Is Perfect tension possible??

One of the things that I have struggled with on Julio, my Juki sit-down Longarm machine, is TENSION!!!

When I first purchased him, it was perfect but, as I made changes here and there, to both the top and bottom tension, it got worse and worse……

NOT good!!!

I had tried using the method of pulling on the thread until the bobbin stands up in your hand but doesn’t lift off your hand. But, it was imprecise and I was never able to get the tension exactly where I wanted it.

Being an accountant, I believe that NUMBERS are always the way to go and I longed for something that could quantify the bobbin tension…..and I found it!!

Introducing the TOWA Bobbin Case Tension Gauge….

Now it was a bit pricey ($US 55), but it looks like it will definitely be worth the money.

It is designed for bobbins that rest inside a bobbin case (NOT for drop-in bobbins), and this particular version is for the larger “M” style bobbins that are used on a longarm.

This is how it works…..

If the tension needs to be changed, you can easily reach the screw and make the changes….

But you may be asking…… “how do I know what number to aim for?”

Several of the major thread companies, including Signature and Maderia provide information as to where the gauge should fall for each type of thread. Superior Threads provides the best chart that I have found and can be downloaded on their website…..

Since I am loving Bottom-Line thread in the bobbin, this is the perfect chart for me. AND, I am thinking that I can use these numbers as a starting place if I switch to a different thread.

But the real question is whether it helped. You tell me…..

I don’t think that it gets much better than that!!

The gauge is also available for L-style bobbins which are used on many home machines.

I am super excited about this tool and am looking forward to using it for “perfect” tension!!!

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Why is this happening…..

As I was happily sewing along on my brown stripe quilt, I started noticing that some of the stitching tension wasn’t great……

I worked thru the list of all of the usual suspects….

  • re-threaded the top
  • re-threaded the bobbin
  • adjusted the tension dial
  • cleaned out the bobbin area
  • put a few extra drops of oil in the proper areas

But it did not improve!!

I finally decided that it had to be the needle. For the last two years I have been using Superior brand Titanium coated needles…..

Because of their durability, I do not change the needle nearly as often as I used to. Here is what Superior has to say about them……

“With Superior’s Titanium-coated needles, you will hear a different sound when sewing (a soft, constant thud, thud, thud) when the needle is getting dull. This is because the thin layer of titanium-nitride coating is wearing off. Every time the needle penetrates fabric, there is a microscopic amount of wear on a needle, no matter what it is coated with (nickel, chrome, or titanium).

There are many other cues of a dulling or dull needle that are more recognizable, such as skipped stitches, the top thread shredding, and/or puckering while stitching. If your thread starts to behave strangely and you are experiencing these types of problems whereas you weren’t before, chances are that your needle should be replaced.

So, I replaced the needle and….magically…..the tension issues went away!!!

AH…..much better…..

Now…back to sewing!!!