Question about Kenmore Sewing Machines

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Upper tension won't adjust

I can turn the tension dial in any direction, but I can't tell that it is working. The thread is still too tight to sew when it is almost on 0. It might sew a few stitches, then lock up and pop the thread. Any suggestions?

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  • Expert
  • 72 Answers

You can try "flossing" the tension with a piece of unwaxed dental floss, a dollar bill, or a piece of fabric to try to clean anything that is trapped between the tension discs loose. Be sure the pressure foot it up and the tension knob turned to "0" before trying this. Then dial back the tension to your normal setting and try re-threading your machine. If this doesn't work and you know how to remove and reinstall your tension assembly, that could be the next step. The tension discs do wear out over time, but sometimes it is just some lint that needs to be cleaned out.

Chris

Posted on Mar 28, 2014

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Posted on Jan 02, 2017

bargainbox
  • 1388 Answers

SOURCE: WHITE Jeans Machine model 1475 thread tension problem

Ensure that all is clean and free of lint and jams, this is the most likely cause....now for tension troubleshooting .......

This solution is for tension problems...if you cannot form any sort of stitch, the issue is quite different, so please let me know if you need a different problem solved.....

It is quite long, but just work through each section in order.
The "knotting up" can reveal a lot. If you have loose threads on one side or the other, the tension on the opposite side will be the culprit.

QUICK SUMMARY FIRST:
Ensure sharp new needle,
Thread guides and Bobbin are Clean & Clear of lint
Set Top Tesion to 4 ....then....
Balance Bobbin to suit.

TOP THREAD TENSION:
If the looping threads are on the underside as you sew, it is the top tension. Top tension ought to be between 4 & 6 (this variation to allow for the different weights of fabric in your
projects).

IS YOUR NEEDLE SHARP ?
If you are using a needle that has seen quite a deal of work, or you suspect it may be blunt, change it for a new one !

TOP TENSION & GUIDES:
Make sure that when you thread the machine the presser foot is up so the thread goes between the discs and not to one side, top tension between 4 and 6, and that you have threaded through all the guides, including the last one, usually on the needle arm, just above the needle clamp.

It may be there is lint trapped between the discs, this will keep them slightly apart and reduce the actual tension, sometimes dramatically.

If tensions appear correct, and the thread is definitely in the channel between the discs, but still too loose and looping, try raising presser foot and remove your thread.

Now, with a 2" (50mm) wide strip piece of fabric 8 - 10" (20 - 25cm) moistened with methylated or denatured spirit, gently insert the fabric strip and clean between the discs with
a see saw / to and fro action.

In the worst cases, gentle use of a needle to pick & remove the jam may be necessary, but be very gentle and make sure the tension is set at Zero and the presser foot is raised, (to
disengage tension plates).... do not gouge or score the plates, they need a polished surface to work correctly.

BOBBIN TENSION:
Far less common, but if the loose threads are on the top, it is bobbin tension that is loose, it too may have lint in the spring and be giving a "false" tension.

I would not recommend fiddling with bobbin tension without good reason, it may end up with missing small screws and spring pieces, however, you can take the needle plate off to clean
the hook race area (where bobbin case sits)

...this is just good housekeeping, my wife does this every time she replaces the bobbin....

just take it out and clean the bobbin case and the fixed metal hook race with a small brush to remove lint. If there is a significant amount of lint, use a vacuum and small brush to get the worst.

Then wipe all this area with a cloth or cotton bud (Q tip) moistened (not soaked) with methylated spirit, especially if there appears to be fine dirty deposits....oil and lint combine to conspire against you.

If it seems likely that you ......really ....do .....actually .....need .....to adjust the bobbin case, first check there is no lint trapped in the metal spring where the thread is tensioned.

TOP LOADER:
Drop-in Bobbin case will look similar to this image with the tension screw in the middle of the metalwork....

4c76dc1.jpg ...the other screw at one end is holding it all together, so beware....it is not a tragedy to undo the whole lot and clean it, but very gingerly and lay the bits out in sequence and orientation, or you risk tearing your hair out !

FRONT LOADER:
....this is a bobbin case from a front loading machine and works in a very similar fashion to the top loader with drop in bobbin, again, if you dismantle it, take care so you can put it all
back properly.
165ca5c.jpg FINISHING UP
GETTING THE BALANCE RIGHT:
When you are certain there's no trapped lint in top tension or bobbin, set the top tension to 4 and the bobbin tension to a point where you just begin to feel resistance.

