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Trouble with the top tension

If I pull the top thread it either gathers the fabric or pulls out completely

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  • Jean Eskeli
    Jean Eskeli May 01, 2015

    Thank you so much. I have been trying to find the answer and finding it. I made the adjustment and it did the trick

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  • Sewing Machines Master
  • 49,170 Answers

Adjust the tension of the bottom thread
this is done by the very small screw holding the piece of spring that you pull the thread under when you put the bobbin back in the holder/ case

Posted on Apr 30, 2015

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Posted on Jan 02, 2017

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1 Answer

I am sewing voile curtains, but the stitching keeps looping on the underside


Check your sample. Is it the top thread that is looping under the fabric? That is called bird nesting or thread nesting. It happens frequently if the top thread is not seated completely in the tension disk. It could also be a top tension problem.

Be sure to use a brand new needle compatible with the thread and fabric.
Remove the top thread from the machine.
ALWAYS RAISE the presser foot and rethread from the beginning.
Set the top tension to the midway point and test on a scrap of the same fabric. Adjust the top tension until the top and bobbin threads meet in the middle of the fabric. (Tightening the top tension will pull the bobbin thread up. Loosening the top tension will allow the bobbin thread to pull the top thread down.)

Jan 18, 2018 | Sewing Machines

1 Answer

My Toyota 444 sewing machine. When sewing,stitches ok on right side of material but underneath,stitches are entangled. sometimes it stops sewing and I have to pull thread out.


ALWAYS RAISE the presser foot when threading the top thread. (You will need to remove the top thread from the machine and rethread from the beginning.)

For tension, start out with it set about the mid-point on the tension dial. Then tweak it from there. If top thread is showing on the bottom of the fabric, tighten the top tension. If bobbin thread is showing on the top of the fabric, loosen the top tension. It's ideal when both threads meet in the middle of the fabric.

Sep 12, 2017 | Toyota Sewing Machines

2 Answers

Why is sewing machine thread gathering under fabric?


adjust the tension to a appropriate setting,
See the video here.
Sewing Help Sewing Machine Problem Thread Bunching Under Fabric
The knob and its location can differ based on the model of your sewing machine.

Oct 29, 2016 | Sewing Machines

2 Answers

How to baste?


Basting is simply using a long stitch that can be pulled out after you put the main stitch in. It holds fabric in the right place till it is sewn.

Sep 07, 2015 | Singer 9960 Quantum Stylist Sewing Machine

1 Answer

What is the setting for gathering


Loosen the top tension until you see little loops on the bottom. Lengthen stitch length. Test first on scrap to get it down... sew a line then gather by pushing and pulling the bobbin thread. (don't pull it out!!)

Another way to do it without a special foot is to zig zag over a cord. :)

Once you have the gathers distributed... re-tighten the top tension and test on scrap again... then stitch your gathers in place.

Jul 20, 2012 | Sewing Machines

1 Answer

Hyundai 8 stitch sewing machine confused beginner!?????


Not familiar with your machine, but an important suggestion for all sewing machines:

ALWAYS RAISE the presser foot when threading the top thread. If you did not do this, remove the top thread completely from the machine and start over by RAISING the presser foot and following the thread path. (Do NOT miss any thread guides or thread any out of order!)

Lower the presser foot and thread the needle. (The top thread will pull through the needle ONLY if the presser foot is raised!) RAISE the presser foot and pull at least 5 inches of thread through the needle. Insert your fabric. Lower the presser foot. Hold the thread tail gently in your left hand and with the right hand manually turn the handwheel one rotation. The needle should pull the bobbin thread up through the fabric.

While still holding the top thread tail, "sweep" under the presser foot with a stiletto, scissors, a nail file (anything that will fit under the presser foot) to pull the remaining bobbin thread tail above the fabric. Grab both thread tails and pull them under the presser foot toward the back of the machine. Now, you are ready to take your first stitch.

You can gently hold those thread tails while you slowly power the machine to take the first couple of stitches on your fabric.

Jun 27, 2017 | Sewing Machines

1 Answer

When i do gathers on my machine i use the largest sticth,but the gathers r hard to pull. y/


Stitch length of 4, loosen your top tension by half a number and always pull up the bobbin threads.

