Learn How To Adjust The Tension On Your Sewing Machine.

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How To Adjust Sewing Machine Tension

When it comes to sewing machine tension, it’s easy to feel frustrated when you can’t seem to get it exactly right. Even if you’ve never used a sewing machine before, this tutorial will show you how simple it is to change the tension.

What is the procedure for adjusting the sewing machine’s needle tension? First and foremost, you’ll want to have your sewing machine ready for use. Do a series of seam tests to adjust your tension.

how to fix sewing machine tension

Quilters may be reluctant to alter their sewing machine tension if their stitches aren’t right. The situation will only become worse if you make the wrong alterations, so don’t worry. This tutorial will teach you how to fine-tune your sewing machine’s tension like a professional.

Tension Adjustment

A common belief among sewers is that changing the tension settings would only make problems worse. It doesn’t matter what kind or type of sewing machine you have, adjusting thread tensions is a simple process. Many supposedly tension-related disorders might begin with factors other than misaligned tension dials, which is even more baffling.

how to set tension on sewing machine

Tightening and loosening the straps may be accomplished in two ways. Repairmen can do this, but you can also do the basic adjustment for ordinary stitching. When changing thread kinds or sizes, materials, or sewing techniques, a temporary adjustment is necessary.

Assembling the Basics

A simple alteration may be made by using different coloured threads from the same brand and the same size and fibre.To prevent stretching the thread, just use one color in the bobbin and run the machine at a medium pace.

A fresh needle in your preferred size should be inserted into the machine’s threading mechanism. Using the eye on the bobbin-case finger is not necessary if your machine is equipped with this feature.For best results, use a stitch length of 2 mm (12 stitches per inch).

Set the upper-tension regulator to the midpoint of the spectrum (usually 4 or 5 on most machines). Then sew a test seam on two layers of thin muslin and examine the stitches that result from the seam. If required, use a magnifying lens to see the stitches.

if the bobbin thread is visible, tighten the bobbin spring if tension isn’t quite right. If you can see the needle thread on the bottom layer, loosen it. Repeat this process until the stitch is evenly balanced, then sew a second test seam and check the stitches.

A tension log should be kept once stitching has been properly adjusted. A flat stitch can be identified by noting the upper-tension regulator’s number, thread type, and size.

Make a reference sketch showing the bobbin screw’s location. If you want to keep track of specific thread bobbin settings, you’ll want to have this handy.

Temporary Adjustment of Tension

Threads for the needle and bobbin should be chosen at this point. Temporary adjustments to tension may be made by filling the bobbin and threading the machine. Check your stitches by sewing a test seam on the fabric you want to use. Achieve equilibrium using the upper-tension assembly alone.

how to change tension on sewing machine

When changing from one sewing thread to the next, make sure your sewing machine is properly threaded first. To see whether you can get away with utilizing the tension dial alone to make a temporary tweak to your setup, do some tests on it. To fix it, you’ll need to take out the second bobbin case and begin loosening or tightening the screw in quarter-turns as your sample shows.

Both of these tensions might be lowered. Even when using a thread that is far lighter than typical, tensions are often maintained. When it comes to keeping light-weight fabrics from puckering, this is usually all that is needed, and no changes are necessary.

By using a heavier thread at the top and bottom, both tensions will rise. For thicker fabrics, you’ll likely need to reduce the tension.

How Do You Reduce or Increase Your Tension Level

Adjusting the Top Tension

Look for the dial that allows you to change the tension of your belt. It will be located in a different place on each computer. Check your sewing machine’s manual if you aren’t sure.

In the absence of a manual, the knob with the numbers that do not affect the stitch type or length will be used.

If You Have Too Much Loose Top Tension

Increase the top tension by turning the rising knob (if your top tension is loose). Reduce the value by a factor of two.

Try it out on a scrap piece of fabric with a different color thread on both the top and bottom of it. Until the bottom thread is no longer visible on the top, please keep going. Leave it where it is most stable and adjust your bobbin tension if you are experiencing difficulties.

What to Do If Your Top Tension Is Excessive

Reduce your top tension by turning the knob to a lower setting (if your top tension is too tight). Reduce the value by a factor of two.

Try it out on a scrap piece of fabric with a different color thread on both the top and bottom of it.

