Well, I took my machine in to the nearest repair place... and they said they'd puffed a few puffs of air thru the tension dial and it was fixed. But I insisted on test driving it there, and it did the same thing for me that it had been doing, after I'd sewn for a while. Then I let them keep it overnight, and this time he said he'd buffed down some little place and sewed a bunch with it, and it was working. And on the two pieces of that felty stuff they demo on, it had sewn ok.
At home, I set it up for free motion, and it was still breaking and snarling. Ann had suggested that I try regular sewing, and with the walking foot, and it does fine... it's just with free motion. The only things I see different are dropping the feed dogs, and using the free motion foot.
I was using 100% cotton gray DMC thread on the top and bottom for the freehand fans I was trying. I tried switching to a stronger cotton/poly red thread and made freehand loops in the inner red border, and still had problems. (You don't see it on the red, I was using red on top and bobbin.) So I took the darning foot off, and put the walking foot on, and kept the red thread, stitched in the ditch between the inner border and the piano keys, and two straight lines perpendicular to the keys, then again in the ditch between the keys and the last red border. Except for a few inches (where I'd been playing with the tension for the darning foot,) once I switched to 'normal' tension for the walking foot, it worked beautifully.
The walking foot is also working well for machine sewing the binding. :)
So I don't know WHAT the problem is with free motion quilting. The ability to do free motion quilting is the main reason I got this new machine a few months ago. If I wanted to piece, or quilt with a walking foot, I have my old Kenmore.
I've tried it with the machine set on slow... medium... and fast. I tried it with the top tension several places on the dial, from loose to tight. I still got breaks in the top thread and loops and snarls of the top thread on the bottom. I think I've picked out more thread this week than in my whole life. Any suggestions, anyone?
And THAT'S why I haven't been blogging... but I promise to get around to all your blogs this weekend!