Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Little Post On Thread Tension (Arrghh!)


Nothing makes me more frustrated (when sewing) than incorrect thread tension! Not knowing how to adjust your sewing machine can cause anyone to hate their machine and label it as "faulty." I have looked up several diagrams online in the past to help me resolve any issues and sometimes, even after my countless attempts, the tension still ceases to be adjusted correctly. Most diagrams will show you a picture and list only one tension (upper thread vs. bobbin thread) that needs to be adjusted. What I have discovered is that both normally need played around with. When the thread tension is perfectly balanced, the knot that forms between the upper thread and bottom thread settles, invisibly, between your two layers of fabric. When you find that knot on either the top side or the bottom side, then your tension is off. Here is my general rule:

*Knot showing on bottom layer of fabric: The upper thread is too loose and must be tightened (set knob on larger number). The bobbin thread is too tight and must be loosened (turn screw counterclockwise/left on bobbin case).

*Knot showing on top layer of fabric: The upper thread is too tight and needs loosened ( set knob to smaller number). The bobbin thread is too loose and needs tightened (turn screw clockwise/right on bobbin).

When you notice your tension is off, use scrap fabric to test adjustments of both the upper thread tension and bobbin thread tension until both sides of fabric show thread that is equally beautiful :)

When starting a new project you may have to test the tension if you are using a different type of fabric than used on the previous tension adjustment. Moving from a project made of cotton fabric to a project using silk are more than likely going to require different settings on your machine.

Some additional tips related to thread tension:

*When having trouble, make sure you ask yourself a few things before playing with the tension:
           ---> Is my machine threaded correctly?
           ---> Does my machine need cleaned and/or oiled?
           ---> Does my needle need changed?
           ---> Am I using two different types of thread for the upper and bobbin threads? (for example,                     one is cotton and the other is a polyester?)
*Also, I have decided against using my automatic thread cutter on my machine. It is a nice mechanism to have, but, I noticed sometimes that it will move the upper tension to a different position each time I cut the thread (which adds up pretty quickly when you are piecing a ton of little pieces for a quilt). Not to mention, the thread cutter almost always cuts it too short and I normally end up re-threading with each new piece I want to sew together (can I say ANNOYING?!).

So, if after you have gone through all of this and you are still having issues, I would recommend scheduling an appointment for your machine to have a little time away at "the spa" to be repaired.

Most importantly, don't get too frustrated with this process (like I have too much in the past). It will get easier the more projects you have under your belt. Always remember that sewing is a learning process and use every opportunity to get to know your sewing machine and refine your skills even further!