Bobbin issues

August 29th 2013

Jen Wrote:

hmmm, I'm having tension issues again out of the blue...that weird, bunching, puckering thing with the material.  I rethreaded the upper thing and took out and put back in the bobbin and increased my dial thingy from about 3.5 to 4...no help.  Thoughts? Also, selfish me wallowing in my misery, having a little pity party, forgot to ask about your MRI and other appointments this week...when do you hear back about results from the MRI and what do they want to do about your hip?  another injection?  I meant to ask you this am but got sidetracked and starry-eyed over your log cabin mountain range quilt and wine bottle holder.  Perhaps there's a support group for wanna-be seamstresses that I can look into...

 Nicole Responded:

It's your bobbin! I just know it ;) take the bobbin out and put it back in like the letter( p). Are you following the thread guides? Recheck with your manual to see if something is amiss.
Want me to come over later to check it out?

Jen Responded:




I'll try the bobbin again and if no luck I'll bring the machine with me Monday....under NO circumstances would I let you see this dump, but thanks for the offer. 

Looking back on this letter the other possibility is the thread ends could have got caught in the material and bunched things up. Make sure the thread ends are behind your presser foot out of the way.

Lets look at a few things that can cause problems with tension.  The bobbin case rarely ever has to be adjusted for regular sewing, that leaves the tension dial and proper threading of the needle and insertion of the bobbin.

If you are having tension problems then run through a checklist to help narrow down and eliminate the culprit:

  1. Incorrect threading is the cause of most tension issues. Go back to the beginning and rethread your needle making sure you have the thread through all your guides and you are threading your machine with the PRESSER FOOT UP. The tension disks do not open when the foot is down therefore you will not get your thread into the disk and no tension will be on your thread which will cause major problems. Remember thread with your foot up :)
  2. Is your thread unwinding freely from the spool or is it catching on the spools slash? (this has happened to me) you need a bigger spool cover to prevent the thread from catching there.
  3. Is the bobbin inserted correctly? If not this can cause you to have tension problems. Make sure your bobbin is properly wound, right size for your machine and inserted correctly. Other rare factors when dealing with the bobbin is a possible burr on the casing where the thread is catching. Again not likely.
  4. Lastly your tension may need to be adjusted. There are two tensions on most machines. Your upper tension (dial which should be 3-4 on most machines for regular sewing) and your bobbin case tension. I say bobbin case because a bobbin does not have a tension adjustment feature. The bobbin case does, which is the tiniest screw on the side of the case. Generally speaking as I mentioned before this never needs adjusting and fiddling with this may land you farther up that river with no paddle.

TIP: Once you have followed the steps above, then try to sew using  a scrap piece of fabric. Loops on the bottom of your fabric mean there is  not enough top tension;  loops on top of your fabric  mean there is  not enough bobbin tension.