TOWA Setting and Thread Path for Thread Brand/Type


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After a few weeks of thinking I was the problem with my new George, I gave Amy a call to discuss my tension issues and thread breaks.  After a few questions and listening to my George run, she suggested I retread the machine to reduce the tension on the top thread that was breaking.  I was using a Mettler Poly 40wt.  Just a few tweaks on the tension knob to get the knots balanced in the batting, I have not had a thread break in over an hour.

 

This made me wonder if there is a standard TOWA setting for the bobbin on most APQS machines?  I am intend to get a gauge soon, but it would make things a little easier if I had a tension range to shoot for.  

 

I would like to know if there was a table showing the best thread routing for particular threads brands/types?  That is to say, using Aurifil cotton 40 wt, should you run the thread through the normal thread path or instead run the thread down-up-down through the three hole thread guide?  I am sure that for most of you this is second nature, but for newbies like me it would be rather helpful to cut down on tension issues.

 

Lastly, does the thread path need to change depending on if you are using cross-wound or stacked spools?

 

Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

 

Cagey

 

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Setting the sweet spot for bobbin threads is almost a personal preference. I set my bobbin case so a pull on the thread results in 17 (170) to 18 (180) on the Towa gauge for almost all weights of bobbin thread. Remember you're measuring force, not a specific number. At the same setting of the bobbin case, a thin thread will pull through easily and a thicker thread will encounter more resistance and thus it will take more force to pull it through. So with the thin thread I tighten the screw until the pull gives me 17. For the thicker thread, I loosen the screw until I'm again getting 17. My top tension is adjusted by feel.

My only exception is invisible thread and that runs very loose on top while the bobbin ( pre-wound poly) is set at 15.

 

Thread path has other options, with thread around the holes in the three-hole guide above the tensioner or threaded up and down. And also your choice of using three holes or two holes. If I'm having problems with flailing thread, I put a piece of batting in the first guide, go around the three-hole three times, and maybe tighten the top thread a bit.

 

Whatever works for you is best. Make a chart when you find the perfect combination to keep as a reference.

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Linda:

 

Thank you for sharing your TOWA setting.  I will write them down, and see how they work for me when I get a gauge.  While I am sure that it is a personal preference, I would hazard to guess that most quilters on the same machine would use close to the same number.  Agree?

 

Do you only use pre-wound invisible thread bobbins, or do you mean you use pre-wound poly thread bobbins that is not invisible thread?

 

Concerning the thread routing, while I do intend to start recording my thread routing for the threads I am using, I was hoping to reduce the frustration level by using your table of thread paths, and the same from others to get me in the ball park of setting up my George.  I may have a poor understanding of things, but if (just making this up) Hurricane Orange Crush kevlar thread likes to be routed through just the top and then bottom holes of your three-hole thread guide, would the same thread on my machine not also like that thread path?  Would knowing this not get you in the general ball park of what will work on every machine?   

 

I know that Superior recommends a certain needle, and an electronic tension level for their products.  As the old saying goes, learn from other peoples mistakes.  That is why I asked the question.  In a few months or years it may be second nature, but at this point it is still rocket science.  I was ready to go back to my DSM after using George unsuccessfully, until Amy set me on the right path this afternoon.  I commend her and APQS for their outstanding customer support.

 

Speaking of APQS, I asked Amy a few weeks about mounting a new model George LED light on my George.  I was told that there was no 12 volt power source on my George, so this would not work.  Guess what, Amy tells me one of the employees there is working on a ring LED light system to go around the needle bar/hopping foot assembly for my older model George.  She said it is super bright.  Probably brighter than the LED light on the new George.  Hopefully APQS will have something come out of the testing phase in a month or two to be purchased.  I am looking forward to it.

 

Cagey

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I use pre-wound BottomLine bobbins for most of my stitching, with occasional self-wounds if I need a specific color. And yes, most stitchers who have volunteered their Towa numbers are between 17 and 20 on the gauge. I think I run both top and bottom tension a bit loose--but you're looking for a balance, not a number.

 

I think you certainly can make a list of combos and settings that work well for you. My intuition tells me that cotton thread (with the thickness and "bite" that cotton has) needs less corralling than a slippery rayon or poly thread. So King Tut can be threaded up/down through two holes in the three hole and thin silk or Invisifil (poly) may need to be more controlled by wrapping around the guide and through all three holes. When I use Bottomline on top, I go up the first hole, wrap once and up through the last hole. So Fine gets the same treatment. When I use invisible thread ( Essence by Fil-tec and the thinnest on the market) I thread up and down through two holes, but the top tension is so loose you can see light between the disks. Every thread except the invisible gets treated with Sewer's Aid as well as all bobbins.

 

Keep a thread and tension journal and you'll find you'll eventually become so adept at decoding the feel and look of the threads you use that you'll refer to your chart only occasionally.

