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Block Rockit: Machine Thread Tension

Block Rockit: Machine Thread Tension
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Synopsis:

What is machine thread tension?

And is it okay to adjust it on your Block Rockit?

Why and when would you need to adjust the tension? 

We talk about it here in this blog post! 

 

Block Rockit Machine Thread Tension

Don’t be afraid to adjust the tension of your Block Rockit. Many sewers and quilters have been taught to never touch their machine tension, but this is the wrong mentality to have.

Thread tension issues seem to be the first problem that Block Rockit quilters come up against, so don’t be concerned when this happens to you. Tension will need to be changed when you use different types of threads, and it is ok to change it. It doesn’t mean your machine is broken.

Learning to properly adjust the tension will help you create a beautiful stitch with any type of thread or fabric, and it will help you bridge the gap from beginning to advanced quilting.

At times, you may need to make very small adjustments to get the tension just right, or you may need to adjust it a lot by turning the knob in large increments. How much you adjust the tension depends on how hard the top and bottom threads are pulling on each other.

To tighten the tension, turn the tension knob clockwise.

To loosen the tension, turn the tension knob

counter-clockwise.

To create the “ideal” stitch, the top and bottom threads need to pull on each other with equal force. Adjusting the tension changes the force that the top thread exerts on the bottom.

If the top tension is pulling harder on the bottom thread (the bottom thread will be pulled up through the top), then you will need to loosen the top tension.

If the bottom is pulling harder on the top thread (the top thread will be pulled down to the bottom), tighten the top tension.

You will not often need to adjust the bobbin tension. If you change the bobbin thread type, you can readjust the bobbin tension to get it right for that thread, then adjust the top tension as needed.

When you are first learning how to adjust the tension, practice quilting on scrap fabric. Make small adjustments then bigger ones and see how that affects the stitch. You can mark where your machine’s “normal” tension is so that you can always put it back if needed. As you practice changing the tension and learning the feel of the stitch, you will know when you need to make large or small adjustments when you start changing thread or fabric types.

 

Common signs of bad tension are:

  • Loops – the stitch does not lie flat against the fabric, but bubbles out, leaving space between the stitch and quilt.
  • Bobbin thread coming up through the top of the quilt.
  • Top thread coming through on the bottom of the quilt.

 

Common causes of bad tension are:

  • Different weight thread on top or bottom
    • Whichever thread is heavier is going to pull harder on the other thread. If the top thread is heavier, you should loosen the top tension to make it even with the bottom. If the bobbin thread is heavier, you should tighten the top tension to make it stronger.
  • Batting
    • If you use batting in some quilts but not others, or if you change batting type between quilts, you may need to adjust the tension. To test the tension before sewing on your quilt, first quilt on a piece of scrap fabric with batting and see if the tension needs to be adjusted.
  • Fabric
    • Changing fabric type may necessitate tension adjustments. To test the tension before sewing on your quilt, first quilt on scrap fabric to see if there needs to be tension adjustments.
  • Thread is not correctly in tension guides
    • Always make sure your thread is securely between and down in the tension discs and that the machine is threaded correctly. Oftentimes loops and poor stitches come from having the machine incorrectly threaded, or something obstructing the path of the thread.

 

Important things to remember:

It is OKAY to have to adjust your tension. If you are getting loops or a bad stitch, it does not mean that the machine is broken, it just needs to be adjusted. A sign of a confident machine quilter is one who does not let tension problems rule their quilting. And every one can be a confident machine quilter! Problem solve and learn to adjust your tension with each different variable of quilting. If worst comes to worst and you are frustrated, walk away from your machine for a while and come back to it later with fresh eyes. And if you still have problems we are only a phone call away! 


About the Author

Rachel graduated from Brigham Young University in 2009 with a teaching degree in Family and Consumer Science. She went on to teach and train industrial sewing operators until 2012. She is now a stay at home mom and works part time from home for Kathy Quilts. She loves to travel, create things, watch movies, go to Disneyland, read, and spend time with her husband and kids.

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