Adjusting the Tension on Your Sewing Machine

You just finished sewing a seam only to find loopy loose stitches instead of a nice neat line of tight stitches. Does your thread constantly break? The problem is probably with the machine's tension. This is a guide about adjusting the tension on your sewing machine.
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September 29, 2014 Flag

You may need to adjust your tension dial with your fabric you are using and kind of thread, also adjust to thickness of fabric. Always use good sharp needles with your sewing and keep machine clean and oiled.

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February 16, 2015 Flag

I'm having issues with my sewing machine's tension. I was using it just fine and then when I changed the setting from a straight stitch to zig zag and then back again, the tension is all off. It doesn't seem to matter how high I turn the setting (to increase tension) I still get loose, sloppy stitches, and the top thread is getting caught in with the bobbin thread and coming up with it. :( Does anyone know what's up and how to fix it?
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By Ashley D.

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February 17, 20150 found this helpful
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I had that problem just a week ago. I had been sewing and changed stitches and filled the bobbin. Got back to sewing and it happened. I tried everything then took the thread out and got a different spool and it worked great. So you might try changing thread, put the tension back on original and rethread. Your thread spool might be to old.

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November 30, 2015 Flag

I have a Janome 234D sewing machine. It has new needles. I can't seem to tension the left thread at all. It is like a spring has sprung. I would appreciate some help.

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December 2, 20150 found this helpful
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I'm not at all comfortable with overlockers but I did find a manual for the 734d (an updated model of your vintage machine but similar enough to be off help!) and am posting the link for you in case you no longer have the original to your machine:

http://janome.c  034d-english.pdf

It's a free download, and if that doesn't help you, the only advice I can then give is to take it to a repair tech with experience on overlockers. I do standard domestic machine repair-refurb work on my Sewing 101 student machines but as above - I'm not at all experienced with overlockers. Wish I could help more than posting a link to a similar model user guide!

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April 14, 2016 Flag

I have a Kenmore 100 stitches sewing machine that was given to me after the service tech did not resolve the problem. When doing straight stitching the top thread loops on the bottom. It sounds like tension. Even with the tension on nine and the pressure foot down (I can't even pull the thread) it still it loops on the bottom.

I traced the top thread travel in the bobbin case and cannot find any obstruction. I am guessing it has to do with the take up on top. The tension spring "seems" to be okay. Also the bobbin tension is okay. I do not believe this has anything to do with top or bobbin tension, but with some kind of take up on the top.

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April 17, 20161 found this helpful

If the service tech couldn't resolve the problem, he/she was either not a qualified Kenmore tech (they're all factory trained on just about every model Kenmore ever made), or the machine is beyond hope (doubtful, it's a Kenmore!).

Have you tried using dental floss (unwaxed, non-flavoured) sprayed with 70% isopropyl alcohol to 'floss' the tension discs if the tension knob is on the exterior of the machine - if the tension knob is not located on the exterior of the machine, you can 'floss' the upper thread path, just use a very long piece of floss.

Any road, flossing your machine tension discs or upper thread path should remove even the tiniest piece of thread fluff that is likely the source of your problem.

The only other thing I can think of just now would be timing - the tech should have spotted a timing problem, though.

If flossing doesn't resolve your issue, you may want to give up on this machine. Or find a genuine Kenmore factory trained repair tech.

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August 2, 2016 Flag

I have a New Home 532 sewing machine. All of a sudden my machine started looping badly underneath the fabric. I replaced the needle, cleaned and oiled, played with the tension, but nothing helps. Due to this being an antique machine, I am not finding any answers online. Do you have any ideas?

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August 4, 20160 found this helpful

Sounds like a tension issue, Jane. Bear in mind the top and bottom thread tension can both be adjusted? Set both back to zero and gradually increase one until you get the result you need.

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February 16, 2015 Flag

I have a Singer 413 zig zag machine. What is the proper tension setting? How can I set it to a small stitch? There is no manual. Thank you!

By Linda H.

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February 22, 20150 found this helpful
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First of all - here's a link to a free download pdf from the Singer website for your machine:

http://www.sing  62f8ea588653.pdf

If the link doesn't take you straight to the download (my links usually go straight to the download but on occasion take you to the Singer support page instead), it will take you to the Singer page for finding the right manual - use the search feature and type in '413' (omit punctuation), then click on the free download. I always print these out and put them into a 3-ring binder for my sewing students and machine repair customers here in Scotland because it's so much easier to use the manual in a flat open configuration.

