Skip to content

What Is Sewing Tension? Find Out Here!

Sewing Machine Tension

Sewing machines are an essential part of every home. They allow us to create beautiful clothes for ourselves, our family and friends. However, there are many types of sewing machines out there.

Some are better suited for certain tasks while others are designed for specific. One of these is the sewing machine tension.

What is Sewing Tension? Sewing tension refers to the force that pulls the needle down into the fabric. It is measured in pounds per inch (lpi).

The higher the number, the stronger the tension. You should use a sewing machine with a good stitch quality and a balanced tension.

Tension is used in a sewing machine to exert just the right amount of pull on your thread so that the stitch is tight enough to hold the fabric together but not too tight where it pulls the fabric out of shape.

Tension is defined as the amount of space between the warps and the weft, or the opposite of slack. The purpose of tension is to regulate the even distribution of the weft threads in the warp.

If you’re interested in learning more about sewing tension, then this article is for you. So, keep reading!

Types of Sewing Tension

Tension is the amount of force that pulls the fabric through the machine as the needle stitches. There are two types of sewing tension:

1. Top tension

Top tension is the tension on the top thread in a sewing machine. The amount of tension generated by the top threading going into the top of the machine.

Top tension is the force exerted by the top thread or bobbin thread to control the fabric. It is also adjusted by the top tension knob on the top of the sewing machine

2. Bottom tension

Bottom tension is one of the important features on sewing machines. Bottom tension is a way to control the fabric on a sewing machine, depending on where the needle tension is. 

The amount of tension generated by the bottom threading going into the bottom of the machine. 

When the needle tension is in the top part of the fabric, the fabric is pulled tight. When the needle is in the bottom part of the fabric, the fabric is loose.

Ways to Adjust and Set up the Sewing Tension

There are two ways to set up the sewing tension on your sewing machine. Now, let’s look at both methods.

Manual Method

This method requires some practice before using it correctly.

  • The first thing you need to do is turn off any automatic stitches. Then, put a piece of paper under the presser foot plate. Next, place one hand underneath the presser foot plate and lift slightly.

This will make sure that no matter how much weight you apply to the presser foot plate, the sheet of paper won’t move because it’s stuck between the presser foot plate & the table surface.

  • Now comes the tricky bit – lifting the presser foot above the level of the top edge of the workpiece. If done incorrectly, the presser foot can slip over the edge of the table, causing damage to your project.

To prevent this from happening, gently push the presser foot away from the worktable until its tip touches the bottom edge of the workpiece. Once the presser foot has been lifted, let go of it completely.

  • Lower the presser foot slowly towards the floor by pushing downward on the lever arm. Make sure to only depress the lever arm as far as necessary to get the correct pressure needed to sew your desired size. When the presser foot reaches the ground, release the lever arm all together.
  • Next step is to adjust the feed dogs. Place your fingers under each side of the presser foot. Gently raise them upwards until they touch the underside of the presser foot plate touching nothing else.

Lower the foot presser back to the original position once again. Now, repeat steps 3-6 but instead of lowering the foot presser, simply remove it entirely.

Automatic Method

You don’t have to worry yourself with manual adjustments when setting up your sewing machine. Newer models come equipped with built-in settings.

All you need to know is which button you want to activate and what change you would like to change.

With these features, there is little room for error. However, if you still feel comfortable adjusting things manually, here’s how to do it.

  • First, open the cover located behind the bobbin case. There are three screws holding the cover together.
  • Remove those screws and carefully slide the cover aside. After doing so, you’ll see an opening within the casing.
  • Look inside the box and locate the dial marked “SPEED CONTROL”. Turn clockwise until you reach the highest speed setting.

Note: Some machines may require turning counterclockwise instead. Also note that other brands might call their control “STITCH COUNTER” or something similar.

How does Sewing Tension Affect the Quality of your finished product?

The tension of the fabric you are sewing on your sewing machine directly affects the quality of your finished product.

Sewing with the correct tension settings helps remove or prevent puckering and rippling in the fabric, improves the appearance of the finished item, reduces material usage, and reduces strain on the machine.

If the bobbin tension is too tight, the upper thread flow tension may break, and the fabric will pucker. If the bobbin tension is too loose, the metal bobbin thread tension will show on the top side of the fabric.

In addition, a looser bobbin tension allows more stretch in the fabric, resulting in wrinkles and puckers.

Most machines come with a machine instruction manual which contains detailed information about how to use the equipment properly. However, these manuals can often become confusing.

So when reading an instruction manual, remember to concentrate on the parts which pertain directly to the task you’re trying to complete.

Consider buying a good quality sewing dictionary so you can look up words you might not understand.

How to test Sewing machine Tension

Several factors affect how taut a stitch is. Tension is the amount of force pulling the fabric through the machine. The amount of tension you need to apply will depend on the fabric and the stitch you are using.

The sewing machine manual for testing the tension of your sewing machine will vary depending on the manufacturer.

Generally, you need to adjust the amount of pressure that the sewing machine exerts on the fabric by moving a dial to change the amount of correct thread tension.

You can use a fabric tension gauge or an extra long stitch length to check the tension in your machine.

In the same way, if you want to check the tension on a bobbin of thread type, use a bobbin tension gauge or an extra long stitch length.

Fabric Sewing Tension 

  • Tension machine settings are used to determine the tightness of the stitches on a sewing machine.
  • The stitch length can also affect the tension. So if you change the stitch length try to change the tension as well.
  • The tension of machine embroidery fabric differs from sewing high-quality fabric because the loose weave of embroidery fabric allows the needle size to penetrate through the piece of fabric with little resistance.
  • The proper tension is achieved when you can see a stitch, but you can’t see the outline of the stitching on the fabric.
  • Too much tension can rip the fabric. The optimal level of tension is somewhere in the middle of all that.
  • Low tension makes for a loose, wrinkly garment.

Last Words

The first thing we need to do when using a quality sewing machine is make sure everything’s set up correctly. This includes making sure all quality threads are threaded through their corresponding spools or bobbing holders. If they aren’t, then you won’t be able to stitch!

The thread that you choose can also make a big difference in how your fabric sews together. For a bit more money, you can get a 100% polyester thread that will not only hold up better, but will also not be so slippery when you are sewing.

To get the best look as well as the best durability, you should always use a thread that matches the heaviest fabric weight in your project.

Kirsten Carter

Kirsten Carter

Kirsten Carter is a freelance content writer who specialises in writing about travel, technology and health. When she's not traveling between her home of Tanzania and England, she writes for her blog Rightminded Travelling and features on a variety of different travel and technology sites.View Author posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *