Working with My Bernina Q20 and New Attachments


As many of you know, I am racing to meet a deadline for a show quilt for the Mid Atlantic Quilt Festival, a quilt I had not included in my business plan for 2018.  In spite of a major mistake I made that required that I basically start over with the quilt, I have met my goal of getting the top complete and the quilt sandwiched and ready to quilt by Christmas.  In fact, I started the quilting yesterday, but not before I installed a new interesting attachment on Fritz, my Bernina Q20 sit down longarm.  It is a laser light pointer that puts a red laser light point exactly where the needle will come down.

I gave this new attachment to myself for Christmas in celebration of my dear late husband Marvin.  He always gave me the most wonderful presents.  One of the ways I have learned to deal with Christmas since his passing fifteen years ago is to give myself a nice present as if it came from him.  I miss him as much all these years later as I did the first Christmas after he passed.  Strong, solid, reliable, loving, brilliant, and fun to be with was my Marvin.

Sew I got my new show quilt all sandwiched with one layer of thin polyester batting and one of wool batting.  Using the newly-installed laser pointer, I spent most of yesterday afternoon and about five hours today quilting.  I have a fair amount of appliques on this quilt and some challenging designs planned for the quilting.  So far, I love the pin-pointer in mode 1 (on all the time I stitch), and Fritz is working like clockwork despite all the challenging threads I am throwing at it.

I started by stitching in the ditch and around the appliques (and no the star pictured at the top is not in the quilt) with Superior’s superb monopoly…so thin…so strong…nearly totally invisible and not very shiny like other monopolies.  Truly, handling this thread is like I imagine sewing with spider webs or something equally hard would be, except it doesn’t break once you get all the tensions and needles correct (I used top tension 1.75, bobbin is Superior Bottom Line 60 wt polyester set at 180 tension, and an Organ 75/11 titanium embroidery needle).

The laser light pointed the way.  I was able to stitch amazingly accurately and extremely close around those appliques.  I used the Q20’s BSR1 (stitch regulator mode 1) and the kickstarter that allows me to stitch without pressing the pedal.  I love the kickstart.  I didn’t at first, but now that I am really use to it, I use it nearly all the time for all the work I do at Fritz.

I then did some detail work within one of the appliques that truly brought it to life, with the laser pointer aimed at the chalk marks I had marked on the applique.  The monopoly was perfect for this, because I had painted the applique and free motion embroidered it.   I did not want to impact the free motion embroidery but I did want to quilt in the trapunto.  I had added an extra layer of wool batting behind the applique to give it that trapunto fill. I am very happy with it.  I haven’t yet done the detail for any of the other appliques.

So I then switched to metallic thread.  Metallics are known to be troublesome, but today Fritz was happy to play.  The metallic stitching I have done so far was just plain wonderful.  It is ruler work, stitching along several long marked lines.  The laser pointer works great with ruler work, pointing exactly where the stitch will go, so lining up that quarter inch, which is sometimes a little elusive, is no problem at all.  However I did find that the #72 ruler foot works better with the laser pointer than the #96.  The 96 has a diagonal fill in the center to help you place the needle that makes the laser point difficult to see if you are not leaning over it more than I do.  The 72 has an empty center, and that works just great.  For ruler work I use the BSR2 (stitch regulator designed for ruler work that moves when you move and stops when you stop, but sometimes it will take a stitch if it detects even a small amount of movement).  For metallic thread I set a top tension of 2.5, and use Bottom Line with the same 180 tension.  I also thread it so it runs across that little silicone liquid pad thingy.  In fact, I did that for both threads.

