Superior Video

Needles, Tension, Bobbin, & Delivery

  • Needles
  • Tension
  • Bobbins
  • Thread Delivery

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First thing that I want to talk about today is some of the equipment that I'm using, that's making my sewing so much easier.

The machine that I'm using is the Bernina Artista 730. It's a wonderful machine that's great for quilting, great for embroidery; I absolutely love using it. I have it sitting in the ‘SewEasy’ table. We talked earlier that I do a lot of quilting retreats. A lot of my students bring these tables to the retreats. They're very lightweight, they're portable, the fit in the car easy and it's also at the right height for sewing. So you're able to not be hurting at the end of the day, when you've been sewing all day. But love the table; highly recommend it.

I wanted to start off by talking about my fabulous four. Four main tips for making threads, working your machine, is your delivery, how you're delivering it off the cone, or off the spool, if you're using the correct tension for the thread that you're using, if you're using the correct needle, and also, the bobbin.

I talk about all the different tips and tricks that you can use to make different threads work in your machine. My students asked that I prepare a special flyer or a handout for that, and I did. It's available on my web site. It's a free download. So if you want this information in writing, just go to my web site, click here, and then you can print it out.

If you're using a cone thread that is cross wound, quilting police say that a cone thread must be delivered from the top. Get yourself a very good cone holder. You want one that's heavy and weighted. You don't want a plastic one that's going to jiggle and wiggle all over the table. So you want a good weighted one. You simply pull the thread from the cone into the hook, and then you're going to thread it through your machine normally. If you have a straight-stacked spool, such as this, the rule is that you need to pull this from the side.

The next thing you come to, on our fabulous four, is your tension. Are you using the correct tension for the thread that you're using? If you have a crabby thread, such a metallic or a glitter, or something very fancy, it requires a very loose tension. So you're going to go to your machine, you're going to hit your tension, and you can simply dial it down. Some machines have a manual dial. It might be on the side. The lower the number, the looser your tension. So you're going to start loosening that tension, or on the dial.

If you have a dial you may want to press your foot down while you're changing that tension. I always drop my top tension down to one, for a decorative thread, and then I bring it back up. You're going to get to a perfect tension much faster if you start lower and work your way up.

The number three tip is your needles. Make sure you're using the correct needle for the thread that you're using. I use top-stitch needles 100 percent of the time. There's four different sizes. As I'm talking about the threads, I will talk about the top-stitch needle I recommend to use with that thread. But I like it because of the long groove, and the top-stitch needle has the long rectangular eye that helps protect the thread.

I usually change my needles about once a week or more, depending on the project that I'm using. Since I've started using the top-stitch titanium needles, by Organ, that Superior sells, I'm going, sometimes, a couple weeks between needle changes.

Let's say you put a new needle in your machine, and your thread is shedding. Take your needle out, put in a new needle immediately. That might the only problem. When needles are made, there's 10 to 15 percent that already have a small burr in the eye. So your thread is shredding as it's going through the eye. So your quick fix is, try it, if it's still shredding then you know it's not the needle. Go back to your fabulous four. Check your tension, and check your delivery.

Number four for the fabulous four, is your bobbin. You always want to make sure that you have a nice, straight, flat wind to your bobbin. You don't want the thread in your bobbin to be like this or like this. You want it to be straight up and down, and you want it to be a firm wind. You don't want it spongy.

Couple tips I've tried, if you're getting that hurricane or tornado, you can simply hold the thread and move it up and down while it's winding. That would give you a flat wind. If you have a little bit of the spongy, I'll also hold it, give it extra tension, and then that will fill your bobbin very firm.

When you clean your machine, never take canned air and blow your machine out with canned air. That takes all the lint and garbage and it shoves it back into your machine gears, and it's very bad for your machine. Instead I take a pipe cleaner, and I fold it in half, and I go inside the machine and I pull the lint and the dust out with the pipe cleaner.

So if you follow these fabulous four tips, thread delivery, tension, needle, bobbin, cleaning your machine, 95 percent of the time you're going to be solving any problem you'll have with any threads that you’re using.

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