Automatic Tension isn’t.

Just a quick note tonight folks! Really.

One the the biggest problems I find that people have with “newer” sewing machines is a terminology problem.



In the car world, an automatic transmission shifts for you.  It automatically does what you would have to do manually otherwise.

Automatic as far as your tensioner is concerned is a misnomer.

Average would be fine if they had to use an “A” word.

Or how about this “A” word: Assumption.

The reason automatic is really the wrong word is that in all of the machines that I’ve come across to date – there is no work being done behind the scenes.   Your tensioner’s “Automatic” setting is factory and statically set at appropriate tension for a 50wt mercerized cotton thread (or something similar)

If you were to leave that setting at automatic, and use say a 30wt thread, or a 100wt thread, suddenly it would seem like the thread was behaving badly or your machine “didn’t like it”.

Then in some cases, your machine would go in for a spa date.

In reality, it’s just not doing anything because it’s not designed to do anything special.  You changed the thread type, so its assumptions were no longer based on the current events.

So what to do?   Turn that dial folks!  Take your machine off automatic, adjust your tension and love your machine as it loves any kind of thread!

(Note:  if you also change the thread weight in the bobbin case, a similar adjustment needs to be made there as well.  At least they didn’t label THAT automatic too!)


Today’s post brought to you by The Pointer Sisters – Automatic, circa 1984.  check out those costumes!  And the hair!  If you look at the list of recommended videos to the right too, you can check out Eddie Murphy’s Party all the time!  Oh heck, I’ll just link right to it.    Tee hee. 😉

2 thoughts on “Automatic Tension isn’t.”

  1. So true. I have one of those automatic machines and used to think the same way, its automatic I shouldn’t mess with the tension. Didn’t take me long to realize that was incorrect. I’ve even, gasp, messed with the bobbin tension screw. Can you believe the thing still sews like a dream. Have a great sewing day.

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