Don’t be afraid to turn that dial!

Posted by on July 16, 2010

The numbers on both the main tension and bobbin winder assemblies are not like the numbers on a normal home sewing machine as to where you can move the knob to a number and get a certain tension.  On this system, the machine head is moved over fixed fabric that’s secured to a frame and the head is moved in all directions, therefore creating needle deflection and direction path of thread in the needle.

With the long arm machine, you have to find a ball park tension reference first and then use the numbers to fine tune the tension that you’re looking for.  Basically, it’s a tug of war between the upper main tension and the bobbin case tension.  On the upper tension assembly, the shaft that the white knob spins on are “fine coarse threads” and you’ll have to rotate that knob one to two full revolutions before you see any change in your upper tension.  Once you see the change and you’re getting closer to the stitch you like, then use the numbers on the dial to fine tune that stitch.

With the bobbin case tension, turning that screw is totally different.  The slightest movement will change the tension a lot.  Most will move that screw in one hour increments.  If you look at the tension screw on the bobbin case and let’s say the slot is facing at 12 o’clock and the other end is at 6 o’clock, to increase tension move it clockwise, move from 12/6 to 1 o’clock to 7 o’clock and check.  If the bobbin case is too tight, then turn counter-clockwise to loosen.

If the top stitch has the bottom thread pulling up, most likely the bobbin case tension is to tight or not tight enough, loosen the screw one hour and check, if it’s getting better then loosen again or tighten, whichever is the case. 

If the bottom thread is not being pulled up and you’re having eyelashes or railroad tracks, then tighten the white knob on the upper tension clockwise.  Remember for both, right turns tighten and left loosen the tension. 

I’ve found for most threads, (the higher quality threads) that when you pull both threads together after it’s threaded through the machine you should have the same tension when pulling.  Sometimes, the upper thread will have a slight tighter pull but that’s rare but does happen.

As for the bobbin winder, adjust that white knob for the tension you like that bobbin to be wound too.  This machine likes tighter wound bobbins compared to lose wound bobbins.  If your bobbins are wound spongy, that is not good and you’ll have weak stitches.  If your bobbins are too tight you’ll have problems.  I wind mine to where the thread is firm and evenly spun.  The tension of your bobbins will affect the tension of your machine head that we talked about above, so always maintain the same bobbin tension when winding your bobbins.  Also, try not to wind bobbins while you’re sewing when your stopping and starting several times, this will create uneven tensions while filling up the bobbin.

 TinLizzie18 Team

Filed under: Blog,Lizzie Support

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  1. Thank you for the help. Sorry about my bad typing.

  2. OK. I have gone done the long list of checking my Lizzie 18LS 2009 on wood grace frame to correct eyelashes on backing. Encoders, rails, needle, bobbin case, cleaning, etc. Why do I still get eyelashes every 12″ no matter what direction I go in. I have tried to get rid of them on a sample cloth (Lizzie stitch) and not luck. This has been a correction attempt for a month now. I have things I need to quilt. I have consulted my blog site with Marge and still no luck. HELP! ASAP! Mebane,NC

    • Kelley Nemitz says:

      I am glad to help you. Here is what I understand about tension. First of all, it is a tug of war. If you remember as a child playing tug of war the goal was to pull harder than the other team to get the center flag onto your side of the field. In achieving good tension on the sewing machine we want the tensions to be equal and that “flag” to stay in the center. There is no magical number for the tensions, but keeping the tensions equal is the goal. For this reason I always teach adjusting the bobbin tension first, then adjusting the needle tension to match that. I like my bobbin tension fairly loose. By that I mean when laying the bobbin case in the palm of your hand you are able to lift the bobbin case up onto its side holding the thread that is placed in the tension strap, but not in the “piggy tail.” (The piggy tail is the little spiral shaped wire on the front of the bobbin case. I place the thread in the piggy tail when I have finished adjusting the bobbin tension.) As you pull your hand away from the bobbin case it should gently fall with your hand. There should be tension felt, but it should drop gently, not like a rock. If the bobbin case does not move or has to be shaken down it is much more difficult to achieve a balanced tension. If the bobbin case does not drop, turn the tension adjustment screw (the large screw) left 3 to 5 minutes as on a clock. If is drops like a rock, turn the tension adjustment screw right 3 to 5 minutes and try the test again.

