Playing on the Gammill Charm

I’ve been working on a couple projects this weekend.  Not the two project I had on my list, of course!  Since the Gammill Charm was delivered and installed, I’ve only quilted on her a couple times.  I really wanted to get a couple things put together so I could quilt and play.

First up were blocks in Leah Day’s Building Blocks series.  Originally I hesitated to buy this series.  The quilting patterns seemed pretty basic and I’m not fond of tracing designs.  However, I did like the fact that we make multiple copies of the same block and quilt them in different designs.  I need some serious quilting practice.

DSC_0196_1225So back to those basic (read simple) quilting designs…don’t you love it when your arrogance kicks you in the ass?  I hate trying to quilt by the line!  And I really need to improve my grid work.  So it’s a very good thing I caved and bought this BOM.   It should get me out of my comfort zone.  To the right are Blocks 1 and 2.  We make three of each block and I’m working from primarily solid scraps with the option of adding a print here and there.

DresdenBaby.GammillCharmSince I really wanted to keep quilting on the Charm, I pulled out a baby quilt I put together ages ago.  It’s batted with a thick cotton batting that can be a bit of a challenge.  The batting doesn’t want to bunch up, but lays flat regardless of what I do.  This makes it tough to move the quilt around smoothly.  The quilting has been done in stages and you can see it in the change of threads and in the quilting performance.  Even the quilting today was sloppy in places, but I can see improvement over the past year or more.  The quilting is finished and I was hoping to bind it and call it my first finish of the year, but I’m done for the day!

I really wish I had thought to put something in this photo to give you a sense of the size of this Charm.  She is substantial!

So, what do I think of the Gammill Charm?

Stitch:  When I first tried the machine, I could see and feel the quality of the stitching.  I’m not sure how to explain it except to compare a hand mixer to a KitchenAid Stand Mixer.  They both do the job, but one just feels more efficient.

The stitch speed can be controlled by the foot pedal or set on a constant speed.  I liked both methods.  The constant speed can be changed to suit you.  Once it is set at a comfortable speed, the main thing you’re thinking about is the speed you are moving the quilt without worrying about the foot pedal.  At one point I needed to be careful about my starting and stopping spots and switched to pedal control.  They both worked really well

Thread and Tension:  This is going to be my challenge.  I read and hear a lot of quilters, especially long arm quilters, rave about Superior Tread’s So Fine thread.  I’ve tried it in the past and just didn’t like the way it lay on the quilt.  Based on the success of so many others, I assumed my machine just didn’t like it as well.

For the quilting today, I used So Fine in the needle and Bottom Line in the bobbin.  I found a tension that worked, but it took a while.  The bobbin is actually a pre-wound bobbin from Superior Threads and it worked well.  It isn’t sinking into the quilt as well as Aurifil does on my Bernina, but it works.  I’m hoping once it washes, it will sink into the fabric.  My concern is I would really like to use multiple thread types for quilting, and I’m not sure if this caliber of machine will like finicky threads.

Today the threads broke enough to be annoying, but not enough to totally tick me off.  The top broke mostly, but the bobbin broke about three times.  So I’m thinking either the tension is still off or perhaps I was quilting too fast.

Substantial:  I normally quilt on a Bernina 820, which is a Very Nice machine for quilting.  It hums and has a pretty light touch.  The Charm has a heavier feel and is slightly more noisy (or maybe I’m imagining it).   The machine and the table is solid and well manufactured.

Convenient:  The Charm is mounted on a metal frame table which is very sturdy.   I never had the sense of table vibration.  I also chose to buy the casters with the table.  Very good idea.  The table is stored in a folded position against a wall.  Folded it is 2′ x 4′.  There are two leaves, one to the left and one to the rear.  With both folded out there is a square missing in the back left (if you can picture it.)  That seems awkward to me.  I keep picturing the quilt getting caught in that corner as it is moved around.

On the other hand, as I worked on this quilt, I needed the extra space.  This table, even with the machine mounted, rolled away from the wall so easily.  The back extension is easy to raise, locks securely and easy to drop again.  For me, I rolled it away from the wall, turned it to a right angle, and lifted the rear extension in a matter of minutes.  It folded back just as easily.  Total Win!

I am anxious to see what other Charm users have to say about this machine.  So far, I’ve only found one other owner and she is waiting on delivery.  I’m anxious to compare notes.

So that’s my weekend.  I hope your week is an awesome week and totally blessed.


33 thoughts on “Playing on the Gammill Charm

    1. Yes, our blog consists of three new Charm users who found each other on the internet. One is in Australia, one in the UK and I’m in the US.

      I really haven’t had time to play as much as I would like, but yes, the Charm is a dream to work on. The space is incredible and she sews beautifully.

      My only issue has been in using multiple types of thread. Mine hasn’t liked threads like Aurifil, SoFine and other fine threads. The cones made for long arm seem to be doing fine. So I’m still playing with threads and tensions.

