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Upper thread too tight...

I have adjusted the tensionn for the uppeer thread on my machine and nothing is working.  I took the unit off the machine and cleaned it and it still isn't working right.  Please help!!!

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Re: Upper thread too tight...

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....

ec12ddb.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.

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 consistant diameter with good thread, and less compensating to be done by your tension plates and less thread breaks !

If you want any more help with this, just post back here, or, drop a line through the "Contact Us" page at

Posted on Feb 23, 2008

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Is it possible to change the foot it also possible

Some machines do have a presser foot pressure adjustment. Since you didn't provide a make/model, we're not able to assist further. You'll have to consult your owner's manual.

The upper tension is usually totally adjustable. As a matter of fact, the upper tension is the first place to adjust tension. Just be sure to RAISE the presser foot when threading the upper thread so it will seat in the tension disk. If the upper thread is showing under the fabric, it is too loose. If the bobbin thread is pulling to the top of the fabric, the upper tension is too tight. Tension will change with needle, thread, and fabric, so before beginning a new project, always test on a scrap piece of the fabric first. The tension is correct when the upper thread and bobbin thread meet in the middle of the fabric.

As a sewist, you should become comfortable with adjusting the upper tension as needed.


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Why is the bobbin thread bunching up?

if your saying that your bobbin thread is balling up under the platen plate , this is a sure sign that your top thread tension is not correct and there isn't enough tension to pull the bobbin thread up from below

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Bobbin thread is straight adjusting upper tension does nothing

Remove the upper thread. RAISE the presser foot and rethread from the beginning. (This opens the tension disk so the thread will seat properly.)

Set the upper tension to the midway point between high & low number and retest your stitch. See if the upper tension is now controlling the upper thread. You may have to move the upper tension a bit to achieve the optimum tension. Both upper and bobbin thread should meet in the middle of the fabric.

If the bobbin thread is really tight and holding the upper thread down, then the bobbin case needs a tension adjustment. Search the internet for instructions to adjust bobbin tension.

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The bobbin thread shows to the front. Does the bobbin or thread tension need adjusted

Generally, tension adjustments are made using the upper thread tension. Most likely the upper tension is set too tight and is pulling the bobbin thread up. Loosen the upper tension and try again. Tension is accurate when the upper thread and bobbin thread meet in the middle of the fabric. Whenever fabric, thread & needle are changed, there may be a need to adjust the upper tension.

HINT: When threading the upper thread, make sure the presser foot is RAISED during threading to make sure the upper tension disks are open and the thread seats properly.

Bobbin tension is only adjusted when the tensions are way out of whack. Only slight turns of the bobbin case tension screw are made in graduated movements and testing occurs after each adjustment.


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Top thread too tight. Bobbin thread too loose. Bobbin thread bunches up underneath material. The feeder teeth can not feed material through

first thing first - thread inside bobbin should be tightly wound in. Insert bobbin into bobbin case and thread through slot and under the spring. Spring has small screw which regulates the tension. Hold the thread like yo-yo and jerk a little down-up. It should drop just a little (not run down) - that is usually required bottom thread tension,
if not, regulate with the screw. Set top thread tension 3 and sew. If still looping under, increase the top tension higher till the looping disappears. .

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When i thread itdown aroundand back up to thread take up it gets tight before i thread the needle

check that you have the thread between the two plates that form part of the upper thread tensioner
when threading it is very possible to have the thread go behind a plate and get jammed on the adjuster thread
other than that loosen of the thread adjuster a bit

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When I start to sew, the thread gets bunched up around the hook race unit

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My Singer XL 6000 upper thread is too tight and keeps breaking, when the presser foot is up the upper thread is loose, but when the presser foot is lowered the threah gets too tight, what I notice is that...

You need to loosen the tension on the machine. There is a dial that has numbers on it. The higher the dial is set, the tighter the tension is. Turn the dial to the left one number. Then try it. Do it over and over. Do not turn the dial all the way down or you will mess up your machine. Do it slowly, one number at a time and try the machine between dials.

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Check the spindle the thread is mounted on and see if it\'s wrapped around it. Sometimes thread will catch and wrap around the spool spindle and break.

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Replace the needle.. a burr in the eye can cause upper thread to break. Needles should be replaced often, modern fibres can be hard on them, they get dull and that\'s no help for anything either.

Make sure the thread spool is mounted on the spindle with the thread coming off as directed in the manual. Some machines only work when the thread feeds in the right direction from the spool.

It can also be a tension issue.. tight upper tension or tight bobbin tension. Bobbin tension may be adjustable manually, but it\'s pretty rare for it be a problem. Upper tension, I don\'t know. I\'ve yet to get into computer machines so am not familiar with how they set upper tension.

But the mechanism that produces the tension can wear out or break and need replacement.

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