Every stitch I try to use acts like it's working, then I realize that it's not threading the fabric. It started it, then doesn't continue and the back of the fabric has a mess of bundled threads. It keeps telling me to rethread the needle but the need it never unthreaded.
Sewing machine is a Brother SE 350 Sewing machine & Embroidery Machine
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Not sure what you mean by "tacking" stitch. Are the stitches exceedingly long like a basting stitch? That would need a stitch length adjustment so stitches are closer together.
Or, do you mean the tension is loose between stitches? You can try tightening the top tension to see if that helps. (Be sure to ALWAYS RAISE the presser foot when threading the top thread so the thread will seat completely in the tension disk or you may end up with lots of top thread showing under the fabric.) If the bobbin thread is too loose, you may need to adjust its tension.
Check your stitch sample. The loose stitches under the fabric--are they actually top thread???? Usually,stitch problems under the fabric is a result of a top thread problem. In this case, it could be bird nesting.
Remove the top thread from the machine.
Install a brand new needle.
ALWAYS RAISE the presser foot.
Rethread from the beginning.
If the thread problem appears under the fabric, it is a top thread issue.
If the thread problem appears on the top of the fabric, the bobbin thread is the issue.
Perhaps the upper thread is not seated completely in the tension disk. Remove the upper thread from the machine, ALWAYS RAISE the presser foot, then rethread from the beginning. Make sure the thread path is correct. Test your stitch.
If the thread is still looping under the fabric, the upper tension is too loose. Set the upper tension to the midway point. Test and adjust the tension until it is where you want it. Preferred tension is when both threads meet in the middle of the fabric.
Use a brand new needle that is best suited for the thread weight and type of fabric you are stitching. All About Needles
Be sure that you ALWAYS RAISE the presser foot when threading the upper thread. This releases the tension disk so the thread will seat properly. Also, if it continues to have loose stitches underneath, tighten the upper tension.
Tension is a balancing act between the upper tension and the bobbin tension. Balanced tension (which is not always necessary) is when the two threads meet between the layers of fabric. Not all unbalanced stitches are a tension problem. You can have loops under the fabric from a failed take up lever, improper clearance between the positioning finger or even a burr or lint. First I check the upper tension. If you can not make the upper tension normal pinching the thread after it comes off the spool will act as a tension device. If this solves your problem then start with cleaning.
You may have lint between the tension discs at the top next to the take up lever. Clean this out with the presser foot up. Next install a new needle size 80 and thread the machine. When you lower the presser foot and pull the thread the spring steel the needle is made of should bend 1/8 of an inch at normal tension. Between 3-5. If this does not happen turn to a larger number on the tension assembly. If this does not deflect the needle as you pull the thread to the left rear of the machine your tension assembly needs repair or replacement.
The bobbin tension is controlled by a spring on the bobbin case or bobbin basket (depends on the sewing machine). This spring can also get lint under it. The lint can hold the tension discs open causing no tension. This may be the problem if you see the lower thread pulling up to the top of the fabric. Normal tension on the lower thread is usually 150-200 grains. That may not mean much to you and you may not have a scale to measure that. One simple trick is to take a wooden clothes pin and glue 3 pennies to it. I then use this as a weight to set the bobbin tension. I clip the clothes pin to the thread and set it on the work bench. Next raise the bobbin case or bobbin basket without touching the thread or bobbin. Then tighten the tension screw on the bobbin case until the clothes pin lifts off the work bench.
This gives you a good place to start on balancing the tensions. Set up a straight stitch at the mid range of 2-3mm long and sew. Turn the upper tension dial to the mid range 3-5 and observe the stitch. If the bottom of the fabric shows too much top thread tighten the upper tension. If the top of the fabric shows too much lower thread loosen the upper tension. I recommend playing with your tensions to learn what too loose and too tight a tension look like. Sometimes we want the upper tension really loose to do a basting stitch. If you want to pucker (gather) you can create a long stitch and play with the tensions. A tight upper tension will pucker thin fabric. You can also gather fabric manually by using a long stitch and a loose upper tension then bunch the fabric together on the loose threads.
After all that it may be easier to take this to your local dealer and ask for advice.
Have a great day and keep on sewing.
12 wt thread generally will not work well in the bobbin...
"Aurifil 12wt Thread
Aurifil 12 wt thread is ideal for hand quilting, big stitch hand quilting and machine quilting. 12 weight thread creates a more defined and often primitive look. It's great for designs that use a longer stitch length if using a machine. When machine quilting with 12 wt thread, use 40 wt in the bobbin, increase your stitch length, lower your tension, use Topstitch size 90 needles and stitch slowly."
it's very possible that the machine is slightly out of time & needs to be service at a sewing machine shop is the fabric & thread & needle compatable with each other? did you use every thread guide when threading the machine? is the bobbin in correctly? is the bobbin warped?
To correct loose stitches, try the following: (1) Balance the thread tension. If the stitches are loose on top of the fabric, decrease the tension to the next lower number. If they are loose on the underside set the tension to the next higher number. (2) Make sure the needle/upper thread follows the threading path. (3) Check to see that the bobbin case is threaded properly. (4) Use a different size needle. For fine fabrics, use a smaller needle (size 9, 11); medium-weight fabrics require a size 14 or 16. And use a size 18 or "Denim" needle for heavy corduroy or denim.
If the top stitch is loose, then you need to tighten the bobbin tension: if the bottom stitch is loose, tighten the top tension. Hope this helps. It could also be the size needle and thread you are using for a particular fabric. Different fabrics require different notions.