I have, in the past, had metallic thread stitch through a tiny tiny bit regardless of how hard I tried to get that perfect, causing judges to fuss about my tension.  For this quilt so far, this is not happening.  The tension appears perfect to me on both sides of the quilt. I’m really happy because I didn’t want to put metallic in the bobbin.  If the judges say I have tension issues on this quilt, I will just have to think they have some kind of special vision.  LOL

Sew my next challenge for the laser pointer light and Fritz are the complex pictographs I have to quilt on the quilt.  At least one of them will be stitched in metallics.  Then I still have to decide how I am going to stitch the background…I have an idea developing, but it will be a big challenge for me.  Still, if I can carry it off, I think it will be a wonderful quilt.  It’s so very much fun though.  I really recommend the laser light pointer and the use of the kickstarter if you have a Q20.  I also bought the echo circle attachments for the #72 foot that I am planning on using on this quilt.  I’ll give a review of their use when I get to that.

Sew happy everyone!  Try something new and don’t be discouraged if you have to spend some time learning it.  Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

19 thoughts on “Working with My Bernina Q20 and New Attachments

  1. Fantastic review, Betty Jo. I think you covered everything. Looking forward to your review on the echo attachments. I have some but would like to see what you do with them.

  2. Carol says:

    Thanks for the review Betty Jo. I will start playing with mine after Christmas and am encouraged by how well the laser worked for you!

  3. Terry says:

    I’m glad that you are progressing along with your project and that you are happy with the tension with the metallic thread. I look forward to seeing the reveal of your masterpiece!

    • Hi Terry. Thank you. I will be revealing this quilt after judging occurs for Mid-Atlantic (assuming it gets in…if it doesn’t it will be after jurying). Merry Christmas!

  4. Carol S says:

    Thank you so much, Betty Jo, for this post. I just purchased the laser attachment for my sit-down Q20 and will install it once I get back from visiting my folks for the holiday and my Mom’s 90th birthday Jan 2nd. It’s interesting that you prefer the #72 ruler foot over the #96 ruler foot with the laser. I have yet to sew with metallic or Superior monopoly but I have used the latter quite a bit on my B880. How do I get Kickstart on my Q20? Is it an update like what I need to do to use the laser?

    • You’re welcome. How exciting. The Kickstart is an update. It is the one just before the one for the laser light. Not sure if just updating the latest one will provide the kickstart also, but it might since it has some updates to the kickstart too. Merry Christmas. And happy birthday to your Mom.

  5. Carol S says:

    Merry Christmas to you also and thank you for the birthday wish for my Mom. The laser, Kickstart and ruler work are all on my list to conquer and enjoy in 2018 thanks to your information. I’m going to call my dealer tomorrow morning to see about the Kickstart update. I’ll let you know what I find out.

  6. Claire Watts says:

    Good Morning,
    I read with great interest your use of the laser for the Q20. I was prepared to purchase it when it first came out for my Q20 and talked about it with my Bernina dealer. He talked me out of the purchase as he only saw good use of the laser with the Q on a frame. I may now reconsider the purchase.
    Many thanks for taking the time to give such details about threads and tension as well.

    • He was probably thinking of its usefulness for computerized quilting, and thought you could do as well without it. I think that could be true…one can do almost as well without it, but I found it really great for accurate detailed stitching. As a competition art quilter, getting those stitches in exactly the right spot can be important. I find these days with my aging eyes that I need all the help I can get. LOL.

  7. Sheree Leonard says:

    Thank you for the review. I have only had my Q20 sit down for 2 months and did not know about the laser. I do love the kickstart feature. Your work is gorgeous.

    • Thank you Sheree. I hope you will share what you do with your Q20. I have found so few blogs or videos for the sit down version of the Q20. Hoping to fix that a little bit. I’ve had mine for a year and a few months. Love it.

  8. My Q-20 is arriving tomorrow. Thank you for all the positive comments you have made about it. I don’t know about the silicone pad thingy. Where does it go on the machine?

    • Hi Jeanne, The silicone pad thingy comes attached to the left side of the machine. You can thread it in such a way that the thread goes over the pad. It comes with a small bottle of pink fluid Best wishes for your new machine. Have fun with it and share how it goes.

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