Adjusting bobbin tension on sewing machines
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Tension setting on a sewing machine requires a little more than just adjusting the presser foot tension. Sewing machine bobbin tension plays an important part too and changing bobbin tension is crucial for the success of all sewing projects!
Did you know the success of your sewing projects is tightly connected to the right tension? Adjusting tension on sewing machine involves three aspects: setting the correct presser foot tension, setting bobbin tension according to your project and adjusting top thread tension.
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I showed you before how to set the presser foot tension and now it’s time to see how to change the tension in your bobbin. We’ll talk about top thread tension on a future tutorial. Setting these to the correct level that is required by your project plays an extremely important role. But first let’s see why you need to make these adjustments.
Why bobbin tension is important?
It all comes down to the fabric, really. Every fabric is different in texture and thickness thus requiring different pressure from the presser foot. But they also require different threads. You can’t obviously sew thick fabrics with lightweight thread and vice versa. I mean you can, but the result will be disastrous for the fabric, the needle, the sewing machine and your poor nerves. So you need to adjust the presser foot to apply the right tension and then you need to take care of the thread tension which is controlled by the bobbin tension and the needle tension.
Changing the bobbin tension is super easy and quick and testing if you’ve chosen the right tension in your bobbin case is also a breeze as long as you know where to start and how to do the adjustments. By not choosing the right tension for your thread will result in broken stitches, erratic stitches, broken thread, unraveling, broken needle, jammed threads etc Save yourself from all the headaches and keep your machine happy by doing something that is so simple and easy and only takes a couple of minutes: adjusting the bobbin tension and the presser foot tension.
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When I say bobbin tension I’m actually referring to the bobbin case which is the little metal case your actual bobbin goes into. If you’re looking closely at the bobbin case, it features a teeny tiny screw on one side. At a first glance it may see like this little guy’s purpose is to keep the bobbin together but in fact he is the big brother when it comes to setting the bottom thread tension.
To differentiate between presser foot or top thread problems and tension problems in the bobbin case you need to look at the stitches first. If the issues appear to the stitches on the front side of your project, these could be presser foot related or needle thread tension. If the affected stitches are on the back side of the fabric, the issue is in the bobbin (either tension, jammed thread or lint).
Most machines are set for standard tension, in all three places (top thread, presser foot and bottom or bobbin thread). But this doesn’t mean you never ever have to adjust these settings! Unless you plan on sewing with the same fabric over and over again for the rest of your life. Doesn’t sound like a great plan, doesn’t it? Then here’s how to adjust bobbin tension.
Adjusting bobbin tension
- bobbin winded with thread
- bobbin case
- screw driver
Hi, I’m Petro, author and founder of Easy Peasy Creative Ideas. Sewist, crafter, avid DIY-er, foodie, photographer, homemaker and mommy to one. I’m an expert at coming up with quick, clever sewing tips, recycling crafts and simple, easy recipes! You can find my ideas featured in reputable publications such as Country Living, Good House Keeping, Yahoo News, WikiHow, Shutterfly, Parade, Brit & Co and more. Thanks for stopping by and hope you’ll stay for a while, get to know me better and come back another time. Stick around for real fun projects! Read more…
Really great tutorial! I was having all kinds of problems with my tension. I knew what to do but actually doing it was a mess. Thanks for your help I’ve finally got the machine all straightened out. 👏👏👏
Thank you so much for that. I had no idea how to fix this issue 😳
I need this! I have so much trouble when I sew.
I needed this video, even after my 75 years of sewing. How about a follow up video showing how to re-insert the bobbin case? On one of my machines I removed the bobbin case, and despite looking a You.Tube videos I still cannot get the bobbin case back into the machine.
I have 6 machines but stopped buying Singers because nobody can fix them, and the factory just wants to upsell customers.
Great video and instructions! Thanks so much!!!
In what situations might you need lighter or heavier tension?
For me, it would be different thicknesses of thread (e.g. standard all purpose thread vs upholstery thread). :-)
I have a Bsbylock Presto II and it doesn’t have a bobbin case. I’ve been searching everywhere to try to find out how to adjust the bobbin thread tension. The manual doesn’t mention it – doesn’t mention presser foot tension either!
Why are we never told about this tension in the bobbin? It would have eliminated so much tension and frustration causing a lack of interest in sewing. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Thank you! I have always sewn on a machine with a horizontal bobbin! This video has helped me a great deal. It kept popping out of my machine and I didn’t understand why. Thanks again!
I am about to reline my shopping bags with canvas and now I know how to reset my tension! Thank you so much for wonderful FREE ADVICE AND TIPS with clear pictures and explanations. Before finding and subscribing to your site I always took my machine to the repair shop for fixing ($125.00 each time) and it would work well while I was sewing cottons but when I switched fabrics the problems would begin and of course the repairperson would never tell me I could fix it myself, even when I asked if there was an adjustment that I could do! I have been sewing for years (and have very little hair left–it has been ripped out in frustration –just kiddin!) and am learning a lot of neat little tips from you. So happy to be a part of your sewing friendship circle.
Hello ,Thank you ,I should have seen this a spool of thread ago ! I never had to do this but I kept fiddeling w/i the bobbin and numbers . I appreciate this tip. God Bless you
Have two sewing machines now I understand whats wrong with both of them. Thank you so much!
Happy to help, Shelia! Glad my tutorial helped you figure out the problem!