Superior Education

Thread Delivery and Tension

  • Top Tension
  • Thread Delivery

How do I use a cone of thread on my home machine?

Q. I recently purchased a large 2,500 yd. cone of MasterPiece cotton thread. My machine (Pfaff Creative Vision) doesn't like it at all. I was piecing my quilt and the thread broke constantly. I've watched Dr. Bob on the Quilt Show and on YouTube many times (the reason I bought the thread!) and I followed the steps he recommended for MasterPiece. My machine's automatic tension was 4.6, so I kept loosening the top tension down to 3.4 and still, the thread broke. I'm using a size #80/12 needle. MasterPiece is thin compared to my other 50 weight threads, like Mettler, and I have no problems with Mettler in the machine. I'd really like to use your thread for piecing, but can't figure out what's wrong?

Superior Thread Holder
We recommend using a Thread Holder with cones of thread
Tension adjustment on a sewing machine
Loosen your top tension more than you think you should

A. MasterPiece should work well in any good-conditioned machine. The Pfaff Creative Vision is a nice and expensive machine, which I expect should have no problems with most any thread type. I have two recommendations for you:

  1. Are you using a thread stand/cone holder for the cone of MasterPiece? When sewing or quilting with large cones of thread on a home sewing machine, the thread needs to unwind and come off the top of the cone, not off the side. We don't recommend inserting a dowel or adapter into the base of the cone and placing the cone on a vertical spool pin. This action will have the thread unwind off the side of the cone, which will add more stress and tension to thread as it is pulled through your machine instead of effortlessly unwinding off the cone (which will happen when thread is unwound off the top). Please watch our video on our Superior Thread Holder. There's a great example of what we call Thread Delivery and how it affects your stitches.
  2. You're on the right track with loosening your top tension. I recommend that you loosen your top tension more than you think you should and then slowly tighten it to eliminate looping and uneven stitches. Small, incremental adjustments from 4.6 to 3.4 is likely not enough to make a difference in the outcome; meaning, the thread is continuing to break. Loosen the top tension from 4.6 down to 2.0. Use this as a benchmark, then increase the top tension incrementally until the uneven stitches become even. You'll find that making a single large adjustment at first is much better than making 7 minute adjustments and experiencing 6 thread breaks as you go through the process. You can always reset your tension back to 5.0 or the factory default setting. Don't be afraid to change the tension, that's why we have the capability to make tension adjustments.
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