Bobbin Tension

Correct bobbin tension is an essential part of an enjoyable sewing experience. Most people have experienced at least some sort of problem due to bobbin tension, whether they knew it or not. An incorrect bobbin tension can lead to various problems, such as looping, bird-nesting, railroad tracks, and others. An experienced sewer or quilter recognizes that bobbin tension can and should be adjusted for various types of threads. Some threads must operate at one bobbin tension setting, while another thread may operate at a higher bobbin tension. Becoming familiar with the bobbin tension adjustment and other tension adjustments will open the door to trying a variety of threads – rather than just one thread.

As mentioned, each thread will run best at a specific bobbin tension. As you gain more experience with each thread type, you will learn the ideal bobbin tension through trial and error. If you are like us, we do not want to spend time with trial and error. We just want to put thread in our sewing machine and start sewing! Superior Threads has invested much time and resources into educating the quilting, sewing, and embroidery world about bobbin tension and many other aspects of sewing.


Bobbin case Bobbin tension adjustments
To loosen or tighten the bobbin tension, turn the large screw in small, quarter turn increments

Finding the Correct Bobbin Tension

A simple rule of thumb for finding an ideal bobbin tension is to take the bobbin from the sewing machine (inside the bobbin case) and place it in your hand. With your other hand, gently pull the thread up from the bobbin. If the bobbin lifts off your hand very easily, the tension is too tight. If the thread pulls too easily, you need to tighten your tension. The ideal bobbin tension is when the bobbin will barely stay in your hand as you gently pull the thread out.

Because this is a rule of thumb, it isn’t always an exact method for finding your ideal bobbin tension. Superior Threads sells various gauges that will help you find the sweet spot for your bobbin tension. We have tested each of our threads and have documented the ideal tension settings for each thread. These charts are available for free on our website.

Our Towa bobbin gauges help measure your bobbin tension accurately and are available for L and M size bobbins. Achieving the right top tension and the right bobbin tension will lead to a whole new level of expertise and enjoyment in your sewing experiences.

For additional information on bobbin tension, visit our free education page on our website.

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