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Hi Cagey -  I aim for about 180....if it hovers around there,  I am good.  That being said,  different bobbins are different adjustments -  and I have found that some of the pre wound bobbins are kind of 'floppy' when you use the tows gauge.  Menaing, the gauge needle hops quite a bit.  That's why I say if it 'hovers' around that 180 mark..

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Andrea:

 

Thank you for sharing your numbers with me and the group.  

 

I went to the Sewing Expo today, and visited the APQS booth.  It was nice seeing all the different machines and talking with the dealer.  When discussing the TOWA gauge, she sort of rolled her eyes and said you just need to do the lift test.  She said she never uses a gauge to set the tension.  You just have to get the feel.  

 

When I asked about the thread path, she said you will figure it out.  She suggested I try to get a feel for the tension when I pulled my thread through the needle now.  If a thread does not feel the same, they to fix it with the tension disk.  It that does not work, try another thread path.  

 

She looked over some of my quilting from last night, and gave me a few suggestions to fix the few tension areas I had at  my sharp points.   Hopefully in time it will become second nature to me.  Until, then I will just have to play around and practice on some NICU quilts from my guild.  I see all my errors, but the families love them just the same.  

 

Cagey

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Brenda:

 

Sure, I have not problem with sharing.  I did not really notice the bottom thread popping up to the top where I allowed George to take two stitches before moving in the opposite direction.  Even with my reading classes, I thought it was just a little thicker thread area because of the repeated stitches.  She told me it was because the bottom thread was losing the tug of war at those points.  I guess I needed those $600 sewing binoculars they were selling at the event…NOT.  She suggested I increase the bottom tension just a hair, and loosen the top tension a 1/8 to a 1/4 of a turn.  

 

She also suggested putting two very distinctive colors of the same brand/type of thread in the top and bottom.  Then stitch my heart out on a practice quilt sandwich.  This way, I will see every area where one thread wins out over the other.  Then increase or decrease the tension as I see fit.  The "see fit", or "get the feel" is what I think will just take some time and practice.  I will just have to get a few NICU quilts at the next guild meeting to practice on.  

 

Best of luck with your endeavors.

 

Cagey

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Hi Cagey,

We must have been at the same Sewing Expo event (Lakeland, Fl) when I saw the date on your entry. I too was there talking to the APQS rep about inconsistent tension. Am I understanding you correctly then that you are seeing the railroading on the top? I am having inconsistent tension issues on my new George too, but they are on the bottom. ( just wanted to clarify). I posted an entry last night as the APQS rep stated that  the bobbin winder that came with Georgie may be my culprit.I posted a question asking what others were using to wind bobbins.I feel your pain,as tension can rob you of the joy of just sitting and quilting.

Debbie

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Debbie:

 

No, you are not understanding my tensions issues as I explained, so I will start from the beginning.

 

Before I called Amy at APQS, I would get railroading on the back of the quilt.  When I increased the top tension, I could get rid of them.  My problem was that when I started to quilt, after a few inches the upper thread would break.  Amy suggested that I change the upper thread path to reduce the top tension, which allowed me to more accurately adjust the upper tension with the knob.  This allowed me to get the upper and lower tension balanced to bury my knot in the center of the quilt sandwich.  The thread path seems to be dependent on how slick the upper thread is, and how strong the thread is before it breaks or frays.  Just like many have mentioned here, Patty said it is something you will get the hang of after you quilt over time.

 

After doing some practice quilting, I took my quilt sandwich to the Lakeland show to have Patty look at my quilting.  I wanted to have her critique my tension, and provide me input how to improve it.  

 

Picture a star that you learned to draw as a kid by making 5 straight lines.  At the 5 points of the star, Patty felt my bottom thread was just peeking out through to the top.  I asked if it was just thread build up, as I made a point to allow an extra stitch or two to get shape points.  She again told me she thought it was the bottom thread being pulled through to the top.

 

When she looked at the top thread stitches, Patty felt the upper thread was being pulled slightly more down into the top fabric between stitches.  That is to say the thread was tighter between needle holes.  On the back, the bottom thread had slightly more slack between stitches or needle holes.  I believe this is why Patty suggested I increase the bottom tension just a hair, as it would reduce the thread slack between stitches.  While at the same time, I was to reduce the top tension just a bit to allow the top thread from being pulled so tight on the top of the quilt.  

 

Hopefully that explains my tension issue for you.  If not, please let me know.  Good luck with your new George, and your quilting.

 

Cagey

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Thanks Cagey!

I think our tension problems are definitely different. Sorry I didn't meet up with you in Lakeland .Always nice to meet another George owner.  Patty seemed to think my problem is the bobbin winder.... Best to you too and your new George- happy Quilting!

Debbie 

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