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Using the TOWA tension gauge

Using the TOWA tension gauge

Old 02-25-2019, 09:38 AM
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Default Using the TOWA tension gauge

I took several longarm classes in January at Road to California. One was taught by Marybeth Krapil, an educator for HandiQuilter. She provided a lot of useful information about longarming in general. She talked about how to use the TOWA gauge. I have a TOWA gauge, but I seldom use it, because some sources say that you need to keep records of what number to use for various thread, fabric, and batting combinations. That seems like way too much record keeping, when my tension is generally good without the gauge. Superior Threads has a chart that gives a TOWA range for each of their threads. However Marybeth said that you need to find the number on the gauge that works for your machine. That number is the one you will always use, even if you change thread or batting. This is a new concept for me, and if it works then I might use my gauge more often. (Marybeth did say that different gauges will give different numbers for the same bobbin, so it's a matter of finding the number for your TOWA gauge and your longarm.)

I'm wondering how others use their TOWA gauges, and how often.
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Old 02-25-2019, 10:31 AM
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mine is 180-200. I use it with each thread change. It's been a life saver for me as I just could not get the hang of using the drop test.

Since I only quilt for myself, I'm not using a lot of different threads or battings, but so far I don't look up anything or write down anything. I started out with it a bit higher, but found closer to 180 is the "sweet spot" for my machine.

I also have a digital readout for the top tension and have set it anywhere from 500-800 to get a good balance. Those numbers are also meaningless in themselves.

The two gauges measure differently, one you set the tension (screw) to get a constant pull of 180, the other you are getting a readout of the pressure that is applied to get a specific pull. In both cases you are changing the pressure to get a specific pull.

It's very likely the top pull is also within a close range, but there is no easy way to measure it so you are stuck with knowing what to set the pressure at to get that for each specific thread. So a lot more to remember.
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Old 02-25-2019, 02:22 PM
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I have one and like Macybaby, I usually run mine between 180-200 more so to 180...It's been a life saver for me also.
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Old 02-26-2019, 05:41 AM
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Iíve never found the gauge for the top thread very helpful, but used the bobbin thread gauge constantly until I got the feel of the drop test. I use Bottom Line thread almost exclusively, so now, I only use the bobbin gauge when I change to a different size thread. The thread chart from Superior is a really handy resource.
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Old 02-26-2019, 05:56 AM
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I use my TOWA gauge with every bobbin change. My Innova likes a 220 reading. I mostly use Superior pre-wound bobbins so I'm always measuring the same weight thread. It always amazes me how the different bobbins read and they're coming from the same place.
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Old 02-26-2019, 06:25 AM
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Mary Beth was correct. I too am a Handi Quilter educator. I run two machines. You need to find your number on the Towa as a constant. Regardless of thread type , that number will remain the same.
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Old 02-26-2019, 08:08 AM
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And I have never heard of a TOWA gauge. Hummm Am I missing something?
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Old 02-26-2019, 08:15 AM
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I have a towa gauge but haven't used it since going with Jamie Wallen's method for testing my bobbin tension. Its worked pretty well for me so far. I'm getting ready to use BottomLine in my bobbin for a change so will see if I have issues with it as I'll be using a 100wt thread in the needle which is also something new to me.
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Old 02-26-2019, 05:55 PM
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Before I learned to use my Towa gauge (I bought used and it came with it--but no instructions) I tried the Jamie Wallen drop method but struggled. Then learned to use the Towa and now use it every bobbin I use--180-200 is what I use every thread on my Gammill. It amazes me that I can wind 2 bobbin same thread and they can vary. such a time saver on the long arm.
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Old 02-26-2019, 06:12 PM
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As a new owner of a longarm...220 seems to be the magic number but I also test Jamie Wallen’s bobbin tension advice if the bobbin case flips up in the palm of your hand and the bobbin thread releases easy without lifting the case from the palm of your hand. So far ... so good.
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