Monday, 25 January 2016

Top Tension Tips

look closely and you'll see the top tension is pulling the bobbin thread to the top
We like to think of the perfect stitch 
as a love affair between the top and bottom threads. 

But no relationship is automatically perfect.

Most sewing machines are pre-set at the factories for sewing garments with a mid-weight thread on mid-weight fabric.That's fine if you're sewing clothes but what if you're doing something else? If you are quilting multiple layers, stitching heavy or light weight fabric, doing appliqué, free-motion embroidery or embellishing you may find that the top tension is too tight. 

Here's a good close up showing what the stitching looks like when the top tension is too tight. Notice how the top thread is pulling the bobbin thread up through the fabric layers to the top. You can see this especially around the curves. Some people call these 'eyelashes', and show up on curves when the top tension is pulling the bobbin thread up to the top fabric.

In the following close up photos you can see skipped stitches as well as the thread shredding and breaking.

Notice how the top pink thread is pulling the bottom red thread to the top.

 Here you can see how the  tight top tension is causing skipped stitches.

Here you can see the thread shredding.

Fixing the too tight top tension is easy. 
Turn your tension dial to the left: 
Many tension problems are caused by too tight top tension. Learning to loosen the top tension dial will solve the problem. Turn it a bit to the left then do a bit of stitching to see how the adjustment is playing out. If it is still too tight, loosen it a bit more and try stitching again. Keep on loosening the tension dial and checking the stitching until you have the perfect stitch. The perfect stitch is when the top and bottom threads are evenly balanced and meet in the middle. This diagram from My Childhood Treasures on their How to use a sewing machine page  gives a good idea of how it works.

Sometimes the top tension is too loose.When this happens the bobbin thread pulls the top thread to the back of the project looking like this...

look at the metallic top thread showing up on the back 

Once again it's easy for fix the top tension when it's too loose. 
Simply turn the dial to the right to tighten the tension.

We like to think of the perfect stitch
as a love affair between the top and bottom thread.

But even the best relationship can turn into a tug of war. 

Sometimes getting your top and bottom threads balanced 
so they meet in the middle requires a little adjustment. 

Making little adjustments as you go along 
will keep you stitching 
happily ever after.

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