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The bobbin thread is bunching up and sometimes

I am quilting a baby quilt with simple straight lines (I've made several) but today my machine is not cooperating. The bobbin thread is bunching up and sometimes loose in the same seamlines. My fabric is tucking on the underside as well. Help! I'm tired of ripping out seams...What should I do?

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  • 208 Answers

Take the bobbin out and unthread the machine.

Install a new needle.

Place the needle bar in its highest position and place the presser bar up.

Make sure that the upper tension dial is in the normal range (5 or mark on dial).

Rethread the bobbin ensuring that the thread is in the tension.

Rethread the machine.

If this doesn't help, please indicate your brand and model for specific advice.

Posted on Jun 27, 2009

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Posted on Jan 02, 2017

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How do I adjust tension on a Janome 1600p-qc for machine quilting?


Adjust the tension the same way as sewing regular projects. You want the top and bobbin threads to meet in the middle of the quilt sandwich. When quilting, I use a lighter weight thread so I have a separate bobbin case whose tension has been tightened specifically for quilting. For other sewing projects using a standard thread weight, I use a bobbin case that is factory set and then adjust the top thread tension for each project.

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Sounds like the upper tension needs to be tightened, or the bobbin thread needs to be loosened. At any rate, the tension is correct when the two threads meet in the middle of the fabric for general sewing.

For free motion quilting, the tension should be adjusted so that the bobbin thread does not show on the top of the fabric, however, it should not lay in a straight line like it sounds like it may appear currently. What you are currently producing is a gathering stitch where the bobbin thread can be easily pulled.

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12 wt thread generally will not work well in the bobbin...


"Aurifil 12wt Thread
Aurifil 12 wt thread is ideal for hand quilting, big stitch hand quilting and machine quilting. 12 weight thread creates a more defined and often primitive look. It's great for designs that use a longer stitch length if using a machine. When machine quilting with 12 wt thread, use 40 wt in the bobbin, increase your stitch length, lower your tension, use Topstitch size 90 needles and stitch slowly."

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from what you said about the bobbin thread continues to break
check for burrs in the following area--even the smallest burr can cause problems
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My experiences with thread breaking with machine on a quilting frame make me look at the upper tension being set too high, the needle being worn or movement of the machine is too fast. Reduce the upper tension first, then sew in straight lines at first. See if you can sew slowly, in straight lines and reduce the upper tension until the thread stops breaking. If so, try some 1-2 inch circles, again going slowly. If the needle thread is pulling to the back, you will need to increase the upper tension again until the stitches meet in the middle of the fabric. If you can't locate a balanced spot where the needle thread is not pulling to the back side and thread doesn't break, try taking the machine off of the frame and sewing on a table. If it won't sew this way, it needs some professional help. If it does, you will probably save a lot of time taking it in for service, making sure to explain to the repair center that you have problems on a quilting frame, not while sewing normally. When the machine is adjusted to sew normally on a table and you move it to the frame, you will probably need to reduce the tension by 1-2 complete turns of the tension knob.

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