Thread tension problems are the most common issues plaguing those of us who enjoy machine quilting with longarm machines.
When the tension is off, it can turn that beautiful work of quilted art into a mess of too-tight or too-loose stitches that affect the look of the whole piece!
So what can you do if you’re having tension problems with your Juki HZL-NX7 Longarm Machine before you give up quilting in a fit of frustration?
Try these simple solutions to get the tension right so you can keep on stitching!
Understand the Variables That Affect Tension
The first step to figuring out the thread tension problem on your longarm machine is to understand the different conditions that cause them to begin with.
When the thread tension is off during machine quilting, you may see either the bobbin thread poking through the top of the quilt while the top thread lays flat which means the top thread is too tense or the top thread is loose which means the bobbin thread is too tense.
These symptoms may occur for all sorts of different reasons that should be checked out first before you start adjusting your longarm machine because sometimes the only adjustment you need is to remedy one of these simpler concerns:
- Wrong Needle Size - Thicker thread like cotton requires a needle with a larger hole to prevent it from pulling and increasing tension.
- Fabric and Batting Type - Tighter woven fabric is harder for the needle to pierce while thin flimsy batting does not leave much for the stitches to hold onto, so needle choice and stitch length should be adjusted to accommodate both to prevent tension issues.
- Stitching Too Fast - As easy as it is to stitch at high speeds on longarm machines like Q'nique quilting machine, it’s not always advisable; slow down and you will likely see your stitch tension and quality improve.
Adjust the Top Thread
After you’ve investigated the above issues and determined that you do indeed have a tension issue with the top thread, it may be time to adjust it on the machine.
Before you start turning that adjustment dial on your quilting machine, check how your machine is threaded.
Many quilters find it easier to control and adjust top thread tension by threading only the top one of the three holes in the thread guide and then wrapping the thread fully around the tension assembly so it doesn’t sit over the spring but winds completely around it.
With the machine threaded like that, you can start turning the dial a little bit at a time to tighten or loosen as needed, then stitching on a practice sandwich of extra fabric and batting from the quilt to be stitched.
Adjust the Bobbin Thread
When you’ve isolated the issue to be with the bobbin thread, take the bobbin out of the quilting machine and clean the bobbin area.
Then adjust the tension of the bobbin case just as you would for any other sewing machine.
Turn the little screw slightly to loosen or tighten just to the point where you can hold the bobbin by the thread and it doesn’t fall to the floor.
Put the bobbin back into the machine and test it out and adjust from that point.
No More Thread Tension Problems!
When thread tension problems cause you to be groaning rather than quilting with your longarm quilting machine, have no fear!
You can figure out the problem and get that tension properly adjusted in just a few minutes as long as you follow the above tips.
Choose the right needle and thread for your fabric and batting, thread the machine the right way, and only then make a minor tweak to the tension dial or the bobbin case for correct tension and perfect stitches!