Thread Tension and your Sewing Machine

Many sewers avoid the tension dials on their machines just like the plague, certain they will only make matters worse if they make adjustments. In fact, there is practically nothing quite mysterious about setting and adjusting thread tensions on your sewing machine, whatever its make and model. What is potentially a lot more confusing is that numerous apparently tension-related problems are caused by aspects aside from misadjusted tension dials. Let’s look closely at the way to recognize and appropriate “tension” troubles, each with and without touching the tension settings. We always advocate you check your manual initial for appropriate tension settings. But in case you don’t have the manual, or you need a different view of it, then this a superb starting point.

 

Tension devices and correct threading

Sewing machine tension You cannot get appropriate tension without right threading. All machines have fundamentally the 4 tension devices shown here- thread guides, tension discs, tension regulator for upper thread, and bobbin-case spring for bobbin thread- which guarantee that exactly the same amount of thread flows simultaneously in the needle as well as the bobbin, producing a symmetrical stitch.

 

Top Thread

To check the best thread tension, make sure the presser foot is down and pull a couple of inches of thread via by hand. You ought to be in a position to really feel the tension around the thread as you pull it by way of. The thread must pull via good and smooth with no snags or tight spots. Now sew a number of stitches on a test fabric and evaluate it to the diagrams beneath. Adjust the tension as needed.

 

Bobbin Thread

The bobbin thread is adjusted by the adjustable leaf spring tension on the bobbin case. Turn the tiny screw around the leaf spring no much more than a 1/2 of a turn at a time to get the preferred setting. This adjustment does not have to be carried out frequently, but one thing as straightforward as switching to lighter, heavier or a different thread may cause the adjustment to be off. You’ll be able to swiftly verify the bobbin thread tension by holding the bobbin thread inside your fingers and pull it up in a swift motion. The bobbin case need to slightly move downwards. If it does not move at all then probably the tension is always to powerful. In the event the bobbin case moves downward by just holding the thread, then the tension is too weak.

 

Meet your tension tools

Sewing machin tension bobbinIn order to kind a row of stitches that appears exactly the same on both sides from the fabric, the identical amount of thread needs to flow in the spool as well as the bobbin simultaneously. That is accomplished by running the threads through different tension devices, like the thread guides, tension discs, and tension regulator on the machine head for the upper thread(s), as well as the bobbin-case spring for the bobbin thread. Some machines also incorporate a small hole in the bobbin-case finger, via which to feed the bobbin thread to increase the tension for enhanced stitch definition when topstitching, satin-stitching, and embroidering, with no touching your tension settings.

The tension discs and tension regulator with each other are referred to as the tension assembly. The tension discs squeeze the thread as it passes in between them, even though the tension regulator controls the quantity of stress on the discs. On older ma- chines there are only two tension discs, controlled by a screw or knob. On newer models you’ll find three discs controlled by a dial or key pad on the front on the machine, which can regulate two threads at when.

In either case, the tension regulator is elementary: When adjusted to a higher quantity (turned clockwise), the discs move closer collectively, increasing the quantity of stress. Turned to a lower quantity (counterclockwise), the discs move apart, decreasing the pressure. Employing a thicker thread without resetting the dial will boost the stress and cause the upper thread flow to decrease, unless you’ve got a newer machine that tends to make automatic upper-tension adjustments. Given that the bobbin tension isn’t self-adjusting, the decrease tension may possibly need to be adjusted manually to match.

In addition to guiding the thread along its path, each and every thread guide exerts a modest quantity of resistance around the thread, adding for the tension from the discs to achieve balanced tension. Bottom line: Often ensure all guides are threaded ahead of stitching.

The flat bobbin-case spring exerts pressure around the thread as it comes out from the bobbin case. The amount of stress is regulated by a modest screw at the rear on the spring. Each the spring and screw are straightforward to locate when the machine has a separate bobbin case. When the machine includes a drop-in bobbin with a built-in bobbin case, locating the tension screw can be more difficult. Each sorts are shown inside the drawings beneath. In either case, to increase the resistance, use a modest screwdriver to turn the screw clockwise (to a higher number) or counterclockwise (to a decrease number). Turn the screw in small increments and never far more than a quarter-turn between tests. This aids you preserve track of just how much you are altering your settings and reduces the threat of losing this quite tiny screw.

 

The bobbin-spring screw regulates bobbin-thread tension, regardless of whether your bobbin is actually a separate, drop-in unit (left) or is built into the machine (proper).

