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Feather quilting on a frame is bunching up

by Terry
(Mobile, AL)

I have had this problem before and I don't know how to fix it.

A feather design I am using bunches or puckers as I quilt.

I have adjusted upper and lower tension, tightened and loosened quilt on frame and am just about ready to pull my hair out.


Hi Terri,

I'm sorry that you're having such a wicked time's a total bummer when the machine is fighting you.

I don't quilt on a frame so I'm not knowledgeable on that part, in particular if the looseness or tightness of the quilt in the frame effects the stitches (I'm assuming it does), so I'm putting this out for my readers to share their experiences.

What I'm wondering in the meantime, is it only on feather designs that the quilt is bunching up on?

Can you do other kinds of quilting (straight or gently wavy lines) without a problem?

What I'm thinking is that if your tension is adjusted to the tighter side of balanced, and when you go around a feather, you pull the machine faster adding more tension, and thus create the puckering. Again, I don't quilt on a frame, so this is only an educated guess.

Readers, if you've have experience with your quilting going all catywampus like this, please share how you fixed the problem. Thank you for your assistance. I appreciate it!


Julie Baird

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possible solution
by: Terry

I think I have a possible solution to the design puckering when quilting on a long arm.

After much research I found that if the backing has more tension on the roller than the batting and quilt top the design will pucker. Again with the tension!!! It is critical that tension is correct everywhere: top thread, bobbin thread and quilt layers. It is also the most elusive thing in quilting. It seems like it changes every time you change the thread, put in a new bobbin or roll the quilt on the take up roller.

You must be vigilant all the time.

Hope this helps someone.


by: Terry

Thanks Julie for sharing this with other quilters. After getting the top, backing and batting on the frame I try to make sure that it is squared on the frame. I baste across the top and down the sides as far as the frame allows. I start quilting designs across as layed out on my quilt guide. When I advance the quilt I baste down the sides as I go.
I have had this happen with other designs but I don't think it is the designs because I also quilted a line of crosshatch before the feathers and it looked great. It has to be something I'm doing wrong placing on quilt frme or settings on my longarm. I am open to any suggestions anyone has.

Happy Thanksgiving


Puckering on a frame
by: Roberta

Did you baste your sandwich before mounting the frame? ... If you did baste and got puckering, you probably should have stitched your basting closer together.

I baste outward from the center ... First into the corners forming a large X. Then to the center of the sides forming a cross. Then I run 4 lines of stitching parallel to the horizontal and 4 to the perpendicular lines. This usually seems to secure the sandwich well enough.

Each time I move the quilt through the frame, I make sure the backing is not puckered.

I admit that the basting process is a pain in the neck. I used to do it on the floor, but my knees can't take it any more. Now, I have three 8' tables that I set up to do the chore on at work. My Knees appreciate that!

I have a friend who has a ping-pong table that she uses for basting and when I no longer have access to my tables, I plan to go to her house to baste my quilts.

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