Sewing Machine Tensioner | Top Tension Thread Sewing Machine

Bad tension can ruin any relationship. You are trying to sew a simple seam and are getting a nest of thread under the fabric. You might be using two colors of thread, and you are seeing the bobbin thread being pulled to the top of the fabric. Last week, when you were working on this project, the tension was perfect. What is your machine trying to tell you today?
Your expectations are not being met, and that is frustrating. The key is knowing what you are dealing with. Is the machine misbehaving, or is this simply a misunderstanding?
Let’s explore how tension mechanisms work.
Top Tension
The top tension mechanism is actually a very simple thing. It really doesn’t want to give you any grief, and it rarely does. Basically, two metal discs provide the tension on the top thread. On one side, a spring
regulates the amount of pressure to the thread. In the photo, I am using two pie plates to
symbolize the metal discs. My hand on one side represents the spring. The harder I push, the more tension there is.
That spring is controlled by a dial or, in the case of some computerized sewing machines, by the computer itself. Increasing the number increases the amount of pressure on the thread. Decreasing the number lessens the amount of pressure on the thread. The control dial can be found on top of the machine on some brands and on the front of the machine on others. On older machines, you might find the dial on the left side. On machines where the tension is controlled by the computer, there will be an icon on screen that allows adjustment when touched. Your instruction manual will indicate where the tension control is for your machine.

How the Presser Foot Is Involved
When you raise the presser foot, the discs separate and allow the top thread to slip all the way between them. As you lower the foot to sew, the discs come together and provide the selected amount of pressure to the thread.

Setting the Top Tension
Top tension has many increments of adjustment. Manufacturers usually give a range of 0–9. Don’t let this intimidate you! I have had many sewists tell me that an instructor has frightened them by yelling, “Never touch your tension!” intimating that something bad may happen if you touch that dial. Nothing could be further from the truth. Your machine will not explode. In this relationship, you are in charge! You just have to know what to communicate to your machine.
There is a reason the adjustment is there, and when you understand how simple the principal is, you and your sewing machine will sing a harmonious duet!
The higher the number you select, the tighter the tension on the top thread. The lower the
number, the lower the tension...

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