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Bobbin Getting Tangled

It is extremely frustrating to sit down to your sewing machine to start a project only to have it malfunction. This is a guide about bobbin getting tangled.


Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 0 found this helpful
February 19, 2016

I bought a sewing machine at a yard sale and I can't get the bobbin to work. It gets tangled in the bobbin case. What can I do to get it working right? It's from Italy and is called a Stretch _Sew machine. Any help would be appreciated.

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February 4, 20170 found this helpful

I got a secondhand machine and had this problem until I tried a different height bobbin and it worked fine.

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February 4, 20170 found this helpful

Just a thought as it happened again for me. It actually was the thread. It was faulty. So try changing the actual spool.

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February 10, 20170 found this helpful

It is very important to have a manual with any machine. Here is a link to try to find yours;

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May 28, 20170 found this helpful

You might be placing it a wrong way, i.e, if you are putting it its case like the number "6" do it the other way or vice versa. Or make sure it is a right kind; there are over 50 kinds of bobbins, and when you bought it, does not guarantee that came with the original bobbin. And one last thing, you can download its user manual for free from "".

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By 0 found this helpful
July 18, 2016

I'm ready to throw my Singer Tradition sewing machine out of the window. I'm about two thirds of the way through making a dress and now the thread keeps getting caught above the bobbin so that there are several threads coming up through the hole and everything jams.

I ran out of thread in the bobbin so I made a new one and since then the machine gets jammed after sewing successfully for about 20-30cm. It works fine up to that point.

I have rethreaded the top and bottom several times, made a new spool, taken the whole thing to pieces for a good clean, changed the tension on the top and bottom, put in a new needle, tried different fabrics, and tried using different thread. After every troubleshooting attempt the same thing happens: it sews fine for 20cm and then jams up.

I am completely out of sensible ideas. The manual for this machine is useless. My next attempt will involve getting out a screwdriver and taking the entire machine to pieces.

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July 20, 20160 found this helpful

Breath...I know this problem and think I can help. If your bobbin thread is "misthreaded" even by a couple of rows, it will mess you up. I make sure when I wind a bobbin that it goes up and down, "bouncing" off each side so the thread is wound evenly.

If this isn't the case, it might be that your thread is not "catching" properly.

If this doesn't help you might need to see a sewing repair person. Or, check with your local thrift store and find a nice second hand one. Even the new ones might be cheaper than repair...which can be spendy.

I hope that helps.


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By 0 found this helpful
October 30, 2010

My sewing machine was working fine until I took the plate off to clean out the dust and stuff underneath it. When I put everything back on and turned my machine back on and started to sew the bobbin started pulling and jamming. Then I have to pull out the fabric and it has a lot of thread on the bottom like it is pulling lots of thread. The machine keeps stopping. What did I do? Can anyone help.


By Donna from FL

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October 31, 20100 found this helpful

If this happens on my Elna it means that the Bobbin is either in, upside down, OR I have NOT threaded the feed from the spool of thread properly. Often it will do this on its own.

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October 31, 20100 found this helpful

Please see answer above. Note; you can tell if Bobbin is upside down (in wrong) if the thread is NOT turning counterclockwise. Must turn counterclockwise. Also, make sure that you have not inadvertently bumped the tension adjuster. Helps if we know the make of the machine, as adjustments differ on each brand. Cheers!

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October 31, 20100 found this helpful

I have had this happen occasionally, but not enough to be bothered about it. After about 60 years of sewing almost everything, it took me until about 10 years ago to discover that you definitely shouldn't start a seam at the very edge of the fabric. Whenever I would do that I would end up with the thread and edge of seam "gnarly". Then one day I read that to prevent that from happening you should start sewing about 1/4" in from the edge of the fabric. It's amazing what that does.

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July 2, 20160 found this helpful

Thanks for all the comments. I cleaned out as recommended and it still wasn't working. Turns out I was using the wrong settings. Thanks again for all the advice. Super helpful.

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August 31, 20160 found this helpful

What do you mean, wrong settings? I am having the same problem. Please help.