Until the bottom thread is no longer visible on the top, please keep going.

Keep trying until you get it right, and if you still can’t, try adjusting the tension on your bobbin.

How To Fix Bobbin Tension: Adjustment Instructions

Adjust your top tension first if you can. You don’t need to change your bobbin tension unless you’re using a different kind of thread.

Heavy fabrics may need a greater level of tension (set the dial to a higher number).For lighter materials, you may want to reduce the tension (set the dial down) (turn the dial to a lower number). If the bobbin screw is subjected to too many alterations, it may lose its hold.

Top-loading drop-in bobbins and bobbin cases are the most common types of bobbins. The bobbin case screw may be tightened or loosened to change the tension.

When Adjusting The Tension, Keep These Things In Mind:

Thread tensioners and threading techniques –

A lack of appropriate threading means that you won’t be able to get the correct tension. Thread guides, tension discs, an upper thread tension regulator, and a bobbin-case spring are the four tension mechanisms. These help to guarantee that the needle and bobbin both release the same quantity of thread at the same time. Consequently, you’ll get a perfectly even stitch.

Identify and Utilize Your Tension-Relieving Resources

When thread is being spooled and bobbin wound, the exact identical quantity of thread must be released from both. A row of identical stitches will be created on both sides of the cloth using this method.

Several devices are available for tensioning threads, including:

  • The thread aides are referred to as
  • Discs of tension
  • regulator of tension

Spring in the bobbin casing for the thread

Certain machines’ bobbin-case fingers contain a tiny hole for topstitching, satin-stitching, or embroidering. To improve stitch definition, you may feed the bobbin thread through this opening to enhance tension.

The tension discs and tension regulator are included in the tension assembly. The sewing thread is squeezed between the tension discs. The discs’ pressure is controlled by the tension regulator.

On earlier machines, there are just two tension discs, which control the screw or knob. Three discs that can handle two threads at a time may be controlled by a dial or keypad on the front of the machine in modern variants.

The tension regulator is the same in both cases: moving the discs closer together by rotating the dial in the opposite direction (clockwise). In order to lessen the pressure, the discs move apart when the dial is moved the other way (counterclockwise).

However, if you have a sophisticated machine that automatically adjusts the top tension, you should use a different way. A bigger thread without resetting the dial will increase pressure and result in upper thread flow. Because the bobbin tension does not automatically adjust, the lower tension may have to be manually adjusted to match.

As a result, each thread guide contributes to the resulting tension. It does this by applying a very little resistance to the thread. Before you begin sewing, make sure that all of the guides are properly threaded.

The flat bobbin-case spring exerts pressure on the thread when it emerges from the bobbin case. The amount of pressure may be adjusted by turning a little screw on the spring’s rear.

If there is a separate bobbin case, the spring and screw are both straightforward to locate. ‘ If you have a machine with a built-in bobbin container, finding the tension screw might be a little trickier.

Spin the screw counterclockwise or clockwise with a screwdriver to increase the resistance. During testing, just spin the screw a quarter turn at a time. Keep track of how much you’re changing your settings and reduce the risk of losing this little screw.

The amount of pressure on the bobbin spring increases as the thread thickness increases. In order to accommodate threads that aren’t as often sewn, many sewers keep a second bobbin case on hand. As a result, the bobbin-case screw no longer has to be fiddled with.

Balanced tensions may be recognized

In order for the stitched line to be seen on both sides of the cloth, the tensions must be evenly distributed. This is the strongest and most elastic the seam has ever been.

Unbalanced tension may be easily found by looking for obvious knots or loops at the end of each stitch. When the bobbin thread appears on the right side, either the bobbin thread is too loose or the needle tension is too tight.

Whenever the needle thread is visible on the incorrect side, either the bobbin thread or the needle tension is too loose. Depending on the thickness of the material, both threads may be visible on both sides when the tension is equal.

In certain cases, readjusting tensions is necessary even though they are in equilibrium. When tensions are too tight, the seam may break or pucker. The seam will gape if they are excessively loose, displaying the threads that run between the pieces.

Take Care With That Dial!

