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Testing Tension on your Multi-Needle!


Refer to your machine’s manual to determine the correct size bobbin for your machine. Do not guess here – follow the manual’s instructions. Most multi-needle machines do not come with a bobbin winder so purchasing pre-wounds in the correct size is a must. The bobbin slides into the bobbin case just like it does on many single needle machines.

Hold the bobbin case in your left hand and slip the bobbin (with the bobbin thread winding off the bobbin clockwise) into the case. Pull the thread through the guide (or slit) and under the tension adjusting spring.

Hold the bobbin thread and let the bobbin case hang down.  There should be resistance on the thread. In other words, the bobbin case should not slide down.   If you bounce the thread, the case will most likely release more thread, but it should not fall to the floor.   Refer to your machine manual for tightening the screw on the bobbin case if more tension is required.

Now insert the bobbin case into the hook on the machine, aligning the base’s tab with the notch on the hook. It will snap into place.  Leave about 2-3” of thread tail and close the hook cover. You’re ready to sew!

Let’s check the tension on the needles. Select the thread tension test pattern on your machine. It is a row of 10 vertical satin columns – each a different color. Hoop fabric and tear-away stabilizer and stitch the design.

Critique the tension by first examining the right side. If all you see is the polyester/rayon embroidery thread, then you know you’re headed in the right direction.  Now flip the fabric over and take a close look at the wrong side of the embroidery.  The bobbin thread should fill one-third of the column with equal amounts of the top thread framing the bobbin column.

If no top thread is visible on the wrong side of the embroidery, then the top tension is too loose.  Tension dials work just like screws: righty tighty; lefty loosey. Turn the dial to the right if no top thread is visible on the wrong side and to left if too much top thread is visible.

It’s best to aim for properly balanced tension so that the machine can produce professional results every time it stitches. Sew the test pattern again – skipping the needles (or colors) that did not need to be adjusted. Once the tension is set, you can move on to your embroidery project.

If your machine does not have a built-in thread tension test pattern, then just make your own.  Use the built-in lettering on the machine to program one capital letter “I” for each needle. Assign a different color for each letter and stitch the newly-created design. Store the design in your machine’s memory for future use. It will save you time down the road.

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