      Test the tension by sewing a figure 8. Examine the result. Has the stitch locked inside your project? Yay! You got it. Can you see the bobbin thread peeking out on top? If so, then loosen the needle tension by turning the adjustment knob counter clockwise. The needle tension is MUCH less sensitive than the bobbin tension strap. Turn the tension adjustment knob AT LEAST one full turn when making adjustments. Can you see the needle thread peeking out underneath the project? If so, then tighten the needle tension by turning the adjustment knob clockwise at least a full turn. Pay no attention to the numbers on the knob. Use them to know if your turned a full or half turn.

      ALWAYS MAKE SURE THAT THE NEEDLE THREAD IS FLOSSED INTO THE TENSION DISCS. The thread may appear to be in the discs when in reality it is only resting on the edge of them.

      Please note that the thread may be hampered by lint from moving smoothly. Take a business card and slip it under the tension strap to clear any possible culprits from under it. Use a brush to clean inside the tension discs that the needle thread runs through.

      There are many elements that effect tensions.
      1. Thread weight and drag. Weight is indicated by # and a number or WT and a number. #40 to #60 (40 WT to 60 WT) are common weights used in quilting. The higher the number, the finer the thread. To add to the confusion there is another measurement of thread called TEX. This measurement is the opposite. You will see it on the label as TEX and a number like TEX 30. The higher the number, the heavier is the thread. TEX 30 is close to #40. This method of measurement is less common. I prefer using a three ply thread. Stay away from the serger threads because they aren’t as strong as they need to be for quilting.
      a. You should be using equal or less weight and drag in your bobbin than is in the needle.
      b. Drag is caused from thickness of thread or loose fibers. When cotton thread is created fibers are twisted together leaving small ends. That is why people sing the praises of Long Egyptian cotton because the fibers are longer and leave fewer ends. These ends drag on the tension disc and strap and increase the tension. There is nothing wrong with this, but you need to be aware of what is happening and that you need to loosen the tension.
      c. Polyester thread is one continuous fiber, often twisted over a core of polyester. It has less drag because of the lack of loose ends. A wonderful combination is a Cotton like King Tut in the needle and a nice polyester like PeraCore in the bobbin. Having less drag in the bobbin makes it easier to get better tension.
      d. There are other threads that are REALLY slippery. An example are the trilobal threads that are polyester, but the fibers have been forced through something like a sieve to create three sides. Three fibers are twisted together to make these threads shine. They are very slippery and have very little drag. You need to tighten the tensions on these.
      2. Another element influencing tension is batting. The thicker the batting, the easier it is to get the stitch to lock inside the project. If the project is thicker there is more wiggle room for the stitch to lock.
      a. 100% cotton batting is among the thinnest battings and requires a little more adjustments to get great tensions.
      b. High loft polyester is among the thickest and easiest to achieve perfect tension.
      c. I love the 60/40 blends. That is 60% cotton and 40% polyester. It has the finished look of cotton, but is easier to get the adjustments on tension because it is a bit thicker.
      3. Fabric density also effects tensions.
      a. Think of the difference of Home Spun or flannel type fabric as opposed to 800 count sheets. The fibers are more densely woven in the sheets making is harder for the needle to pull the thread through the fabric. Try to match your quilt top and quit backing to be the same type of fabric so you aren’t battling the loose weave/tight weave battle.
      b. Painted fabric also requires the needle thread to pull harder to get the threads to lock. An example of painted fabric is batik.
      c. None of these are “bad” fabrics. It is just important to know what adjustments need to be made to be successful.

