Whenever we talk about quality embroidery and/or troubleshooting embroidery problems, it always seems to come down to tension. The tension is too tight. The tension is too loose. The tension needs to be adjusted. The first question that is generally asked when someone says they’re having a problem with their machine is this: “Have you checked the tensions?” Having the tensions set correctly can make a huge difference in the quality of your embroidery, the efficiency of your machine and the smooth running of your thread.
For those who may be new to machine embroidery, there are two types of tensions that can be adjusted. One type is thread tension, which we’ll discuss in another post. The other type is bobbin tension, which may also be referred to as lower tension. That is what we’ll address in this post.
There are several reasons why having the correct bobbin tension is important. One reason for making sure your bobbin tension is adjusted correctly has to do with the quality of your finished embroidery. If your bobbin tension is too tight, you will get more looping, bunching and birds nests. Having your lower tension adjusted correctly helps eliminate these common problems and allows you to create a polished finished piece.
If your bobbin tension is too loose, you may end up with bobbin thread showing through your embroidery thread. Obviously, this is not the look you want, and will not in any way contribute to a quality finished piece. Adjusting bobbin tension can be a balancing act, but finding the proper tensions is worth the work. Once you’ve achieved the correct tension, your embroidery will run much more smoothly.
Another factor that can contribute to the success or failure of your embroidery is the bobbin case. A bobbin case that is too loose may allow your bobbin too much movement. You also need to be aware of build up inside the bobbin case. Make sure you clean the cases often and switch them out when there are signs of wear.
One way to tell if your bobbin tension is set correctly is to check your thread ratio when you sew out a design. There should be approximately 2/3 top thread to 1/3 bobbin thread. This is a general guideline, but if you are seeing something close to this ratio than your tensions are most likely set properly.
You should also make sure that you have the proper size bobbin for your machine. Bobbins come in Style L and Style M sizes. Magnetic bobbins are also available. Make sure to follow the instructions given in your manual when it comes to bobbin size.