Sunday 28 January 2018

Tension Expedition

Today I had some time to devote to the tension issue of the Handiquilter Sweet 16. After 6 months I felt in the right headspace to have a really good look at this, because  when I stitched out my Patsy Thompson ruler framework yesterday, I was not totally happy with my tension.

If you are researching these machines you would have come across quilters talking about this on the various forums and groups. There is a lot of information on the tension issue available on the net...oodles of YouTube videos, information on the Handiquilter website and on other websites dealing with longarm machines as well as individual bloggers talking about their experience. Would be good if they all said the same thing, however they do not, hence this makes this all the more confusing. One thing though is consistent...people talking about that you will somehow 'feel' when the tension is right on your bobbin. Must say that I struggled with getting the sense of what that should feel like, as there is a bit of play in the bobbin, i.e. from when you know it is too tight to when you know that it is too loose.

Also very confusing is what people use in the bobbin. A lot of people use prewounds, either DecoBobs (80wt) or SuperBobs (Bottomline 60wt). I have got some SuperBobs, but have not used them that much as I got a lot of thread to get through (although might try some DecoBobs in the future as some people swear by them).
So today I started with my Aurifil thread 50/2 both in bobbin and on top. I thought that I had this thread combination worked out, but apparently not as I have pokies either on the top or on the bottom. Must have had a super dose of patience today, because I was determined to get a good stitch out of the machine. So, started with the bobbin again however this time went with some feeling and set the bobbin way tighter than some of the You Tube videos would suggest. I set it so that it stood up in my hand and just about wanted to leave my hand, then lifting it up and letting it gently and relatively slowly drop. I noted the Towa number which was sitting around 220 which is significantly higher than what I had come across on some blogs. Never mind, I thought and continued, examining the thread path...decided that the thread needed to go through all 3 holes and then adjusted the top tension...yep, that worked fine and I was able to produce a decent stitch once I adjusted the top tension.

On I went, pulling out the Rasant thread. Still unsure whether I should always match bobbin and top thread, but for the time being I went with that
My efforts for the day...not that you will be able to see anything much. I quilted in blue Rasant on the top and white on the bobbin. Rasant has been a thread that I have not really mastered on the DSM either, so I was in for a treat with that one. I like the thread as it is fairly strong and bonus it is pretty inexpensive. Adjusted the bobbin again with the drop test, assuming that my machine enjoys a somewhat tighter tension in the bobbin. Rasant is a Tex 25 thread which amounts to 40wt, so thicker than the bobbin needed to be loosened a fraction (Towa value was approx.210). Threaded it through 3 holes and was able to get a decent stitch once I adjusted the top tension.

I then switched to Magnifico on top and Bottomline in the bottom, as I will need to continue with that on the Wolecloth. Already knew that the bobbin tension needed to be cranked up for this one. Checked whether I was still getting this one correct and as before this was extraordinary fiddly...luckily I had taken some notes and saw that I needed to only thread it through 2 holes. Also worked reasonable well, but pretty sure that this thread will not be my first choice in the future.

I then tried a really old variegated thread that I had from Anton Robinson...tried this with Bottomline and Aurifil in the bobbin and that gave a really nice balanced stitch
Somehow get the feeling the machine performs better when top and bobbin are not matched. Maybe this is only because I cannot get the balance a 100% right...this would make sense.

So this was my day...just playing with thread.


1 comment:

  1. The tension on these machines is always a challenge. I'm not sure why. There should be an easier way. I hate to change thread because it will take forever to get it back to the way I had it.


Hi...thanks for stopping by and commenting. Very much appreciated! I will endeavour to answer all comments via email. Please check that you are not a no-reply blogger as there is no way of responding to you (other than by reply on the blog). If you need help with this issue, please head for Tutorials for a link on how to fix this issue.

Popular Posts