      There are some mechanical items to notice to make sure all is in proper order with your machine. There is a check spring attached to your tension unit where the needle thread runs through. It is important that the thread is in this check spring. Its job is to lock the stitch by pulling on the thread. Notice that when you pull on the needle thread near the needle the check spring will move. If it is not moving, check to make sure the tread is running through the check spring. Also check to make sure that the check spring slot is positioned at about 11 o’clock. If it is not in the correct position, you will be able to adjust it slightly by loosening the screw next to the tension unit on the back of the machine throat and moving the tension unit slightly into position, then tightening the screw.

      I hope this has been helpful. If you would like to call for further discussion, please feel free.
      888-784-5818 Ask for Myrl. Happy quilting!

  3. Eric Dinelle says:

    I have the tin lizzie 18,
    I keep breaking my thread, it freighs and breaks… i’ve changed needles bought new thread made sure everything was clean and i’m still breaking the thread… I’m really starting to get discouraged with this issue, i’m also using 40wt thread and still snapping… any help would be great
    Thanks in advance

    • Kelley Nemitz says:

      Hi Eric,
      When thread is fraying and breaking it is an indication that is it rubbing against something that is not smooth or is too hot from friction. Heat is generated from the needle moving up and down in the fabric. Cotton runs hot and polyester runs cooler, so cotton batting is not a good choice when using temperamental thread like metallic or monofilament.

      It is a good choice to change the needle because it is most often the culprit. A needle should be changed about every six to eight hours of use. You should choose the needle that is the correct size for the thread you are using. There is a groove that runs down the front of the needle where the thread “hides” when the needle is in the fabric. This protects the thread from friction. If the thread is too large for the groove, it may break from the friction. For 40 weight thread it is good to use a size 18 MR 4.0 needle. MR stands for multiple directional needle and means it has a less flexible shaft. This lighter weight the thread, the smaller the needle.

      The needle tension may be too tight causing the thread to pull too heavily through the tension discs. To resolve this, set your bobbin tension fairly light. I like to be able to lay the bobbin case in my hand and as I pick up the thread, have the bobbin case fall GENTLY as I move my hand away from the case. This allows the needle tension to be lighter to match the bobbin tension.

      Another avenue to explore is to check the thread path. First, make sure the thread is not wrapped around anything like the spindle on the thread stand. Clean the thread path of any lint as it will travel with the tread and end up in the tension discs, effecting the tension and causing fraying if it is rubbing on the thread. If everything looks clean, feel each thread guide with your fingers to make sure there are no burs that may fray the thread. If there are, use emery cloth or emery thread to smooth the burs out. If the check spring feels damaged it will need to be replace. The check spring is the “J” shaped wire on the tension assembly. It pulls on the thread with every stitch to lock the bobbin and needle threads together.

      Next check the needle plate for burs. If there was an incident where a needle was broken, it is most likely that the needle plate was struck by the needle causing a bur that frays thread. Also, check the hook that is down by the bobbin case. It may have a bur or it may be running too close to the needle, cutting the thread. If this is the case it is usually a clean break rather than a fray.

      Now all of these possibilities have been examined, let’s consider how tight the quilt is on the frame. If the fabric is too tight is will break the thread. Fabric should be secure and smooth, but not tight like a trampoline. Check the take up rail (the rail that you roll the finished portion of the quilt on) to make sure there is only a “finger-tip” height between the bed of the machine and the rail. If there is too big of a space the thread may break.

      Lastly, make sure you are using quality thread that has been stored properly. Sunlight, dryness and dust cause weaken thread that breaks easily. Cone thread feeds off of the top of the cone, and spool thread has been twisted the opposite way and should spin off of the spool otherwise it will untwist and be weakened. Purchase from a reputable company that stand by its products.

      I hope this is helpful to you. Please let us know. We are here to help you on all of your quilting endeavors. Happy quilting! 888-784-5818 ex4

  4. My Take up bar on the Phoenix XL frame rolls uneven. I was wondering what I can do to fix that before the plastic gears strip out? Thanks For any advice.

