Keep Your Quilting Stitches Even with These 5 Tension Tips

Is there anything more frustrating than being ready to quilt only to find your tension is off?

loose, tight, and even quilting stitches
Not too loose, not too tight–how to get your sewing machine stitches just right!

We all know what bad tension looks like: loops on the top of the quilt sandwich or on the backing. Good tension results in sewing machine stitches that are nearly identical on the back and front of your work.

Expert quilter Amy Ellis talks tension in Modern Patchwork Summer 2015, and includes the following tips in her sewing tutorial:

Quick Tips for Stress-free Tension

1. When in doubt, re-thread the machine–both the top thread and bobbin. Of course, you know how to thread your machine. That can’t be the problem. Well, sometimes it is. Thread can get jostled out of its guide or a poorly threaded bobbin can cause erratic stitches. Before protesting too loudly, just re-thread your machine.

2. Change your needle often. Experts differ on how often is “often.” But they all agree that waiting until a needle breaks before putting in a new one is not often enough! Buying your favorite needles in bulk will save you money and will take a little of the sting out of putting in a new needle more frequently.

3. Clean out lint around the bobbin case regularly. It is amazing how much lint can accumulate after even short amounts of sewing time. Make it a habit to take out your bobbin and gently swipe the lint away. If your technician recommends it, a drop of oil is also a good idea.

4. Find a favorite thread and use it consistently. For my quilts I use 40- or 50-weight thread made of cotton or high quality polyester. I find that the thinner thread sinks into the quilt and adds to the quilt top instead of distracting from my piecing. This is truly a personal preference. The fun is in finding what you like best!

5. Only make small adjustments to the tension knob. If you are making big changes–or you find that nothing changes when you make adjustments–you may need to have your machine cleaned and checked by a technician.

Now that you have your tension tamed, how about showing off your beautiful, even stitching and quilting techniques on a new quilt? Get Modern Patchwork Summer 2015 now!

If you want to learn even more from Amy, she shares her thread tension tips and a whole lot of great information in her online course Finishing Your Quilt on a Home Sewing Machine. Register for your seat today to learn how use your sewing machine for free-motion quilting as well as quilting with a walking foot.

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