      The other ladies have used Aurifil with no problems. That’s why I think the tension may be my problem

      So you are trying to decide what to buy?? or do you already have one?

      Good luck

      1. I’m so glad to find your blog. I just purchased a demo Gammill Charm from a local quilt shop and will get a lesson this coming weekend and them bring my baby charm home! I played with it at the shop while I was using their long arm Statler and loved it much more than the Handy quilter I had been using at another shop for custom FMQ. I definitely was to stay in touch as I have a lot to learn.

        Marcy Cline

      2. I see that our comments on the Charm should be posted on this page instead of your regular blog. Would you like me to delete my comments from that page &
        Comment here instead?

        I continue to play. Yesterday I did a whole section in a double circle & then a hook that I found on a you tube page but forgot the name. It wasn’t as consist wrong as I would have liked but looked pretty good when finished. Wish there was a way to post pictures.

      3. No, you’re good with the comments. I love that you’re posting followups. If you would ever like to do a blog post talking about what you’re working on and what is working or not (with thread, needle used, etc), I would be glad to give you access. That would also allow you to post photos within a post. I’ve let this blog go stale and hearing the new comments are making me want to start playing on the Gammill again. 🙂

    2. Ann! I thought I was on a different blog when I responded with my answer a second ago. LOL. ThreadTime is my personal blog. I’ve just started another blog that I share with two other ladies, Charmers Across the Pond

      It is a work in progress and a little rough, but we wanted a space to compare notes on our Charms and what is working.

    1. Amy, I just realized you posted on my personal blog and not the ‘Charm’ blog a couple of us created. You may have thought my previous response was a little strange!

      We created a blog dedicated to quilting on the Charm called
      We really need to get more active on that blog and would love other Charm users to post there if they would like to add to the community.
      Sorry for the confusion earlier,

  1. I have had my Charm since January of 2014. I would love to know the secret to a good stitch. I have quilted various sized quilts, table runners, wall hangings and have had nothing but trouble with it. I have tried signature, cotton essentials, perma core and several other threads and always have trouble. I even have had a gammill service rep come and help and she has also had trouble with it. Any suggestions?

    1. This is an update of my experience that I bought & moved. Home in early Dec. I’m having a blast practice every day after watching the Leah Day tutorials on facetook. I’m getting better at meandering with her help. I’m practing everyday to get ready to FMQ my neighbors cross stitched quilt which has the quilting marks but I don’t want to mess it up so I made a template & practice practice. I have several other sewing projects that need to be finished so not as much time as I want but hope to hit it hard after I finish Christmas presents.

      My purchase was a shop demo that I got a great price because there did not seem to be a demand like Gammill anticipated. The quilt shop is focusing on selling Berninas and needed the space. Since they had the Charm for a few years they had it running well as the repair man is in the shop all the time & they gave me great instructions. It came with 2 Spools of cotton which I have been using to practice although they threw in $200 worth of thread if my choice & I picked all Glide in various shade of neutrals, white, cream, golds, grays & blacks. I haven’t gotten to the nerve to change the thread because it’s sewing so well with the cotton although there is a lot of lint. Im making bobbins on the back as I didn’t purchase the stand alone bobbin winder – maybe later. I’m getting better at getting my stitches more consistent which is all a matter of controlling how fast I move the material. It came with a glide sheet & with gloves I’m getting better.

      My daughter came by tonight & needed a quick gift. I had some cozy fabric that I basted together with the Charm them turned it and quickly quilted it just following the the daisies around & finished in about an hour – a small lap size quilt. She was pleased & I was thrilled to see how easy it was. Not a perfect job but good for what she needed & practice for me. I’m happy as can be with my Charm Baby.

      1. Which cotton did they provide you with?? I do love the Glide thread. I really want to get back to quilting in January. I haven’t done ANY in a couple months it feels like. 😦

  2. Hi Anita, I hate you are having so much trouble. It is doubly bad that the Gammill service rep can’t seem to get a better stitch. How much experience do they have on the Gammill? Crazy question, but that just baffles me.

    I personally think the Charm has a different tension setting than the longarm version. I know this is the smaller longarm machine that is mounted, but I think the fact we move the quilt instead of the machine affects tension. I could be totally wrong. It’s just my theory.

    I use a much looser tension than my rep set and I routinely change tension when I sit down with new threads or quilts. When sewing, tension is pretty easy to set and leave, but that isn’t the case when I’m quilting. I am always adjusting tension to my project, threads, or just the day. We’re in Louisiana where the humidity is high and I’ve read the humidity, heat, etc can affect the tension. So basically I’m saying don’t be afraid to adjust the tension. And I make big adjustments on the tension on my Charm. I have given the black tension knob a couple full rotations at times. Which is a big adjustment.

    Poly threads have done better than cotton. I have never gotten Aurifil cotton to work (which I hate, because I do love quilting with Aurifil). The Aurifil Poly works like a dream and looks beautiful. Glide works well. I’ve posted here about some threads I tried early on and how they worked.

