What Should The Tension Be On A Singer Sewing Machine

Background information

The tension of thread on a sewing machine is a crucial factor in the quality of sewing results. If thread tension is not properly adjusted, the stitches can be too loose, causing the fabric to fray or a seam to come apart, or the stitches can be too tight, leading to puckers in fabrics. Knowing the correct thread tension for a Singer sewing machine is important for a successful sewing experience.


The formula for adjusting the tension on a Singer sewing machine is relatively simple, but variations due to fabric, thread, and needle can lead to better or worse results. First, make sure that the thread is in the lower tension wheel as well as up through the threading system. Next, turn the tension wheel until the number “4” appears in the tension window. Finally, turn the upper and lower tension-control screws until the small, numbered discs on the spool pins line up perfectly with the red lines located beside them. If necessary, make minor adjustments of the tension-control screws until you get the desired results.

Thread type

The type of thread you’re using will also affect the tension on the Singer machine. Thin thread, such as regular sewing thread or quilting thread, needs to be set at a higher tension, while thicker thread, such as embroidery thread or buttonhole thread, needs to be set at a lower tension. When using heavier thread, set the tension on the Singer machine to 2 or 3.

Fabric type

The fabric on which you’re sewing can also play a role in the tension setting of the Singer machine. Light-weight fabrics, such as muslin or lightweight cotton, require a lower tension setting, while heavier fabrics, such as denim or corduroy, require a higher tension setting.

Needle type

In addition to thread and fabric, the type of needle you’re using on the Singer machine can affect the tension. A sharp needle, such as for denim or heavy woven fabrics, requires a slightly lower tension, while a ballpoint needle, such as for knit fabrics, requires a higher tension.

Testing the tension

In order to check the tension on a Singer machine, make a sample swatch with a single layer of fabric and a few inches of thread. If the stitches are too loose, increase the tension. If the stitches are too tight, decrease the tension.


When making adjustments to the tension on the Singer machine, start by turning the tension wheel one number at a time. After each adjustment, make a test swatch to check the results before making additional adjustments. Remember that minor adjustments of the tension-control screws may also be necessary for optimal results.

Effects of incorrect tension

The effects of incorrect tension on a Singer machine can be easily seen. If the tension is too loose, the stitch will be weak and not hold the fabric together properly. If the tension is too tight, the stitches will be too close together, making the fabric look puckered and distorted.

Motion Settings

The tension on the Singer machine can also be affected by the motion settings. Slower sewing speeds often require lower tension settings, while faster sewing speeds may require higher tension settings. When adjusting the tension for different motion settings, make small, incremental changes instead of large, sweeping adjustments.

Thread Breakage

Thread breakage can be caused by incorrect tension settings on the Singer machine. If the tension is too high, it can cause the thread to break more easily. If the tension is too low, the thread may slip out of the needle eye, causing a break in the thread.


When threading a Singer sewing machine, be sure to use the correct thread guide for the needle being used. A small, lightweight needle needs a fine thread guide. For thicker needles, a larger thread guide should be used.


A properly lubricated Singer sewing machine is essential to ensure the best tension settings. Lubricate the machine according to the instructions in the Singer’s manual. This will help ensure that the tension setting remains correct and consistent.


In conclusion, the tension on a Singer sewing machine needs to be adjusted correctly in order to create a successful sewing experience. The tension wheel, type of thread, fabric, needle, speed settings and thread guide all affect the tension on the Singer machine. Testing and minor adjustments are also important for optimal results.

Geoffrey Kirby is an experienced author and sewist who has been creating sewn projects for over 20 years. He has a passion for teaching beginners and inspiring more advanced sewists both online and through his writings. Outside of writing about sewing, Geoffrey loves to explore new techniques and styles of sewing that incorporate upcycling fabric remnants into sweet items with personality.

Leave a Comment