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Friday, September 12, 2014

Tension and the FOXY Test

Tension... We all have it. But what I am talking about it tension on our embroidery machines. How do we know if it is off? And if we think it is off how do we fix it?

Most embroidery machines have a factory setting that is between embroidery and sewing and works well. That is great if we always stitch like the factory does. BUT, if we change what the factory used then the tension may not match.

Some machines have a different bobbin case for embroidery and for sewing. Some use just one. But that magic setting is somewhere that you can live with to make your stitches come out perfect in embroidery and not have to be adjusted much for sewing.

On the embroidery machine we all have our thoughts on perfect tension. For most of us, we want that upper thread to roll to the back leaving us with a nice clean line on the edges, and a bit of a roll to the back so we are sure none of the white bobbin comes to the top. Smooth edges, clean lines and a beautiful embroidery is what we are all searching for.

The best way to test your tension is to use the "FOX" test. Take your block lettering...you can use what is built into your machine and write the word FOX in all capital block letters. (The word FOX has all the different angles that your embroidery machine will need to travel in any design.) Choose a contrasting upper embroidery thread that you can see well and stitch the word FOX out using the normal stabilizer, threads, bobbin and fabric that you use most often. Unhoop and check the back of the embroidery.

Is the top thread pulled to the back leaving only about 1/3 of stitching on the back being the bobbin thread. If it is then you have wonderful tension. If you have less than that, you will need to tighten your bobbin thread. If you know how to tighten the screw on your bobbin case, do it in 1/4 turn increments and test the word again till you get what you need. If you are uncomfortable tightening the screw then take it to your dealer, along with your test stitch and your normal choice of bobbin and upper thread and tell him you want it tightened to show the 1/3 only bobbin on the back. This adjustment can also be a bit less than 1/3 bobbin thread as well, it is your choice. But any more than 1/3 bobbin showing may cause your embroidery to be less than perfect on the front, showing white edges on satin stitches and more.

Your regular sewing should follow easily with most all jobs with this same tension you have just created. But be aware you might have to adjust again if you change brands of bobbins or upper threads. It is always a good thing to do this test before you run a project. Just for fun I have created an embroidery design of the word FOXY so you can test...and with the added Y you can use it on a project if you want...none of us wants to waste any kind of embroidery. Click here to download this free design.

Next issue: embroidering on felt

from Lyn Christian of A Design By Lyn

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