HandBook for Dollmakers
Adjusting Sewing Machine Tension
by VonZetta Gant
"Help! I've messed up the tension on my machine and can't find the
book to figure out how to adjust it. It appears that there are both upper
and lower dials to adjust. Right now, the top thread sits on top of the fabric,
while the underneath is covered with loops of bottom thread."
Sound Familiar? Here's how to fix it.
When the top and bottom threads do not each go half way into the fabric,
the tension needs adjusting. This is sometimes because it has become loose, and it is sometimes
because it requires different adjustments for different kinds of fabrics. The method described
below will work for whatever the problem is. It takes account of the fact that it is sometimes
hard to remember which tension (top or bottom) to adjust, and which direction to adjust it.
First take a few deep breaths and relax.
Remember to take baby steps to resolve this problem.
Start with the top tension adjuster. It is easier to get to and easier to adjust.
Begin by moving the top tension a little at a time (maybe a 1/4 turn
or 1/2 number or less at a time)
If the problem gets a little better, you are moving the top tension the correct
direction. If the problem gets a little worse, you are moving the top tension the wrong
Keep adjusting the top tension until the top and bottom threads are even and both
go into the fabric.
You may get to a point when you cannot adjust the top any farther. If that should happen:
Remember to breathe and relax.
Turn the top back a little so there will be room for top adjustment after you adjust the
Adjust the bottom a little at a time. If the problem gets a little better, you are
moving the bottom tension the correct direction. If the problem gets a little worse, you are
moving the bottom tension the wrong direction.
As you adjust the bottom you may have to adjust the top to make the threads meet in
the middle of the fabric so that there is equal tension on the top and the bottom.
If the thread is too tight on the top, the thread will lay on the top in a straight
line with the loop coming up through the bottom over the straight line.
If you loosen the tension on the on the top, it will allow this thread to go into the
fabric when the bottom tension is in balance with the top.
If the thread is too tight on the bottom, the thread will lay on the bottom in a
straight line with the loop coming over the bottom thread that is in a straight line.
If you loosen the tension on the on the bottom, it will then allow this bottom thread
to go into the fabric if the bottom tension is in balance with the top.
And remember, the main thing is to keep calm. The problem is much easier to solve when you are
breathing regularly and relaxed.
Copyright © Jim and Gloria Winer.
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