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Tension I have recently sewn two louses and started on a third,however,the tension is completely off whack!Noone has messed with it and the fabric is the same...I have spent the better part of today trying variations of tension,stitch length,etc and still I cannot figure it out. The top stitch is either fine and the under stitch is all "loopy",or the top stitch is too loose and the bottom stitch is fine....HELP!!!! The sewing machine is a Brother xl-2600

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  • jodilynn Jun 24, 2008

    Thanks sooo much for the advise! I'm gonna give it a shot and see if any of the things you mentioned will help! Keep your fingers and toes crossed!

    Thank you again!

  • Anonymous Mar 23, 2014

    Varying stitch tension

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  • Sewing Machines Master
  • 1,388 Answers

As this happened mid project, I would pay most attention to check the top tension for lint or thread...........this full process of elimination ought to cover all possibilities.



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....

tension - 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.
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 !

Posted on Jun 24, 2008

  • Bargain Box
    Bargain Box Jun 25, 2008

    May I suggest in future you try the advice before voting........our reputation relies on your feedback...........if the fix suggested works, or not, there is now no way to cast your vote differently.

    This detailed response took some little time to create.


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1 Answer

How do I adjust the tension for straight sewing?


First, be sure you are using a brand-new needle and that the needle, thread, and fabric are compatible.
All About Needles

When you thread the upper thread, be sure the presser foot is ALWAYS RAISED so the thread will seat properly in the tension disk. Also, confirm that the machine thread pathway is correct.

Remember that when fabric types/weights are changed, the needle/thread should be changed accordingly. (Needles should be changed often to attain the best sewing experience and minimize unnecessary frustration.) The tension may also need to adjusted. Tension is not static. It should be adjusted to fit the project being sewn. Unless one continuously sews with the same fabric, thread, and needle type would the tension adjustment remain at the same setting, but machines do change over time so a tension setting that worked last year may not look the same this year.

The factory standard tension setting is the midway point between the high & low numbers. However, please understand that machines vary and that sometimes this standard setting may change with time and use. The midway point should only be the beginning point and is most likely suitable for medium-weight fabric. Also, usually the bobbin tension does not require frequent adjustments unless a particularly heavy- or light-weight thread is used in the bobbin--sometimes the bobbin tension will get out of whack requiring adjustment (consult the owner's manual or search the internet for instructions for adjusting bobbin tension). In the majority of cases, the tension adjustment is made to the top thread.

Test your straight stitch on your fabric (may be helpful to use a different color thread in the bobbin so it is easier to see any tension issues). If the bobbin thread is popping up to the top of the fabric, loosen the upper thread tension. If the upper thread is looping or showing on the bottom of the fabric, tighten the upper tension. Keep adjusting until the upper and bobbin threads meet in the middle of the fabric.

FWIW, the same process would be used for zig-zag stitching. Just make sure that the tension is not too tight or it will cause the fabric to pucker (or tunnel).

...

Mar 07, 2016 | Sewing Machines

1 Answer

How can I prevent bobbin thread from bunching up and tangling?


First thing to do: install a brand new needle and clean the lint/dust from the feed dogs and bobbin area. Make sure you are using the right needle and thread for the fabric being sewn.

All About Needles

Second thing: remove all the thread from the machine. RAISE the presser foot and rethread from the beginning making sure that it is threaded correctly through every thread guide (consult the owner's manual). And verify that the bobbin is loaded and threaded in the bobbincase properly.

AVOID using old, fuzzy, and bargain bin threads.

Set the upper tension to the midway point between the high & low number (this is the factory standard although every machine may slightly differ). Now perform a new stitch test.

If the upper thread is creating a thread mess under the fabric, the upper tension is too loose. Tighten it.

If the bobbin thread is coming up to the top of the fabric, loosen the upper thread and retest. Sometimes the upper thread tension is not enough to prevent the bobbin thread from coming up. In that case, the bobbin tension may need to be tightened. (Search the internet for instructions for adjusting the bobbin tension. NOTE: bobbin tension adjustments should be done in micro-increments as a small adjustment will make a big difference in the result. Be sure to test after each adjustment.)

The tension is correct when the upper thread and bobbin thread meet and cross in the middle of the fabric. This will change whenever fabric, needle & thread are changed, so a sewist needs to be comfortable with regularly making upper thread adjustments.

One other thing to try is pull the bobbin thread up through the fabric before stitching and gently holding the thread tails when taking the first couple of stitches.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=caPzulMMlMU

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Jan 25, 2016 | Sewing Machines

1 Answer

Regular sewing - I cannot get the thread tension correct. The bobbin seems too lose. How do I adjust? I've tried using the adjust key but I still get loose thread and puckered fabric.


