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Adjusting the Tension on Your Sewing Machine

diagram of sewing thread tension


Frugal and Free Tension Help

Did you know that not having a good looking stitch is one of the major reasons people give up sewing? When you look at the stitches of a retail garment, you will see that they are perfectly straight. When the tension on our home sewing machines isn't set correctly, the stitches can be crooked and full of bumps.

The perfect tension wraps the needle thread and the bobbin thread together in the center of your seam. If the needle thread is too tight, it will pull up the bottom thread, making unsightly bumps in the stitches. If the bobbin thread is too tight, the bumps will be on the back. Loose tension results in loops and other tangles in the stitching line.

If can be difficult to get your tension correct. There is a tension knob on the sewing machine for the needle tension, and the bobbin tension is adjusted by turning a screw on the bobbin casing. Most people don't like to mess with the bobbin tension. It is more difficult to adjust because there are no numbers on it.

When it comes to tension, not all sewing machines are alike. Some sewing machines sew beautiful stitches right out of the box. With other machines it is hard to get the tension right, no matter how hard you try.

I have a sewing machine that sews a beautiful stitch. I love that machine. Unfortunately, something happened to mess up my tension. I'm not pointing any fingers, but it did seem to happen right after 9 pairs of little feet had been running around upstairs near my sewing room, which, now, I might add, has double locks on it!

As hard as I tried, I could not get my perfect tension back. I spent hours adjusting the bobbin and the thread knob, and I just couldn't make that beautiful stitch. Finally I decided I would have to have my machine serviced and hope the technician could return it to its former state of perfection.

That thought went out the door, instead of my sewing machine, when after several calls it seemed no one would service it for under $180.

My husband saw how distraught I was, and he got on the phone and started making some calls. However, when he called he told the service people that his wife couldn't get her tension adjusted properly, and asked if they provided this limited service and how much it would cost.

After several unsuccessful tries, he called one major sewing store, and they said that we could bring it in to the technician for servicing, but if we brought it into the retail store, the ladies working there would fix it for free.

Well, you can bet we got right in the car and went there. We were not alone. Several people were there with their machines getting their tension fixed, and another couple came in right behind us.

It took two separate ladies working on my machine, but when I left that shop my tension was fixed and it was free. That was a good day!  Once again, a little work saved a lot of money.

If your tension is giving your problems, call around and see if you can find a shop that offers this service. There is nothing like a good stitch!








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