As using the tension dials, the quantity of stress is going to be enhanced when thicker threads are run under the bobbin spring. To eradicate the ought to fiddle with all the bobbin-case screw, many sewers (myself integrated) have two bobbin situations: 1 set for general sewing along with the other for adjusting to significantly less regularly utilized threads.

 

Recognizing balanced tensions

When the tensions are balanced, the stitched line appears good on both sides in the fabric, as shown within the top drawing at appropriate, and the seam is at its strongest and most elastic. The easiest method to spot unbalanced tension is usually to appear for visible knots or loops at the end of each and every stitch. When the bobbin thread shows around the correct side, the needle tension is also tight or the bobbin thread, as well loose, as shown inside the middle drawing at correct. When the needle thread shows on the incorrect side, the needle tension is too loose or the bobbin thread, too tight, as shown in the bottom drawing at correct. Obviously, if you are sewing on extremely thin or lightweight fabrics, each threads may possibly show on each sides when the tension is balanced, simply because the fabric is so thin.

Sewing machine tension threadWhen upper and reduce thread tensions are balanced, knot between top and bottom threads is hidden among fabric layers (top). When decrease tension is too loose (or upper tension is also tight), knot is visible on appropriate side (left). When upper tension is also loose (or lower tension is as well tight), knot is visible on wrong side (appropriate).

Tensions can still need to have adjustment even when they’re balanced. If both tensions are as well tight, the seam may pucker, or break very easily when stretched (test this around the more stretchy cross grain, with a minimum of a 6-in. seam). If both are also loose, the seam will gap when pressed open, exposing the threads between the sections.

 

The way to adjust tension

You’ll find two forms of tension adjustments, a basic adjustment for daily sewing (that is what your repair person does when adjusting tension, but you’ll be able to do it, too) and a temporary adjustment, necessary whenever you alter thread sorts or sizes, fabrics, and stitching operations.

To create a basic adjustment, pick contrasting colors of a thread within the brand, size, and fiber you use most often. Use a single color to fill the bobbin, with the machine set on medium speed to minimize the threat of stretching the thread. Insert a brand new needle inside the size you use most regularly and thread the machine, making use of each of the thread guides on the machine head, but skip threading the eye on the bobbin-case finger in case you have that function.

Set the stitch length for two mm (12 sts/in.) or for the length you expect to work with most regularly. Set the upper-tension regulator at the middle of its range (on most machines, which is 4 or five), and stitch a test seam on two layers of lightweight muslin, then examine the stitches. If essential, use a magnifier to view the stitches clearly. In the event the tension isn’t best, repair it by adjusting the bobbin spring; tighter if the bobbin thread shows on the upper layer, and looser when the needle thread shows around the below layer. Make yet another test seam, and examine the stitches, repeating until the stitch is balanced.

When your stitching is balanced, begin a tension log inside your sewing-machine manual, indicating the thread brand, size, and sort, and also the number on the upper-tension regulator that produced a balanced stitch. Then draw an image showing the position of the bobbin screw, like the instance beneath, to utilize as a reference in the event you must record a alter in bobbin settings for unique threads.

To record the bobbin tension for future reference, make note of the bobbin-screw position, which includes reference to thread opening or open side of bobbin case, as shown.

To produce a short-term tension adjustment, pick the threads for the needle and bobbin, then fill the bobbin and thread the machine. Make a test seam on the fabric that you plan to sew, examine the stitches, then see in the event you can uncover a balance making use of the upper-tension assembly alone.

Anytime you switch from your regular sewing thread to yet another thread, very first thread your sewing machine and test your setup to determine in the event you can get away having a tension-dial-only, temporary adjustment. If that does not function, get out your second bobbin case, and commence moving the screw in quarter-turns to loosen or tighten it, as your sample dictates. Normally, once you use a lighter-than-normal thread for each needle and bobbin, the tensions will keep balanced, even though they’re each lighter. That is typically just what you need to avoid puckering lightweight fabrics, so no adjustment might be required. A heavier thread in prime and bottom will enhance each tensions, and you’ll possibly have to set a lighter tension to accommodate heavier fabrics.

 

Never touch that dial!

