Today’s Topic:FMQ and Stitch Regulators
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Good Morning, Quilters!
This week we’ve been considering the topic of stitch length for free motion quilting which brings us to the topic of stitch regulators.
I would like to offer a few thoughts on stitch regulators, but more importantly, I would LOVE to hear the collective wisdom of nearly 15,000 readers of LKQ. Please share YOUR experience and thoughts on stitch regulators.
What is a Stitch Regulator?
A stitch regulator, like BERNINA’s (BSR=BERNINA Stitch Regulator), detects the speed of the quilt moving under the needle and adjusts the speed of stitching to maintain a designated stitch length.
The quilter dials in the desired stitch length, then begins moving the quilt to create motifs. The BSR adjusts to regulate the stitch length. Even stitches every time. (Well, almost!)
Built-in v. Attached Regulators
Most longarm and midarm quilting machines on the market today offer a built-in stitch regulator. For example, both my Q20 sit-down BERNINA and my Q24 Longarm on a frame include a built-in stitch regulator which can be turned off (Manual Mode) if desired.
Many models of sewing machine (like my BERNINA 770QE) have an optional stitch regulator accessory which can be positioned on the machine like a presser foot.
Do I Use a Stitch Regulator?
One of the most frequently asked questions I receive is whether or not I use a stitch regulator.
When I am quilting on my sewing machine, I never use the stitch regulator. I learned to quilt before stitch regulators were available. Consequently, I had to develop my own sense of timing. With practice, I learned to create fairly even stitches–not perfect, but good enough. I tried the BSR once or twice, but never took the time to learn how to use it properly. It felt backwards–like adding training wheels to my bike after I’d been riding a two wheeler for ten years.
On the other hand, the built-in stitch regulator on the longarm quilting machines is easier to use and stitching flows more naturally, so I frequently use the stitch regulator on my Q20 and Q24. I use manual mode about half the time and the stitch regulator half the time.
Pros and Cons of Stitch Regulators
PRO-Beginner quilters and infrequent quilters can achieve even stitch length with little practice using a stitch regulator.
PRO-Quilters can concentrate on motif formation rather than moving the quilt at an even pace.
CON-Quilters do not develop their own sense of timing and don’t learn how to move the quilt smoothly when aided by a stitch regulator.
(See BERNINA We All Sew–How to Quilt Butterflies. Notice in the video–smooth movement and consistent quilt speed create even stitches!)
CON- The motor required for stitch regulating is fairly noisy (One of the reasons I often revert to manual mode even on my longarms)
CON-You can not do ruler work with an attached stitch regulator. Ruler work requires a special foot which does not attach to the BSR on sewing machines. (You can do ruler work with built-in regulators.)
Regulators Yea? or Nay?
A stitch regulator, especially a built-in type, is nice to have, but it’s not a “must-have”. Don’t let the lack of one prevent you from enjoying free motion quilting.
As a beginner, even stitches may seem impossible, but I think you’ll be surprised that your sense of timing will become second nature quicker than you think.
On the other hand, stitch regulators may give you the little boost you need….
As with most things, it’s a matter of personal preference.
What do YOU Say–Yea? or Nay?
I would love to hear your thoughts on stitch regulators!
Would YOU vote Yea? or Nay?
Are YOU a quilting teacher who recommends using or not using a stitch regulator?
Do YOU use a stitch regulator regularly? Is it built-in or attached?
Is YOUR stitch regulator still in the box?
Are YOU able to achieve even stitches without a regulator?
YOUR Unregulated (or should I say Irregular?) Quilter,
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