General Maintenance and proper technique are critical for optimum performance of your sewing machine and project outcome.

The dynamic duo of Stitch and Tension,

For those quilters that utilize fully computerized machines, you may have noticed that the default upper thread tension settings are different for various stitches. For example a straight stitch will have a higher, tighter tension verses a zig zag or decorative stitch.

A zig zag or decorative stitch will lay nicely when the tension is reduced allowing the the bobbin thread to pull the upper thread toward the back of the fabric. This tension adjustment also works with manual machines, however, its up to you to recognize the need and make the adjustment.

Many machines have an AUTO setting. For the vast majority of these machines there is nothing automatic about the setting. It is simply a middle position on the dial. Other manual machines will have markings on or around 3,4, and 5 on the tension dial indicating normal tension.

If you are running a tight zig zag, decorative or applique stitch, you will need some sort of stabilizer to support the stitch. If you still notice any puckering or poor stitches, you might adjust the tension to a slightly lower setting. It is not uncommon that a straight stitch will run just fine at a 4 but the zig zag works much better at a 3. Of course the exact number for this example is machine dependant. Your machine may be 5 and 4 or AUTO and 4.

We hear it all the time in the shop, "I never touch the tension dial" They make them dials for a reason, they are intended to be adjusted to allow the best combination of stitch and tension. Don't be afraid, give it a try, you can always put the dial back to where it was!