Setting Up Your Sewing Machine For Ruler Work

Let’s get quilting!


NOTE: If your machine has a good balanced straight stitch in regular stitching, you should not need to make any major adjustments.

Getting your machine ready for ruler work doesn’t need to be a daunting process. Below are some of the common considerations for properly setting up your sewing machine to best use Westalee Design rulers and templates.


Tension is one of the most misunderstood and feared parts of using our machines. For years
we have been taught to fear our tension dials for both the top thread and the bobbin. Once you
understand tension, you will never fear making adjustments again.

Why would you want to adjust the tension?

When free motion quilting you may need to adjust the tension to suit the thickness of the quilt sandwich or you
may want to use different threads. When the tension is correct, your stitch forms so that the top thread and the bobbin thread join
and rest in the middle of the quilt sandwich.

What to look for

If the top thread is too tight, the top thread pulls the bobbin thread to the top of the quilt
sandwich. To fix, loosen the top thread tension or tighten the bobbin thread.

If the bobbin thread is too tight, the top thread is pulled to the bottom of the quilt sandwich. To fix, loosen the bobbin thread or tighten the top thread. To tighten turn right, to loosen turn left
(Remember lefty loosy, righty tighty).

Final tips

  • To check your tension, thread your machine with a light colored thread in the top and a dark
    colored thread in the bobbin. Observe whether the threads are pulling through the quilt sandwich on either side and adjust accordingly.
  • Adjust the bobbin tension first and then adjust the top tension to match.
  • When adjusting the top tension the lower the number on your tension control, the looser the tension; the higher the number the tighter
    the tension.
  • Bobbin Tension: Adjust with the tension adjustment screw

For more information, please refer to the following video by Leonie West.

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