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Skipped stitches, inconsistent tension
  • I have a couple of questions: First, why does my Avante always have problems on Friday afternoon, when the help desk is closed? Second, I need a good reason why I could quilt nearly an entire row of a pantograph, when suddenly the machine begins to skip stitches. This is not the first time this has happened. I consult my manual. I change needles. I try sharps in sizes 16 through 19. I was using a #19 sharp to begin with. They all do the same thing. I have adjusted the tension on the top until huge loops show on the back - still skipped stitches. The needles are all the way in, they're faced the right way. I've tried 5 o'clock and 7 o'clock. I've changed thread. The quilt is not tight on the frame. Most of the skipping is on a curve going up and to the left, but not all. There doesn't seem to be any consistency to where or when it does it. I truly am becoming Crabby Quilter.
    You should know that I've been quilting for several years, first with an HQ 16, now with the Avante, which I've had a little over a year. This happened before, and I spoke to a tech about it, but I found him to be less than helpful and not a little condescending.
    I'd appreciate any help you can offer.
  • I also have the Avante and have problems with the tension staying correct. I work to get the tension correct and after a while its off. I reset the upper thread and the bobbin and still off. Have to start the whole procedure over again.
    Had tension perfect. Shut the machine down for the night and when I started it the next day with same thread, tension was off again.
  • I've experienced the same problems with my HQ-16, which I've had for years but only got serious about quilting pantographs recently (other life things took over for a while) and will go along perfectly, then, bam, you get finished with a pass only to see the tension changed or the bobbin ran out, or the thread broke. Wish there was a warning noise or something to alert you before you pierce holes throughout the whole pass. If things are running smooth, I never turn the machine off!! Stay until I drop to get the quilt done, because I never know if it will repeat the good behavior the next day.
  • Crabby Quilter I am right there with you. I have an HQ16 and have experienced the same thing for two years - so very frustrating. I can't believe no support from HandiQuilter has responded yet. I too have tried all you have and never know what it is that gets me out of it. I hate changing the needle for that very reason, since there is no idiot proofing it - that 5-7 o'clock thing. Trying to get set back to the exact position to prevent skipped stitches seems to be a pita. Sure hope someone comes back with a better answer soon.
  • To all... I, too, experienced the same problem with my HQ 16, a couple of years ago. It was really frustrating to say the least. Nobody could solve the problem. I tried everything. Even a glass of wine. Well, both hubby and I spend hours trying to fix the problem. It's the hooking mechanism that needs to be considered to create good stitches, or bad ones.
    It is corrected now..... this is what I do........after the normal steps are taken.....
    1) Clean out the bobbin area and bobbin case thoroughly,
    2) THEN - take the needle plate off, don't be surprise what you find in there, and again clean (don't blow into the machine - use a q-tip to collect), go back and reclean bobbin area again
    3) Now - use a good magnifying glass to really examine the entire area (bobbin area), there could be a very, very small piece of thread jammed in there. If so, don't pull thread/or fiber (cuz you may still leave a tiny bit, use tweeser to hold), have someone at the back of the machines to turn the needle wheel slightly until thread/fiber is released.
    I, also, have an HQ Fusion, and it happened with this machine, as well. Did exactly the same steps, as mentioned, which corrected the problem.

    Good luck, and be a happy quilter.

