What is a Stitch Regulator? Do I Need One?
By Dan Novak
If you already own a quilting machine or plan to purchase one soon, I’m sure that you have heard the term “Stitch Regulator”. You might want to know what a stitch regulator will do. You may even want to know if a stitch regulator is something that you need.
Some of the machine companies offer their machines with or without a stitch regulator.
A stitch regulator is made up of many electronic components and installed in or on the machine. The regulator stops and starts the motor; it also speeds the motor up and slows it down. The end result is a more even and consistent stitch length on your quilt. For example, if you set the control at twelve stitches per inch, when you move the machine it will speed up and slow down as you do giving you twelve stitches per inch. This is done by the use of encoders. An encoder measures movement. Typically there is an encoder on the side of the machine to measure front to back movement and one on the machine carriage or cross track to measure side to side movement. As you move the machine set at twelve stitches per inch, the encoder sends a signal to the main control board. The main control board then powers up the motor every twelfth of an inch forming a stitch. This all happens so fast that you don’t notice that the motor stops and starts.
It may be possible to move the machine faster than some regulators can compute your movement. Sometimes this can slow you down. It may be better to shut off the regulator and run the machine on constant speed.
You need to keep in mind that the regulator only knows what you have just done and cannot foresee what you are going to do next.
When you are not using the stitch regulator, you become the regulator.
With the machine set at a constant speed, if you move the machine steady your stitches will look even. If your movement is inconsistent, your stitching will be inconsistent. This sometimes takes lots of practice. Most of the time a machine will run quieter and smoother with the regulator turned off. This is because you do not have the sudden burst of energy from the motor. You will also notice that the motor seems to run cooler with the regulator shut off. This is because it takes more energy to start an electric motor than it does to keep it running. The more energy it takes, the more heat is created.
When having machine problems, you need to determine weather you are having electrical problems or mechanical problems. The reason for mentioning this is because many people are under the impression that they can reprogram the stitch regulator to reset hook timing, fix tension issues and avoid thread breakage. Hook timing is a mechanical setting that must be set manually. All that programming does is adjusts settings for motor power and needle positions. You cannot change the hook timing by adjusting the stitch regulator. One major misconception is skipped stitches. 99% of the time, a skipped stitch is caused by a mechanical problem. This problem could be caused from wear, damage or even from the materials being used. Skipped stitches can also come from the way you are using your quilting materials. You need to look at skipped stitches very close. Sometimes you may be getting a long stitch. A long stitch is usually caused from a motor not running fast enough for the type of sewing that you are doing, or you may be moving the machine too fast. You may be able to adjust your regulator to get rid of the long stitch, but it is highly unlikely that you can get rid of a skipped stitch by adjusting the regulator. If you are not sure about an adjustment or what type of problem that you are having, please call your service person. This can save you time, money and also eliminate the chance of having more problems than you started with.
Nolting Quilting Machines is the originator of the longarm quilting machine. Nolting offers new longarm quilting machines for professional quilters and quilters who quilt as a hobby. We also accept Gammill, APQS, KenQuilt, Tin Lizzie, Innova, Voyager 17, A-1, Design a Quilt, Nustyle, New Joy, Penny Winkle, Prodigy and HandiQuilter machines for trade-in. We also sell used Gammill, APQS, KenQuilt, Tin Lizzie, Innova, Voyager 17, A-1, Design a Quilt, Nustyle, New Joy, Penny Winkle, Prodigy and HandiQuilter machines.