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Properly Setting Sewing Machine Tension

by: Kelsi Watts - The following steps can help you properly set the tension on your sewing machine:

- Start by threading your sewing machine according to the instructions in your sewing machine's manual.

- Once your machine is threaded, adjust the tension dial to the middle setting. This is usually a good starting point for most fabrics.

- Sew a test seam on a scrap piece of fabric using the middle tension setting.

- Examine the seam to see how the stitches look. If the upper thread is showing on the right side of the fabric, the tension is too loose. If the bobbin thread is showing on the right side of the fabric, the tension is too tight.

- Adjust the tension dial as needed and sew another test seam. Continue adjusting the tension and sewing test seams until the stitches look even and balanced on both sides of the fabric.

It's important to note that the proper tension setting can vary depending on the type of fabric you are using and the type of stitch you are sewing. It may take some experimentation to find the right tension setting for your sewing projects.


Explore the Top Rated Sewing Machine Needles for ideas and suggestions.

The best machine quilting stitch length

The best stitch length for machine quilting is 2.5 to 3.0 which will give you 8 to 12 stitches per inch. Adjust your stitch length based on fabric thickness and weight, Stronger fabrics often require fewer stitches per inch but pieces with heavy padding require more.

How to finish silk seams

For the perfect silk seam finish, wrap the sewn edges together by sewing them in and make sure they are flat. Additionally, shorten the stitch length to 2mm to reduce the number of puckers you have.

Lastly, don't pull the silk fabric through you machine, just guide it, and keep a little pressure before and after the stitch so the silk stays tight.

Properly setting sewing machine tension

The best sewing needle for satin

A standard needle should be fine to use on satin cloth. I personally prefer a slightly smaller needle and find the results to be better. Avoid large, heavy-duty needles because they pierce large holes in satin and avoid very fine pointed needles because they are more likely to develop barbs.

Choosing the best needle for free motion quilting

For free motion sewing machine quilting choose the needle size that best suits the weight of your thread. As a general rule 40 wt thread requires a size 75 needle. Unless you are piecing together extra thick padding a small to medium sized needle that is sharp to slightly rounded will work fine.

Why you should stitch in the ditch

Stitching in the ditch, also known as sewing between quilting borders, helps stabilize fabric and maintain straight lines while quilting. Stitching in the ditch is optional but can prevent pattern distortion and should be done before adding any quilting design above the border.

About stitch in the ditch with open seams

Stitch in the ditch doesn't work on seams that have been pressed open. This style only works on seams that have been pressed to the side. Securing the quilt top to the batting and backing requires the semi-flat surface created by side-spread seams.

Best sewing needles to use with silk

Typically, silk fabric, and other lightweight fabrics, require a smaller needle such as a 60/8, 70/10 or 80/12. 70/10 needles work well with your fine silk and chiffon while 80/12 needles are best for medium weight silk.

What the numbers on sewing machine needles mean

The numbers assigned to sewing machine needles represent the fabric thickness they are able to sew. Larger numbers are capable of sewing thicker fabric. Conversely, smaller numbers are for sewing lighter weight fabrics. Care must be taken to match needle size with project material for best results.

Different sizes of sewing machine needles

The numbers on sewing machine needle packages represent the thickness of the fabric you are able to sew with those specific needles. The larger the number, the thicker the fabric you can sew. Conversely, smaller needles are for sewing finer fabrics.

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