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Intermittent tension problems - seeking replies


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I welcome any comments to this question:

What can cause intermittent lower tension problems.

I am stippling a customer's log cabin quilt, it has Hobbs batting, muslin backing (no seams in it), YLI light brown on the top, YLI natural on the bottom. I can have normal stitches for long or short periods and suddenly develop problems with bottom pulled stitches that I would describe as "eyelashes". The threads pull tight and curve on the bottom, the top looks the same. I am learning to listen for a difference in the sound as this occurs.

This quilt is taking me twice as long as I have had to stop & frog several times.

Is there any particular cause for this problem? a bad bobbin case? the wirey YLI thread? the fact that the log cabin has lots of seams to quilt over?

My Millie seems to be just fine otherwise. The last three projects that I quilted before this one did not have this problem.

TIA to replies.

Frustrated in Indiana - Connie W:(

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Hi Connie,

Sorry to hear about the tension woes.

Your YLI thread may be a thicker thread than what your tension was set for on the last quilt you did?

Can you take a look at this link for tension & see if you find the problem, one by one, check things off, I am sure that you will find the problem. :D


Let us know what you find. ;)

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Linda - :)

Thank you for responding.

I failed to mention that I consider the link you referred me to as the longarm bible of help and also that I have a separate bobbin case that I use for YLI to avoid lots of time-consuming tension adjustments.

Everytime I begin I always do a test on my practice strip.

This problem just seems to be one I can't figure out. I do take care of my machine with cleaning & oiling, I do change needles, etc., hoping to avoid hassles.

I'm nearing the last row on the log cabin and with good luck I'll finish up today and move on.

Once again, thanks for the reply.

Connie W

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Hey Connie! :)

Can you let us know how the quilting goes with your next project? If possible try using another brand of thread.

I don?t have much luck with some of the YLI at the "hyper" speeds that I like to quilt at! Possibly that thread is older or over-dyed as a darker color??

It sounds like this thread is the culprit, & I will be interested in hearing about your results, keep us posted okay??;)

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If your bobbin slowly crawls down when you hold it by the thread (full bobbin) The bottom tension is O.K. The top tension is usually a little tighter than you think it should be. You always need to check your tension with a full bobbin. Might want to switch needles, I only use Singer mr 4.0. I have tried other brands of needles and it did create the problems you are having. You have to retrace your steps when you all of a sudden have a problem. If nothing is different except the thread. Guess what, it's the thread. At least that would be my guess too! Are your top and bottom threads different weights or different blends. Cotton, poly, rayon, etc. Some times you have to thread different weight threads differently on your machine. I only go up one hole and down one hole on the bar when I use metallic thread for instance. I also put a scrap piece of material on top of the quilt off to the side and sew circles, sew up, down, every which way and give it a little work out. Then I check the back and see what I get. Most the time I can spot a problem before it happens on the quilt. I hope this helps.

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What type of thread were you running on your last quilt, in the bobbin and the top. YLI is thicker as the ladies have said. With eyelashes on the bottom of your quilt, your top thread is being pulled down by the bobbin thread. So if you were running a thinner thread you may need to loosen your bobbin tension a bit. Did you do a bobbin drop test to see how much tension is on it?

Do a check on the top by pulling the thread from behind the needle. If it is pulling with little resistance you may need to tighten your top tension. Take your time, you will work it out by checking one thing at a time. Pull you machine off to the side and test it. I keep a piece of muslin quilt sandwich to test on. My test piece has same batting I am using in the quilt.


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