A lot of things can have an effect on the tension that it really is worthwhile to run through the following checklist inside the order provided before you attain for the tension regulator:

• Incorrectly threaded machine: Incorrect threading is responsible for much more “tension” troubles than any other issue. Did you use all thread guides? Did you thread with the presser foot down, thus maintaining the thread from slipping fully amongst tension discs? Is thread unwinding freely in the spool, or catching around the spool’s slash? Are you currently using a bobbin as a spool (which can interfere with all the thread flow)? Will be the bobbin inserted properly?

• Incorrectly filled bobbin: Take away any thread on the bobbin be-fore you wind on new thread. Wind the bobbin following the machine guidelines, so it is evenly wound in the correct tension. Eliminate any thread from the outdoors from the bobbin. Wind at a consistent, slow or medium speed, especially with polyester and nylon threads, to maintain them from stretching; they unwind inside your seam, causing puckers.

• Dirty machine: Lint and thread ends lodged between the tension discs, below the throat plate, or about the bobbin case and bobbin, enhance the resistance and restrict the thread flow. “Floss” amongst the tension discs with a lightweight, lint-free cloth, and verify within the bobbin location for thread ends and lint.

• Damaged machine parts: Bent needles and bobbins, and rough or damaged surfaces around the needle eyes, thread guides, tension discs, take-up lever, throat plate, presser foot, bobbin case, and within the bobbin area can all cause issues. In the event you drop a metal bobbin on a difficult floor, throw it away, even if it appears fine; the smallest damage can distort tension. Stay away from damage for the bobbin-tension spring by cutting the thread close to the case just before removing the bobbin. Raise the presser foot prior to removing thread in the upper tension.

• Needles, threads, and fabrics: Distinct thread sizes and sorts on leading and in the bobbin can throw off simple tension settings. A needle that is too large or modest for the thread may also unbalance your stitches, because the size from the hole adds to or reduces the total best tension. If you discover that you are receiving puckers on organza, chiffon, jersey, lace, or blouse-weight silks or polyesters, try altering to a straight-stitch foot and needle plate, and shorten the stitch length to 1.75 mm (15 sts/in.), prior to you reach for those tension dials.

 

The best way to adjust tension

You will find two kinds of tension adjustments, a simple adjustment for every day sewing (this is what your sewing machine repair person does when adjusting tension, but you can do it, also) as well as a temporary adjustment, required when you change thread sorts or sizes, fabrics, and stitching operations.

To make a basic adjustment, choose contrasting colors of a thread in the brand, size, and fiber you use most regularly. Use 1 color to fill the bobbin, with the machine set on medium speed to lessen the risk of stretching the thread. Insert a new needle inside the size you use most regularly and thread the machine, using all of the thread guides around the machine head, but skip threading the eye around the bobbin-case finger for those who have that function.

Set the stitch length for 2 mm (12 sts/in.) or for the length you count on to work with most frequently. Set the upper-tension regulator in the middle of its range (on most machines, this really is four or five), and stitch a test seam on two layers of lightweight muslin, then examine the stitches. If required, use a magnifier to see the stitches clearly. If the tension isn’t ideal, fix it by adjusting the bobbin spring; tighter when the bobbin thread shows on the upper layer, and looser when the needle thread shows on the under layer. Make yet another test seam, and examine the stitches, repeating till the stitch is balanced.

As soon as your stitching is balanced, begin a tension log inside your sewing-machine manual, indicating the thread brand, size, and sort, as well as the number around the upper-tension regulator that created a balanced stitch. Then draw an image showing the position on the bobbin screw, like the example below, to make use of as a reference if you must record a adjust in bobbin settings for particular threads.

To record the bobbin tension for future reference, make note in the bobbin-screw position, including reference to thread opening or open side of bobbin case, as shown.

To create a short-term tension adjustment, pick the threads for the needle and bobbin, then fill the bobbin and thread the machine. Make a test seam on the fabric which you strategy to sew, examine the stitches, then see in the event you can discover a balance utilizing the upper-tension assembly alone.

Anytime you switch out of your common sewing thread to another thread, very first thread your sewing machine and test your setup to determine should you can get away with a tension-dial-only, temporary adjustment. If that doesn’t operate, get out your second bobbin case, and begin moving the screw in quarter-turns to loosen or tighten it, as your sample dictates. Normally, if you use a lighter-than-normal thread for both needle and bobbin, the tensions will remain balanced, even though they’re both lighter. This is usually just what you have to stay away from puckering lightweight fabrics, so no adjustment may be required. A heavier thread in best and bottom will boost both tensions, and you will most likely must set a lighter tension to accommodate heavier fabrics.