Try using good quality thread of contrasting colours so you can more easily spot the changes.

Set your zigzag to one width less than maximum (eg. 5 of 6 ...or... 4 of 5 etc) and sew a sample for a few inches and check the result.... adjust the bobbin tension screw very little at
a time, perhaps 1/16 of a turn.

You may find you are playing with this balance for some little while and if you are putting the needleplate on and off each time begin to think it cannot be correct to do this.....BUT....it is,
and eventually, you do get a "feel" for the correct tension and then it happens quite quickly.....as a user you won't be doing it very often unless there is lint built up (or are there small hands at work around the house !?!?!)

OTHER ISSUES:
If you live near the ocean as we do, salt air can play havoc with metalwork inside and out, so to help minimise this, keep a few small packets of dessicant (silica gel) in your machine
case....no case ? then make some sort of cover !

Same applies in any damp or humid environment, keep your machine dry and dust free.

Budget for a proper full service every couple of years (more often if heavily used) and if you don't use your machine for a few years, be aware that old oil will dry out and combining with
dust and form a "clag" like glue (another reason for some sort of cover, even a teatowel !)

FINALLY, A WORD ON THREAD:
If it is worth spending the time, energy and money on making something that you would like to give lasting enjoyment......use quality thread, .......it may seem to cost a little more at the
time, but the results, ease of use and added longevity will be worth the extra, and as a bonus, your tension troubles may be fewer and further between, because there is a more consistant diameter with good thread, and less compensating to be done by your tension plates and less thread breaks !

If you want any more help with this, just post back here, or, drop a line through the "Contact Us" page at www.bargainbox.com.au

Posted on May 23, 2008

  • 1 Answer

SOURCE: Brother LS-2125 Upper Thread Snapping

I had the same problem and it was so frustrating! It was happening to me because I wasn't using the right size needle. Go up a couple of needle sizes and see if that helps.

Posted on Mar 09, 2009

Mimito7
  • 128 Answers

SOURCE: Top thread stitches correctly but bottom thread loops.

FYI---- Loops on the bottom-- problem is in the threading..
Loops on the top--- problem is with the bobbin.

Posted on Apr 19, 2009

bargainbox
  • 1388 Answers

SOURCE: Kenmore Ultra Stitch 12 model 1595280. Tension

Please TRY the solution BEFORE giving your considered rating.
Specific detail on bobbin case adjustment (with picture) near halfway down reply, the remainder will help you achieve a balance of top and bottom tensions.

Ensure that all is clean and free of lint and jams, this is the most likely cause....now for tension troubleshooting .......

This solution is for tension problems...if you cannot form any sort of stitch, the issue is quite different, so please let me know if you need a different problem solved.....

It is quite long, but just work through each section in order.

The "knotting up" can reveal a lot. If you have loose threads on one side or the other, the tension on the opposite side will be the culprit.

QUICK SUMMARY FIRST:
Ensure sharp new needle,
Thread guides and Bobbin are Clean & Clear of lint
Set Top Tesion to 4 ....then....
Balance Bobbin to suit.

TOP THREAD TENSION:
If the looping threads are on the underside as you sew, it is the top tension. Top tension ought to be between 4 & 6 (this variation to allow for the different weights of fabric in your projects).

IS YOUR NEEDLE SHARP ?
If you are using a needle that has seen quite a deal of work, or you suspect it may be blunt, change it for a new one !

TOP TENSION & GUIDES:
Make sure that when you thread the machine the presser foot is up so the thread goes between the discs and not to one side, top tension between 4 and 6, and that you have threaded through all the guides, including the last one, usually on the needle arm, just above the needle clamp.

It may be there is lint trapped between the discs, this will keep them slightly apart and reduce the actual tension, sometimes dramatically.

If tensions appear correct, and the thread is definitely in the channel between the discs, but still too loose and looping, try raising presser foot and remove your thread.

Now, with a 2" (50mm) wide strip piece of fabric 8 - 10" (20 - 25cm) moistened with methylated or denatured spirit, gently insert the fabric strip and clean between the discs with a see saw / to and fro action.

In the worst cases, gentle use of a needle to pick & remove the jam may be necessary, but be very gentle and make sure the tension is set at Zero and the presser foot is raised, (to disengage tension plates).... do not gouge or score the plates, they need a polished surface to work correctly.

