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I have a quilt I am starting and for the live of me I can not get my tension right.

First the thread just laid on the quilt or at least the is what I could tell. Now the top looks good but the bottom looks like it is just riding on the fabric.

I loosen the top thread and you can just about rub the stitches off but the bottom looks the same . Just out for a ride you might say.

Can someone give me some advice before I scream. Or something :)


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Unless the batting you're using is so thin that there's no place for the stitches to hide, you should be able to get some relief.

I always recommend starting over completely, with the bobbin case removed, the backlash spring removed, and the case thoroughly cleaned. Make sure to use some magnification and good light to see if there's lint lurking under the finger. Then unthread the machine completely. Check that the thread is stable and strong. Make sure the thread is coming off the cone smoothly and that it's not catching on a sharp place on the cone or on a bad thread net. If you don't use a net, get some to help control how wildly the thread feeds off the spool. The guide should be straight above the cone. Use the thread path recommended by APQS unless you fiddle with the three-hole threading above the tension mechanism--usually for thinner or fussier threads.

Adjust the tension of the bobbin case using your preferred method and setting. 

With your bobbin thread set where you prefer, a pull on the top and bobbin thread should feel the same. Adjust the top tension until the force needed to pull both threads is similar. The tension spring should deflect about a half-inch down and the thread should pull smoothly. Your bobbin setting and specific machine will affect how much deflection you will need.

Stitch on a sample sandwich using similar fabric and batting that has worked for you before. Changing the bobbin case for a new one and trying a different bobbin can also be helpful when the tension monster attacks.

If you use Sewer's Aid, test your threads after application.

Good luck and let us know when you're happily stitching again.

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Hi Connie,


Tension can be a struggle for sure! Linda has great advice. I've added a document that is a copy of a blog post I wrote a couple of years ago. We send it out to customers that may have some additional suggestions to help. (Since it was a blog post it is a bit dated because it refers to Springtime--but after a 10-degree-below-zero day here in Iowa, I'll even go for an old blog post if it mentions Spring! :) )


tension by dawn.doc

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