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Avante Tension

No matter where I set my bobbin tension, in order to have uniform, nice looking stitches on the bottom, I must set the top tension so tight that the thread (King Tut) snaps routinely. I have tried everything I can think of and followed countless advice. I attend a Handiquilter class once a month and asked the experts. My needles are correct for the thread, I've checked all locations for lint, used the Towa top and bottom tension gauges with Superior's recommended readings, all to no avail. I don't know what else to do. I need help! Very frustrated.


  • I had a problem like that and was told to screw in the top tension all the way and start over... it worked.
  • Thanks, Judy. I'm willing to try anything.
  • edited May 2012
    Still having trouble with Avante tension. Top always looks nice, it's the bottom that isn't right. I've set the bobbin tension everywhere from loose to tight....can't get the bottom stitches good. Checked for lint, fuzz, have the right needle for the thread (doesn't seem to matter what kind of thread I use). In order to get a reasonable looking bottom stitch, I have to set the top tension VERY tight. I'm hoping someone from Handiquilter will respond with some ideas.
  • Jane-Fisher,

    I'm sorry you are having problems with your tension. Can you tell me if you are using prewound bobbins or winding your own bobbins? Also, how long have you had your machine and has this been a problem since you've had it?


    Mindy Powell
    Handi Quilter Studio Educator
  • Mindy, I have used SuperBobs (I take the cardboard off) and also wind my own bobbins and have the same result with both. King Tut in the bobbin gets a little better result. I've adjusted the bobbin tension using the hand (spider) method and I've also used the Towa bobbin gauge in ranges from about 150 up as far as 300. I have a top tension gauge also. If I use the Superior thread guide, I should have a top tension of 8-9 for King Tut. However, after I set the bobbin tension, the top tension has to be anywhere between 18 and the snapping point in order to have the bottom stitches look anywhere reasonable. The best result I've had is using Superior monopoly on top and SuperBobs for the bobbin. The Superior guide says about 3-4 on monopoly, but I have to set the top tension at 8-10 in order to not see top thread showing on the bottom and bottom stitches laying flat. I am using the right needles for the threads I use, no lint or fuzz in any locations. I've pretty much had the issue since I purchased the machine in 2010 only it seems to have gotten worse. When I took my machine in for checkup in 2011, I asked about the tension. The tech checked it out and said he thought my bobbin tension was too loose. I love the machine but am frustrated with this issue. I'm going through a lot of thread and practice sandwiches trying to find settings that mesh. Perhaps I just haven't found the right formula yet. Any help you can give would be gratefully accepted.
  • Thanks, Mindy, for the response. I will call the Education Dept. soon.
  • Jane, I have given my pearls of wisdom on tension in two other discussions will add yours. I have a Sweet Sixteen, had the same problems. Forget about the spider going down the web. Place the bobbin case with bobbin face up in the palm of your hand. Grab the end of the thread, if you cannot lift the case up, tighten the bobbin tension until you can stand the bobbin case on its side. The thread should be able to come out just a little doing this. At this point TIGHTEN it just a hair. And I do mean a hair. Now you can loosen or tighten the upper tension until your loops are even. It works. I use Superior Threads only, and you should only have to do very minor adjustments from now on. Since I have used this method I do not have any more problems with stitches, breaking thread etc. Good Luck
  • Curious as to what size needle you are using? Have you tried #20? What kind of batting are you using? Are you sewing cotton quilt material? Please post your solution when solved.
  • Kgraebner, sorry haven't been back lately. I have been enjoying my Gammill Vision. It quilts like a dream. I have been doing Karen McTavish French Feathers, and all kinds of freehand work. No more broken thread, no loops from the bobbin, no loops on the top. I use #16 and Superior Thread. The only problem I have had is the transition from sit down to stand up longarm. Next year blue ribbon. Oh I use cotton and Warm and Natural.
  • I am sooo frustrated with my Avante, I bought it new in November. I have been teaching mid arm quilting at out local quilt store on a HQ 16 and then an Avante for the past 5 years.
    I love the varigated King Tut threads but it does not seem to matter what I do they shred as I am quilting. I have the top and bottom stiches looking balanced and the top thread shreads.

    I have changed my needle 3 times, I have changed from bottom line in the bobbin to sew fine in the bobbin. I have quilted two quilts and have been fighting the King Tut thread, I changed the spool of King Tut thread and that made no difference.

    I have no problem using Sew Fine thread on the top. I am starting to think it is a rough spot on my tension disks.

    Has anyone else had this problem ?

