Sewing Machine Tension

Sewing Machine Tension (Last Updated On: July 13, 2020)

A sewing machine has a lot of elements to see and acknowledge. The parts can be its motor, the foot paddle, the led screen, or the whole machine mechanics. There is just a lot to witness. And out of many, the thing that can give you a hard time is the sewing machine tension.

The same is the case with the sewing machines tension. They perform an exceptional task of keeping the thread tight and robust. Close enough that it does not break it.

The sewing machine tension, if done right, will result in beautiful and attractive stitches that not only make the fabric look good but also keep it steady when done to attach a piece of multiple fabrics.

If you think that you are the only one who just does not get the tension right, then you are wrong. A problem that a user faces in sewing machines tension is common. They get mad and frustrated if they do not make it work, and it really can be a pain in the head if it does not get fixed.

It can result in a loss of great work. Your machine will make horrible stitches, and everything you do will end in a bad result.

Now let’s get to the chase if you heard people saying the word and have the issue but just don’t know what it then understands this. Thread tension is the tension between the upper thread and the lower thread of the sewing machine.

The tension between these two is also supposed to be equal for entirely made stitches. If your machine is making a stitch that is loose or breaks, then there is some problem with your tension.

When a machine stitches, it doesn’t matter if the upper thread works better or the lower thread works fine. Both the high thread and thread from the bobbin need to work side by side. Now what we will look at here is how many different kinds of tension you may encounter in your machine and their solutions.


Identifying the problem with sewing machine tension

The better way to solve the problem is to know the problem. When you look at your stitches, what do you see? Let me help,

  • There will be a wrong case of tension if one of the threads is loose. For example, let’s say that the upper thread is black, and the lower one is red. If the black yarn is not tight enough, then there is a problem with the top tension. And if the lower thread is not tight enough, then there is an issue with the bobbin thread. The same goes for the loosening of the tension.
  • The other diagnostic is when you stitch, and you see the black thread mixing up with the red. That means the needle thread is too loose, and we need to tighten the tension. The thread from the upper body is coming to the wrong side of the fabric. But if you see the right side, you won’t see any black there. It is mostly all black.
  • Now, if, after you have done the stitching and everything looks very fine from the wrong side, flip the fabric to the right side, if you see prominent red patches of thread mixed up with the black ones. This indicates the tension being too tight on the needle and needs to be lightened up.


Solutions for sewing machine tension

Every problem comes with the solution itself. With the sewing machine tension, we grab the excellent and usable solutions to offer where you saved from calling in the professional to charge you the hefty amount. At the same time, you can do it all by yourself.


Double-check the machine

A usual practice when an issue like tension occurs is to double-check your sewing machine. Remove the thread from the machine and start threading the needle once again from top to the needle and check if the problem is solved. T

His solution is to try to check if the thread has not been appropriately placed on the tension disc while threading the sewing machine.

If the problem still isn’t fixed, that means the problem lies with the sewing machine’s settings. Now when you are threading the sewing machine again, make sure that you thread it correctly while threading it, the presser foot must be up at all times. Because not threading the sewing machine correctly. Also, try using a new needle for this process.

Tension on the bobbin

Some machines give you features to adjust the tension on your bobbin. And it depends on what type of machine you are using. There are machines in which the bobbins go straight in the base of the machine. They are called a drop-in bobbin. Having these types of bobbin usually don’t give you any problems relating to the thread tensions.

The other type of machine is where your bobbin is protected into a metal casing. This is the front-loading where you get to adjust the tension. In this machine, the metal casing goes in the machine with the bobbin.

One thing to notice here is that it is better if you adjust the bobbin’s tension before changing the one on the upper thread. Because you want to get frustrated when the bobbin gives you problems every time you are working with the upper thread.


Adjusting tension for metal case Bobbin

Now to tell you how you can control the tension on the metal case bobbin. For that, you have to look at your bobbin. You can find a screw on the metal case. Both the tightening and loosening of the tension can be done through this screw.

