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Thread Thickness Varying ?? Unlikely, but....

edited December 2013 in Ask An HQ Expert
So I am putting a snowflake pattern around the border of a large quilt. The top is absolutely stunning - nice contrast between the blue/black border and the light yellow thread with just the very odd indication that the thread on the back is black. The back, however, is just short of a disaster. Little yellow dots, sometimes every stitch, sometimes just once in a while, sometimes not at all.

I have done everything I can think of to ensure that the tension is correct and constant:
- the needle is seated properly and straight (and new).
- the machine is threaded properly and the tension mechanism is clean.
- the bobbin is threaded correctly and the tension set so that it stands up but does not lift off my hand.
- the top tension is such that with only about an 8th of a turn tighter, I get black thread pulling through to the top.

I am prepared to blame the top thread - a polyester (as is the thread on the back) - but that does not sit well with me. I certainly cannot confirm that the thread is inconsistent in thickness causing the changes in tension (but it is the only logical explanation that I can come up with).

Clearly I am missing something.

Still new at this.


  • Thanks Angie, but the choice wasn't mine - this time.

    My problem just got worse though.

    I am now doing blocks with invisible thread on the top and the same black on the bottom. First eight went perfectly, the ninth, eleventh and twelfth, however, have big eyelashes on the bottom - but only for a few inches at at time. I definitely have a problem, but I will be darned if I can figure out what it is.
  • Angie,

    Thanks for the comment.

    Every time I check, the thread is properly flossed.

    Is it likely that the thread will go out and back in to the tension discs after a couple of inches? That seems implausible to me, but like I said - new to this.

    I have cranked up the tension (well added a little bit) and that seems to have cured the problem. I am prepared to conclude that I have been trying too hard to keep the top tension as low as possible and that keeping the bottom thread from showing is actually not such a good great goal.

  • Also, check your bobbin case for the tiniest bit of lint under the spring ( the one on the outside). I often take a business card and run it under the spring. Often a bit of lint will come out - this can affect your tension.
  • Thanks uandiquilt, I actually have been using a $5 bill. I happen to have one that resides on top of the cabinet next to my machine for some reason or other. Anyway, it works just fine.

  • I think that over the past few days I have learned the difference between new thread and old thread. The yellow/black combination that I referred to initially here and the red/blue combination that I have on the current Quilt of Valor have both exhibited the same characteristics. Serious tension issues, including changing tension.

    Still new at this.
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