Be sure to RAISE the presser foot BEFORE threading the upper thread. Set the upper tension to the mid-point which is generally the factory setting. Test. If thread is looping or bunching under the fabric, the upper tension needs to be tightened. If there is a problem above the fabric, try loosening the upper tension.

NOTE--sometimes the stitching problem is a result of the type of fabric being sewn. Most machines have a presser foot pressure setting that can be tightened or loosened to accommodate the fabric.

The tension is correct when the two threads meet in the middle of your fabric.

Sep 26, 2015 | Sewing Machines

2 Answers

Whats the normal tension for this machine


thread tensions depend on the thread being used and the material being sewn
go on line and google the manufacturer and models of the machine and find a user manual pdf version and down load it.

May 27, 2015 | Sewing Machines

1 Answer

What tension should I use for fine materials? I have a Toyota RA41


The proper tension is a tension that locks the threads together tightly (you don't see a gap in your seem when you pull the two separate fabric pieces apart after sewing). But the biggest problem I see is when people have the thread tension so tight that it puckers the fabric as it's sewn. Thread tension is a balancing act between three forces top tension, bobbin tension, and fabric

Hope this helps...
Chris
glfi.com

Jan 20, 2011 | Toyota 803508 Sewing Machine

1 Answer

My brother LS-1520 sewing machine is having major tension problem


Try some metal bobbins, #15 or SA 156. that seems to help. If, you don't have a manual go to brother.com and download one for free

Jul 19, 2010 | Brother LS-1520 Mechanical Sewing Machine

1 Answer

Tension


Turn off the power, open the throat plate. Raise the needle to the highest position and remove the bobbin case. Clean the area and replace the bobbin case and throat plate.

Thread the machine with the presser foot up to see if this will eliminate the looping stitching.

Be sure to use the correct size needle for the type and weight of the fabric being sewn. There should be a chart in the manual for the machine. There should also be a suggested setting for the tension.

If you need a manual, check the Brother website for a download.

Apr 25, 2010 | Brother LS-1217 Mechanical Sewing Machine

1 Answer

In what order do i put the tension assembly together


Probably the most important contol on your machine is this one that regulates your top thread tension there are reason for having to reset your tension.Classified your fabric that you are using there are several set up of tension in every fabric that you use.Cotton fabric is most easier other than silk fabric make a record on this set up.The required tension depend upon the stiffness of the fabric,thickness,layer of rabric to be sewn and required stitches.Try cotton fadric turn tension dial to N0. 3 and Stitch set to from 8 to 12 defend to what is nice to you.

Mar 07, 2009 | Necchi Sewing Machines

3 Answers

Underthread Going Crazy


Hi PixelPup....Although I am unaware of what types of fabrics/needle size/project (ie does it have batting or metallic/special threads) your issue involves a fault located above your needle plate with 2 points of interest in particular. 1) Appropriate Needle Size, Type and Insertion. 2) Absence of upper tension. When replacing needles, ensure that the groove along the length of the needle is facing you. For every day medium weight cottons, a universal size 70 or 80 needle is fine. However, ALL OTHER fabrics, especially knits, denims, stretch and very lightweight or sheer fabrics should be sewn with the specified needle types. Your local sewing retailer can help you with exactness if you bring along a swatch/sample when you shop for your needles. Please purchase your sewing machine supplies from a sewing oriented retailer. Needles AND Thread quality matter a great deal in the quality and longevity of your stitches. As for needles, I recommend Schmetz, and Viking for threads. Keep in mind that needles to get dull, and can easily acquire brays which may not only cut your thread, but damage your fabrics as well, and should be changed "regularly". I would guess that misthreading accounts for 95% of all sewing machine problems including lockups, needle breakage, and instant jams. The dial for your upper tension may have a "colored zone" for the universal tensioning starting point usually between 3.5 & 5.5, with the lower number for lighter fabrics, and increasing with weight. If you don't have a colored zone, begin with #4. Completely remove the thread spool from your machine. Ensure that your presser foot is in the up position, and begin methodically threading your machine, paying special attention when you reach the tension area. There are usually 3 or 4 'plates' that provide the tension, and rushed threading by experts regularly causes the thread to miss the discs altogether. The presser foot must be in the raised position, which releases the pressure on the tension discs enabling your thread to slide in. Why not be proactive and remove and rethread your bobbin as well, ensuring that your bobbin thread receives tension from the flat spring on your bobbin case. Unless I have misunderstood your issue, your problems should now be solved......good luck my friend.

Jul 31, 2007 | Bernina Activa 140

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