BOBBIN TENSION:
Far less common, but if the loose threads are on the top, it is bobbin tension that is loose, it too may have lint in the spring and be giving a "false" tension.

I would not recommend fiddling with bobbin tension without good reason, it may end up with missing small screws and spring pieces, however, you can take the needle plate off to clean
the hook race area (where bobbin case sits)

...this is just good housekeeping, my wife does this every time she replaces the bobbin....

just take it out and clean the bobbin case and the fixed metal hook race with a small brush to remove lint. If there is a significant amount of lint, use a vacuum and small brush to get the worst.

Then wipe all this area with a cloth or cotton bud (Q tip) moistened (not soaked) with methylated spirit, especially if there appears to be fine dirty deposits....oil and lint combine to conspire against you.

If it seems likely that you ......really ....do .....actually .....need .....to adjust the bobbin case, first check there is no lint trapped in the metal spring where the thread is tensioned.

TOP LOADER:
Drop-in Bobbin case will look similar to this image with the tension screw in the middle of the metalwork....

4c76dc1.jpg ...the other screw at one end is holding it all together, so beware....it is not a tragedy to undo the whole lot and clean it, but very gingerly and lay the bits out in sequence and orientation, or you risk tearing your hair out !

FRONT LOADER:
....this is a bobbin case from a front loading machine and works in a very similar fashion to the top loader with drop in bobbin, again, if you dismantle it, take care so you can put it all
back properly.
165ca5c.jpg FINISHING UP
GETTING THE BALANCE RIGHT:
When you are certain there's no trapped lint in top tension or bobbin, set the top tension to 4 and the bobbin tension to a point where you just begin to feel resistance.

Try using good quality thread of contrasting colours so you can more easily spot the changes.

Set your zigzag to one width less than maximum (eg. 5 of 6 ...or... 4 of 5 etc) and sew a sample for a few inches and check the result.... adjust the bobbin tension screw very little at
a time, perhaps 1/16 of a turn.

You may find you are playing with this balance for some little while and if you are putting the needleplate on and off each time begin to think it cannot be correct to do this.....BUT....it is,
and eventually, you do get a "feel" for the correct tension and then it happens quite quickly.....as a user you won't be doing it very often unless there is lint built up (or are there small hands at work around the house !?!?!)

OTHER ISSUES:
If you live near the ocean as we do, salt air can play havoc with metalwork inside and out, so to help minimise this, keep a few small packets of dessicant (silica gel) in your machine
case....no case ? then make some sort of cover !

Same applies in any damp or humid environment, keep your machine dry and dust free.

Budget for a proper full service every couple of years (more often if heavily used) and if you don't use your machine for a few years, be aware that old oil will dry out and combining with
dust and form a "clag" like glue (another reason for some sort of cover, even a teatowel !)

FINALLY, A WORD ON THREAD:
If it is worth spending the time, energy and money on making something that you would like to give lasting enjoyment......use quality thread, .......it may seem to cost a little more at the
time, but the results, ease of use and added longevity will be worth the extra, and as a bonus, your tension troubles may be fewer and further between, because there is a more consistent diameter with good thread, and less compensating to be done by your tension plates and less thread breaks

Bargain Box

Posted on Sep 06, 2009

  • 201 Answers

SOURCE: can not adjust the upper thread tension tight

If you are adjusting the upper tension on your machine and yet there is no difference to the sewing, it seems to me that maybe your upper thread is not in the tension disks correctly. Re-thread taking care to make sure the threads bed down into the tension disks. I pull off about 2 foot of thread from the spool and put my right-hand finger on the thread very close to the spool (the idea is to hold it down so it doesn't move) then use my left hand to take the thread through the thread run. Once I get close to the needle, I tug the thread a little and you can hear/feel it go into the tension disk.

Sometimes it looks like the top thread is the problem, but in fact it is the bobbin which is at fault. Re-insert your bobbin again taking care to click it into its tension slot. If you are still getting bad results, try loosening off the bobbin tension. Use a tiny screwdriver to turn the tension screw (the one just on the outside of the tension slot). Turn it no more than 1/5th of a circle at a time (to the right to tighten, to the left to loosen) then put bobbin back in and test. You should not need to adjust it more than two or at most three times. If you do, something is seriously wrong with your machine's tensions and it needs to see the Sewing Machine Doctor.

