Is your embroidery machine too tense, a little high-strung, always going off at the smallest thing? Or is it too laid back, lackadaisical and lazy about its job? Or is it on a nice even, steady-as-she-sews path?

If the top thread tension is off on your machine, your embroidery will never be right, no matter how diligent you are about changing needles, choosing thread, hooping and selecting only quality digitized designs. Your work will not be up to par if the top thread tension is out.

Here's how to check it.
Stitch Out a six-column test, one column with a different colour for each needle.

If you embroider with a Brother PR-600 the tension test pattern is available in the machine's stock designs. If you are unsure how to access it on your PR-600 or you own a machine that does not have a test pattern, you can download the zipped test from one of the following links.

Brother (PES):Tajima (DST):Melo (EXP)
Husqvarna/Viking (HUS):Janome (JEF):Pfaff (PCS):Singer (XXX)

The PR-600 is a six needle machine so the test has six patterns to check the tension on all the needles. If you have a single needle machine simply stitch out one of the columns, stop your machine, check the tension as described below, make any needed adjustments and stitch out the next column to see the results.

A few tips:

   1. Make sure the colours of your top threads and bobbin threads contrast enough to see the results.
   2. If adjustments are needed, make them in small increments, then stitch out the test again and check it.
   3. Keep the stitched out pattern for future reference.
   4. It only takes a few moments to run a test, so check often.

Stitch out a test pattern with a different colour on each of the 6 needles.
On the PR-600 the columns represent needles 1 thru 6 from left to right
Flip the Fabric Over and Take a Look
It's the backside that you really care about so let's check those columns and see what the thread has to tell us.

If the top thread is too tight, hardly any bobbin thread will show at all in the test stitch column.  Make a slight adjustment and try again.

If too much bobbin thread is visible - more than a third of the column- the top thread tension is too loose.  Once again, make a slight adjustment and test stitch another column.

A perfect thread tension is when the ratio of bobbin thread to the top thread is 1/3 in all three columns and all the stitching is equal and even,