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February 9, 20170 found this helpful

The different settings refer to the upper tension wheel, the lenght of stitch, the width (if doing zig zag or anything other than straight/running stitches) and the pressure of the peddle. The settings differ depending on what material you use. Hopefully if you have a manual for your machine it will give you a chart of guidelines of what are the best settings to use. You should be able to find the manual online if you don't have one.

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April 24, 20170 found this helpful

Great that you figured it out. But for the rest of us, what are the correct settings? I have been sewing for 50 years, I am not a dummy, but I am ready to throw this piece of xxxx into the river.

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October 30, 20110 found this helpful

I have a top loading Singer heavy duty 4411. I got it today and it worked fine for a while, then for some reason it would jam. When I managed to get the fabric out, I saw that string from the top had gotten tangled in the bobbin casing. It was so bad that I had to cut the threads out and pull out the fibers.

I've tried re-threading, rewinding, and re-everything! The bobbin is in the right way, I have already switched out the needle, and this is a brand new machine. Even if I just turn the handle manually without a bobbin, the thread still gets caught around the bobbin casing in the same places. I have no idea what to do and I need to finish my Halloween costume for tomorrow. Please help.

By John D.

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November 3, 20110 found this helpful

I hope you were able to get your costume done in time. It sounds as if the problem might be that the bobbin tension needs adjusting. Even though you have a brand new machine and the tension was adjusted at the factory, it's possible that it was un-adjusted during shipping. Or the entire bobbin casing could have come from the factory upside down, I've heard of that happening.

Or you could be using the wrong needle and thread for your project, the pressure could adjusted incorrectly. The thread could be old (even if you just bought the thread the day before you started the project, because a lot of the threads in the store racks are anywhere from 1-5 years old. The older the thread the more troubles it can cause during sewing).

Actually, there are several reasons this could be happening and most of those reasons are usually 'pilot error', lol. Check the manual section on troubleshooting your machine, should have info there on what's happening.

Don't give up, you have a fine machine there that should give you years of reliable service.

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January 13, 20151 found this helpful

Hey I have the same machine and had to pack away my project when the thread from the top kept tangling in the casing for the bobbin. What I also noticed was that the hand wheel was a little stiff when I turned it. A few days later I decided to give it ago again put the problem persisted.

I decided to removed the metal top which housed the bobbin and used a small brush to remove any dust (even if you can't see any still carefully bush the insides while turning the hand wheel). I continued this until the hand wheel started moving freely. I retreaded the machine and that solved the problem. Hope this helps someone.

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January 15, 20150 found this helpful

I just bought the same machine today (1/15/15). I was sewing "sew-on" Velcro to neoprene. I sewed two 4"X2" pieces and then the machine was done. 2 or 3 stitches and then the hook/bobbin was totally jammed with thread. upon closer examination, it seems the hook would catch the thread the first time, but the bobbin thread would not come up through the plate. As the hook rotated around, it would pull more thread off the bobbin until it was a complete mess. I called Singer and after 15 minutes on hold, the recording said they were now closed. I'm going to try the cleaning recommendation and if that doesn't work, I am going to try to return it tomorrow. At $129 it seemed like a good buy for a "Heavy Duty" machine.

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February 25, 20150 found this helpful

I want to know why my thread keeps getting tangled in the bottom bobbin on my sewing machine.

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October 3, 20150 found this helpful

I have a similar machine and sometimes the thread falls off the thread take-up lever. Try rethreading the top thread.

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March 8, 20140 found this helpful

I have a Singer 1120 sewing machine that is giving me threading problems. When I sew it'll jam up or get stuck mid-way. When I stop to check what is wrong and I pull the testing fabric I notice a lot of thread is coming from the bobbin area. I've done everything from re-spooling the bobbin, reconnecting it, to even re-threading it and it's the same thing over and over. I've even checked the timing and the timing is still good on it. Please help.