    The other thing to think about is your needle. Make sure you’re using sharp needles in the right size for the thread. Change needles when you start a new project (or often enough to keep a sharp needle). Superior Threads has a great reference guide for the proper needle to use with each of their threads. You can find it along with other great references here

    I’d love to hear how you fare with your quilting. Feel free to email me at rpsandbag at if you’d like to start a discussion. Best of luck and Merry Christmas.

  3. Thank you responding!!!!! My gammill rep has been working with gammills for about 10 years and I’m her only client that owns a charm. She thinks a lot of it has to do with moving the quilt, and we have worked on it. I have used almost only cotton threads. Wonder if that is the main problem?. I did also find the charmers across the pond blog last night and read about the different threads. And about the tension at the black disks. I will play around with that today as i have really only adjusted the bobbin tension and tension with the spring. When I can get Toby, (I named him), to work with me, it does work like a Charm!!!!!!!!!

    1. My Gammill dealer told me to not adjust the beige tension dial. Not sure why (and I do ignore him if I’m not getting enough adjustment with the black knob). I’m not sure if I’ve gotten any cotton threads to work. I’ll have to go back and look at some of my work to see. But my issue with cotton wasn’t tension or stitch quality, it was with breaking threads.

      1. I’m actually working with Toby right now. I have moved the beige tension knob as suggested and only moving the black knob tension. Top quilting looks awesome, but back of it is where I can see and feel too thread coming through. I need to figure out how to post a pic!!!!! My gammill lady was very happy to hear that I found these sites!!!!!!

  4. Thanks to all the suggestion I have received, I have completed a table runner and am halfway finished with a full size quilt. Toby is working great and I am enjoying him!!!! It only takes just a little of adjusting now.

    1. I also got a Gammil Charm in Dec, I love it. Have already quilted a couple of quilts. There is a blog on line just for Charm Users called “Playiimg on the Charm”. Just google it. Good site to discuss things. Congrats on your Charm!

  5. Thrilled to find another Charm owner!!!! We are a rare breed. I just got mine on 12/9/15 and am still wrestling with tension. I’ve been free motion quilting on my Bernina 820 for 3 years and decided I needed more room. I loved FMQ on my Bernina 820…beautiful beautiful stitches front and back. I’ve yet to achieve that on the Charm. My favorite threads on the Bernina were Bottom Line and So Fine. I’m really struggling with them on the Charm. It just doesn’t seem to like the thinner threads. I’m doing okay with the Permacore that came with the Charm and with Omni. I sooo want to use Bolttom Line in the bobbin and So Fine in the top. Would love to hear from other users any successes in that area.

    I tried to join your dedicated blog but the register button sends me to to register my own blog. Help! 🙂

      1. That’s funny! That’s actually a blog I helped start with a ‘Charmer’ from England and Australia. As you can see, we haven’t kept it active. I don’t think the other two were comfortable posting. If you ever want to share your experiences there, let me know and I can add you as a contributor.

    1. I was also on a Bernina 820. You and I may have similar experience. I never really liked So Fine on my Bernina. I really loved cotton Aurifil, which never worked on the Charm. I’ll be honest and say I made some MAJOR adjustments with the tension on my Charm. I have no idea how close it is now to what the dealer set when setting up the machine. Since it isn’t a digital tension, there’s just no way to tell. I think I have it looser than what they set. For weeks I would work on scrap fabric/batting sandwiches and just play..constantly changing tension for the thread I was using. It was a learning process and did take me some time. I would say now I have decent tension and usually like the stitch on the Charm. I do use the prewound Bottom Line bobbins on the Charm. So Fine gave me trouble at first, but if I remember right, I did get it to work finally.

  6. I just purchased my brand new Gammill Charm 22 estimated delivery is 3rd week of this month, July 2016

    I tested FMQ on it at quilt fest Houston 2014 and 2015 and fell in love with it. My dream machine
    Tested many other sit down mid arms (many great ones ) and did my homework b4 deciding
    Felt right for me as it met all my expectations.

    I plan to join and will follow up with my exoeruence

    I am so glad I found this site


    1. I’ve been using my Charm to quilt for customers. I practice every day just to stay in practice & improve to better my skills & try out new patters. I usually use some cotton thread to play and switch to Glide for customers. It takes me a while to get the tension right but it looks good. I bought a bobbin maker for about $100 & really like it as it makes very nice bobbins especially with the Glide thread. I would share some pictures but I don’t see any place to add photos

      1. Hi Marcy, Send me your email address. I will add you to
        It’s meant to be an informal ‘community’ site for Charm users. Not in any way connected to Gammill. Just something a few of us put together to share our experience and help each other out. We haven’t used it as much as I had hoped. Would love to have you post your experience there for other users.

    2. Anna, Send me your email address and I will add you to “CharmersAcrossThePond”. I would love to have you share your experience with the Charm.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s