Monday, January 27, 2014

Baby Lock Tiara Thread Tension

There is definitely a learning curve with my new Baby Lock Tiara, not so much with the actual free-motion quilting part, but getting the tension set properly. There are no numbers or settings, just screws and knobs to turn. In my day job I'm a Quality Engineer, you know I have to find a way to measure things. After some research on the internet, it seems that bobbin tension is the key to setting tension on a longarm. I watched numerous videos on how to test it and thought I had it, but I was still getting "flat-lining" on the back of my quilted pieces, which would normally say I had to tighten the top tension,  except that was so tight the thread kept breaking. So I decided to buy a TOWA gauge just to be sure, it measures tension in M Class bobbin cases.

I thought I had my tension set quite loose, but it was still too tight. After a few more adjustments, my stitches finally look good.  So I basted my Red Window quilt and started quilting it.

I'm using red thread on the top and brown on the bottom. Not seeing much of the wrong color on either the front or back - Yippee Skippee!!!!

The back is dark brown fleece.

This quilt is so soft, perfect to snuggle on the sofa. I'm feeling a little better about my new machine.

Linking up with Marelize at Stitch by Stitch for Anything Goes Monday!

stitch by stitch

Color Me Quilty!



  1. the brown fleece looks like something I'd want to snuggle up with, in my oversized chair! Enjoy! {:-Deb

  2. The stitching looks great and that does look oh so snuggly!

  3. the stitching looks wonderful! the back looks soo soft and amazing and cuddly, enjoy, Pat!

  4. There is a learning curve for sure with the Tiara and tension. I finally realized I was going about it backwards. The bottom tension must be set first! It needs to be loose, by our normal machine standards. I had my service guy set it and teach me the "feel" of it. I measured it with the TOWA gauge so that now I know what it should be.For mine it is between 170 and 180...but machines can vary a lot so knowing the feel is important. Then the top is set....changing spools of thread means changing the tension. It has to do with production and how tight that spool was spun. And still there are variations because of fabric and finish, and needle size. I keep a test pad nearby and make up small test pieces of the fabric combo I am sewing on. And when all is working just is a dream!
    This project you did is great.

  5. I have a Sweet 16, which I think is pretty similar to a Tiara. I also had tension troubles when I first got my machine. Then got a TOWA and most of my tension issues disappeared. Recently, I have go so far as to purchase another bobbin case for my machine to use for "specialty" threads - which I define as anything other than what I usually use. I usually use Signature 40 wt. 100% cotton cones. My machine likes this thread although it doesn't seem to be too picky, it is relatively inexpensive and easy for me to find locally. The "easy for me to find locally" is my biggest hurdle. Looks like you are enjoying your new machine!

  6. I hope you two make piece, I mean peace...and you have fun with your friend. I love the uneven wavy lines. It looks like a comfortable, yummy quilt. happy quilting!