Good Morning, Quilters and Sleuths…
Any clue what’s happening with our Mystery Quilt? (Please Note the new tab at the top of the Menu Bar with all the clues/assignments.)
Any theories what C50 and P50 stand for? How about the M? or the X?
“Tackling Tension” Mini-series...
Last week we began our discussion of tension and we reviewed the difference between good and not-so-good stitches.
The perfect free motion quilt stitch:
- The top and bobbin tensions are balanced and the knot is hidden in the quilt sandwich.
- Individual stitches can be seen.
NINE FACTORS THAT INFLUENCE TENSION
1. You can’t find your car keys.
2. You’re late for work.
3. It’s -25 F outside.
Oh, okay….Let’s be more specific:
Nine Factors that Influence Sewing Machine Tension
1. You can’t find your car keys; you’re late for work…Yes, these are still on the list. YOUR tension influences sewing tension. Start by relaxing. Take a deep breath before you sit down at your sewing machine.
2. Thread-Sewing machine manufacturers set tension for 50 wt Polyester thread. Properties such as weight, fiber, ply and how the thread is wound all create different coefficients of friction as the thread passes through the tension discs. Consequently, the stitch tension is highly dependent on thread type.
3. Fabric-The density and weave of each fabric influence sewing tension. Looser woven fabric produce less friction than tightly woven fabrics like batiks. Adding a layer of batting adds more friction as well.
4. Needle-The shape, tip and groove of the needle all impact the thread’s path as it passes through the fabric and joins with the bobbin thread to create the lockstitch. Needle selection is critical to both top and bobbin tension. Also, any imperfection, burr or bend in a needle will alter the mechanics involved in creating the stitch.
5. Machine mechanics-Tension discs, thread guides and bobbin mechanics all help establish tension. Computerized sewing machines have internal tension settings set by the manufacturer. Loose threads and lint build up alter machine mechanics.
6. Stitch type-Zig zag and decorative stitches have different tension requirements than straight stitching.
7. Sewing Application-Hemming a pair of jeans, free motion quilting through layers of batting, and flat felling a silk seam all have different tension requirements. Free motion quilting often requires a lower top tension to adjust for the slight pulling and pushing of the quilt as it maneuvered under the needle.
8. Environmental-Humidity and temperature effect the textiles and thread and may have an effect on tension.
9. Desired Result-For creative reasons, you may choose a non-standard balance of tension. “Whiskers” created by unbalanced tension, could be a desired effect when thread painting a dandelion, for example.
Creating a perfect lockstitch is very complicated business! While it is frustrating when tension goes awry…we must take a little pity on our sewing machines… a little sympathetic understanding will go a long way in avoiding Tension Headaches.
THE TAKE AWAY
- The next time you are having tension troubles, considering all the factors affecting your stitch.
- Rethread your needle and your bobbin. This step will fix most tension problems.
- Don’t be afraid to tweak your tension. Begin by adjusting the top tension in 1/2 setting increments.
Next Thursday, we will continue our Tackling Tension Mini-Series with a Troubleshooting Checklist to use when re-threading and top tension adjustments aren’t enough.
Tomorrow: Open Line Friday…If you have any questions…bring them on!
Hope your stitches are Happy!
PS…All tutorials, information and images are the property of Lori Kennedy at The Inbox Jaunt. Feel free to re-blog and share with attribution to The Inbox Jaunt. For all other purposes, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!