*couple of minutes later* Ah. I knew that would work. I looked over and there it was. Dang cat knocked it off between the desk and the birdcage.
There's been a discussion on FMQ on the 7700 Yahoo! Group. I always feel terrible when several people can't get their machines to FMQ while the rest of ours works great. They've tried everything and nothing works. I wish I could cyberspace myself over to their house and help.
Then I realized I hadn't really done FMQ with the 7700 yet. I had done it with the demo machine and once for a couple of seconds at home. I made a quilt sandwich and made sure all the settings were from the factory. Then I could play around to see what works best.
Needle: Janome 70 sharp
Bobbin: Aurifil 50wt
No problems but it wasn't until I tried another setting that it was just "okay" for stitch quality.
Needle: Janome 70 sharp
Thread: Hemingworth Rayon 40wt
Huge nests under the quilt. I knew that, but I wanted to see how much looping was there. It gives me the "I'm pathetic" baseline.
The next sets of tests were adjusting the tension discs up one time. My goal was to make sure that there wasn't any green Hemingworth underneath. Tension at 7 worked perfectly. White on bottom. Green on top.
Needle: Schmetz 90/14 Topstitch
Thread: Sulky Blendables 12wt
I knew this wouldn't work for long given the setup, but before the thread broke, it made great stitches.
I did the same with a size 100 Inspira Needle (Viking) to see any needle issues. The thread broke but stitches still looked great.
I made notes to myself so I would know which needles and settings I used.
After two hours of playing, the perfect setup was the tension at 5. Auto didn't make the stitches as pretty but was adequate.
Playing with the spring on the foot didn't make a difference in stitch quality. It didn't break the thread or cause issues. You just needed to to find the right level that works for you. Do you want the foot to be level, float, or up higher than the quilt? I like mine just gently riding over it. I love that I can adjust this height.
I was never into make quilt sandwiches or test stitches until about a year ago. I just wanted to start the project and "make it work" if something didn't fit.
My verdict on this machine for FMQ is that it's incredible. Once I got the settings I needed, there wasn't any issues other than user error. Even at high speed, I had control of the machine and the fabric. So far this is one machine I won't be naming "Damn It".
If you are cursing your machine I really recommend putting everything back at factory settings and starting over with a quilt sandwich. Take your time testing out each setting, write down your findings and keep it for further reference.