There are several things that might affect pressure, therefore it’s a good idea to read over this list in sequence before grabbing the pressure regulator:

Dirty Machine

Thread ends and lint caught in the tension discs, throat plate, or bobbin casing. The bobbin increases the barrier to thread flow. “Floss” between the tension discs and examine the bobbin area for thread ends and lint using a lightweight, lint-free cloth.

Damaged Machine Components

Here are a few possible causes for concern:

  • Discs of tension
  • Assistive device
  • Thymus gland.
  • Presser’s toes.
  • needle eyes with damaged surfaces
  • Case of bobbins
  • The area around the bobbins

Needles and bobbins that are bent

Even if the metal bobbin looks to be in fine shape, toss it away. Tension and distortions may be caused by little injury.

To prevent injuring the bobbin-tension spring, cut the thread close to the casing before removing the bobbin. The presser foot should be raised before the thread is released from the top tension.

Improper Machine Threading

Incorrect threading is the most common cause of “tension” problems. The thread guides have been used to the fullest extent possible. Did you use the presser foot to prevent the thread from sliding between the tension discs? Is the thread unwinding without catching on the slash of the spool, or is it becoming tangled in it?

Incorrectly Filled Bobbins

Winding a fresh thread on the bobbin, remove any old thread. In order to wind the bobbin evenly and at an appropriate tension, follow the machine’s instructions.

Remove all of the bobbin’s threads from the outside. To prevent puckers in your seam, wind polyester and nylon threads at a regular, moderate, or medium pace.

Needles, Threads, And Fabrics 

Variations in thread size and type might affect the bobbin and top tension. The larger the hole, the greater the overall top tension. You will have unbalanced stitches if you use a needle that is too big or too little for your thread.

Consider switching to a straight-stitch foot and needle plate before adjusting the tension. It’s important to keep in mind that the stitch length should be reduced to 1.75 mm (15 stitches per inch) while working with delicate fabrics like chiffon and organza.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

How should the tension on a sewing machine be set?

As the dial settings range from 0 to 9, the default position for standard straight-stitch stitching is often set at 4.5. This ought to be appropriate for the majority of materials.

What number on the sewing machine corresponds to a tighter tension?

Remember that higher numbers on the dial indicate greater (tighter) tension, and lower numbers indicate lower (looser) tension, while you are setting the top thread tension on your machine.

What is the best way to adjust the tension on my sewing machine?

You should be able to locate a little screw on the side of the bobbin case that is flat and closed. The bobbin tension may be loosened by rotating the screw a very little amount in the counterclockwise direction, and it can be tightened by twisting the screw in the clockwise direction.

How can I know whether the tension on my bobbin is appropriate?

Quickly draw the thread up toward you. The thread should unwind ever-so-slightly, and the bobbin casing should fall down by a couple of inches. If the thread unwinds without any resistance and the case falls to the ground, this indicates that the tension on the bobbin is too slack. If the bobbin case does not budge when you try to move it, the tension on the bobbin is too high.

Why is my sewing machine’s tension incorrect?

The fundamental tension setting may be thrown off by a variety of factors, including the size and kind of the thread on top and in the bobbin. Because the size of the hole contributes to or subtracts from the overall top tension, using a needle that is either too big or too little for the thread might also cause your stitches to become unbalanced.

What does correct thread tension look like?

When the thread tension is perfect, the seam will have a smooth and flat appearance on both sides. The needle thread and the bobbin thread get entangled in the middle of the material, in between the two surfaces.

What is the mathematical expression for tension?

It is common knowledge that the force of tension may be determined by applying the formula T = mg + ma to the situation.

When the tension is in a negative direction, what happens?

A negative result indicates that tension is dragging the box upward, which is the opposite of what gravity is doing, which is forcing the box downward. Simply said, a negative force is one that exerts its influence in the opposite direction as that of a positive force.


You may use this guidance to help you get the best possible tension for your quilting. Taking your sewing machine to a professional if the tension is still off is the best option. Maintenance and tune-ups for sewing machines are much like for automobiles. Do a final check and sew using a different kind of material before you depart.

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Aithley Balder

Hello there, my name is Aithley Balder from Texas. I am a cookware, sewing, toilet, technology enthusiast and I have been sharing my passion with my friends and likeminded folks for close to 4 years now. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with me via the contact page.

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