  • djohnson,
    Noticed on other post that you tried my suggestion.
    Forgot to ask that when you put a quilt on - is it rolled to tight? That will also cause skip stitches.
    Please let me/us know how Technical Solutions contact goes.
    Don't give up on HQ - it really is a wonderful machine, and when you solve the problem - you'll be in love again.
  • Cathie - Thanks for the information. I just went to clean by taking the needle plate off. No visible thread, but lots of fuzz/lint. I know these machines need to be clean, so I clean mine after each quilt if not more frequently. I clean the bobbin case area, clean and wipe the machine and the tracks down, etc. I have two friends who have the HQ16, both use same type of batting and thread as I do. They both produce more on their machines. They never clean them. I mean it - I've asked them. They both have black tracks, lots of fuzz/lint in the bobbin case - so what gives? I won't be able to try to see if this helps for another week or two - certainly hope it does!
  • I was having the same trouble with my Avante, finally got a new bobbin winder. This seems to have solved my problems. The old one would not wind the bobbins evenly or with the same consistanstly. Might be worth a try to use your friends bobbin winder once and see how that does.
  • A1Lori,
    Did you have a needle strike? That can throw off the timing and cause skipping.
    I'm still very interested in what the Tech Support comment is and/or what corrective action they suggest.
  • Just read all the comments and am going upstairs to check everything. thank you all for help
  • I am having trouble with skipped stitches on my Fusion. I changed threads twice, bobbins 3 times, needle twice and cleaned everything. What next?
  • I have no problems with my fusion but I do use Superior's pre-wound bobbins..
  • Handiquilter technical help did respond to my problem in less than 24 hours but they did not fix the problem. The local sewing machine repairman made a call on my machine and fixed the "timing problem"(in 2 hours, I don't have his bill $$$ yet). Whooopeee!! I'm sewing again. Sure do wish we could hit the start button and put the pedal to the metal and sew! Why have I had a Viking Designer I machine for 10 years and never had a problem with tension or skipped stitches???? Why are the longarm machines so sensitive to different threads, etc??? It is very fun when it works
  • I,m having the same problems the with tension and with the thread breaking. I,m so upset I haven't been able to complete my Christmas gifts please help!!!!!!
  • Hello to all, I have the Avante and am experiencing the same problems. Very hard to change thread weights and adjust the tension and then the machine takes it upon itself to readjust on its own and mess up my quilt. It skips stitches, breaks thread and is causing major delays in my business. I spend more time under the quilt than on top most days just making sure the tension is right. If I want to have my machine serviced I'm supposed to drive it an hour and a half to the dealer. It has to be a timing problem. I also have been treated like an idiot when it comes to support. Let me know if anyone finds the answer, obviously Handi Quilter doesn't read their blog sights and it isn't just me...
  • Dear Quilttilidrop,
    Someone alerted me to your post this afternoon. The only forum that is monitored by Handi Quilter educators is "Ask an HQ Expert". This is supposed to be listed at the top of the forum sections, but I see that somewhere along the line, that announcement was deleted. So, I apologize that it appears that we don't answer. We DO answer the "Ask an HQ Expert" each day, Monday-Friday.

    I am going to have an educators contact you directly (via email, since we don't have your phone number or name). Let's get to the bottom of this!

