Superior Education

Is My Gammill Sensitive?

  • Intermittent Tensioner
  • Machine Adjustments

Is my machine sensitive or am I going bonkers?

Q. Have you ever heard of a sensitive Gammill? I have one of those machines. Every time I use it I have to pray, "please let this machine work...or please help this quilter to learn how to use it! How do I know if my frustration is operator error or if my machine is acting up?"

King Tut cotton thread in black and green

A.We recommend this to all longarm quilters: Loosen that top tension. By loosening the preset tension settings, longarm machines can much better accommodate decorative threads. A few more tips we can recommend for a successful time with your longarm are as follows:

  1. Loosen the bobbin tension to the point where the thread can be pulled up out of the bobbin with almost no tension. Holding the bobbin case in your left hand, pull up the thread with your right hand. The bobbin case should not lift up at all.
  2. Skip the intermittent tensioner.
  3. On the secondary tensioner (rotary tensioner), don't wrap the thread all the way around in a 360-degree loop. Just do the half-loop under.
  4. Increase the needle size to an 18 or 19.
  5. Slow down until you get the tension set just right. Not all threads are meant to be run at 1,800 SPM.

The first three steps reduce the tension enough to run most decorative and specialty threads, including Metallics. If the tension becomes too loose, go back and use the first tensioner. Remember to keep some slack in the quilt fabrics. They do not need to be drum tight.

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