Now, the tension setting for zig-zag sewing should always be at least one number looser than for straight stitching, and depends on the fabric, thread, and needle you're using. It's not length that you need to determine and set for zig-zag sewing, too, it's width. That takes some experimenting using a test scrap of your fabric - Bonus, you'll also figure out your tension setting with the test swatch, too:)

The manual will tell you everything you need to know about setting the tension on your 413, and it will also show you how and when to adjust stitch length and width.

Happy sewing!

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December 15, 2015 Flag

I have a Singer One sewing machine. I just got it from my sister who took poor care of it. The thread holder is missing so I made a makeshift one, but I am having huge troubles working it. I don't understand how to thread or feed the material. I push and it does nothing, only when I pull does it properly "sew". Also, when I pull the material out to cut it and see if it's working, it usually snaps. I had my tensions at auto, then I changed it to 9. I also put it on the standard first button at 2.6 and then increased that to 3.5, but I'm still struggling to understand why it won't work, and along with that wasting a ton of thread.

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December 17, 20150 found this helpful

Use this link to the Singer website free download of the user manual:

http://www.sing  181c4d143947.pdf

That's a beautiful machine with tonnes of fab features - it may need a visit to the repair tech for a good going over and cleaning, but give the user guide a try first as you may find all your questions answered and information on replacing that spool holder (usually less than a tenner including postage and packing).

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November 30, 2014 Flag

I have a White sewing machine that is from the 1960s. I am trying to sew a sheer fabric and I am using a #11 needle and Talon size 50 thread. I have replaced the needle, rethreaded the bobbin, rethreaded the machine, and still the thread loops on the underside. I have adjusted the tension on the top. What else can I do?

By Rose

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December 5, 20140 found this helpful

Check your bobbin. Is it wound properly, using same thread as top stitch, is the bobbin thread put in correctly and is it in the correct direction? This may clear up your problem.

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November 25, 2014 Flag

I recently acquired a Singer 319W. I was sewing 2 pieces of fabric together and it worked fine. Then I doubled up the fabric, but when I started to sew, the needle stopped when it hit the fabric, but the wheel kept turning. When I went back to the original 2 pieces of fabric, it was fine. Help!

By Kris

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November 28, 20140 found this helpful

Your machine may not be designed to sew through 4 layers of some fabrics. You can take the machine to a repair shop for an explanation of just what the machine is able to do and if a repair will help.

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November 23, 2013 Flag

I have a brother LS 2125. During sewing the top side of fabric is nicely sewed, but bottom side is in a mess. It is not properly sewed and loose. The thread breaks very easily. It's really very irritating. Attached a bottom side image for your reference.

By Abel

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November 23, 20130 found this helpful

I typed an answer out and lost it! Arggh! Here's a link to another answer though.

http://www.thri  ing-Machine.html

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January 30, 2015 Flag

The top stitch is OK but from underneath you wll find a lot of clogged thread. Please help. Thnx.

By Marcon

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February 1, 20150 found this helpful

When the sewing machine is clogged with thread below you have to take the bobbin case out and then you can use a brush for that purpose or a tiny screwdriver for the small hard to get to parts to get the thread out and then just reverse the procedure to get the bobbin case in and bobbin then your all set to sew again.

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January 7, 2015 Flag

My stitch on top is messing up; the bottom stitch is fine.

By Marcie

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January 15, 20150 found this helpful

Depending on the age and condition of your machine, the problem could be anything from lint and fuzz clogging the tension discs to incorrect thread - needle - tension setting for the fabric you're trying to sew.

Sorry I can't be more help. Use your owner guide (if you've lost yours you can usually download a free copy from the maker's website) to troubleshoot and be sure you're using the right thread, needle, and settings for your machine and fabric - there will be a chart or table outlining the correct items to use for each sewing job.

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March 9, 2010 Flag

I have a problem with my sewing machines. I have 2 different brands, different ages, but the same problem with both so I'm sure it's me and not the machine.

Here's my problem. The tension keeps being so tight it breaks the thread. Also, the thread keeps getting all tangled up in the bobbin area. Can anybody tell me what I'm doing wrong?

Since I'm sure it's me and not the machine I refuse to buy a 3rd one. Plus I took both of them in last year for repair and the first time I went to use them I had the same problem. So, it's got to be me.

By Cricket from Parkton, NC

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March 12, 20100 found this helpful

Double check that you have the bobbin turning the correct direction. That was a problem a friend found out was causing her problem. Start from the beginning to make sure evrything is threaded right. Don't give up!

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June 18, 2014 Flag

I am having tension problems on an industrial Juki model # LU-562 machine. The tension is going from fine to loose as I sew. When it's loose it's on the top. The bottom is fine.

By Carol I.

