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Tension Problems with Different Threads


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I was reading Linda's post asking about King Tut and tension problems. Here's my take on the thread/tension problems.

I've used the Ult. I and the Freedom and the only time I've ever had real tension problems to speak of was when I didn't have the top tension tight enough. I'm not an expert and Connie or Mark might have more to say about this and they may just say I'm wrong but I think it's the perfect combination of top/botton tension that gets the stitch right and I think (could be wrong!) that any thread should work on any machine with the right about of tweaking. What has always worked for me is to try ONE thing at a time. If you're having problems, don't tighten the bottom tension AND loosen the top tension because you won't know what actually caused a change. Just do one thing at a time.

I'm thinking that if I am using Signature 100% cotton thread in the bobbin and on top and I have perfect tension top and botton and a great stitch. If Linda is next door and she is using the same thread and she has perfect tension top and bottom and a great stitch, if we were to switch bobbin cases and bobbins, we might end up with a cruddy stitch because it's the top and bottom tension working in conjunction with each other.

So, if I have perfect stitches with my bobbin tension on 4 and my top tension on 6 (I know . . there are no numbers) and I change the botton tension to 3 and the top tension to 7, I might still have a perfect stitch. It just takes time and effort along with the foot being at the proper height.

I've used Superior Perfect Quilter, Poly Quilter, Metallic Thread, King Tut, Signature 100% cotton, Signature cotton/poly, Aurifil, Bottom Line (top and botton or just in the bobbin) and any number of combinations in the bobbin and while some give me more headaches than others, I can pretty much always get an acceptable stitch.

The stitch I like best results with the bobbin tension a bit tighter than APQS recommends. For the top, I get it where it is just pulling a bit and looking too tight and then back off to where I have a good, flat stitch and that is the combination that usually results in an acceptable stitch for me.

Hope this helps someone.

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I didn't mean for the above message to sound like I never have tension problems because sometimes I do. It's kinda like my opinion that my son should always make good grades. I know it CAN happen, but it rarely does! :P

Some threads and combinations are near impossible but I know they will work if I get the combination right. The Superior Perfect Quilter thread gives me fits to the point that it has to be so perfect for the particular quilt and nothing else will quite do the job or I just don't use it.

I think I could put Aurifil Cotton in with anything in the bobbin, any tension setting, any speed and still get a perfect stitch.

So, please don't think I'm saying I never have tension problems. I have my share.

I had given up trying to use YLI thread but several others kept going on about how wonderful it worked in their machine so I thought . . if they can use it, I can too and I finally messed with the tension til I got it to work.

Having said all this . . I suppose some threads run better in some machines than others. But, we never take the easy route, do we??

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  • 2 weeks later...

I LOVE Aurifil and can't wait until I use my supply of other threads so I don't have to deal with them. Now if I could afford not to use them up I would but I am on a pretty tight budget. No tension problems at all with this thread, my machine loves it!!

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