How to adjust the tension on your sewing machine
Few things are more frustrating than not being able to get the tension on your sewing machine balanced. Here are a few tips on how to do it:
1. Make it a habit to thread your machine with the pressure foot UP. This disengages the tension disks so the thread is able to slip easily between them.
2. Always adjust your machine's tension with the pressure foot DOWN. If it's up, although the numbers on the tension dial may move, the tension settings on the disks don't.
3. Remember that the numbers on the tension disks are relative. Generally, "3" is a good place to start, but it's only a number. Increase the numbers to tighten the tension, decrease them to loosen it.
4. Use different color threads in the top and in the bobbin to make changes easier to see.
5. Sew a few inches, stop, and examine the stitches. Adjust the tension just a little, stitch a bit more, then examine again. Repeat as needed until there is no (or very little) of the top thread showing on the bottom fabric and no (or very little) of the bobbin thread showing on top.
But how do you know which way to adjust the dial?
This is where a lot of the confusion seems to come from, because it 'seams' backwards! Look carefully on the bottom, the bobbin side. If you're using the same color threads both on top and in the bobbin, it can be hard to see, but usually what you'll see if you have 'loopy' threads on the bottom, is that the loops are actually the top thread and that the bobbin thread is laying on top of the fabric. Using different color threads makes this obvious.
What's happening is that the top tension is too loose, so it's not pulling the bobbin thread up into the fabric.
There's a tendency to see the loops on the bottom and think the bobbin tension needs adjusting, but the real problem is with the top tension. (There is a bobbin tension adjustment but you shouldn't have to mess with that very often, if at all.)
I've posted a couple of photos at www.robbiesews.blogspot.com so you can see what I mean by balanced tension.
on Mar 10, 2010 | Sewing Machines