FIX function will lock the stitches at the beginning of a row of stitches or whenever you manually activate it. The FIX function will always be activated when you select a new stitch, but you have the option to deactivate it temporarily by pressing the FIX function.

The FIX function is automatically activated when the STOP function has been selected. This works beautifully when you’re using the decorative stitches. The STOP function will end the sewing at the end of the stitch sequence and the FIX will anchor the row of stitching.

Depending on what type of stitching you’re doing, you may want to keep the FIX function deactivated which is simple to do in the SET menu. The FIX function can also be programmed into a sequence of stitches.

 

The SET menu showing a list of functions. The FIX function is activated
SET menu – FIX function can be deactivated by removing the X in the check box

 

Should I anchor (backstitch) my quilting seams?

I get asked this question frequently, especially if the quilter used to sew garments. When sewing a garment, it’s important to anchor the beginning and the end of the seam. If you’re sewing garments, the FIX function is fabulous. No more having to backstitch to anchor the seam. Simply activate the FIX function, it will tie a knot at the beginning of the seam to anchor the stitches and repeat that process at the end of the seam.

In quilting however, it’s next to impossible to anchor a seam and there isn’t the same need either. I highly recommend that you lower the stitch length to 2.0 as this helps to keep the stitches from pulling out at the beginning and the end of a seam.

Let’s explore a typical quilting seam.

In the example below, I’ve stitched two strips of fabric together. I haven’t anchored the beginning or the end.

 

Two strips of fabric that are sewn together, but not pressed yet
A small strip set (two strips sewn together) that hasn’t been pressed

 

This is a small strip set and I’m going to cut it apart. It wouldn’t make sense to anchor the beginning and the end, as you can see in the photo below that I’ve cut off the beginning of the strip set when I trimmed it up and after cutting the required pieces, there’s a small scrap at the end. Even if I had anchored the beginning and the end, I wouldn’t know where to anchor the strip when I’m going to cut it apart.

 

A small strip set that has been trimmed and cut into three 2½" segments with a scrap left at the end
The small strip set has been trimmed and cut into 2½” segments

 

Here’s a tip when you’re cutting those strip sets apart. Using your ruler and rotary cutter, trim up one end, ensuring the end is at a 90 degree angle to the center seam or at least one of the seams if there are more than one. Essentially, I use a line on the ruler as a guide on the seam line to trim the first edge and all the remaining pieces. The seam is what will show in your quilt block. If you use the edges of the strip set as a guide, that middle seam may be on an angle and it’ll be pretty visible. So use the seams as a guide. If the strip set is longer, you may need to re trim that edge with a 90 degree angle to the seams in order to keep the seams straight.

If you look carefully in the photo below, you can see that the raw edge along the top and bottom are just slightly skewed to the lines on the ruler. But that center seam is lined up nice and square with the cut edge on the left. If I had used the top and bottom as a guide, that center seam would have a slight angle. It’s important to keep the visual seams as straight as possible and hide the flaws in the seam allowances.

 

A line on the ruler is lined up with the seam line to ensure a 90 degree cut when trimming
A line on the ruler is lined up with the seam line to ensure a 90 degree cut when trimming

 

You can see in this example, that even when I gently pull the seam apart, the stitches don’t come open. That’s because I used a shorter stitch length. Not having to anchor the beginning and ends of the seams means we can sew faster and that’s a good thing!

 

The seam on a quilt block is gently pulled open, but the stitches hold fast -Husqvarna Opal 960Q
The seam doesn’t pull apart even though the ends were not anchored

 

Also, if I’m going to chain piece, I would be greatly slowed down if I had to backstitch at each beginning and end of the seams.

 

One piece of fabric has been stitched and the next piece is being sewn right after without clipping the thread
The chain piecing process would be greatly slowed if anchoring the seams was necessary

 

In the photo below, the vertical lines of stitching have further anchored the horizonital lines of stitching, I can’t stress it enough that this process of not backstitching only works or works much better if you decrease your stitch length to 2.0.  If you decrease your stitch length to less than 2.0, you’re just slowing down the entire sewing process without any real gain.

Tension is also important to the process of not having the seams come apart. Here’s where the Opal 690Q shines. I’ve sewn with all kinds of needles and thread combinations and I haven’t had to adjust the tension. The stitches don’t show from the front, the seams don’t come apart. The Opal 690Q is a fabulous work horse that performs extremely well.

 

The reverse side of a 9-patch block with the seams pressed away from the center
The vertical seams help to anchor the horizontal lines of stitching

 

Mitered Corners

In the instance of a mitered corner or a Y seam, you’ll have three separate seams coming together at an intersection. None of the seams will intersect, they’ll just slightly touch each other meaning they’ll not be anchoring each other.

