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My machine is bunching cotton up under the fabric. Apparently the bobbin is out of time. how do I get it back in to time? It's an old machine, black with a white motor on the back and an electric footpedal. May well be converted from a n old hand windy one...Any help gratefully received.

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  • Sewing Machines Master
  • 1,388 Answers

Rubbish....bobbins do not go out of time, it is lint or thread caught in the top tension unit.
Read on.........
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....

My machine is bunching cotton up under the fabric. - 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

Best Wishes
Martyn
Bargain Box in Australia

Posted on Sep 10, 2009

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I am a new sewer have a Brither BM-2600 what numbers on the dial do I have for just plain stitching I have tried lots of combinations but the cotton underneath is all bunching up and not sewing right


I am not sure as to your machine, are you saying a "brother" machine? If your tension is set, say on 6 and it is too tight, turn the dial one more number......to a 7 or to a five and then check again. Also, I would rethread the machine and also take the bobbin out and then put it back into the machine. A lot of times, the bobbin isn't threaded into the machine correctly and it bunches up. Also, you can't use certain thick thread on some machines.

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I'm having trouble properly threading my Elna 1010. Could you please help? The bobbin thread keeps bunching up and breaking


bunching of thread under the material is an indication of insufficient tension of the needle thread
increase the needle tension until the threads meet at the center of the materialbeing sewn

Jul 26, 2016 | Elna Sewing Machines

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The cotton not bunching up in the bobbin case


Install a brand new needle.

Remove all the thread.

Clean the lint and debris from the bobbin area, feed dogs, and under the needleplate. Oil as (if) recommended in the manual--use only fresh, good quality sewing machine oil--and only 1-2 drops each place.

Always RAISE the presser foot when threading! Rethread from the beginning confirming the thread path is correct.

Set the upper tension to the midway point. The tension will probably need some tweaking to get it where it should be for your project. (Tweaking tension is a common & frequent adjustment to make, especially when changing projects using different fabric weights, thread, etc.)

Retest your machine.

If it is still globbing thread under the needleplate, you may need to take it for service.

...

Jun 04, 2016 | Sewing Machines

1 Answer

Cotton is loose/looping under material?


Sounds like bird nesting.
The #1 thing is to install a brand new needle (old, worn, nicked, or bent needles can create a lot of havoc).

Remove all the thread from the machine. RAISE the presser foot and rethread from the beginning verifying that it is threaded correctly. Make sure the bobbin is loaded and threaded in the bobbin case properly.

WHY IS THREAD BUNCHING UNDERNEATH MY FABRIC

Why Do Get Bunched Up Thread Under My Fabric

8 Tips to Fix Birdnesting in Embroidery
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Jan 28, 2016 | Sewing Machines

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I'm using Empisal Dressmaker 270D sewing machine. My problem is. When I sew the underneath cotton is loose


Usually, if the thread is bunching or looping under the fabric, the upper tension is too loose.. But if the bobbin thread is showing on the top of the fabric, the upper tension is too tight.

The tension is correct when both the upper and lower threads meet in the middle of the fabric.

...

Sep 26, 2015 | Sewing Machines

1 Answer

Material bunching due to cotton looping from the bobbin how do i correct this please


It sounds like you have what is referred to as "thread nesting" or birdnesting. If the upper thread is actually creating a mess under the fabric, then the upper tension most likely needs to be tighter.

Here are some other suggestions:
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Aug 06, 2015 | Sewing Machines

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My bobbin keeps bunching up. I've changed the tension to 2, taken the bobbin case out, used a different bobbin....I don't know what to do. My machine is a month old and I've used it, maybe 4...


Put the tension back up to about 5. Rethread the machine entirely, and make sure you have the pressure foot in the up position when you rethread. If your getting bunching on the bottom, it's probably your top thread that's bunching up. After you rethread, put a small piece of fabric under the pressure foot, lower the pressure foot, and turn the handwheel in the forward direction and watch the thread as it comes around the bobbin case. If it goes around smoothly, try it with the foot control. If it hangs up as it goes around the bobbin case, you might have a burr on the black plastic bobbin case. Take it out, check for any burrs, sand them down, and try again.

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