    • Kelley Nemitz says:

      Hi Jeannette… We really need to have you talk to our tech department. Can you call 888-QUILT-18? They can help you. Thanks!

  5. Sheri snyder says:

    Both top & bottom thread are skipping stitches, what is causing this?

    • kelleyn says:

      Hi Sheri… Hi. I’d love to help you. In order for a stitch to form the needle thread and the bobbin thread are locked together as the hook spins around, picks up the needle thread at the back of the needle and pulls it around the bobbin case to catch the bobbin thread. The check spring located in the tension assembly tugs on the threads and locks them together creating a stitch. When stitches are skipped we first check the needle to make sure it is positioned correctly. Is the scarf (indentation above the eye) in the back? Is the needle all of the way up in the shaft? This position insures that the hook is able to pick up the thread. Check to make sure the needle is not bent. (The best solution to checking for a bent needle is to replace it with a new one.) A skipped stitch caused by the needle will have a “needle punch” because the needle keeps moving. If all is well with the needle let’s check the encoders. There are two encoders. They are little wheels that roll on the rails to tell the machine how fast you are moving. One is at the back of the machine and rolls left and right. The other is on the right side if the machine and moves forward and back. They are used when you are in the regulated stitch mode. If they are not rolling smoothly then the machine thinks you have stopped and will not move the needle. There will be no needle punch because the needle has stopped moving. Make sure they are rolling, not hesitating or being impeded in any way. If your skipped stitches are always when you are moving in a certain direction this can indicate one of the encoders as the culprit. Also make sure your take-up rail (the one that runs under the throat of the machine) is not more than a finger-tip height above the machine bed. Also check to make sure the quilt is not pulled too tight. All of these can cause skipped stitches. Another issue that causes skipped stitches is timing. Timing is the relationship and orientation of the needle to the hook. If timing is off stitches are skipped consistently if a stitch is formed at all.
      I hope this information will help you resolve your problem. If you need addition assistance please contact a technician at 888-784-5818. Leave a message and they will get to you as soon as possible. Thank you.
      Myrl Breinholt

  6. Eddie Pruett says:

    My Lizzie was working fine all of a sudden when I would stop sewing it continued on with a slow duck duck duck and it would not stop until I turn the machine off

    • kelleyn says:

      Eddie… we are going to start requesting that rather than comment on the blog, our TL18 users request service by clicking this link: This will be a much faster, direct line to our service department. We don’t always get to blog comments right away and we want to be sure we get you back up and running as soon as possible. You can call 888-QUILT-18 and ask for Brian as well. Hoping this helps!

  7. Patty says:

    the thin metal (spring) I think it’s called popped out of my bobbin case not sure what is the correct way to put it back in. Please help. Thanks

  8. Kathy says:

    I have a used Tin Lizzy. I believe it was originally purchased in Aug of 07. It came with a black bobbin with holes. I purchased new bobbins that are supposed to be for Tin Lizzy, but they are .1 mm bigger. The original one measures .9 mm. When I use the new ones the bottom tention is too tight. With the bobbin that came with the machine it’s fine. Was there a different bobbin used in the older machines and if so, where can you purchase them? Thanks.

    • kelleyn says:

      Hi Kathy… we have not had any problems with older TL18 quilting systems running the newer bobbins. This could be a backlash adjustment within the bobbin case. Call 888-QUILT-18 to troubleshoot.

  9. Rose Mary Davenport says:

    I just set up my used Tin Lizzy. When I sew the bobbin stitch is fine but the upper stitch is too tight or pulls. Which I assume means the upper tension is too tight. I have totally losened the tension, rethreaded multiple times, cleaned, but the thread seems to be getting caught in the tension. What am I doing wrong. Thanks Rose Mary

    • sabrina says:

      Rose Mary, Please call our Learning Center at 608-756-2869 so we can go through different tension settings.

