Every time I start to quilt a quilt, the first thing I do is test my tension. I do this if I’m quilting on my little Bernina, and if I’m quilting on my big HandiQuilter. I either make a small quilt sandwich to test on, or test on the extra pieces of the actual quilt, things that I’ll trim off.
You need to do this every time you change something. New thread, new quilt, new needle. I speak from experience when I tell you that you want to test this FIRST, before you start quilting. You do not want to get halfway through quilting a large quilt only to learn your tension has made the back of your quilt look horrible and you have to take it out and start all over again!
Make sure you check the owners manual for your machine to check out how to change the tension in your bobbin or on the top thread. Make practice stitches until you get it right. Remember, this is something that will make the quilting look nicer and lay smoother. And don’t be afraid to ask for help! Sometimes it’s worth it to call your local repair shop or customer service.
Then get to quilting! Like anything else, practice makes perfect!