By Sharon

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March 10, 20140 found this helpful

First of all - either check your manual troubleshooting pages, or download this free copy from the Singer website:

http://www.sing  e608f6b0537a.pdf

The troubleshooting guide is on page 74. You may want to print this out to have on hand without having to have the computer up:)

Now, have you checked your bobbin case, the area where the bobbin case seats back into the machine, and the area under the throat plate (where the feed dogs come up through to the top) for bits of debris (thread bits, fuzz, lint, etc)? That's usually what causes the problem you're experiencing. *Don't use an air spray duster! This will only blow the lint further into the machine. Instead, use a mini-torch (flashlight) to look, then long tweezers or a skinny paint brush to remove any debris.

If that doesn't help, go through the following, and if those don't solve your problem it's time for a visit to the Singer repair tech:

Are you positive you're seating the bobbin case into the machine correctly? You've probably been doing this for years but on older machines with that front (or side) load system the catch wears and sometimes it helps to follow the insertion instructions step-by-step from the manual.

Are you using the correct needle, thread, tension, and feed dog settings for the fabric you are trying to sew?

Are you alining the fabric start edge completely under the presser foot before starting to stitch, or have you got into the habit of starting your stitching with the fabric edge lined up with the needle instead of the presser foot end?

Are you holding the thread tail taut (but not too taut - you're 'helping' not pulling!) when you start stitching to help the fabric along through those first stitches? (Especially helpful when stitching very fine or very thick fabrics)

Again, if the above doesn't help it may be time to take the machine in for servicing. Your machine is an older one, and may have some worn plastic or silicone gear teeth that need to be changed.

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March 10, 20140 found this helpful

Get out your manual if you have one and check the directions for checking bobbin tension. Usually a screw in the bobbin case.

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October 30, 20100 found this helpful

I was given a sewing machine, and there's a problem. When I am sewing the bobbin gets all tangled up, I will get one or two good stitches then nothing. When I turn the material over there is a ton of thread from the bobbin. Has anyone else had this problem? How did you correct it? I checked the tension and tried different bobbin casings from my other sewing machine, but it continues to happen. Just wanted to know if there is something I can do and save the repair fee. Thanks!

Mary from Panama City Beach, FL


Bobbin Getting Tangled

Possibly your bobbin is in the machine backwards or upside down. The thread needs to come off the bobbin in a certain way (or direction) specific to each machine. If it will fit, try flipping the bobbin over or around. Another thing might be the thread tension. Good luck! My sewing machine finally wore out after 30+ years. I think I could have used it even if I were asleep. I love my new machine, but I have to constantly stop and check my owners manual because everything about it is so different! (04/25/2006)

By Grandma Margie

Bobbin Getting Tangled

If the bobbin is in correctly and through the slit in the side of the bobbin casing, make sure the top is threaded correctly. The part the goes up and down, I don't know the name, but it is right above the needle and if the thread is not through this part you will get a mess on the underside. (04/25/2006)

By Lois

Bobbin Getting Tangled

If that doesn't work, try replacing your needle with a name brand, like Singer. I don't know why it makes a difference, but it really does! (04/25/2006)

Bobbin Getting Tangled

Either the bobbin is not threaded correctly or your tension needs adjusting. (04/25/2006)

By Loretta

Bobbin Getting Tangled

I agree with the previous post about the tension and inserting the bobbin to flow in the right direction. Your machine may also be in real need of a tune up. Most major fabric stores have a company that comes in periodically, takes your machine and services it for a reasonable fee. This should be done every now and then as it will extend the life of your machine. They will oil it, make any necessary adjustments, etc. Be sure to tell them about the problem you are having. Good luck. (04/25/2006)

By Memere

Bobbin Getting Tangled

My machine did the same thing. I was ready to just trash it and get another one, but the saleslady told me to try this before getting rid of it. She said to oil the machine; and I might need to also change the belt. I told her that it hadn't been oiled in years because I hardly ever use it. She said in that case I need to oil it really well. It seems that the less you use a sewing machine the more you need to oil it; like every time you use it. I decided to try it. I didn't need to change the belt; and a couple of dollars for a can of oil and it works like a charm. And I didn't have to spend a couple hundred dollars for a new one. Good luck.