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June 23, 20140 found this helpful

Have you checked to be sure you're using the correct thread and needle for the fabric, and have you adjusted the upper tension with the pressure foot fully raised?

If the above doesn't help, the thread tension changing mid-stitch could be a problem you cannot solve at home.

The tension discs could be worn out OR clogged with lint/thread fluff in a place dental floss won't reach; also, the tension adjustment gear could be worn, or the bottom tension (on the bobbin case, do not try to adjust this at home!) could have been knocked out of place.

Without looking at the machine (I do limited repair and servicing on mostly Singer domestic machines here in the UK), the best advice I can give you is to take this to a qualified repair tech - someone with extensive industrial machine experience.

When was the last time you have the machine serviced? An industrial machine needs the same (if not more) regular servicing as a domestic one but the tech needs to be qualified on an industrial machine - you'd be amazed at how different the insides of a domestic machine is from an industrial one! A qualified tech will have your machine clean, oiled, and repaired so you can get back to sewing - please update and let us know what the problem actually was:)

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September 21, 2010 Flag

I have a Janome 423s. The bobbin thread runs along the bottom of the material. What is causing this? I have tried fixing it but with no luck.

By karen65ae from UAE

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September 21, 20100 found this helpful

You can try www.retrevo.com and see if you can get any info. It's free.

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April 4, 2014 Flag

I have a relatively new Brother x-5. It was working fine til my latest project when my upper thread seemed to gradually loosen. Adjusting it with the dial did nothing. Now it's a complete mess and I have no idea how to fix it. I re-threaded, cleaned the mechanism and even adjusted the bobbin, but no improvement. How do I fix this? (photo is of the reverse side of stitching)

By Jane

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April 7, 20140 found this helpful

You may have a problem with the tension discs inside the machine. Since you write it's a fairly new machine it may still be under warranty in which case a visit to the Brother sewing repair tech is in order and shouldn't cost you anything. If not still under warranty, a repair will likely cost you under $100 (closer to $50USD).

But first, are you absolutely certain you have seated the bobbin correctly? Use your manual to go step by step through the process of seating it correctly - if that doesn't solve your problem, and you can answer YES to the following questions, it's definitely time for a trip to the repair tech:

Are you using the correct thread, needle, and presser foot for the fabric?

Have you followed the user manual instructions for clearing lint and thread bits from the bobbin case area?

Again, are you certain you are seating the bobbin back into the machine correctly?

Are you sure you've got the settings on the machine correctly chosen?

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December 27, 2013 Flag

I just got my sewing machine. It is a Singer Seventy. I am very inexperienced with sewing and am just learning. I just filled my bobbin and threaded my machine. Everything was fine until I got to the part of setting my thread tension. Right now the dial is set on 8. I need it to be on auto, but the dial won't turn at all. I read in my manual that the foot needs to be down. I put it down and it still won't move. I've tried turning it off, but still no luck. Please help!

By Sarah c

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December 30, 20130 found this helpful

Usually you have to push it forward (or press it) and then turn it to the right position.

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October 22, 2013 Flag

My top thread is not tightening around my bobbin thread. I've done everything I could probably think of and it's so aggravating. I don't know what to do. I'm a semi-new machine user. My sewing machine is a Singer Simple.

By Courtney

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October 23, 20130 found this helpful

First of all, here is a link to a free download of your manual from the Singer website:

http://www.sing  wnload/1180_2263(eng_spa_fre).pdf

Right then, try answering the following questions while sitting at your machine:

Have you just wound a bobbin and forgot to snap the pin back so that the machine is back to sewing mode? (If not, simply snap the pin back towards the head, should solve the problem)

Have you got the front load bobbin case properly loaded and seated? (This one is VERY hard to do! The front load bobbin system is the reason a lot of new sewers give it up - seating a bobbin case whilst holding the bobbin in the case is very, very difficult and takes even experienced sewers several tries sometimes. I always steer my new sewing students to the top drop in bobbin system machines for this reason.)

The way to be sure it's seated is to listen for the 'clicks' that happen when the bobbin is properly loaded into the case, and when the loaded case 'seats' correctly into the machine.

Seating the bobbin case incorrectly, and incorrect threading of the bobbin to the case are almost always the reasons upper and bobbin threads don't lock in the seam.

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June 7, 2013 Flag

My sewing machine won't sew and the loop from the spool is coming through the material, but the cotton from the reel is just threading through the loop without making a stitch. Also the cotton from the reel is very tight. What should I do?

Small sewing machine.

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March 7, 2013 Flag

I have a Brother XL 3022 sewing machine. The tension on the bottom is loopy. Someone mentioned bobbin tension, but I don't know where on the machine it is.

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