Suppose you do know what type of results your stitches are giving you. Pick up the metal case bobbin, if you want to lose the tension, turn the screw to the left, and if you’re going to tighten the tension, set it to the right. You can do it by using a screwdriver.

Now let’s get to the part where we tune the tension according to the appearance of stitches in the result.


Too Tight


Here we will be looking to modify the adjustment of the bobbin for the optimal stitches. If you are using a standard lightweight fabric, then try giving the tension of the upper thread a numeric value of 4. It is usually the standard value for lightweight fabrics.

Next, start stitching. You don’t have to sew too long. 6 to 8 stitches will do. Now when you look at the stitches, in this case, you have to look at the right side of the fabric. If the red from the bobbin of the sewing machine appears in the black thread from the upper body, this means that the tension is too tight and needs to be loosened.

As discussed before, with the help of a screwdriver, you have to turn the screw to the left, but be aware, this transition has to be slight. You need to turn it slightly and check again because loosening the bobbin thread too much will still result in the disruption of the tension.


Too Loose

The same method goes here. Start sewing again, and when done, see what the stitches look like if the black thread from the upper part appears on the wrong side and mixes up with red ribbon. This means that the bobbin’s tension is too loose, and all you have to do is slightly adjust it.

You know the adjustment rules by now, take the screwdriver and slowly turn the screw to the right to correct the adjustment. Don’t turn the screw a lot. It will tighten the thread enough that it will start to look stretched other than zig-zag.


The Upper Tension

On paper and in practice, adjusting the upper part of the sewing machine’s tension is relatively more straightforward. You don’t have to use a screwdriver every time or take out the bobbin from the base. If you look closely at the machine’s front body, you will find a small wheel with numbers written on it. That is the whole game here.

Rotating the wheel towards a higher number will result in the tighter upper thread tension, and the lower number you turn towards loosens your thread’s tension. You will witness lines between the numbers 3, 4, and 5 because they represent the upper tension’s standard value. Most of your problems with tension will be solved using these three values, but it all depends on what fabric you are using.

So as you are using an ordinary piece of cloth not that heavy and not that light, you will probably be selecting the value from this specific range. If you are sewing a very light thin fabric like silk, let’s suppose you will be using much lower costs like 2 or 3. And when using a denser, more thick fabric, a numeric value of 7 or 8 will do the trick. It is just a matter of what works and what does not. You have to play around to find out.


How does tension discs work?

Coming this far means that you probably have an idea about the tension discs. Yes, this is the same disc where you put the thread while threading the machine. It is not very visible, you can find it on the opening of the left side of the tension controlling wheel. So how do these discs work? When you are adjusting the tension by moving the wheel, the tension discs move closer and further.

When you turn the wheel towards a lower value, these discs move further, and as you go towards a higher value, these discs come closer towards each other.

Too Tight

The same goes here while adjusting the upper thread. If you see red thread appearing on the right side of the fabric mixing up with black. You need to move the wheel towards a lower number.

Too Loose

And if after stitching, you see some black thread on the wrong side of the fabric. You just need to move the wheel to the left and tighten up the thread’s tension, and you’ll be fine.


Additional Information

  • No matter what you do or how you use your sewing machine, you will have to eventually face the loosening or tightening of the tension. Keeping a sharp mind at those times will help, and that’s how you will learn to work with tension.
  • One more advice, while stitching, it would be better if you hold the tails of both the threads of at least a couple of stitches. It prevents thread nesting on the wrong side of the fabric.


Conclusion of sewing machine tension

There might be times when you have done everything right, but still, it seems wrong. In that case, try cleaning your machine by opening it up and blowing it with a blower because there are times when the dust comes in the way of the right tension.

Someone who has a daily job of using a sewing machine has to deal with these kinds of issues every day. And it then becomes part of the situation because adjusting the tension is not a one time deal. It often gets in your way of sewing.

So as you perform your tasks one by one and getting through adjusting the upper and lower tension regularly, it gets easier.

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