Question about Sewing Machines

1 Answer

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

Posted by on

  • 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



1 Answer

  • Level 3:

    An expert who has achieved level 3 by getting 1000 points


    An expert that got 20 achievements.


    An expert that got 10 achievements.


    An expert that got 5 achievements.

  • 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 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.

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....

tension - 4c76dc1.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 consistent diameter with good thread, and less compensating to be done by your tension plates and less thread breaks !

Posted on Jun 24, 2008

  • Hassy
    Hassy 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.



1 Suggested Answer

  • 2 Answers

SOURCE: I have freestanding Series 8 dishwasher. Lately during the filling cycle water hammer is occurring. How can this be resolved

A 6ya expert can help you resolve that issue over the phone in a minute or two.
Best thing about this new service is that you are never placed on hold and get to talk to real repairmen in the US.
The service is completely free and covers almost anything you can think of (from cars to computers, handyman, and even drones).
click here to download the app (for users in the US for now) and get all the help you need.
Good luck!

Posted on Jan 02, 2017


Add Your Answer

Uploading: 0%


Complete. Click "Add" to insert your video. Add



Related Questions:

1 Answer

Brother SE400 :When I pull on the fabric's sewn part one of the threads slides back and forth. I can then pull on one of the threads-it slides out and the other thread is easily lifted up. How to fix?

Your stitches may be too far apart. But, most likely the issue is that the tensions are not correct. If one thread lays in a smooth straight line on the fabric, the other thread tension is too loose, ie the bobbin thread lays on the fabric and the top thread is going all the way through the fabric and shows on the bobbin side, then the top tension needs to be tightened. The tensions are correct when both threads meet in the middle of the fabric.

Sep 14, 2017 | Brother Sewing Machines

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

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...

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 and download one for free

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

1 Answer


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

Not finding what you are looking for?
Sewing Machines Logo

Related Topics:

320 people viewed this question

Ask a Question

Usually answered in minutes!

Top Sewing Machines Experts

Tally Girl
Tally Girl

Level 3 Expert

1133 Answers

Chris Wetmore

Level 2 Expert

185 Answers


Level 3 Expert

77939 Answers

Are you a Sewing Machine Expert? Answer questions, earn points and help others

Answer questions

Manuals & User Guides