What did you think of the unboxing and setup process for the Husqvarna Viking PLATINUM™ Q160? It was pretty slick and fast, which means you get to start quilting quickly.
Today, we’re exploring the controls. You’ll run into trouble if you’re unfamiliar with free motion quilting and don’t know your machine. Getting comfortable with free motion quilting requires lots of practice. Thankfully, learning the controls on the PLATINUM™ Q160 takes a lot less time, and once you know the controls, you can focus on your free motion.
All the controls are on the color touch screen.
The screen is very responsive, and the intuitive controls make learning easy.
Before we get to the controls, here are some tips for threading the PLATINUM™ Q160. There are short videos to show you how to load the bobbin, adjust the tension, plus more. Check them out, as they’re worth your while to review. Some of the included accessories are slightly different, but there’s still lots of great information.
Depending on your needle and thread combination, you can quilt with multiple threads, but for the most part, I only quilted with one thread at a time. The spool holder has room for four thread cones, so if you need more than one thread, it’s a good idea to put the other colors on the thread holder until you need them to prevent them from falling off the table.
Threading this machine is very similar to threading a regular sewing machine, but with some differences. There are more thread guides; the second one you come to is the Three-Hole Thread Guide, which prevents the thread from looping as it feeds through the thread path.
The instructions state to use all three holes, but I tend to use only two. As long as you’re getting good tension and no loops, pick the number of holes that work for you. Sometimes a more delicate thread requires all three or only two. You must be willing to experiment with your quilting machine to understand what settings work with which thread combinations. What works for a particular thread may not work for a different kind of thread. Feel free to experiment. I found the PLATINUM™ Q160 was up and running with no fuss!
The Top Thread Tension Assembly looks a bit different from the tension discs on a regular sewing machine. But the principle is the same, and it’s easy to use and easy to adjust. Make sure the thread is well seated in the tension discs, and the thread is in the spring.
It’s great to see the tension setting on the touch screen. Once you get a good combination for a particular thread type, it’s easy to make a note so you can easily duplicate the setting for a thread type. If your current quilting machine doesn’t have this setting, then it’s a huge deal!
In this photo, the tension setting is 85. If I turn the tension dial to the right (towards the back of the machine), the number increases, resulting in a tighter top tension. If I turn the tension knob to the left (towards the front of the machine), the number decreases, loosening the top tension. I love how this number on the touch screen takes the guesswork out of figuring out tension.
You’ll see several spiral thread guides. Be sure the thread goes through the center of the spiral and not twisted around the metal as you will not get good stitches and likely end up with a broken thread.
The last thread guide is near the needle. Once the thread is through this last guide, thread the eye of the needle from front to back. This guide keeps the thread in the groove on the needle and gives you a better stitch. The thread is not in the eye of the needle here, so it shows up at an angle when it should be parallel to the needle.
It was easy to thread the PLATINUM™ Q160, and you can use any thread you wish. Just be mindful of the guidelines for various thread types; you may need to loosen or tighten the tension to get the desired results.
Now let’s talk about the bobbin. Oh my – you’ll love the bobbins for the PLATINUM™ Q160. There’re the M-class bobbins, and look at the size of them! Depending on the thread weight you’re using, you can quilt for a very long time without having to change the bobbin.
The PLATINUM™ Q160 comes with an excellent bobbin winder. Minimal assembly is required (screwing in the spool holder and the thread stand), but then you’re ready to go.
There’s a speed control on the bobbin winder, great for winding the bobbin slowly (recommended for an invisible thread or lighter thread weights). The bobbin fits into a bobbin case and is easy to insert. It may seem cumbersome initially, but after several bobbin changes, you’ll learn to do it by touch, and it’s so easy.
It’s time to test the tension on the PLATINUM™ Q160. Before getting to your actual project, it’s essential to test the tension. I make quilt sandwiches with muslin for the front and back and batting scraps. The muslin helps me to see if there are any tension issues.
I use a medium brown as the top thread and cream in the bobbin. So, if there are tension issues, they show up.
OH – look at the back of the test! The tension is perfect as none of the brown thread showed through to the back and vice versa. I did a happy dance at that moment, and I will say that for all the projects I worked on, it was super easy to adjust the tension (if I needed to). I’m very impressed with the quality of the stitch.
I had so much fun just playing, that I soon filled up my test sandwich and had to make another. You must try quilting on the PLATINUM™ Q160, so be sure to call your local dealer and request a demo. Having a huge flat surface to work on is amazing, and although my piece was small, I had zero issues with running out of room with my larger projects. The table is smooth, and well, I had so much fun, I could’ve quilted all day! And I did! You’ll see what I worked on later this week.
Now that we know the tension is correct and everything is working just fine, we need to look at the touch screen and figure out how to use the various settings. I highly recommend taking the User’s Guide, several practice sandwiches, and walking through all the commands. Push those buttons to see what they do. There are several ways of operating the PLATINUM™ Q160, and you may find one works better in a certain situation, while another works better elsewhere.
You can use the Pause/Play button instead of the foot pedal to start the quilting process, but instead of removing your hands from your work to touch the function, tap on the foot pedal, and the machine stops. Not many people know this feature, and I love using the foot pedal to stop the stitching process.
