This month I thought I'd talk about bobbin tension. It's one of those things that can build up over time and ruin a sew out.
Recently I had a client contact me with a problem with a design. I asked her to send a photo so that I could troubleshoot it with her. She was seeing fabric show through in the carved areas of the design. Carving is just a way to add a line of stitches in a too wide satin stitch to make the design stable and it follows the curve of the design.
As we worked together, I sewed out the exact design she was having a problem with, trying to duplicate her stabilizer, fabric, and thread combination. She is an experienced embroiderer and was doing everything right. So, why was she having this problem?
So, I sewed it out and got the same result as her. I was horrified that my design was flawed. I test sew everything and I couldn't imagine how in the world I could have sewn this out and not seen it. I shared a photo of my sew out with her and appologized profusely and let her know that I would correct it ASAP and send her replacement files.
I had a tough time falling asleep that night. I kept thinking about it and then I had my ah ha moment. I hadn't cleaned my bobbin case lately. A little bit of fuzz builds up with each use of the machine and at some point it is enough to loosen the tension of the bobbin case. So I cleaned it an resewed the design and it sewed out as it should. I generally service and clean my machines in January, after the holiday rush, but I try to clean my bobbin housing every month. But January has been busy and I just forgot.
If you have a standard metal bobbin case with the little metal spring clip (as shown in the photo), you can clean it by carefully inserting the corner of a single piece of paper. Never use anything heavier because you don't want to change the set tension, just clean out the fuzz.
When I do my big cleaning and service, I use a tension test pattern. This allows me to see if the tension is correct on each of my needle positions (I have a multi-needle machine).
I now have a monthly calendar event to remind me to clean my bobbin case.
If you would like the Tension Test Pattern design to check your machine tension, just message me here, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll send you a link to it.