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bad tension imbalance/tightness


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I have a problem I wasn't able to solve - even after reading through many threads in this forum. And I have no more ideas.


APQS George

'So Fine!' thread top and bobbin.

Cotton fabric, cotton batting.

Problem description:

The machine behaviour was changed when I returend after a few weeks. (OK, maybe George was offended by this...)The bobbin tension seems to be very strong when I pull on the thread at teh machine. It changes obviously with changing directions – as you usual do when quilting swirls and feathers….

I found out: The bobbin thread is pulling extremely strong when I move the quilt towards me - quilting 'backwards' or sideways.

Additionally the overall tension is very strong so that the quilt is puckered.

This is not the normal directional tension imbalance!

What I tried:

Cleaned bobbin area. Rethreaded.

First I tried to tighten the top tension but only the puckering went worse. Everything extrem strong. Bad.

Then I loosened the bobbin tension step by step to almost zero. No effect.

Then: New day, new thread, new MR3.5 needle, new bobbin case. Asking Claudia Pfeil.

I am a machine quilter for years and think I have a feeling for proper bobbin tension. I do the yoyo test. I did some fine quilting on my George before. I had no needle breakage or any other bad happenings. I keep my machine clean and oiled.

What else can I do? Please help!


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Have you checked to see if you have a lint build up under the bobbin case tension spring. The little arm like spring that is on the outside of the bobbin. Maybe there is a problem there and its not letting the thread move freely and causing the bobbin tension to go wonky.

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Bonnie, yes I checked to see if there was a lint build up under the bobbin case tension spring - but everything is nice and clean. And I bought a brand new bobbin case too.

Originally posted by hmerrill

It sounds to me like the thread it catching on the bobbin case or bobbin. Is it catching on the spring?

Sorry my technical English is not good enough: What exacly is the 'spring'?

Two times I catched the boobin thread like in the attached picture. But I thought It was just because I loosened the bobbin tension too much while trying to solve the problem.


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Originally posted by Kay Anderson

Wind a new bobbin, very carefully. Was this bobbin in the machine while you were not quiltling for a few days? Sometimes, if there is a lot of humidity in the air, the thread sorta "swells" on the bobbin causing it to be tighter around the bobbin. If the new bobbin works good you have found the problem.

Another bobbin was in. And we have extremly dry air because of the heating in the house. And I changed everything that can be changed. Except me.

the bobbin spins clockwise - yes.

I tried everything I could imagine or read before I asked.... hoping the problem is sitting in front of the machine. Not in the hook assembly.

Any more ideas?

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Regina....sorry I needed to be away from the computer for awhile to day.

I see the thread under the lever of the bobbin case...it happens sometimes for me when I don't actually get the lever totally against the bobbin case when I put it back in...the lever is out just enough that the loop of thread that comes down and around the bobbin when its making its next stitch that it catches and gets really really tight and threads start to break.

I also know that I at one time had someone look at my machine and during the retimed when he adjusted the key he didn't get the space corret, and the thread was whipping around wildly and that was causing the thread to also catch that lever. Have you recently had anyone adjust that key or has it come loose by chance...they don't come loose very often as they are really really tight, but I guess it could happen.

I'm not sure what else could be the matter...and would suggest you email Amy or Christy and ask them as well....send them your picture and besure to point out the thread...I almost missed it when I first glanced at it.

I reposted you picture with yellow arrows to point out the lever and the key that I was questioning.

Where you have checkec all the other possible problems I'm not sure what else could be out of sync, but keep trying different things and let us know what you find...I'm sure your not the only one out there that has had this problem, I know I have.


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Originally posted by Bonnie

...suggest you email Amy or Christy and ask them as well....

...I'm sure your not the only one out there that has had this problem, I know I have.

Thank you Bonnie for feeling with me. And yes I asked the ladies too.

And I learned about the 'spring'. OK, maybe I dropped the bobbin case some day - I don't remember but it is possible. But I inserted a new one and the same thing happened.

I am not sure whether the bobbin thread catches under the flap more often - I can't see that area when quilting! And the tension changes from strong to very strong and back. I am really tired today. For me it is 10.45 in the evening and I will leave the forum now but will be back tomorrow morning - when most of you will sleep... Good night and thank you all.


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Is it possible some little hands might have been turning dials. MY sweet GS picked up my rotary cutter in the 10 seonds I took my eyes off him and cut the end of his finger. Not to bad but it scared him and me. I am very tall and so is my cutting table so I did not think he could reach that high. We were making mommy a christmas potholder on my DM. ANYWAY!!! Just a thought.


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I frequently have similar problems when I put in a newly wound bobbin, full of thread. Try unwinding some thread from the bobbin, so that it is not so full, then it will not be so likely to catch on things in the bobbin area.

Also, when you quilt 'backwards', you need to slow down -- this may have been when your troubles started with the bobbin.

Hope perhaps these thoughts will help.:)

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  • 3 weeks later...

I promised to tell you whether and how my problem got solved:

In the end by miracle!

I worked a long time on it with APQS on the phone, tried everything you might imagine and learned a lot by the way. When nothing seemed to help I removed George from the table to take it to Claudia in Krefeld. Then I received another email from APQS with some more advices and I mounted George into the table again. Not hopefully but I didn't want to omit anything.

What should I say? I switched the machine on and grabbed a sandwich to have a test run and instantly I could hear that the sound was fine again! And my balanced stitches are back and everything is going well.

As I said: a miracle. I think there must have been any itsy-bitsy crumb somewhere in the machine and it fell out when I moved it. I hope it will never happen again!

Thank you all for your helpfulness and Dawn for being so patient.

A happy and contented Regina in Germany

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I am so glad George is working again! Even though we were working with a problem, it was fun to talk with you across the ocean as one quilter to another. Your English speaking was wonderful, and by the looks of your post here, the writing part is also wonderful. I am ashamed to say I could not say the same about any German I may attempt:)

Thank you again for the quilted note you sent me...it is posted right in my office where I can look and smile about our encounter with the "gremlin" who ate crumbs in your machine! :)

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