  10. Ada says:

    When you load the bobbin into the bobbin case is the bobbin supposes to turn clockwise or counter clockwise when you pull the bobbin thread? Thanks

  11. Kay Pursley says:

    I am having trouble with the bottom stitchs have loops and railroad tract look. The top stitches look good until I try pulling on them and they pullout long. They are not tight. I tried adjusting the top tention. Your instructions said to tighten the top tention. Tried that first and it made it much worse, Then I loosened it and it helped but they still don’t seem to be exactly right. What else can I try? Right now the top tention is less than 0.

    • Cameron says:

      Thank you Kay for your inquiry. Tension on long-arms in general can often be misunderstood if not explained properly. On TinLizzie machines the numbers on your top tension assembly do not have a meaning. Their purpose is to give you positioning. To explain further lets assume that the number zero (0) is at the 12 o’clock position. In order to tighten your top tension you must turn the knob at least 1 full rotation to the right (clockwise) so that the number 0 is back at the 12 o’clock position again. The same is true for loosening your top tension except you turn it left (counter-clockwise). Don’t be afraid to turn it 2 full rotations if needed.

      The problem may also be with your bobbin tension being too tight. To adjust your bobbin tension you will need to remove your bobbin case (with bobbin inside). Make sure the bobbin thread is threaded properly through the tension plate on the bobbin case. Note: if your bobbin case has a pig tail on it do NOT thread it through the pig tail. Place the bobbin case (with bobbin inside), bobbin side down, in the palm of your hand. With the other hand pull the thread. The bobbin case should stand on its side in the palm of your hand. Continue pulling the thread. The bobbin case should almost want to leave your hand; however, it should NOT leave your hand. If the bobbin leaves your hand or requires you to yo-yo the bobbin case then the tension is too tight. If it does not almost want to leave your hand then the tension is too loose. To tighten or loosen the tension plate you will see 2 small screws. The larger of the 2 screws will need adjusting. Do NOT adjust the smaller of the 2 screws as this holds the tension plate on the bobbin case. When adjusting the larger screw you will follow the same righty-tighty lefty-loosey. You will only want to turn this screw in 5 minute increments as it is very sensitive. Do the palm test between each adjustment.

      The final step is to check you presser foot height. With the needle in the down position your presser foot should be a dimes thickness from the throat plate.

      Please let me know if this helps. You can call our main office to speak to a technician if you have further questions @ 1-888-784-5818. Thanks again.

  12. karen pirie says:

    I have a tin lizzie 18 When I sew left to right all is well but when I go right to left my thread frays and breaks. Also I sometimes have skipped stitches when I am going straight from front to back. Any suggestions?

    • Cameron says:

      Karen, You may want to try a new needle. Make sure the needle is as far up in the needle bar shaft as possible. Make sure you have the needle positioned properly with the groove facing directly forward. I hope these suggestions help, if not, you can call our technical services department at 1-888-784-5818. Thank you.

  13. Donna says:

    I just changed my thread to the king tut varicated thread. I have put it in the bobbin also and I am having trouble getting to tension correct. It is leaving lopes on the bottom side of my quilt. I have tried turning the tension one step at a time and I can’t get it to stop. Did I understand this article correctly and I need to turn the dial the tension on top around one or two times before I try to adjust the tension?

    • Cameron says:

      Donna, It sounds as though you did read the article correctly. You will need to turn the dial at least one full rotation in order to tighten or loosen the tension. You can refer to the videos on our website for further instruction on how to adjust tension. Go to you can scroll through the videos on the right side until you see Tension. You should also watch the video titled Bobbin and Case to adjust the bobbin tension. I hope this helps.

  14. Debbie says:

    I had a technician in on another problem and he said my hopping foot should be “one thin dime” width above the throat plate – with the needle in the furthest down position, and the needle should be able to move around the needle. When I have that situation, suddenly I cannot bring my thread up if the tension lever is up. I have been able to until now. The needle now stalls in the fabric and I have to turn the machine completely off to release. I took the fabric off and removed the bobbin. What I observe is that the hopping foot touches the shank of the needle collar and actually flexes. What do I do now? Is it possible that my needle collar has moved down the shaft?

