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Top Stitching

leslee | Posted in General Discussion on

I am looking for advice about top stitching with heavy wt buttonhole twist thread—-

I can not get the top tension on my Pfaff tight enough to stop it from looping on the bobbin side (I have also loosened the bobbin tension). I am using a #90 topstitching needle. I believe there is too much resistance in the needle’s eye. I vaguely recall that I have seen something in Threads or somewhere about using something to ‘coat’ a needle to reduce the drag on it.

Any advice or suggestions about how to do this.




  1. kjp | | #1

    Hi leslee, there may be another solution, but the first thing which comes to mind is to use your thread in the bobbin instead & bypass the bobbin tension if necessary, then stitch from the wrong side.  You may have to mark your stitching line, but it should work!  Good luck.  Karin

    1. leslee | | #6

      Thanks Kjp, that is a novel idea.  It may work in some situations, though in some parts of the jacket, I need to have both the top and bottom in the heavy wt thread. 

      1. kjp | | #7

        Sounds like some of the other creative solutions might work!  Good luck!

  2. Elisabeth | | #2

    Machines can have alternate threading routes to increase the tension beyond the setting. The owner's manual should show this.

    1. leslee | | #5

      Elisabeth, thanks for the suggestion.  My Pfaff does not have an alternate root to increase the tension.  Some how I do not think I can get it tight enough as I believe the problem is excessive 'drag' on the heavy weight thread.



      Edited 6/7/2004 8:13 pm ET by Leslee

  3. Barbaran8 | | #3

    Try a metafil or metallica needle - (big coated eye, and deeper thread grooves to protect the thread while passing through the fabric. And your dealer should have some, I forget the name exactly, "Sews Easy" - it's a silicone liquid you can drop on your thread - if you have any plastic or rubber in your tensioners - do not use it "above" the tensioners - just use it on the loop that holds the thread just above the needle.

    1. leslee | | #4

      Barb, thanks for your suggestion, I will try it soon!

  4. MegVT | | #8


    If the other options do not work for your project, what about couching the topstitching on?


    1. leslee | | #9

      Meg, I am sorry I do not know what couching the topstitching is.  Could you explain.  THX

      1. MegVT | | #11


        Couching is frequently used to apply decorative yarns and threads to the top surface of a project.  You would generally use invisible thread in the top and a bobbin thread which would blend into your fabric.  (You might also use for top thread one which matches the background fabric or another decorative thread.)  You could zig-zag or blind-hem stitch the decorative thread on top of the collar or cuff, etc., guiding the decorative thread with your hand (there are available attachments which fit on your presser foot to hold the decorative thread, too).   I hope I'm making sense to you...

        You would then be able to use whatever needle and thread are compatible with wtitching your garment together, and the 'topstitching' thread would simply be attached to the surface of the item. 


        1. leslee | | #12

          Meg, thanks for the explanation.


  5. SewTruTerry | | #10


    Let's address the issue about the loose thread on the bobbin side of the material.  Anytime you have that kind of mess on the bobbin side it is because the machine was not threaded correctly.   It is not because the tension is to loose but rather you may not have gotten the thread seated right in the tension disc.  The first thing I was taught that if this happens, completely unthread the machine and start all over and do it carefully.  Also make sure that the needle is in the most upright position before getting the thread any where near the tension disc.  Also as silly as it may seem make sure that the presser foot is up.  This will take the tension off so that you can actually thread it correctly.  The next step that you need to do is actually take off the tension so that the thread meets as little resistance as possible. That is not to say that there will be no tension but do not tighten it from the normal.  That said the next thing you need is a top stitching needle in your machine the top stitching needle has a bigger eye and will allow the thread through easier.  Then the last thing that you need to do is lengthen the stitch length.  This should show dramatic results.  Also make sure that you have plenty of top stitching needles on hand as this sounds like the project that you are working on may cause the needle to go dull very quickly. Good luck and let me know if this helps.

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