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Ideas For Balancing Tensions

By David Trumble

Is tension full of stress ? Any sewer will tell you that faulty tensions are a big problem. We all need our tensions to be in proper balance.

Is there a way to Balance Tensions On Your Sewing Machine? Are we doomed to struggle endlessly with faulty tensions or is there a solution?

Whole projects can be ruined by excess threads appearing under the fabric or on top.

When threads snag on rough spots, tensions mess up. When the machine is improperly threaded, tensions are affected. When thread floats over the upper tension discs, tensions are impacted.

Proper stitches form when the upper and lower threads connect in a locked stitch in the middle of the fabric. There ought to be no extra thread on the top of the fabric or underneath. The thread should flows smoothly and tightly from one stitch to another without puckers, looseness, or wobbles.

To make these perfect stitches the upper and lower threading must be accurate , but the drag or resistance of the upper tension system and the bobbin tension system must equalize each other perfectly .

The sewing machine tug of war consists of an upper thread system and a lower thread system. Each system is designed to pull the thread knot tight to form within the fabric. If either system pulls stronger than the other, excess threads will appear on that side of the fabric.

A quick and easy way to fix tensions is to rethread the sewing machine being very careful to make sure threading is just right. Lift the presser foot while threading especially as you thread the tension assembly. Then test the upper threading by drawing the thread. It should flow smoothly with little or no resistance. Drop the presser foot just before threading the needle and test again. You should feel a strong tug. Adjust the bobbin tensions as well. Work to balance the pull.

Always do a test seam on scrap stuff before sewing a finished seam that will be seen. Adjust the tension on the stitch you plan to use until it is accurately balanced. Note a straight stitch may look balanced, but when you go to a zig zag or other stitch, it may not give you your perfect stitch. Each Time test before sewing your finished seam.

You may notice mess on one side of a zig zag stitch and not on the other. Test and Set until it looks the best you can make it. Some machines have design issues that make a proper zig zag stitch almost impossible. Test using a medium stitch width and length setting on the zig zag for best results. To get a perfect zig zag stitch on one of these older machines, consider getting a newer machine.

If adjusting the tension dials fails to balance the tensions, look for lint or dirt collected in the bobbin tension or upper tension assembly. Clean these out regularly. Lint can alter tensions and cause poor stitch quality. Also look for anything that might snag the thread. Burrs on the point of the needle or hook are common. Eliminate anything that might snag.

When you properly adjust tensions, sewing is fun.

Discover more about how tomaintain and repair sewing machines besure to explore all the resources on sewing machines repair available at our website. Also be sure to sign up for your free copy of 7 Steps To Peak Performance.

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Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
Trumble, David "Ideas For Balancing Tensions." Ideas For Balancing Tensions. 7 Oct. 2010. 1 Aug 2014 <>.

APA Style Citation:
Trumble, D (2010, October 7). Ideas For Balancing Tensions. Retrieved August 1, 2014, from

Chicago Style Citation:
Trumble, David "Ideas For Balancing Tensions"

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