    • sabrina says:

      I am a little confused with this comment. “With the needle in the furthest down position, and the needle should be able to move around the needle.” I think you meant dime. If you have the foot leaver up, which also releases the tension discs, your machine will jam against the needle bar and presser foot. If your foot was adjusted to low the jam would not occur. You cannot make a stitch with the foot up. You can however start with the foot down then make your single stitch then lift the foot to release the tension and pull up the thread.

  15. Sheri Lairson says:

    I have a Tin LIzzie machine and the bobbin winder is not working and the little hook thing in the middle of bobbin broke off. Can I order a a new bobbin winder mechanism for my machine ????

    • sabrina says:

      Sheri, You can contact our ordering department direct by calling toll free 888-Quilt-18. The TinLizzie18 Team

  16. Here is what I do to use metallics in the upper part of the machine (they can be used in the bobbin, but the texture, for me causes tension issues no matter what.
    To use metallic thread in the upper on my TL18LS (2009 model):
    First, test and loosen the bobbin thread (I use a serger thread in the bobbin, comparable to Bottom Line thread, the metallic grabs it better than a slick poly) until it has just a hint of tension, fairly loose (you may have to adjust later, but to start loosen it).
    Next, loosen the upper tension at least two full turns. your goal is to have the metallic thread where it will pull out of the needle, hopping foot down, with slight pressure, you don’t want needle deflection if you can avoid it. Do a test stitch..look for loopies on the underside/top side…adjust accordingly. If you get loops on the underside, tighten the upper a half turn and try again. If loops on the top, tighten the bobbin tension 1/16 to 1/12 of a turn and try again. The goal in all tension is to have a balance between the upper and bobbin threads. The bobbin thread is stationery, it’s the upper thread that goes down and picks up the bobbin thread. Starting with a loose tension and adjusting as needed will help prevent fraying/breaking of the threads…as long as the tensions are balanced, you will have good stitches.
    Have I mentioned lately, that I LOVE my Lizzie? Well, it bears repeating…I’ve had my learning curve (still have a lot to learn), and did have some issues…but the machine is wonderful now…it takes time and practice to get everything to work how you feel it should…as with ALL machines.

  17. Encoder O-Rings question –
    Is there something that can be used on the encoder O-rings to keep them from drying out so quickly? Currently, I just replace them & wipe with a dry cloth in-between replacement. I am replacing at least once a month due to cracking. I buy mine from Ace, Lowes, Home Depot…and it makes no difference if they are in a sealed package or loose when I buy them. Others have asked about these and the plastic tracks on their Ansley machines. Any suggestions would be very welcomed.

  18. Question on encoders-
    Several on the group (TinLizzieLongarm yahoo group) have the Ansley & have the same problem with their encoders not setting on the tracks correctly. They skip and cause long stitches, and in random places. They put a dot on the side of the encoder, near the edge and watched the encoders roll, but can’t find where or when it’s happening (I suggested the dot, it really helps watch the movement of the encoders). One person said their dealer put little springs on the encoders (I am waiting to find out where exactly) to add pressure so the encoders don’t “jump” off the track.
    Can you ask a tech to check into this…all but one Ansley owner has had this problem..might be something that needs adjusting on the Ansley. Also, if they come up with a solution the machine owners can do, I’d like to know so I can add it to the FAQ database on the group.

    • Doreen Novak says:

      I also have the same problem with the encoders jumping off the track at random times. I actually think the cords are not long enough for the Ansley. The encoders seem to have the problem when the machine is stitching at the furthest point forward. Has anyone else experienced this?

