Video: How to Set Tension on a Longarm – Quilted Joy Clubhouse Live!

"Quilted Joy Clubhouse - Setting Tension - December 4, 2019 1pm Eastern"

Did you catch our December Quilted Joy Clubhouse live online meeting? This month was all about setting tension on a longarm machine! If you missed the livestream it’s available to watch (or re-watch) whenever you’d like. Find it on the Quilted Joy Youtube channel!

Our main program for this month’s meeting was about setting tension on a longarm quilting machine. Watch the video below to see my process for setting tension on my APQS longarm quilting machine.

Scratching your head wondering what the heck this Quilted Joy Clubhouse is? Click here to learn more about it!

How to Set Tension on a Longarm Quilting Machine

The questions I probably hear most often from machine quilters are about tension. Tension can throw off even the most experienced quilters. But I promise, it’s not meant to be a big scary thing! Understanding how to achieve good tension regardless of the thread you are using will open up a world of creative possibilities for you and your longarm quilting machine! A great companion to this video will be my recent blog post, How to Set Tension on a Longarm Quilting Machine. This article originally appeared in Machine Quilter’s Unlimited Magazine and we’ve included helpful photos and suggestions for achieving good tension.

Start with the Bobbin Tension

I like to start by setting the tension on my bobbin first. In the video I show the anatomy of a bobbin case. For most bobbins you’ll want to make sure you have a healthy anti-backlash spring (also called bobbin case check springs and brake springs). Those springs help apply the brakes on your bobbin when you come to a halt. If your bobbins don’t bounce a little in your case, you’ll want to bend back the wings of your anti-backlash spring just a little or replace it with a new one.

To adjust your bobbin’s tension, loosen or tighten the big screw on the bobbin finger. You want your bobbin to look like a lazy spider going down a web. We don’t want poisonous spiders flying towards us and we don’t want a spider that’s refusing to move! And remember to make small adjustments to that screw. Think of that screw like the face of a clock. We’re only making five minute adjustments. If you’re like me and love Magna-Glide bobbins, setting your tension will be a little different, so be sure to watch the video to see how I set tension on a magnetic core bobbin.

Actively Seek Bad Tension

Now that we’re happy with our bobbin tension let’s move on to the machine and set our top thread’s tension. Instead of going straight to looking for good tension, start out by looking for bad tension. Until you achieve bad tension, you can’t find good tension! I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but trust me it works! You’ll want to start by making your top tension too tight so that your bobbin thread is peeking through to the top of you quilt. From there you can dial back your top thread tension a little at a time until the handshake between your top thread and bobbin thread is happening in the batting layer where we want it!

Again, I highly recommend you check out my recent article about setting tension here. I go even more in depth about my secret recipe for setting tension. It also includes helpful photographs showing good tension and bad tension to help guide you.

Liz’s Apartment Studio

I’m really excited for you to see Liz’s quilting space. So often we think we have to have a big beautiful space to use for our quilting or sewing rooms. While those are certainly nice, I can tell you from experience that it’s not required! For this month’s studio tour my friend Liz Allard invited us into her two bedroom apartment where she has created a fabulous quilting space for herself. Her APQS Millie on a 12 foot table is in her living room and she uses her second bedroom as a sewing space. While it’s amazing to see quilter’s with finished sheds and large basements for their quilting rooms, I love seeing how people take advantage of smaller spaces and find clever ways to organize their rooms. If you’d like to see more about Liz and her work, check her out at customquiltingbyliz.com.

Angela’s Favorite Things

We have a brand new line of thread we’ve recently added to the shop called Premo-Soft. This thread is from the same folks who make my favorite thread, Glide thread. Premo-Soft is a 50 weight polyester thread, so a little skinnier than Glide, and it has a matte finish that looks like cotton. If you’re familiar with So Fine Thread, Premo-Soft is going to be very comparable to that thread.

There are more than 80 colors and we have all of them available in the shop! Right now we only have the big cones with 2,750 meters, but we’ve had so many folks asking about the mini cones with 620 meters of thread that we’ve ordered them and are working to get them online as quickly as possible!

How Would You Quilt It?

Each month in the Quilted Joy Clubhouse group on Facebook I ask for photo submissions of unquilted quilt tops so that I can show my process for coming up with a quilting design plan. Diana’s quilt with the stars and gorgeous batik fabrics immediately caught me eye. And I loved the fingers peeking over the quilt in the top corners. I have lots of quilt pictures with my kids’s fingers and toes popping out of quilts!

My quilting plan began with the blocks. I was inspired by the floral fabrics and added some tulip motifs. Then some curls that come together to look a little like leaves. Diamonds nicely filled in the empty spaces of the blocks! Then it was on to the sashing. I noticed that there were seams in those dark blue sections. These provided the perfect bones for a feather’s spine. But instead of traditional feathers, why not bring the curls into the sashing? With the body of the quilt planned, I moved on to the square in a square border. I like to find ways to bring the elements used in the body of the quilt into the borders. The inside square was a perfect container for curls and the outside square received simple curves. Diana’s quilt is beautiful and I can’t wait to see how she decides to quilt it!

Show & Tell and Wrap Up

I like to wrap up each of the Quilted Joy Clubhouse meetings with a little show and tell of the quilts shared by our QJ Clubhouse members. I’m always in awe of the quilts our members are working on and I love cheering them on. This month’s show and tell was extra sweet thanks to a few sweet little grandbabies receiving their first quilts! Is there anything sweeter than little ones wrapped up with a quilt?

The Quilted Joy Clubhouse Live Meetings occur on the first Wednesday of every month at 1pm Eastern. We will not have a Clubhouse meeting in January – the first Wednesday of the month is New Year’s Day! Our first Clubhouse meeting of 2020 will be February 5, 2020 at 1pm Eastern/Noon Central. If you’d like to watch live, you can find us on Facebook in the Quilted Joy Clubhouse or subscribe to the Quilted Joy Youtube channel to be notified about our videos. Don’t worry if you can’t join us live. The videos will remain available on both Facebook and Youtube afterwards so you can watch them whenever you want!

Hope to “see” you at the next live meeting!

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Angela Huffman- Triplet Momma. Quilter. Teacher. Thread Bimbo

I’m Angela- Co-host of the Fons & Porter’s Love of Quilting PBS show. APQS Long arm Dealer and Educator. Triplet Momma. Designer. Thread Bimbo.

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