Posted on Jun 15, 2010

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Try sewing but bottom thread on fabric is crumpING UP


needle thread tension is not adjusted up properly tighten the setting until you have resistance when you pull the thread to thread the needle

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I have Bernia 180. The bottom thread is puckering. Top thread is perfect. I cannot find help in manual. Please help


Check that the bobbin is inserted turning the proper direction in the bobbin case and that the thread is threaded correctly through the tension control on the bobbin case.

Make sure the upper thread is threaded correctly. The factory standard upper tension setting is midway between high & lower number although this may need to be tweaked for your particular machine.

If the machine is still pulling the bobbin thread too tight, you can try tightening the upper thread tension. If it still isn't resolved, you may need to loosen the bobbin tension.

You might also want to check the presser foot pressure on your machine. That generally needs adjustment when changing from thicker to thinner fabric and vice versa.

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Oct 02, 2016 | Bernina Sewing Machines

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Why can't thread tension be adjusted?


Upper thread breakage is usually caused by incorrect threading, the tension being too tight, or the thread is wrapped around the spool pin or catching somewhere in the thread path.

Remove the thread completely from the machine.

Install a brand new needle making sure it is compatible with the thread and fabric.
All About Needles

RAISE the presser foot and rethread the machine making sure it follows the correct thread path (consult the owner's manual). Verify that the bobbin is spinning the right direction in the bobbin case and the bobbin case is properly threaded.

Set the upper tension somewhere around the midway point between high & low numbers.

Retest.

If problems persist, there may be debris buildup stuck in the tension disk. Remove the thread. RAISE the presser foot, set the tension all the way to zero. Dampen a length of pearl cotton with rubbing alcohol and gently pull the pearl cotton DOWN through the tension disk a couple of times. Rethread with regular sewing thread, reset the tension to the midway point and retest.

If cleaning the tension disk does not help, then it is possible the tension disk is malfunctioning or broken. Take it for service.

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Feb 22, 2016 | Sewing Machines

1 Answer

How do I adjust tension?


Probably best to consult your owner's manual. If you don't have one, search the internet for:

Manufacturer + Model + the word "Manual"

HINT--BEFORE threading the upper thread, raise the presser foot so the thread will seat properly in the tension disk. Verify that you are threading everything correctly and not missing any steps.

The upper tension is the dial usually directly above the needle. About the halfway point between the high and low number is the standard factory setting, but that may have changed over time. Start with it set at that point and test, re-adjust, test... For most machines, the higher the number, the tighter the tension.

Correct tension is when the upper and bobbin threads meet in the middle of the fabric. If the bobbin tension is coming to the top of the fabric, the tension is too tight. If the upper thread is showing on the bottom of the fabric or is creating a loopy mess, the upper tension is too loose.

In most cases, the bobbin tension doesn't need adjusting. However, when you get into more adventurous sewing when you load different types of thread, ribbon, elastic, etc. in the bobbin, you might want to adjust the bobbin tension. In any event, be sure to mark the screwdriver slot setting on the bobbin case so you will be able to undue any adjustments you make. And, make only 1/8th turn adjustments at a time and then re-test. Small changes to bobbin tension will make a big impact in stitch quality. Some sewists will buy an extra bobbin case to keep on hand just for special projects.

Also, note that the upper tension will probably need re-adjustment when changing projects with different types or weights of fabric, thread, and needle. Get used to adjusting the upper tension to get the best stitch possible on every project.

...

Dec 06, 2015 | Sewing Machines

1 Answer

How do I adjust the tension?


Set our machine's upper tension dial somewhere around the midpoint (between the lowest & highest number).

RAISE the presser foot and then rethread the upper thread from the very beginning. (The tension disks are released when the presser foot is raised allowing the thread to seat properly.) (When testing tension, it helps to use different color threads in the bobbin vs the top thread so you can see how it is sewing.)

Sew a test on the fabric you will be stitching. The ideal tension is when the upper thread and bobbin thread meet in the middle of the fabric. If the bobbin thread is appearing on the top of the fabric, the upper tension is too tight and needs to be loosened. If the upper thread is appearing under the fabric, the upper tension is too loose and needs to be tightened. Righty-tighty and lefty-loosey!

...

Nov 19, 2015 | Sewing Machines

2 Answers

What are the dial for tension to be set at.


Hello Michele, I would check to see if the machine is threaded correctly. Your problem could be in the thread take up arm and thread tensioner.

Aug 24, 2015 | Singer 2662

2 Answers

How to adjust the bobbin tension.