      • sabrina says:

        The Ansley 26 Y cable is about 33 inches long

        The TL-18-LS Y cable is 25 ½ inches long

        The TL-18/Queen Quilter Y cable (phone jack) is 50 inches

  19. Shirley Miller says:

    I would like to know which designs in SSII can be extended to quilt the whole width of the quilt in one stitching such as a panto continuous design. I know how to test this on a design but the person writing this program would know which ones and how many can be made into a continuous pattern. I am only finding about 3 designs to do this so feel very liminted. Also, please tell me if more designs are going to be available to add to SSII from Tin Lizzie. Thanks Shirley

    • sabrina says:

      The answer is simple the start and end of a pattern must be on the same horizontal plane. The start and end must also be equal to or extend past the edge of the design. This makes it a pantograph pattern. You can identify this just by looking at any pattern and identifying the start and end. You can purchase an infinite number of designs off of the web just look up on the web the names on the folders that say “designs by” in the pattern list on the Shirley and they have a huge number of patterns to choose from. You are not locked into just the patterns in the Shirley and stuck waiting for more to come from Tin Lizzie 18, that is what is so great about the Shirley just go get more and quilt away. The TinLizzie18 Team

  20. Hi Sabrina.. have a techinal question on the bobbin case. Is the pigtail guide supposed to be used at all times, or is there some reasons for skipping it. I am not sure…but have my sample quilt on to play with heavier threads in the bobbin (sparkles, metallics and Razzle Dazzle by Ricky Timms)..I’m thinking these may get hung up on the pigtail….can you check with someone and let me know here & I’ll copy to the group? Thanks

    • sabrina says:

      Marge, if your goal is to obtain more tension and better bobbin control, We recommend using the pigtail with specialty threads such as Metallic’s, Rayon, and Silks. When using threads as Polyesters, superior, and So fine we do not use the pigtail. The TinLizzie18 Team

  21. Kelly says:

    I have an Ansley 26 that I bought last October. My understanding was that they were “working” on a video for it when I bought it. So far, I can’t find any info on the video. Is there one available? If so, how do I get one? If not, why not?
    Feeling alone and unloved in Nebraska-

    • sabrina says:

      Kelly, I am happy to report that we are in the editing process of this video and it will be ready for shipping next week! Please call our toll free number to obtain your Ansley Video from our shipping department 888-QUILT18. The TinLizzie18 Team

  22. Sims Roy says:

    Tin Lizzie team, just to clarify what your recomendation is regarding winding bobbins. Should it be done with the needle unthreaded, bobbin taken out and the speed setting used to run the TL at a steady speed until the bobbin is wound?

    I thought that winding the bobbin as you were sewing was a good idea.

    Sims Roy

    • sabrina says:

      Sims Roy, Yes if you are looking to wind the Bobbin with out stitching on the quilt it is recommended to unthread the needle with bobbin case out , and run the mahcine steady in manual mode until your bobbin is fully wound. The TinLizzie18 Team

  23. This is how I test the upper thread tension:
    With the machine threaded with whatever thread you intend to use (I use every kind there is with no problems). With the hopping foot in the down position, needle up & threaded…pull straight back on the thread coming from the needle..the needle should just begin to hint at flexing (bending), then the thread should pull out in a smooth motion…it will be hard to pull, but should not break. If the thread breaks..loosen the tension dial one full turn (if a 2 is at the top, you turn counter-clockwise “lefty loosey, righty tighty” until the 2 is again at the top) & test again. Repeat until the thread no longer breaks and pulls evenly from the needle.
    Once you have this…do a test stitch on a quilt sample and check for problem stitches. If you get loops on the top, loosen upper tension 1/2 turn and retest. If you are getting loopies on the bottom & you have the tension as above..tighten the BOBBIN tension 1/16 of a turn (1 hour…like from 12 o’clock to 11 o’clock..or not quite). Tension is never the same on all machines..can be close, but not exact…each machine is different in some way (my experience).
    Thread type, size, content, etc. will all make a difference in what tension you need.

