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Overriding Automatic Tension Settings

Posted: 3 November 2012 at 9:49 a.m.

MasterPiece Extra-long staple Egyptian Cotton Thread Q. I don't know if this is a machine problem or a thread problem but thought I would start here. I have the Bernina 830 and am piecing with Masterpiece Thread. My top thread keeps breaking! My frustration level is going up fast. Could it be because the thread is coming off the top of the spool instead of the side? I put in a new needle but that hasn't helped. Thanks for any input you might have.

A. Override the setting and reduce the top tension to the 1.5 to 2.0 range. Make sure the spool is positioned vertically on the upright pin so the thread unwinds straight from the side and not over the end. This should fix it.

Thread Tug of War diagram by Superior Threads
View a video clip from Thread Therapy with Dr. Bob regarding Tension & Sewing Success.
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  • 7. mj (06 April 2013 at 6:08 a.m.)

    It took me a while after I first purchased my 830 to realize that with every project, the tensions need to be adjusted. It was my first inclination to assume that the machine automatically set the tensions. What was I thinking before I woke up? I had let the machine take over.....and it wasn't doing a good job. Once I took control I was much happier with the results.
  • 6. Bev Firth (26 November 2012 at 6:35 p.m.)

    Dr Bob- an interesting observation- tension setting like thread weight is not all the same-my 730 loves the 2ply MasterPiece with the tension set at 4- however, my new 750 loves the 3-ply Masterpiece with the tension at 4 but not the 2-ply, had to take the tension down to 1.5 before the 2-ply quit breaking but happy now with the lower tension.
  • 5. Bob (06 November 2012 at 4:40 p.m.)

    Julie, Yes. I can offer a wonderful pointer: Find a new dealer. Whoever would tell you to avoid using one cotton thread because it will absorb the lubricating oils, but then recommend you use another cotton thread is either mentally unstable, totally irrational, or outright lying. I would not rely on him/her for any advice on any topic and I would not trust their store for any other advice. I realize they are probably the only Pfaff dealer in your area but I would find another dealer to service my Pfaff machine if I were in your situation. They are not being honest. Pfaff is a good machine. We have thousands of Pfaff customers and we often use a Pfaff machine in our work. It's too bad Pfaff is being misrepresented by that dealer. I've heard some crazy things before but this is the winner. Of course you can use cotton threads in your machine. And polyester. And metallics. And any good quality thread.
  • 4. Julie Beard (04 November 2012 at 8:33 a.m.)

    Dear Dr Bob, My sewing centre dealer has told me that I should not use any of superior threads in my Pfaff Quilt Expression 4.0 as the cotton thread will absord the lubricating oils in my machine which may cause problems. She is recommending that should I go ahead and use King Tut I will need to have my machine serviced once finished. I am finding this rationale quite baffling as she recommends Mettler satin Finish. This thread is 100% cotton and mercerised except for the lenght of King Tut both threads are similar. Can you offer me some other pointers so I can go back to my sewing centre. I don't think they want me to use Superior! I would appreciate any assistance. On which threads are appropriate in my machine. Julie Beard
  • 3. Debbie (03 November 2012 at 1:57 p.m.)

    HI, I have discovered that when I quilt in the ditch with my 820, using King Tut thread I have to use a jeans needle number 80.
  • 2. betsy (03 November 2012 at 1:54 p.m.)

    I sew with a tension of 1.35 when using Masterpiece on my 830. Hang in there - can be done! Newer 50/3 should also work better.
  • 1. Karen Garth (03 November 2012 at 12:11 p.m.)

    On a Bernina 830, the thread comes off the top of the spool/cone when it is positioned vertically on the upright pin. The thread guides are too tall for the large Masterpiece cones. I suggest the Superior Thread guide for the 830, for either the large cones or the spool to enable the thread to come off in the right direction. Small cones work fine with the Bernina 830 thread path.

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