Longarm Tension Headaches


I’ve had my longarm machine for a year now. I am a big fan of Superior Thread and, knowing I would be quilting for other people, purchased a decent inventory of colors. But I could not get this fine thread to work on my machine. I went to several conventions, talked to people, tried re-threading and purchased tension gauges — all without any luck. I was beyond frustrated. People told me that “all longarms have tension problems” and “I can run anything on my A-1.” So what was I doing wrong? I felt like a complete failure.

I finally called my sales rep and she suggested Signature Thread. It is much thicker and, she said, easier for beginners. It worked! I then purchased a large inventory of signature thread and have been using it exclusively, as a top thread, for the last year.

This weekend I was able to get “So Fine” by Superior Threads to work. It was actually pretty easy — I tried and it the tension was perfect.

So what changed? Clearly it’s the same longarm and the same thread. What changed was my experience level. After a year of fighting with my machine learning, making the small adjustments was just intuitive. All it took was experience. And the only way you get experience is by screwing up trying things that don’t work and patiently trying again. It’s taken me a year to get to this point.

Something else that’s been extremely helpful is purchasing prewound bobbins. I love the Super Bobs from Superior Thread.

I’ve scoured the web for advice on tension problems, and I suspect anyone reading this is in the same boat. My advice is to keep trying. You WILL get there, but it may take awhile.

My A1 Longarm Machine


2 responses »

  1. You will find on our website a Longarm Thread Tension guide which will help a lot with many questions regarding tension, needle size and thread delivery. Once you’ve figured out the tension and are no longer afraid to turn those knobs and screws, you will have great success in running all types of threads. Be patient, learn your machine and the great results will come.

    Superior Threads

    • Thanks, Ricci. Superior Threads has a great website. I will also say that the company’s owner — Bob — gives great lectures about threads. I would highly recommend signing up for anything he offers. Superior Threads usually attends conventions and his talks are either free or very low cost.

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