If you need to gather yards of fabric then get a gathering foot. Janome make one - it looks like this
10_24_2011_6_57_47_am.jpg

This foot is for creating soft gathers in lightweight fabrics. The underside of the foot is raised behind the needle and has a thick bar in front of the needle to gather the fabric. This works great to create the gathers as you sew. You can also gather and attach a ruffle onto a flat piece of fabric simultaneously, run the flat fabric through the top groove of the foot and the underneath fabric is gathered and stitched to the top piece, you need to keep the bottom piece feeding smoothly though so it takes practice to guide it evenly. Once mastered it is great to ruffle on valances and cushion frills.

Other option is use a ruffler foot, these will make a little ruffle every 12, 6 or 1 stitch so give a set result, and to obtain a more dramatic gather. They look like this.
10_24_2011_7_04_39_am.jpg

The arm of the foot with a C'shape sits over the needle bar of the machine so it is moved up and down to activate the device. The little blade at the front moves backwards at regular intervals forcing a "tuck" of fabric into the feed to be stitched. Again you can ruffle and stitch to straight fabric at once but it is an art to master.

The weight of the fabric you are gathering is obviously the key variable, ginghams and poplins are lightweight so gather easily but if you need to gather something heavy like cordoroy it is going to be a battle and threads may break. If so, stitch two lines of gathers and don't try to do long runs, you'll just break a thread and have to start over.

Another good way is to zig zag over a length of perle cotton, taking care not to actually stitch the pearle at all. You can then gather up the fabric along it, this works well for heavier weights.

Oct 22, 2011 | Janome Memory Craft 9000 Computerized...

2 Answers

Janome 4400 bought new bobbin holder but still have lots of issues with thread looping while sewing. The repair person says I pull the thread forward after cutting it and undo the proper bobbin threading....


looping the material ( bird nesting) is an indication of incorrect needle thread tension before threading the needle pull the thread and there should be resistance to the pulling

Nov 15, 2017 | Janome MC 4400 Computerized Sewing Machine

1 Answer

Does the XL 3200 have a gathering stitch?


You will need a gathering foot, a shirring foot or a ruffler - http://www.sewingmachine-sales.co.uk/sewing_machine_info/video/sewing-machine-feet.php

You can however, gather without these accessories.

Lay crochet thread down the line you want to gather and zig-zag over it anchoring one end and then pull up the gathers.

Another method is to make long stitches and pull the thread to gather.

Make a sample with the same fabric you will be gathering to see which technique works best for you.

Mar 04, 2010 | Sewing Machines

1 Answer

Thread jams


Hi! I've had this happen to me many times and it is so very frustrating! First, take the bobbin out and also the bobbin assembly and clean the entire area of all lint, fuzz, little bits of thread....get it as clean as you can. Take out the upper thread too. Clean and oil. Change the needle. Make sure you're using the appropriate size and type of needle and thread for the fabric. Take off the needle plate and look for any nicks or scratches. If you've got them, you can get emery cloth from a good hardware store (often in the plumbing department) and polish them out (or mostly out).

Rethread the machine, carefully following the instruction manual. Use your basic, normal settings. Using a scrap of the fabric you're trying to gather, sew a seam and see if everything works ok. You may need to hold the top and bobbin thread firmly behind the needle as you sew the first few stitches (I find this little trick helps a lot to prevent birdsnests).

To gather, sew three parallel lines of long, basting stitches (you really don't need a special foot or special settings other than to make the stitch a long one). Don't backstitch, reverse, or lockstitch either end, and leave the thread long when you cut it. Pull the three bobbin threads and the fabric with gather nicely along them.

Something to keep in mind--if you're trying to gather very sheer fabric on a zigzag machine, you may need to replace the throat plate with the zigzag hole for a throat plate with a single, small hole for a straight stitch. I've run into this situation before, and ended up using one of my antique straight-stitch only machines to do the gathering.

If you don't have a throat plate with the single hole, you might try some light weight interfacing to give some density to the sheet fabric.


Hope this helps!

Jan 31, 2010 | Euro-Pro Sewing Machines

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