How Do You Adjust Thick Fabric Tension

We comprehend that thick fabric is challenging in a sewing machine. But do not worry, friend. This blog will address how you can adjust thick fabric tension so that the thread can reach the middle layers of the fabric. Read on to know the right adjustments for thicker material.

How Do You Adjust Thick Fabric Tension?

How Do You Adjust Thick Fabric Tension?

Adjusting tension for thick fabric is difficult. If you fail to set an appropriate setting, the stitches will not reach the mid layers. You have to use higher tension to lift the lower thread to the middle of the fabric’s layers. When sewing medium or medium-high fabric, a tension level of 4-5 is apt. With even thicker material, you may require a higher setting and a longer stitch.

Steps to Adjust Tension Thick Fabric

To maintain easy and comfortable stitching, it is important to maintain the tension setting. Follow these steps to get the adjustment right for thick fabric:

#1 Find The Thread Guides

The first step is to understand your machine and find the thread guides that help in attaching thread. It also helps in regulating the thread as it passes through different loops.

#2 Find the Tension Disc

Now you need to look for a tension disc that helps in assembling the thread. It squeezes the thread and allows it to pass through the machine during stitching. When you are stitching thicker fabric, keeping the tension level at 4-5 is just fine to get hold of the fabric. If you have an automatic machine, you can set it to upper tension adjustment with a thicker thread.

#3 Fill The Bobbin

Now you need to load the bobbin and insert it into the compartment. You must locate the position of the bobbin and insert it into the case rightly. Make sure that you turn the screw clockwise after inserting it.

#4 Understand The tension

Tension is what keeps the thread intact and ensure the stitches are in the proper place. Both the bottom and top tension must work harmoniously in order to make great stitches. For a thicker fabric, it is essential to put upper limit tension like 4-5; only then you will be able to better stitches.

Which Are The Things That Affect Stitch Quality?

Which Are The Things That Affect Stitch Quality?

To help you understand them better, we will discuss them briefly in the section below. Let us take a look at them.

  1. Threading

It is essential that the threading is well put in place, without missing any milestones present on the sewing machine. These put-throughs are there for a reason, and missing out on even one will affect your overall stitching quality. One of the common issues that you will face while stitching is the thread accumulating under the fabric. It prevents the machine from sewing further, which can be a headache for you. It happens when you miss the take-up lever, which is also known as a ‘goose-neck’.

  1. Tension

The amount of thread that can pass through a sewing machine to give shape to a stitch is known as thread tension. It varies from fabric to fabric. You have to adjust its setting according to the material you are stitching. The thicker the fabric, the higher the tension setting you will require; however, a low setting is enough for thin material.

  1. Needle

There are times when you spend most of your valuable time adjusting the tension yet fail to produce the desired results on your medium to the medium-high fabric. Well, you are looking in the wrong direction. Maybe you should try a needle that is bigger in size. We suggest a 14 or a 16 should do the trick during such circumstances.

  1. Thread

A thread is what makes the stitches visible. Even after adjusting the threading, the tension and changing the needle if it is not delivering the outcome you are expecting, then it is time you go for another or a higher quality of the thread. Smooth threads usually have proven to produce better results in a sewing machine. A good quality thread is long-lasting. You can use thicker or thinner thread as per your and the fabric’s requirements.

Things You Need To Sew A Thick Fabric

Things You Need To Sew A Thick Fabric

There is no denying that sewing a thick fabric is not easy. But before you begin with your stitching, it would help if you pre-wash the material (if possible) to make it a bit softer. It would also be best to check if your sewing machine accessories are in place, and the thread tension level is in its appropriate setting.

Now let us take a look at the requirements of sewing a thicker fabric.

  1. Presser feet

You will need specifically designed presser feet to keep your thick fabric in place and easy to stitch. The ones that you can use are:

  • Walking Foot

It facilitates with moving the top and bottom fabric together, proving to be of great help while stitching a thick material.

  • Roller foot

Such a foot has one large set of rollers in the front and two small rollers in the back. It helps thick fabrics to pass fluidly under the foot.

Teflon Foot

  • Teflon Foot

A Teflon foot helps in the sewing of all kinds of materials, for that matter. It has a non-stick coated layer on the side that touches the fabric, which allows them to pass smoothly.

  • All-purpose Foot

The name says it all. It is a one-stop solution for all types of fabrics.

  • Needles

Sewing a thick fabric also requires different sizes of needles. If you are sewing denim, you can go for 16 or 18. When working with thick knit fabric, you will need a stretch needle of the sizes 14 or 16.

  • Cutting The Fabric

This process requires sharp scissors or a rotary cutter along with a mat for hassle-free cutting. The rotary cutter helps with straight cuts on thicker fabrics.

  • Threads

To sew a thick fabric, you will need strong threads. You can go for upholstery or strengthened polyester threads. Also, with the help of the bobbin winder, you can use a double thread.

What Tension Should You Use For Thick Fabric?

Thick fabrics have different requirements altogether. Your default thread tension settings will not help to produce your desired results. Therefore, for a piece of thicker material, you will need higher tension settings. A 4-5 is an appropriate setting for stitching medium to medium-high fabrics such as denim. You might have to take it a bit higher for even thicker fabrics.

Why Won’t Your Sewing Machine Go Through Thick Fabric?

Well, it is a prevalent issue among sewists. When you realize that your machine is finding it difficult to go through a thicker fabric, several factors may be responsible. One aspect could be that the presser foot is not appropriate for the material you have chosen. Thick fabrics require either a walking foot, or a roller foot, a Teflon foot, or an all-purpose foot to function smoothly. Other factors responsible for the machine unable to stitch a thick material could be the needle, the tension, or the thread.

Is It Necessary To Adjust Thick Fabric On A Sewing Machine?

Adjust Thick Fabric On A Sewing Machine

It is true that sewing thick fabric is a bit tricky. So, yes you need to adjust the thick fabric on your machine to get the right stitch. Right from holding it firmly to sewing it appropriately, many processes undergo in delivering the expected results. And if your presser foot is not leveled up to the fabric, it can be a real headache. In such situations, you can use other types of sewing feet meant for thicker materials, which will help you with your stitching with ease. You can choose from a walking, roller, Teflon, or all-purpose foot. Or to instantly adjust the level of the presser feet with the fabric, you can use a wedge. All you have to do is fold a piece of cloth so that the level of thickness is the same as the fabric you are working on. Then place it at the back of the foot to level it up.



I'm Jessica Flores, a professional fashion designer and an expert seamstress. Crafting has always been a deep-seated passion of mine, one that has flourished and evolved over the years. I've dedicated considerable time to both studying and practicing in the realm of fashion and sewing, amassing a wealth of experience and skills. It brings me great joy to share these insights and experiences with you all, hoping to inspire and foster a similar passion for the art of sewing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *