Question about Kenmore 15208 Mechanical Sewing Machine

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Can't get Bobbin to wind properly

I have a Kenmore model 385 1278191. sewing machine.
When I wind my bobbin it just tangles. Doesn't wind evenly. Then when i try to sew, it just gets tangled up and breaks my sewing machine neeeles. I am frustrated with this. Can you help?
J. Semonco

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6 Suggested Answers

  • 192 Answers

SOURCE: my bobbin keeps getting tangled up when I sew

Take the thread out of the top and bottom and turn the handwheel by hand to see if the machine will rotate smoothly.
Rethread, making sure that the thread is in the bobbin tension slot and that the upper thread is in the tension and the take up lever.

Sorry for the delay in response. I just found the sight this evening.

Posted on Nov 14, 2007

  • 27 Answers

SOURCE: Brother Sewing Machine model:CS8150 bobbin thread problems

The top of the machine is not threaded correctly. First raise the presserfot then rethread the machine. Bottom looping is usually caused by a lack of top tension. There could allso be a bur on the hook.

Posted on Feb 23, 2008

  • 110 Answers

SOURCE: singer solid state-bobbin part

Check your tension disks, with your presser foot up, and the tension dial on zero. Sometimes a piece of cotton breaks off between the tension disks and then prevents the disks to work properly. Also make sure when you thread the machine, the thread does go through the disks and over the take up lever. After you threaded the machine, before putting the thread through the eye of the needle, lower the presser foot and while pulling on the thread with your left hand, increase the tension with your right hand. Do it slowly and you should feel in difference in tension. If this is the case, your machine should work fine. Also use a ball-point needle on t shirt material. Good luck!

Posted on Nov 03, 2008

  • 1388 Answers

SOURCE: tangle in bobbin area, stuck needle

Please TRY the solution BEFORE giving your considered rating.

Ensure that all is clean and free of lint and jams, this is the most likely 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.

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

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 

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 !

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.

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 .....actually .....need adjust the bobbin case, first check there is no lint trapped in the metal spring where the thread is tensioned. 

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 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 !

....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
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 is, 
and eventually, you do get a "feel" for the correct tension and then it happens quite 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 !?!?!)

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 ? 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 !)

If it is worth spending the time, energy and money on making something that you would like to give lasting enjoyment......use quality thread, 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 !

Posted on Nov 13, 2008

  • 323 Answers

SOURCE: Sears Kenmore Sewing Machine Model 385. 1254180 Bobbin Won't Wind

On some of these machines when the bobbin winder is on it stops the rest of the machine from working. Push the bobbin winder mechanism to the left and see if your machine will work.

Posted on Jan 23, 2009

  • 111 Answers

SOURCE: its like it is getting tangled in bobbin casing

loopy on bottom means upper threading or tension is wrong

Posted on Aug 23, 2009

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How do I refill the thread bobbin on a Kenmore sewing maching,,model 148-19371

You can try a couple of YouTube videos:

Loading thread on the bobbin old Kenmore sewing machine
(do not wind the bobbin as fast as he does as it tends to stretch the thread and also could cause the spool to fly off the machine!)

How to wind Bobbin Winder Sears Kenmore Sewing Machine 158 12270 158

or order an Owner's Manual for your machine:
... Sewing Parts Online Search


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1 Answer

Tangled thread after winding new bobbin

Try winding it the opposite way you are doing it now in regards speed. If you are winding it on full speed, try winding the bobbin slower. If you are winding it slow, try faster. Also check that the thread is threading properly and is not catching somewhere, and also that the tension is correct. Finally, test with a thread that you have not experienced problems before.

Jun 30, 2015 | Sewing Machines

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Thread bunches up when replacing thread on bobbin

If the thread is bunching or tangling when winding a bobbin, check that you have properly threaded the winder. Especially make sure you are running the thread through the bobbin tension assembly.

Aug 21, 2014 | Singer 5050 Mechanical Sewing Machine

2 Answers

I only want to know if the wheel must be loosened to wind the bobbin and if so with direction, to the front or backwards and press and turn or pull and turn.thanks

Which make and model sewing machine do you have?

None of my sewing machines need the wheel to be loosened for bobbin winding. The Singer Touch & Sew bobbins are filled in place. Use the handwheel to get the needle into the highest position (just turn the wheel). Wrap the top thread around the screw that holds the presser foot; open the slide plate part way and press the bobbin wind button. Hold the top thread and then begin winding by stepping on the foot pedal.. The thread should break after a few winds.

The Kenmore and the Husqvarna Vikings both get wound at the top. Place bobbin on winding pin. With the needle up and metal presser foot in place thread the top thread up to the bobbin (through the guides) and up through the hole in the bobbin. Slide the bobbin winding switch over towards the bobbin. Hold the thread tightly and begin winding (step on the foot control). After a few winds are on the bobbin, cut the thread that you were holding flush with the top of the bobbin. Continue winding the bobbin. (The newest Viking in the group has a computer screen; on that one, do not press OK until done winding the bobbin.)

However, if the handwheel is not turning and the needle is down, first find out why it isn't turning properly. This could indicate a tangle of thread somewhere in the system. (The older Husqvarna sewing machine in my home has a non-functional handwheel. The machine will still sew but you have to use the needle up/down switch that forces the needle to stop in the up position before you run out of bobbin.)

