Today’s Topic: FMQ Adjusting Tension
Welcome to Week 2 of our 2021 Quilt-a-Long, Even Better Machine Quilting
This FREE multi-week tutorial is based on my books available in my Etsy shop: LoriKennedyShop
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Find the 2021 QAL links HERE
Find the 2020 (25 Week) QAL links HERE
Happy St. Patrick’s Day, Quilters!
Did the leprechauns come to YOUR house last night?
When my kids were young, St. Patrick’s Day began like Christmas morning. Everyone would run down the stairs to see what mischief the leprechauns had carried out in our house. Usually chairs were upended, the milk and Oreos were turned green. Even the toilet water was dyed green! But the leprechauns always left a treat of gold-wrapped candy coins and a toy.
Leprechauns are both– nice and mischievous…
Just like our sewing machines…
FMQ and Tension
While I love my sewing machines, they can be mischievous, especially when free motion quilting.
Free motion quilting, by its very nature, creates more tugs and pulls on the machine and often causes tension problems.
In addition, we often use different thread weights in the top and bobbin-which requires tweaking the factory-set tension.
Learn to Adjust Tension
One of the most important FMQ skills to learn is how to adjust sewing machine tension.
No matter how perfectly you quilt motifs, if the tension is not right, the motif will not look beautiful.
Pull out your sewing machine manual right now and mark the pages on tension!
Develop YOUR Eye for Good Tension
Whenever you free motion quilt, pay careful attention to what the stitches look like. Develop your eye for good tension.
Then develop your eye for great tension.
Sometimes, a small tweak can make the tension and the stitch look even better!
Test YOUR Tension
Your assignment today is to create stitch samples of different tension settings. Most modern machines can be adjusted to create a perfect stitch by only changing the top thread tension-so we will limit our practice to top tension adjustments only.
Set up your machine and quilt a few rows of wavy lines at the machine’s factory setting. Use a pen to mark the tension setting.
Lower the top tension and stitch a few more rows.
Keep lowering the top tension and stitching rows until the stitches look bad, or you reach the limit.
Repeat the exercise by increasing the top tension.
Which Looks Best to YOU?
Choose which tension looks best. There is usually a range of values.
Turn the quilt over to make sure the tension looks okay on the back.
Stitch with the tension that looks best on the top, AND still looks okay on the back.
(When I teach workshops, I’ve observed almost all machines stitch best when the upper tension is lowered slightly. )
YOU must decide what looks best for your machine, with your thread and batting every time you stitch.
Don’t bother keeping a book of “best tension settings”. Humidity, batting, fabrics, etc…everything effects tension so it must be tested every day!
Find your sewing machine manual and mark the pages related to tension adjustments.
Create a (Green for St. Patrick’s Day?) quick quilt sandwich and stitch a few wavy lines. Mark the tension setting.
Lower the tension settings incrementally and stitch a few wavy lines. Mark each setting.
Repeat by increasing tension settings.
Inspect the samples carefully. (Front and back)
Choose the BEST stitch tension for today’s work.
Fill a quilt sandwich with your favorite doodles and motifs.
Check out these St. Patrick’s Day motifs on BERNINA We All Sew (include video)
May YOUR house be too small to hold all your friends…
And your closets too small to hold all your fabric!
Happy St. Paddy’s!
PS…All tutorials, images and information are the property of Lori Kennedy Quilts and are intended for personal use only. Feel free to re-blog, pin or share with attribution to LKQ. For all other purposes, please contact me at Lori@LoriKennedyQuilts.com. Thank you!
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