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Tension Issues with a Kenmore Sewing Machine?

Tension Issues with a Kenmore Sewing Machine - top of fabricBought a Kenmore 385.16324 sewing machine new 16 yrs ago. It has been a work horse. I use it all the time. The tension is now a problem, see photos: #1 is top and #2 is bottom. I have cleaned the bobbin case, feed dogs, replaced the needle, rethreaded it numerous times, and worked on tension settings after each sample row. I am still getting the weird stitches on the back side. Any suggestion what to do next?

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Tension Issues with a Kenmore Sewing Machine - underside of fabric with loopy stitches
 

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Bronze Feedback Medal for All Time! 196 Feedbacks
May 8, 20200 found this helpful
Best Answer

I have an old Kenmore and this happens to me all the time.

My troubleshooting steps are to:

1. Clean out the bobbin casing--my machine is a dust magnet and I take an old toothbrush and work away from the machine to clean it all out.

2. Does your machine have a screw in the casing for the bobbin? Mine does and if I play with that screw tension, usually it is too loose, then it fixes the tension issue

3. make sure my thread is new. I have a huge collection of thread and if I use an old thread, that is usually the first reason I get this issue.

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Sometimes it works if I use a different thread for the bobbin and the old thread for the top, but sometimes that makes the top stitches wonky.

4. If the thread is new, I will unwind the thread on to a new spool so not to waste it and unthread and rewind a new bobbin...preferably with new thread...but sometimes a slow rewind with the old thread (a second try) fixes the problem.

Post back how it goes!

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May 8, 20200 found this helpful

Thank you for taking the time to post did a huge clean...oh my, need to do that more often...lol. Yup checked all the threading up and down to make sure it was threaded correctly, it was. Thread I am using is new but good suggestion. Now the only time I get some semblance of a stitch is when the upper tension is set at 9....not good.

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Think I will have my husband open the top today to see what the upper tension wheels are doing. Am in the market for a new machine anyway......a retirement gift to me.

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Bronze Post Medal for All Time! 140 Posts
May 7, 20200 found this helpful

Make sure your machine is threaded correctly. Also check how your bobbin is threaded. Check housing for thread pieces and fabric pieces that may have build up over time and clean out, This will make connections skip/stitch.

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May 8, 20200 found this helpful

Thank you for taking the time to post. Yes thoroughly cleaned the bobbin case, feed dogs and surrounding area, wow should have done that a long time ago....bobbin threaded correctly, now I think it is the upper tension, will only get some semblance of stitches if the tension is set at 9.....may have my husband open the top up..

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Bronze Post Medal for All Time! 105 Posts
May 9, 20200 found this helpful

I had this issue with a Sear sewing machine I own that has a lot of fancy buttons and stitches on it. My sister in law tried all she could do to correct this problem. We could not get the tension to hold on the machine and all the time we had the same issue as you are having right now. I finally had to take the machine into the repair shop where they had to put in a whole new tension part for the machine to correct this issue.

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I do have the screw on the bobbin casing and even when adjusting this one it did not help at all. I could get the machine set like you are now to correct the problem but after for a bit it would go back to doing the same thing. It appears that the screw for the tension setting was not working and holding it in place and they needed to replace the entire part to get it fixed.

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Gold Feedback Medal for All Time! 949 Feedbacks
May 9, 20200 found this helpful

After 16 years of use I believe you're probably putting everything together correctly so there must be a problem that just normal adjusting and cleaning cannot correct.

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If your husband does not find anything that looks like it could be causing a problem I would suggest you take it to your Sears Service Center and ask them for help as you probably need a new part of some kind.
Usually they will look at the machine while you are there and tell you what is wrong. Of course, they will want to do the service but you can tell them you and your husband can DIY (it would be nice if your husband was with you).
The center may not be open during this period of time but you can check anyway.
I have always had good luck with my visits to Sears Service so I hope you would also.
There are forums for asking 'stumping' questions but after all you have tried, I'm not sure they could help you.

Maybe this is just telling you to start looking around for a replacement - nice retirement present!

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May 10, 20200 found this helpful

Thank you for taking the time to share your experience. My husband and I went through it all again last night, no luck. Looks like it is off to the service center tomorrow. Sears Service is no longer open as Sears went into receivership a couple of years ago but do have an independent in a city not far from here. Will see what they find and if not to expensive to fix will have it done, was hoping to have a few more months out of my machine but I guess it is tired....so sad.

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Thanks again!

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