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If your needle thread tension is stronger, your bobbin thread will be pulled to top of your fabric. If your bobbin thread tension is stronger, needle thread will be visible on underside of your fabric. When tension is just right and evenly balanced, stitch will lock in middle, halfway between top and bottom of your fabric. This is what you want and have to find. It might take some playing around with your tension guide, but worth extra bit of time it takes.
TEST - TEST- TEST
The easiest way to test your tension is to thread your machine and put one colour thread in your machine with a totally different colour in your bobbin. Neither one should match your fabric. You need to examine your stitches.
If your tension is too tight, you will see your bobbin thread on top.
If your tension is too loose, you will see your top thread on bottom of fabric.
If your tension is correct, you will see machine thread only on top of fabric and bobbin thread only on underside of fabric.
BEFORE you start adjusting your tension, make these three checks. This is very important.
1. Be certain your machine is threaded properly. Even long time sew-ers can miss a thread guide.
2. Be sure your bobbin is properly installed.
3. Make sure your needle is inserted properly.
After going thru three checks, you may have to adjust tension in order to sew a good stitch. Check your manual to see how this is done. Each time you have adjusted, sew a line of stitching. You should only have to make small, slight adjustments to correct your stitch.
If after what seems like an eternity of changes, you still don't have a balanced stitch, leave your machine. Don't even look at it for a few hours, maybe a day or so. Then go back and try again. It could be you are tired, frustrated or distracted. It happens to all of us.
Or, it could be that your bobbin needs adjusting. Most sewing machine manufacturers don't want you to adjust your bobbin tension. If your manual doesn't cover this area, then it is best to take your sewing machine in to a dealer or reputable repair man.
Mary is the mother of three grown children and grandmother to six perfect grandchildren. She is also owner/editor of http://sew-whats-new.