According to the manual, you should not need to adjust the bobbin tension (and I located other sites which stated the bobbin tension cannot be adjusted on this machine). Apparently, all the tension adjustment is accomplished through the upper thread::
"EN Thread Tension Upper thread tension Basic thread tension setting: "4". (1) To increase the tension, turn the dial to the next number up. To reduce the tension, turn the dial to the next number down. A. Normal thread tension for straight stitch sewing. B. Thread tension too loose for straight stitch sewing. Turn dial to higher number. C. Thread tension too tight for straight stitch sewing. Turn dial to lower number. D. Normal thread tension for zig zag and decorative sewing. Correct thread tension is when a small amount of the upper thread appears on the bottom side of fabric. Lower thread tension The bobbin tension has been set correctly at the factory, so you do not need to adjust it. Please note: - Proper tension setting is important for strong seams. - There is no single tension setting appropriate for all stitch functions, thread or fabric. - A balanced tension (identical stitches both top and bottom) is usually only desirable for straight stitch construction sewing. - 90% of all sewing will be between "3" and "5". - For zig zag and decorative sewing stitch functions, thread tension should generally be less than for straight stitch sewing. - For all decorative sewing you will always obtain a nicer stitch and less fabric puckering when the upper thread appears on the bottom side of your fabric. 1 A B C 22 D"

Doing further research, I found this statement on a machine review site:
"After reading reviews online from where I've bought my drop-in bobbin machines, I think many of the negative reviews are due to the bobbin thread coming up without laying across the bobbin. It can cause the stitches to look very sloppy and no amount of tension adjusting can fix the stitches."

There are several machine review sites wherein 4423 owners stated their disappointment in the 4423's performance. Some said the machine failed almost immediately and others said the machines developed problems when sewing heavy fabric.

Apr 26, 2015 | Singer 4423 Sewing Machine

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My Singer XL 6000 upper thread is too tight and keeps breaking, when the presser foot is up the upper thread is loose, but when the presser foot is lowered the threah gets too tight, what I notice is that...


You need to loosen the tension on the machine. There is a dial that has numbers on it. The higher the dial is set, the tighter the tension is. Turn the dial to the left one number. Then try it. Do it over and over. Do not turn the dial all the way down or you will mess up your machine. Do it slowly, one number at a time and try the machine between dials.

Dec 22, 2014 | Singer Sewing Machines

1 Answer

My bobbin thread keeps looping and the top looks fine but pulls out easily. I tried adjusting the top tension, but it didn't help. What can I do?


There could be several things that could cause the machine not to pick up the bobbin thread.


1. The upper thread could be tangled. Remove the thread completely from the machine. The correct size spool cap should be used for the size of the thread spool. Re-thread the machine according to the directions in the manual.


2. Remove the bobbin and make sure the bobbin is threaded properly in the shuttle race. Remove any loose threads or lint in the shuttle race.


3. You could be holding the needle thread too tight. Hold the thread lightly to keep the end from going down into the shuttle.


4. The needle could be thread incorrectly. Thread the needle eye from the front to the back.


5. The needle could be bent or improperly inserted. Install a new needle with the flat side of the needle facing the back.


If the problem persists, your machine may require service.



The bobbin thread tension has already been adjusted at the factory for general use. For most applications, no adjustment is needed.

When sewing with then thread on thin fabrics, the thread tension may not be adjusted adequately with the upper tension control dial. Therefore, the thread tension must be adjusted according to the procedure described below.

If bobbin tension is too loose and locks appear on the surface of the fabric, decrease the thread tension by turning the dial to a lower number.

If the result is still not satisfactory, then adjust the bobbin thread tension.

Increase the tension in the bobbin by turning the screw with a small screwdriver in a clockwise direction. However, do not turn the screw more than one full turn.

Jun 19, 2011 | Brother XL-5340 Mechanical Sewing Machine

1 Answer

Tension dial on my sewing machine is not working


Hi, Liz. When you adjust your tension, be sure the pressure foot is down. The pressure foot needs to be up when you thread the machine so the thread will slip easily between the tension disks, but when you adjust the tension the disks have to be tight (pressure foot down).

There are other possibilities, but this is the best place to start running the problem down. Please let me know if this does the trick, ok, and if not, we can try something ele.


Happy Sewing


Robbie



Apr 01, 2010 | Janome Harmony 2039 Mechanical Sewing...

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