Here’s a perfect example of where the FIX function plays a very important role. Yes, you could backstitch, but it’s nowhere near as accurate or neat as using the FIX function.

I’m going to walk you through sewing a mitered corner so you can see what I mean. This isn’t a full tutorial on how to add a mitered seam. I’m just going to show you how the FIX makes it easy to actually sew the mitered corner.

You’ll start by anchoring the seam ¼” away from the edge of the corner. You must leave that seam allowance free in order to do the miter. When you start the seam, you simply make sure the FIX function is activated and the Opal 690Q does all the work.

In the photo below, you can see the seam is starting ¼” away from the end of the purple fabric. There’s a tiny little thread end which makes it look like I started closer to the edge, but trust me, the seam starts ¼” from the edge.

 

A border strip for a mitered corner is sewn to the quilt.
The first step in making a mitered corner. Leave the seam allowance free in the corner of the quilt (represented by the purple fabric)

 

When you add the adjacent border, stitch to ¼” from the end of the quilt (the purple fabric). In this case, you’re stitching just until you reach the previous line of stitching. The ends of these two seems should be touching, but not overlapping. The end of each seam will be anchored with the FIX function.

 

Stitch until you are ¼" away from the edge of the fabric
Stitch until you are ¼” away from the edge of the fabric

 

In the photo below, you can see how the ends of the two seams are just touching each other. Neither of the seams are overlapping and the seam allowance has been left free at the ends of both seams.

 

The seam allowance has been left free and the two seams just touch each other
The seam allowance has been left free and the two seams just touch each other

 

To finish off the third and last seam of the mitered corner, take the purple fabric and fold it diagonally so the two border strips you’ve just added are lying on top of each other.

 

The quilt is folded diagonally and the two border strips are parallel to each other
The quilt is folded diagonally and the two border strips are parallel to each other

 

Place the 45-degree line of a ruler along the bottom edge of the border and slide the ruler so the diagonal edge just kisses the end of the seam line.

 

The 45 degree line of the ruler is placed along the bottom of the border strip
Place the 45-degree line along the bottom of the border

 

Using a pencil, draw a stitching line.

 

Draw a diagonal stitching line from the end of the seam to the outer edge of the border
Draw a diagonal stitching line from the end of the seam to the outer edge of the border

 

Starting at the inner part of the seam and anchoring the end using the FIX function, stitch the diagonal seam to complete the mitered corner. Notice that seam allowance has been left free of stitching.

 

The third seam of the mitered corner
The third seam of the mitered corner

 

And there’s the beautifully mitered corner. Notice that you can’t see the black thread that I used for the stitching. That’s because the tension on the Opal 690Q is so well balanced that the stitches don’t show on the top side of the work.

 

Mitered corner
Mitered corner

 

Anchoring quilting stitches

If the FIX function works so well with the Y seams, will it work for quilting?

The answer is YES. It makes quick work of starting and stopping your quilting stitches, especially if you’re using your walking foot.

The Opal 690Q will tie a small knot on the back of your work, anchoring the beginning and the end of the quilt stitches. I made two samples and you can’t see the anchored stitch in the first and you can barely see it in the second example.

 

The knot created by the FIX function is invisible (top of the photo)
The knot created by the FIX function is invisible (top of the photo)

 

The knot is slightly visible in this example (on the left)
The knot is slightly visible in this example (on the left)

 

What does this tell you? Using the FIX function for quilting is going to save huge amounts of time and the work on both the top and the back look fabulous. No more tiny little stitches, no more adjusting the stitch length – the FIX function takes all that work away.

It really doesn’t get any easier than that!

The FIX function is truly a remarkable feature that can be used in a variety of ways that saves time and adds neatness to your work.

This is one of the great features on the Husqvarna Viking Opal 690Q. Tomorrow, I’m going to provide some tips on achieving accuracy when piecing.

Have a great day!

Ciao!

 

This is part 4 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 3:  The when, why, and how to use your sewing machine foot pedal

Go to part 5: 7 tips for sewing accurate seams

Elaine Theriault is a teacher, writer and pattern designer who is completely obsessed with quilting. Elaine’s Tech Tips column (originally published in A Needle Pulling Thread magazine) is now available online in e-book format at QUILTsocial.com. When not quilting, she enjoys spending time with her two dogs, Lexi and Murphy, or can be found cycling across the country. Her blog is crazyquilteronabike.blogspot.com.

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