    Please help as I am turning into a discouraged quilter.
  • Thanks Cheryl, I have been using the size 18 needle but will try the 5:30 rotation.
  • I am a newbie here, so bear with me please, if I am looking directly at the needle eye, what direction do I turn the needle to find 5:30? I've seen this mentioned elsewhere and the term confuses me. Thanks.
  • Squeekybird,
    When you are looking directly at the eye of the needle, 5:30 will be on your right.
    Think of a clock, if the needle is directly in front that would be 6:30 and to your left would be 7:30. I hope this helps. If you have anymore questions- we will be happy to help.
    Angie Balling
    Handi Quilter Studio Educator
  • I purchased an avante 18 demo just 30 days ago. I am also having trouble with the tension, the screw fell out of the bobbin case it took a week to get a new one, last nite I tried to use the bobbin winder and it does not work. they are sending me a new one. I am very frustrated as well. I have called mamy time and spoke with someone. the response I get everytime is what I am seeing on here, is what can i do to help you today. I say send a tech down to check it out. they brush completely over that statement. I wish now that I had stayed with my original preference and bought a gammal vision. Very disappointed in the customer service that I have received, once they get your money they forget who you are.
  • bbowling2007 I'm so sorry you are having such trouble from the outset. I bought my demo a year ago and haven't had any trouble with it until just today. I have top thread breakage which I thought was my only problem, thought I sorted that but then the birds nest underneath are going to take me a day to unpick and we all know how much we hate to unpick. My husband is an engineer and he was up at my machine for a full hour and we tried everything. It was working perfectly at the start of the quilt and just as I got to the last roll of the quilt all this started, how frustrating!

    I have to say I don't think my Avante likes the so Fine thread. It breaks too easily. I am using 18s should I be using smaller?

    I'm at a loss tonight and just at the end of the quilt too but between the two of us we just could not fix the problem.

    The resolution will come with time but its the time that is the killer because its such a waste of time but I suppose we have to take the rough with the smooth....
  • I too have had all the tension issues described above with my Avante. When I can get the tension right it stitches like a dream but once the tension goes "bad" it is the most frustrating experience in the world---to the point I feel like selling the set up! And it takes forever to get that tension "back" to the right place. Once it starts creating a messy nest underneath it seems like it NEVER will get back to being correct. I spend HOURS upon HOURS with this tension issue usually about every other quilt and I have wasted so much thread and fabric it is insane. Thank goodness I don't quilt for others.

    I have tried the extreme loosening of the top tension and also the tip of tightening the top tension knob as tight as it will go then turning it "back" 6 turns to "reset it". Sometimes that works but most the time it doesn't. I have flossed that top thread in the tension disks well. My bobbin case is set right, am using the correct needle, using quality thread, etc. Every tip and trick mention above and more have been done and I still continue with about every other quilt to get the tension totally messed up. I've even had my dealer replace the tension unit. There has got to be a simple solution to this. It is so frustrating because that is the only issue I've ever had with this machine but since it is the basis for quilting I hope someone at Handiquilter reads this and comes up with a solution for all of us as it seems there are a lot of us having this issue.
  • Make sure your quilt tops are not too tight on the frame. That will also affect the tension. I use quality threads also. But some of them just do not work as well. I have an HQ16. You may also want to consider the batting you are using. I have found that the batting I use will also affect how my stitches look. Good luck I know it's so frustrating when the tension is wrong. If you don't have one get a towa gauge to use. I have found it helpful.
  • I noticed something that might be helpful with regard to tension. I generally use premium cotton batting, but I had a couple of non-critical items I wanted to quilt and decided to use some polyester batting that I bought at Walmart during my first attempts at quilting. As soon as I starting quilting on my Avante I started having tension issues. It was next to impossible to maintain the tension. I used my cotton batting on my next project and my tension issues disappeared like magic. I just thought I would share this with anyone who might be using polyester batting.
  • I can relate to all the tension issues. Purchased the Avante in November and was ready to throw it out in December. Read the manual, checked the education videos about TNT-tension, needles, thread? After tons of practicing, pulling out my hair, and tossing practice pieces, I finally got it right. As long as the bobbin tension is correct, the top tension is the one to adjust. From the factory, it's set too tight. Loosening it takes major left turns, unlike the tension in a regular machine. Every time you change the thread, you need to reset the top tension and try it out.

    After all the practicing and adjusting needles and switching to threads the machine 'liked,' I finally finished my first 62" square quilt. It is christened 'my first practice quilt.' :):) It's not bad for someone who hasn't yet gained complete control over the Avante. I'm now starting on my second quilt, but I'm sure with all the previous practice, it should go all right.** I'll let you know.

    **famous last words.
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