By Margaret

Bobbin Getting Tangled

When you have a rat's nest of thread in your bobbin, it is almost always the upper tension that should be adjusted. Go to this site: The name of the site is: How to tension your sewing machine correctly by Alex Askaroff. I found this by searching on dogpile for sewing adjust bobbin tension. I have been sewing for over 50 years and thanks to these instructions I can adjust any stitch by myself, unless a part is actually broken.

Editor's Note: Here is the link to the site: (04/25/2006)

By Gale

Bobbin Getting Tangled

There could also be thread or lint caught in the place on the bobbin where the thread hooks, take the bobbin to a reputable dealer and they will take it apart and put it back together usually without charging you for it. DO NOT ATTEMPT this yourself! those little screws are very dear! (voice of experience!) let us know if any of these suggestions help. (04/25/2006)

By cailifouhnofthemist

Bobbin Getting Tangled

  1. Take apart your tension unit if you can, clean thoroughly with alcohol, dry and replace.
  2. Tighten, with fingers pull thread in a rocking motion, release tension, back and forth.
  3. Disassemble your bobbin case which is really quite easy, clean thoroughly with a brush and air, paying particular attention to any rust that may have formed, and any thread that may have weaseled it's way into small, but very incremental areas of your case.
  4. Make sure that your thread arm that rises and falls, constantly having tension running through it and that it is in fact staying in place.
  5. If these basic home techniques don't work, then you may have a "needle - bobbin" synchronization problem.

I hope this helps you, as I have 4 sewing machines and 3 sergers of all ages that I have never taken to a shop. Yo may also contact me for further assistance by taking my posted name, and adding to it family clothing at hot mail period com, you know how to put it all together. (04/25/2006)

By Pinkerton

Bobbin Getting Tangled

I have found that sometimes the thread itself is the problem. At times, if I use the same thread on the top and in the bobbin, I have problems so I have learned to use thread from different spools. Also, try different needles that may make a difference. (04/26/2006)

Bobbin Getting Tangled

Are you absolutely sure the machine is threaded properly on top? Also, I had a problem once bad enough to bring it in for repair and they told me the problem was that I was using the wrong size bobbin. I had used these bobbins many times, but they turned out to be just slightly shorter than the ones I was supposed to be using and that time it caused a problem. (04/27/2006)

By Beth

Bobbin Getting Tangled

I had the same problem with my machine. It uses a plastic bobbin. I found that there was a small chip out of the plastic and every time the bobbin went around, it caught the thread and made a mess. I got a new bobbin and now it works perfectly. (04/30/2006)

Bobbin Getting Tangled

I recently took a week course in sewing machine repair. All advice above is valid, except oiling: old oil will turn to varnish, and must be removed with alcohol before adding new oil. Otherwise, machine parts stick and will not run smoothly. (Also, for this reason, too little oil is better than too much.) This is what most repair people will do when you bring your machine in for service.

If threading is correct and your tension is properly adjusted (refer to your manual) and you have a new needle (change every 4 hours, you will be amazed at the difference!), then check the hook for scratches. If you have ever hit the hook with a needle, it will be scarred and will catch the thread every time the upper thread passes around the bobbin case. The hook is the sharp point on the shuttle that holds the bobbin case. If it is scratched, polish it smooth with VERY fine sand paper, or a green stick (flexible abrasive available at most auto supply shops.) The stitch cover plate may be scratched too; same remedy works here, although to get into the tiny feed dog slots, you need abrasive dental floss.

Good luck fixing it yourself! If you find that you need to take it to an expert, don't worry! It's not wasted money. You will be able to sew more things and save! Have them show you what they did, so you can fix it yourself next time.


By Haley

Bobbin Getting Tangled

Make sure your needle is not in backwards.
The rounded side should be on the outside. (06/01/2006)

By Alice

Bobbin Getting Tangled

Make sure both top and bottom threads are pulled toward back of machine and under foot before sewing. If the bobbin thread isn't visible to side of material, and if it gets underneath as you start to sew it will tangle it will make a birds nest. Helps if you hold both threads very lightly to side as you make first few stitches, then let go. Good luck. (06/21/2006)

By Sheila

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