Please add a comment with the specifics of your sewing machine and I'll be glad to add additional information.

I hope this helps.

Cindy Wells

Feb 28, 2012 | Sewing Machines

1 Answer

Bobbin stich is uneven and a tangled mess

you can dowload a manual from the singer website

If the bottom stitching is uneven, its mostly the top thread not under tension correctly so check the tension dial and the threading up from the thread spool to the needle.

Also, review how you wind a bobbin, you want a nice smooth wind, not twisting or uneven build across the bobbin. The manual for this machine is pretty brief on this but bobbin winding is crucial to getting a good even flow from the bobbin when stitching seams. You want to wind thread smoothly onto the bobbin, across the full width of it, not just mainly in the middle. Give the thread a nudge with your finger tip to fill top and bottom as it winds.

Also, ensure the thread goes through the bobbin tension disc on top of the machine, and even then, use your scissors handle to put some downward gentle pressure onto the thread spool you are winding off so it doesn't jump or bounce as you wind. Wind the bobbin to 3/4 full, then stop.

And lastly, load the bobbin correctly following the manual directions, make sure it is turning the right way in the bobbin case. Also look at page 16, it shows the "dangle" test where you can check the tension on the bobbin case is right, you should be able to dangle the bobbin by the thread tail and it should "stay" but you should be able to pull on it to release thread too. Adjust the little tension screw in minute increments to get this right. Bobbin case tension springs can fail or break too, so check this out.

Hope this helps you; it is my experience that 90% of machine issues are caused by blunt or wrong sized needles, wrong threading, no tension or incorrect tension or lack of maintenance.

Apr 16, 2011 | White Sewing 1888 Mechanical Sewing...

1 Answer

I need to know how to thread a bobbin?

TRY THIS, itma not be your model, but should help Title:
How do I wind the bobbin? windingbobbin_02.jpg
ac093.jpg Pre-tension disk ac094.jpg Bobbin winder shaft ac095.jpg Bobbin

1. Pull up the spool pin as far as possible, and then put a spool of thread on this pin. windingbobbin_a0991.jpg
2. Pass the thread around the pre-tension disk. Make sure that the thread passes under the pre- tension disk.
windingbobbin_a0992.jpg ac098.jpg Pre-tension disk c_b4.jpg Pulling it in as far as possible

Caution If the spool of thread is not in the right place, the thread may tangle on the spool pin.

3. Pass the end of the thread through the hole on the bobbin from the inside of the bobbin. windingbobbin_a0993.jpg
4. Put the bobbin onto the bobbin winder shaft and slide the bobbin winder shaft to the right. windingbobbin_a0994.jpg
5. Turn the bobbin clockwise, by hand, until the spring on the shaft slides into the groove of the bobbin. windingbobbin_a0995.jpg ac099.jpg Spring on the shaft ac0991.jpg Groove of the bobbin

6. Turn on the sewing machine. windingbobbin_a0996.jpg
7. While holding the end of the thread, gently press the foot controller or press start/ stop button (for models equipped with the start/stop button) to wind the thread around the bobbin a few times. Then stop the machine. windingbobbin_a0997.jpg
  • If the sewing machine is to be operated using the foot controller, connect the foot controller before turning on the machine.
  • When the foot controller is plugged in, the start/stop button cannot be used to start sewing (only for models equipped with the start/stop button).

8. Trim the excess thread above the bobbin. windingbobbin_a0998.jpg
Caution Make sure you follow the instructions carefully.
If you do not cut the thread completely, and the bobbin is wound, when the thread runs low it may tangle around the bobbin and cause the needle to break.

9. Slide the sewing speed controller to the right (to set the speed to fast).
(For models equipped with the sewing speed controller.) windingbobbin_a0999.jpg ac0992.jpg Sewing speed controller
10. Press the foot controller or press start/stop button (for models equipped with the start/stop button) to start. windingbobbin_a18.jpg
11. When the bobbin seems full and begins spinning slowly, take your foot off the foot controller or press start/stop button (for models equipped with the start/stop button). windingbobbin_a19.jpg
12. Cut the thread, slide the bobbin winder shaft to the left and remove the bobbin. windingbobbin_a191.jpg
13. Slide the sewing speed controller back to its original position (for models equipped with the sewing speed controller). windingbobbin_a192.jpg

Caution Not winding the bobbin properly may cause the thread tension to loosen, and may break the needle.
woundbobbin3.jpg ac0993.jpg Wound evenly ac0994.jpg Wound poorly

  • When the sewing machine is started or the handwheel is turned after winding the thread around the bobbin, the machine will make a clicking sound; this is not a malfunction.
  • The needle bar does not move when you slide the bobbin winding shaft to the right.

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Can't wind bobbin kenmore 16221 sewing machine, no manual

On the right side of the machine there is a large knob at the top. Pull that out and you can wind your bobbin. Don't forget to push it back in so you can sew :)

Dec 22, 2008 | Kenmore Drop-In Bobbin 16231 Mechanical...

3 Answers

My bobbin keeps getting tangled up when I sew

Take the thread out of the top and bottom and turn the handwheel by hand to see if the machine will rotate smoothly.
Rethread, making sure that the thread is in the bobbin tension slot and that the upper thread is in the tension and the take up lever.

Sorry for the delay in response. I just found the sight this evening.

Apr 20, 2007 | White Sewing 1740 Mechanical Sewing...

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