Learn about sewing machine tension, how it impacts your sewing, and how to fix problems with tension.

Sewing machine tension is how tight the threads are pulled as you sew. The tighter your thread, the tighter your stitches.

What is sewing machine tension?

How can I tell if my tension is wrong?

If your threads are breaking or that you can see more thread than usual along the seams, your tension might be at the wrong setting.

Comparison of Tensions

The left stitch had a setting of 0, the middle was a setting of 4 tension, and the right side is a 9.

How do I fix tension problems once I’ve found them?

Adjust the Top Thread Tension First - Adjust your tension either up or down a notch or two, and try some more stitches on your scrap fabric.

Start by resetting your tension settings to where they were when you started and rethread your machine. Sometimes machines just need to be rethreaded if they're acting up.

I’m still having issues. What now?

Danielle Pientka

Danielle is a DIY/craft/sewing blogger on DIYDanielle.com.  She loves to write about projects that she makes for her small farm, her children, and her home.