Yet another thing I wish I knew prior to starting embroidery is that ability to adjust the machine’s tension. Embroidery machines have two different tensions to set and each one will vary from machine to machine. For instance, just because I have my tensions set to a certain number does not mean it will have the same effect for another machine. My biggest piece of advice when it comes to adjusting the tension is to take a deep breath, grab a relaxing tea or cocoa, take out a notebook and realize that it will take awhile.
There are two types of tension; the top dial with numbers on it which controls the upper thread and the bobbin tension which controls the bobbin thread. Prior to reading the manual I thought there was only the top thread tension to tweak and after testing all of them the outcomes were wildly disappointing. At one point I thought about returning the machine or taking it in to be repaired. Yes, the manual is your best friend yet always the last resort at least for me anyway! Let me know if you are a manual reader out the box or “only when problems arise person” in the comments.
The bobbin tension is a lot more tedious to get to than the upper threads which is why the tutorial on this post is crucial. First the embroidery control arm must be removed, then the bobbin plate and finally you will reach the bobbin housing to change the tension. Prior to removing this embroidery control arm the machine must be turned completely off or it will pop up with a malfunction warning and require you to turn it off before allowing you to stitch anything. To make things more “fun” there are no numbers to help figure out the best tension for the bottom thread, just a tiny little screw. Also, the machine does not come with a flat head screwdriver. I used one from an eye glasses kit, you may have one laying around the house already.
In order to not go completely blind in this process I like to tighten the screw completely and then loosen it one full rotation test it and then go onto two full rotations, test it and so on. Each time I will fully tighten the screw in order to keep the process consistent. I also recommend either using a notebook or writing directly on the back of the stabilizer to indicate which rotation goes with which test letter. The goal is to not have any bobbin thread showing on the top of your work and only a small amount of the upper thread showing on the back. Too much of upper thread showing on the back can ruin a design from being stitched out properly or even make simple letters look wonky.
Above is a small example of what a difference adjusting the tension can make. Both elephants were made with upper thread tension number four. The only difference was the bobbin tension. On the first elephant you can see the outline stitching is completely off compared to the second one. I realize I should have done them both on a white backing so I apologize if it is a little difficult to see. When these were created it was not for example purposes but rather to see if the design was usable on a less obvious backing. The white example is still not 100% as the ear portion is not fully filled in and would still not be a design I would be happy selling on an item but compared to the first test it is way better.