How to Determine Perfect Tension

Thread tension is essential to beautiful embroidery. Do you know what it looks like?

We don’t often look at the back of our embroidery but it can tell you a lot about your thread and bobbin tensions.

Ideally, you should stitch a satin-stitched alphabet that runs both horizontally as well as vertically. The letters A or H are good choices.

If you stitch out the letter A, on the back of the embroidery you should have two areas of upper thread color (showing black here) with the white bobbin thread in the middle. This is considered perfect tension.

When upper thread and bobbin tensions are ideal, you will have no white bobbin thread showing on top. Yes, you could color the white spots with a marker or use the same color of thread in the bobbin but that doesn’t correct the problem.

Before messing with the bobbin tension, make sure the machine is threaded properly and the bobbin is seated and threaded properly.

Clean out the bobbin area, another problem spot. Even the slightest fleck of lint can affect your embroidery tension. You can see a bobbin case cleaning tip here.

Maybe not so surprisingly, needles and stabilizers can also mess with your tensions. If you are not using the correct kind of needle or the stabilizer is wrong, your embroidery will likely suffer.

Nine times out of 10, threading issues or a dirty bobbin area are the culprits.

Your bobbin case has a screw that adjusts tension, but I would not recommend messing with that unless you have two bobbin cases. They can be particularly finicky. Keep one original (mark it) and play with adjustments on the other. That way, you at least have one unadulterated bobbin case but only as a last resort.

Debbie SewBlest

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