I’m looking at the remaining physical features today, so we can start quilting tomorrow. I know – you want me to start quilting today, but here’s the thing. If I sit down and immediately begin to play, which I’ve done many times, I miss plenty of little tips and tricks and often run into difficulty. How often have I seen people struggle with threading a machine when it’s pretty simple if you follow the diagrams provided? So, I’ll take a few minutes to sit and review so I won’t have those issues.
So, the first thing I do with a new machine is to sit down and read (or at least browse) the User’s Guide.
I’m somewhat familiar with this type of quilting machine, but I want to check certain things, particularly threading, which is critical to success.
There are four different modes of operation on the PFAFF powerquilter 1600, so it’s essential that I understand how those work when I start quilting.
The User’s Guide is not thick, so it doesn’t take much time to get through it, including the machine setup instructions.
OK, enough about that. What other features can we find on the power quilter 1600?
I love the name, as it makes me feel powerful and that I can quilt through anything! Power – who doesn’t love power?
Let’s talk about the bobbins. The bobbins are M-class bobbins, and they are huge.
Do you know what big bobbins mean? I won’t run out of bobbin thread very often, which makes me very happy! It’s not that changing the bobbin is a big deal, but it’s handy not to have to change them every half hour.
There is a low bobbin indicator, which I’ll show you later this week.
When you need to change the bobbin, the bobbin case is easy to access in the front area beneath the needle. If you’re unfamiliar with this type of bobbin case, it’s super easy to learn, and of course, you’ll find the information for inserting the bobbin into the case and then into the machine in the User’s Guide!
The tension is adjustable using the tension spring on the side of the bobbin case. Playing with the bobbin tension on a domestic machine is frowned upon, but it’s essential when working with this kind of bobbin case. It’s not something you’ll do every day, but let’s face it – you will want to quilt on this machine and before you know it, you’ll be using all different thread weights in the bobbin, and you need to know how to adjust the tension.
It’s super easy and requires only a screwdriver. But here’s a tip. Do not overturn the tension. When adjusting the tension, turn the screw no more than ¼ of a turn at a time. To test the tension, I like to do the drop test. Insert the wound bobbin into the case and pull the thread through the tension spring.
Hold the bobbin in one hand and grab the end of the thread in the other. Is the tension so tight that the thread doesn’t pull out from the bobbin case when I give it a jiggle? Or when I grab the thread, does the bobbin case immediately fall, or does the thread pull out ever so slightly? The correct answer is that the bobbin case should fall a tiny bit when suspended by the thread. It’s essential to do this test, or you could end up with a mess on the back of your quilt.
Here’s a video to see what I mean. It’s a bit hard to tell how much movement there is, but the thread has some movement as it comes out of the bobbin case.
Now when it comes to winding bobbins, a separate bobbin winder comes with the PFAFF powerquilter 1600. It’s easy to use; you can set it at various speeds depending on your comfort level and thread type. So, if you’re quilting a large quilt, you may want to wind several bobbins before you start, or you may want a break and wind the bobbins as you go.
Guess what? There’s an instruction manual for the bobbin winder, as you need to install the thread mast. I don’t need a manual for that, says I. Well, yes, I did. Before I read the instructions, the thread mast was wobbling when I wound bobbins. Once I installed it correctly, it was solid! So that’s why instruction manuals are so helpful!
The important thing is that the thread needs to go through the tension disks on the bobbin winder. You want the thread to be compact. If the thread is loose and unruly, the bobbin is not a well-wound, and you’ll have an issue with the tension when quilting.
There are two presser feet, one is a complete ring, and the other has an opening to provide better visibility into tight areas. These are not feet for ruler work, but you can get optional feet which I’ll talk about later this week.
I had no issues with visibility using the presser foot with the complete ring, but I’d choose the other one for more detailed work.
It’s easy to change the feet. Use the included Allen Key to undo the screw. Once the screw is loose, lift the presser bar slightly to release the foot. Then put the new presser foot on and tighten the screw.
There are a couple of other features, but I’ll mention those once we get the machine threaded and start looking at the various modes of operation.
Well, with all those fantastic features, I can’t wait to get started quilting on the PFAFF powerquilter 1600. I’ve got a few small projects lined up, and well – let’s get started!
Have a great day!!
This is part 2 of 5 in this series
Go back to part 1: Introducing the PFAFF powerquilter 1600 Long Arm Quilting Machine