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Cannot get the tension to work correctly. The lower thread stays loose no matter what tension setting I put it on. Can you help?

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  • Sewing Machines Master
  • 1,388 Answers

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....

cannot get the tension to work correctly. The - 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 !

.bargainbox.com.au

Posted on Aug 02, 2009

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2 Answers

When sewing a straight stich The bottom thread is loose.


Your upper and lower thread tensions are out of balance. The upper thread tension is too high or your lower thread tension is too low. Make sure your bobbin thread is correctly routed under the tension spring. There is a small screw on the bobbin case that always you to adjust tension.

Feb 20, 2017 | Sewing Machines

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When i sew a test piece of fabric on my sewing machine to check the stitching, the top thread seems fine but the bottom thread is loose and adjusting the tension doesn't seem to help


there are two thread tensioners on a machine
the first one is on the front of the machine for the top thread
the second is the small screw that holds the small flat spring under which you pull the thread after you put the bobbin in the holder
as you put the bobbin in the holder you have to pull the thread around the side until it slips into a small slot then under a retainer spring
that spring is adjustable by that small screw
the amount of tension added or released by that screw is minute so as little as 1/8 turn has a big bearing on the amount of tension of the bobbin thread so turn it just a small bit at a time until the thread tension is correct

Oct 14, 2015 | Sewing Machines

1 Answer

I have a bernette 134 and the tread keeps breaking , the lower loop thread , no matter how I set the tension , upper or lower this thread keeps breaking , HELP


Serger thread breaks

1. Is the serger threaded correctly?

2. Is the needles inserted correctly?

3. Is one of the needles bent or damaged?

4. Is the tension adjusted too tightly?

5. Is the tension adjusted to accommodate thickness of thread being used?

6. Are you using inferior quality thread?

7. Is the thread feeding of the cone/spool freely?

8. Is the needle size correct for the type of fabric being used?

9. Are the needles being used the correct one for the serger?

10.check in the needle plate area to see if there is a burr

11. Check the looper to see if there is a burr or if it looks damaged


If all of the above suggestions don't help then the serger needs to be checked to see if there is something wrong with the loopers and also see if there is a problem with the tension.

Aug 22, 2013 | Sewing Machines

1 Answer

The stiches at the botton are loose,it sound good at sewing but somehow it still a real mess ,no matter how i tried all different adjustment in the control bottons..


Looping on the underside is an indication that your top thread is not under tension. So you need to check again on the top threading up and make sure the thread is seated into the tension discs. Always thread up with the pressure foot raised to open up the tension device. Make sure the thread goes into the tension device, to test, lower the pressure foot and pull on the thread downwards - it should feel firm and resist pulling. If you can't get any tension onto the top thread, then the tension device may be broken.

You should not need to adjust the bottom tension at all.

If a machine is set up correctly the top tension should only need finessing by half a number at the most.

Sep 24, 2011 | Singer 5050 Mechanical Sewing Machine

1 Answer

Since my needle tip broke, the stiching is loose on the underside. I have replaced the needle, rethreaded it several times, put a new bobbin in and it still has loose threading on the underside. I have...


Loose stitches on underside is a sign that the top thread is not under enough tension. So you need to check that the tension dial is set to correct setting (usually 4 or 5) and that the top thread is actually in the tension discs. Always thread up with the pressure foot raised to ensure the tension discs are wide open so the thread seats in fully.

So unthread top and rethread checking thread goes into the tension device fully. Lower pressure foot and pull on the thread after the tension device - it should feel firm.

Also check thread is lying in the take up lever correctly.

If you can't get it threaded up and feel tension on the top thread, then something is up with the top tension device.

You could try to clean the tension device, how you do this varies with different models but if you can access the discs, then turn tension to zero and 'floss" between the metal discs with a selvage edge of a clean piece of waste cotton fabric, if gunk comes out, keep cleaning. Refer to your manual if you've never cleaned the tension device out before. Remember to reset tension back to normal setting afterwards, rethread and try again.

If after trying these things, you can not feel any tension on the top thread, then the tension device may have broken and you'll need to take it for a service.

Jul 19, 2011 | Sewing Machines

1 Answer

Lower thread tension very loose


is the bobbin threaded correctly? the screw on the bobbin case is the point to adjust its tension.

May 27, 2010 | Brother Sewing Machines

1 Answer

L-344 loose stiching


You need to do a tension assembly test. Normal 0 MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman";} Tension assembly test. To do this test. Pull the thread through the tension assembly and test it to make sure the tension is working correctly.
(To do this test, adjust your tension setting to normal or medium or 5 or something in the middle. Raise the presser foot and pull the thread through the tension. It should pull easily!! Lower the presser foot and pull the thread. It should pull noticeably harder.)
If it doesn’t work this way then you probably have a piece of thread or lint stuck inside the tension discs. To remove it, turn the tension to 0 zero and raise the presser foot.Using a small screwdriver, open the space between the discs and spray with canned or compressed air. The stuff should come out. Do the tension test again to make sure you got everything and then try sewing again.
sewman7

Dec 22, 2008 | Janome L-344 Mechanical Sewing Machine

1 Answer

Lower thread tension is too loose but no adjustment seems to work


From your description it appears that you have tried tension settings on the upper tension control adjustment knob without success.
Check that the bobin tension is adjusted correctly by taking out the bobin complete with the spool.
Pull the cotton thread and it should be a smooth light pressure if the tension is correct. If it is tight to pull or pulls freely then adjust the tension screw which is found on the outside of the bobbin. The screw is very small and requires a minature size screwdriver. The adjustment will only be a slight turn of the screw one way or the other to obtain the correct tension(depending if it was loose or tight).
Once this is set reinstall the bobin and tread up the machine, hopefully with the upper tension set at approx."2" the machine will sew correctly.

Nov 28, 2008 | Brother LS-2125 Mechanical Sewing Machine

1 Answer

Stiching


It's very possible the bobbin is in upside down and the thread is coming out of the lower tension. Pull on the thread and the bobbin should turn counter clockwise if it is correct . If it turns clockwise, flip the bobbin over , put the thread through the lower tension and try it again. The topside stitch is loose either because the lower tension is loose(or non-existent) or the top thread is too tight.
sewman7

Jul 06, 2008 | Janome 4623 Mechanical Sewing Machine

1 Answer

Tension on stitches


Loose bottom stitches mean the UPPER tension has a problem. Pull the thread through the tension assembly and test it to make sure the tension is working correctly.
(To do this test, adjust your tension setting to normal or medium or 5 or something in the middle. Raise the presser foot and pull the thread through the tension. It should pull easily!! Lower the presser foot and pull the thread. It should pull noticeably harder.) If it does not work this way( the tension stays loose) you will need to set the tension to Zero, open the discs with a small screwdriver and remove the lint or thread which is stuck in there.
Sewman7

Jul 01, 2008 | Euro-Pro 9120 Computerized Sewing Machine

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