    • Donna says:

      Ahh, tension issues. What can I say. I tried your method of testing the tension and no matter how loose I make the upper tension (knob almost falls off), I cannot pull the thread as you describe without it breaking. I am using King Tut (as recommended by the TL people) although I understand that we should be able to use any good quality quilting thread. Someone commented on the spring for the upper tension is too strong and they replaced it with one not so heavy duty. What are your thoughts on that. I have no idea who will be reading this message other than yourself, but I’d like to hear from the Tin Lizzie people about this as well. Marge, I have read many posts, and when I see you have posted I make sure I read it as you are a wealth of information.

      Donna in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

      • sabrina says:

        Donna, I have spoke with our Service team regarding your post, here is a few questions that they would like to ask to be able to help more. Does this happen with all thread not just the one cone, (as sometimes we can get a bad cone of thread)? Have you tried rethreading your machine completely take the thread out and rethread; (under resource library we have a threading video). When was the last needle change it could be as simple as a new needle needed. The TinLizzie18 Team.

      • Donna says:

        Hi Sabrina, it happens with all spools of thread. It seems I can only use King Tut, but it even breaks when I try Marg’s test for upper tension. (Hopping foot down, needle up, pulling thread straight back – getting a slight deflection) I’ve tried more than one spool of King Tut. I was really hoping to be able to use all kinds of quilting thread. It is not the needle as I have changed it.
        Thanks for reading my post and trying to help me get tensions figured out.

        Donna in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

      • Donna,
        If your thread is breaking even with the tension so loose the knob is about to come off…it could be what Sabrina suggested, or it could be that the thread is hanging up somewhere..make sure it’s not wrapped twice through the tensioner, and while you are doing that…make sure it is not getting double hung on the check spring. It’s most likely not a too heavy spring…loosening the knob as much as you have..that spring is puttin NO pressure on those discs. Try pulling on the thread with the hopping foot in the up position…still breaking? It’s either a bad cone (unusual for Tut), or its hung on something…LOL I had a metallic break…twice in a row…it was hung on the light cord hanging my my ceiling fan!

      • I know Donna has her problem with tension fixed, but thought I’d post this for others:

        If the bobbin seemed loose & you tighten the screw…and no matter what, even if the screw on the bobbin case is as tight as you can get it…then you need to loosen it a full rotation. What I found on my old machine (had the M size bobbin case, same as TL) was that there was lint in the hook area I didn’t see..and tightening the bobbin case was not helping. Once as tight as it would go… my left brain (can be helpful at times) kicked in and said…when doing button tufting on a pillow…the tighter you pull the button in, the more the area around the button pushes out…maybe, just maybe the overly tightened screw on the bobbin case is pulling the bobbin case spring out…
        I loosened the case screw a full turn, and again had tension on the bobbin case…that’s when I went looking for the errant thread/lint & found it…just a speck caught in the hook area…but just enough to mess up my tension.
        Hope this helps someone.

  24. This is how I test the bobbin:
    Place the bobbin case (opening up so you see the bobbin)in the palm of one hand. Take the thread coming out of the bobbin case and pull on it, the bobbin should just start to come up off your hand, but then the thread should pull out straight and smoothly. You are pulling not yanking..straight out and steady (also, make sure the bobbin is not overfilled, the thread should not extend beyond the edge of the bobbin). If the bobbin case is moving off your palm, loosen the adjusting screw (larger on the case) about one hour, or 1/16 of a turn…try again & repeat until you get a good tension.
    If the thread comes out too fast, tighten the screw 1 hour at a time and test. Repeat until you get a good steady flow.
    There is a gauge for this, but I have not felt the need to pay 65-90 dollars for it.

    • Sims Roy says:

      Marge, did you mean to say “1/12” rather than “1/16” of a turn? Sims Roy

      • Roy, nope, I said 1/16 of a turn to loosen/tighten the bobbin tension. It’s probably easier to remember the one hour increments that would be 1/12 a turn. I choose to go a tad smaller. Just my preference.

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