OK – so let’s take a look at the touch screen. The Pause/Play button is the arrow in the bottom right-hand corner; if a function is blue, it’s active.
There’s a good description of all these functions in the User’s Guide, so be sure to go there for more information, but here are some highlights.
The PLATINUM™ Q160 has two modes of operation, Manual and Regulated. In Manual mode (the big blue M), the settings indicate the number of stitches per minute, while in Regulated Mode (the big R), the setting is the number of stitches per inch.
Remember, in manual mode, the machine’s speed and how fast you move the fabric create the stitch length.
Let’s focus on Manual mode for a minute and notice how the screen changes from the one above when it was in Regulation mode.
The PLATINUM™ Q160 can do a maximum of 2,100 stitches a minute. WOW – that’s a lot of stitches, and depending on what you are doing, you may need speed. However, my preference is in the 200 to 700 stitches per minute. The number of stitches per minute in the photo is 775, and I can increase or decrease the number using the plus and minus buttons. I can also have 2 presets shown in the bottom left, and the folder with the heart is the save button. Set the speed to what you’re comfortable with, let’s say for stitch in the ditch around applique where you need a slower speed for detailed work, and save it as one preset. Then for overall background fills, you can set the other preset speed faster where you don’t need the same control. It’s super easy to switch between them by touching the numbers on the left.
I didn’t have time to play with the Low Bobbin Sensor, so it’s currently not active on my machine. There are two buttons for the needle position, and you can do several things with them. Depending on which one is blue indicates whether the needle stops in the up or the down position when you’re quilting. You can also use these to lower and raise the needle when you need to. The third function is the Up/Down/TieOff function (the bottom one). When you touch and hold this function, it creates a tie-off stitch and causes the needle to stop in the down position, which is what I like for quilting.
It took me only a few minutes to figure out all these controls – the User’s Guide is self-explanatory, and the controls are intuitive.
Now there is one other feature in Manual mode that I love. Do you see the big B in the white oval? That’s a basting function. Yes! Basting your quilts is now a snap. In Manual mode, you can select the basting stitch to occur at 0.5, 0.75, 1, or 2-second intervals. You can dictate the length of the stitch by how fast you move the quilt between stitches.
Here’s an example of the basting stitch with a 0.75-second interval. I didn’t experiment too much with this, but enough to get the concept. I might want those stitches a bit further apart on an actual quilt. But the beauty is, we have options! I love options!
OK – let’s talk about the Regulation mode. Within the Regulation mode, there are two options. One is Precision (the white area with the black dotted circle), and the other is Cruise (the blue area with the circular arrows.
What’s the difference between these two? In Precision, the machine starts to stitch when you move the fabric, and in Cruise, you turn on the quilting machine using the Pause/Play button, and it starts immediately at the set speed and maintains the same speed throughout your session.
Both are excellent, but you’ll find one is better than another in certain quilting applications. The Precision mode is fantastic when going around applique shapes or areas that need super control, while the Cruise is great for filling in large background areas.
Do yourself a favor and learn how to use both properly. The learning curve isn’t steep, but you must become familiar with both, or you’ll be frustrated.
Here is something else that’s critical to the success of using the Stitch Regulation.
See those two black areas on the front of the table insert? Those are the sensors for the stitch regulation. They sense how quickly your fabric is moving and ensure even stitches.
The Stitch Regulation does not work correctly if even one sensor is exposed. I have a fix for that, but you must come back later this week to learn what I discovered.
You can also baste a quilt in Regulation mode. This time, you set the basting to the length (in inches) of the basting stitch, which can be 0.5, 1, 2, or 4 inches. And the PLATINUM™ Q160 only takes a stitch when you move the fabric by the length of the basting stitch you set.
That’s so cool!
There are some very cool features and benefits on the PLATINUM™ Q160, and you can check out the entire list. But here’s one other thing I want to share with you. The lighting on this quilting machine is BRILLIANT – pun intended!
There’s one set of LED lights over the work area, which are very bright, and I had to turn them on and off to take pictures; sometimes, the light was too bright for what I was quilting. But it’s no problem because there’s a switch on the touch screen to dim or turn them off.
There’s another set of LED lights around the needle, which you can see reflected on the table. Again, the set of lights can be turned down or turned off as needed, and the controls are independent. As I keep saying, options are great as we all have different needs and work in different locations.
There’s also a Tools menu where you control the lights, set the low bobbin sensor, set alarms, and set the timer and stitch count in the event you want to see how long it takes you to quilt a project.
I’ve talked forever, but there are so many great features and benefits of the Husqvarna Viking PLATINUM™ Q160 that I didn’t want to miss any of them!
Be sure to come back tomorrow, as I’ll be taking the Husqvarna Viking PLATINUM™ Q160 for a test drive on an actual quilt, and I’ll share my experience with you.
Have a great day!
This is part 2 of 5 in this series
Go back to part 1: Unboxing and setting up the Husqvarna Viking PLATINUM™ Q160
Go to part 3: How to make free motion quilting a smooth operation [Tips and Tools]