    Best regards,
    Brenda Groelz
    Director of Marketing & Education
    Handi Quilter, Inc.
  • I had a Sweet Sixteen Sit Down. I say had, I sold it this last week after having it for 8 months. It was a wonderful machine after I figured out that the bobbin tension has to be way more tight than the experts here said. After that I had nice tight even stitches top and botton. But decided I wanted a stand up quilter for the type of work I am doing. I purchased from a different company because one of my main priorities was service after the sale and frankly the distributor here seemed to only care about the sale. I had to watch vidoes to learn how to run and use the Sweet Sixteen. I wish Handi Quilter well as they are an American company but their service on site via their distributors needs to be looked at. Witness the problems detailed on this site. Where is the distributor in all this. They not this site should be the first call for questions and support. Mine will be for my new machine and I know they will solve it.
  • I had the same problem!!! AND FIXED IT! I would sew a row (border) of feathers....would start out good and then bingo -- the tension was off. Took it to repairman 2 times and then called once. No fix! Finally, called a LQS owner who teaches longarm classes at the local dealership. She came over. We spent two hours and discovered THE BOBBIN CASE WAS BAD!! No hitting the ruler with the needle, no dropping the bobbin case....but the CASE WAS BAD! It didn't look bad, but when we put a new one in, everything started working beautifully!!!!!!!!!!!!! TRY it! It's worth the $75.00!!!
  • I see I am not the only one having issues with handi quilter long arm, is anyone have issues with there computer connections? The machine responce to pausing and stopping?? I also have thread breakage, stictchs skipping and dropped stitches. I have more breakage and tension issues with the verigated threads. I have found that Avante works better with the King Tut thread and 16 needle. I have good responce from tech support, although my issues are continueing handi quilter has not been albe to resolve my problems they continue to work with me and are alway in contact with me. I suggest that you call back to the tech support line and leave a message, speaking clearly and slowly when leaveing your number also give a time that you will be home for them to call you back.
  • Wow! I wish I knew about this forum before I purchased my Avante 18, in November 2012. It's now February, and I'm still having some of the same problems already described above. I understand how to adjust the bobbin--stand it up in your palm, pick it up by the thread and let it fall back down slowly. If you have the bobbin 'right', the top tension is the only thing that needs to be adjusted (so they say). I'm using Superior's So Fine in the bobbin, and was using Superior's Highlights in the top. The combination was finally working great on my practice quilt sandwich, so I proceeded to try the same combination, but with a different color thread to use on my quilt. The only thing I changed was the COLOR of the Highlights thread!! Then all kinds of problems started. The needle wouldn't pick up the bobbin thread, the top thread began shredding, then breaking.

    So, I'm back trying out all the combinations again after cleaning out the bobbin case and area, rethreading the top, changing needles, and trying to get ahold of a technician. I'm beginning to think that I have a $10K piece of junk in my quilt studio. Fortunately, my Babylock Espire is fantastic and I've made over 300 quilts since I've started in 2005. I thought the LAM would be good for my large quilts, but I'm beginning to think that struggling with the Espire is not so bad after all. Tomorrow I will try adjusting things again, and I do have Omni and King Tut threads, so with over a 1000 spools of thread in my studio, surely one of them will work in the Avante.

    By the way, Superior's website does have a LAM thread chart that shows the size of needles that go with thread weights. Check it out.

    Good luck with your LAMs folks; I'll be back.
  • I am looking into buying a sit down longarm. I have researched the Sweet 16 and found outstanding reviews. I've looked into several models and had pretty much decided that the Sweet 16 is the machine to have. Reading your reviews I am a little concerned and confused.
    KoalaB from everything I can find the comparable BabyLock to the Sweet 16 is made by HQ and just has the BabyLock skin on it. Not sure if your Espire is or not.
    So, if you all can help me out before I make my purchase I would really appreciate it.
    Thanks
  • My thread sometimes pops out of the tension wheels unexpectedly. Are you checking that? Could also be the way the bobbin is wound, if it is inconsistently done.
  • Bail2L, my Babylock Espire is a regular sewing machine on which I still piece and quilt. My Avante 18 is a stand-up LAM (I didn't want a sit-down type), and I think I finally got the hang of it. As long as the bobbin tension is adjusted properly, the top tension is the only one to worry about, for the most part. But, sometimes the weight and type of thread can give one tension problems, which happened in my case.

    If you're still considering a LAM, it's not a simple decision. It takes a lot of setting up, loading, adjusting, frustration, etc., before you actually start practicing on small pieces. I just finished my first LAM quilt (62" square), but I call it my practice quilt to get used to how the machine stitches. That's my excuse for it not looking show-worthy.:):)

    Unfortunately, I'm one of those 'do-it-now' types, so I don't have any UFOs. But, I've already started working on another large quilt so that I can take advantage of this Avante in my studio. It's fun once you get used to how it works and how to control it. I'm not interested in using the LAM in a business; just for my own use. Although my sister says she will send me her large quilts! Yakkk

    Good luck with whatever you decide to do.
  • Whoops, Bail2L, I meant to say that, if I had my druthers, I might opt for the sit-down machine. Not because of sitting down but because it would be less work and frustration than the larger machine.