Sign up for emails of the class HERE.
Join the private Quilting with LKQ Facebook Group HERE
Find the 2021 QAL links HERE
Find the 2020 (25 Week) QAL links HERE
Good Afternoon, Quilters!
One of the most important things you can develop as a free motion quilter is your eye for a good looking stitch. The most important aspect of the quilting stitch is the tension.
A perfectly formed feather or row of circles will look awful if the tension is too tight or too loose.
On the other hand, a well balanced stitch makes slightly ill-formed circles look beeyutiful!
Pay attention to the look of each stitch as you sew and observe other quilts to develop your sense for what is good and not-so-good tension.
What is Balanced Tension for Quilting?
Modern sewing machines create a lockstitch (see this excellent video)
The lockstitch is created by a bobbin thread looping around the top thread.
Tension is considered balanced when the top thread and the bobbin thread interlock and are hidden between the top and bottom fabrics within the batting layer.
The top thread is not visible on the back of the quilt and the bobbin thread does not peak through on the top of the quilt.
In addition, neither the top or the bobbin threads are very tight or very loose. (This is somewhat subjective.)
Top Tension too High
If the top tension is too high, the bobbin thread is visible on top of the quilt.
Lower the top tension.
Top Tension Too Low
If the top tension is too low, the top thread is visible on the back of the quilt.
Increase the top tension.
Balanced But Too Tight
Another common quilting problem occurs when the top and bobbin threads are balanced and the loop is in the middle of the batting, but the quilting looks tight.
Often lowering the top tension is enough to remedy this problem.
Adjust the Top Tension
On most modern sewing machines, we can balance the quilting stitch by adjusting only the top thread tension. Manufacturers make this very easy with a knob or an electronic tension adjustment. In most of these machines, the top tension adjustment is well calibrated and you can lower the top tension to nearly zero if necessary for a specialty thread.
Always try to make tension adjustments with your top thread tensioner. It’s easier all around.
Adjusting the Bobbin Tension–Only if Necessary
Some sewing machines have a finger projection on the bobbin case. This increases bobbin tension.
Many manufacturers (like BERNINA) have bobbin cases designed to increase bobbin tension for quilting and embroidery. Check that out for your sewing machine.
If you must adjust your bobbin case with the screw adjustment, be sure to carefully mark the original setting with a permanent marker.
The Balanced Tension Test
- What about YOU?
- Are YOU observant of the quality of the quilting stitch?
- Do YOU ever make tension adjustments when you quilt?
- Does your sewing machine give you a tension headache?
- We’d LOVE to hear!
Your Tension Free Quilter
(At least my machine isn’t causing me tension….)
Loopy Lori (Lounging Listlessly) after my second Covid vaccine made me Lazy
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!
Visit my Etsy shop: LoriKennedyShop for all of my books! They are ALL bestsellers!