How to Check Your Sewing Machine Tension for Quilting

Balance your tension to create beautiful stitches and have a seam-ripper free quilting experience!

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How to Check Your Sewing Machine Tension for Quilting with HollyAnne Knight of String & Story

Hello, friends!

TENSION. When all is well, tension helps us sew beautiful stitches, but when something goes wrong, nothing brings out the sailor in me quite like tension problems. UGH. In fact, one recent fiasco that started with an hour of happy quilting resulted in four hours of frustrated unpicking. That fiasco prompted my first post about tension, and I'm going to share this information again today because it is absolutely critical to your quilty success.

As I shared in the video, you should test your tension often to ensure gorgeous stitches. Let's review:

When Should I Check My Tension:
1) Anytime you start quilting a new quilt
2) Anytime you start a new bobbin or a new thread color or new needle
3) Anytime you are returning to quilting after turning your machine off and back on 

I know this sometimes means a thread break where we wouldn't otherwise have one (taking a quilt out from under the needle to test tension), but it's worth it. Burying a thread only takes moments, but unpicking can be hours.

When testing tension, be sure to do some loops and zig zags because tension issues show up best on curves and at points. 

If you fiddle with your tension, but can't seem to get it quite right, make sure you have a fresh needle in your machine, that it is threaded properly, and your bobbin housing and machine bed are well cleaned (learn about machine care and cleaning here).

How to Check Your Sewing Machine Tension For Quilting with HollyAnne Knight of String and Story

To make it even easier to test your tension each time before you quilt, I have a handy-dandy guide for you called "Perfect Tension Quick Guide"! It includes photos of what perfect, loose, and tight tension look like, as well as reminders about when and how to check your tension. Just enter your email below, and I'll send this one page, easy reference guide straight to your inbox!

Finally, learning how to check your tension is just the beginning of a wonderful free motion quilting adventure. I'd like to help you with the next steps, too, in my FREE online workshop, Intro to Free Motion quilting. We'll talk about setting up your machine, learn four foundational motifs, and introduce you to making a quilting plan. This class is all about teaching you to quilt with confidence! 

How to Check Your Sewing Machine Tension For Quilting with HollyAnne Knight of String and Story