There are little things more frustrating for a sewer than a nest of tangles thread on the bobbin side of the fabric you are sewing. Not only does it waste all the effort used in stitching, but it also wastes the time that it used to undo and redo spoilt sections. But if you want to fix and avoid a particular problem, you must first understand it. Likewise, to keep the bobbin thread from tangling again, you must first learn why it tangles in the first place. So, why does my bobbin thread keep tangling?
One of the significant reasons for bobbin thread tangling is improper machine threading. Threading your sewing machine the wrong way is a sure-fire way to have problems such as tangling with your bobbin thread. Other issues that lead to tangling include not doing routine maintenance on your machine, machine parts and tools that are worn or damaged, and problems with the bobbin.
Although problems with the bobbin thread may cause you to shift blame to issues with the bobbin immediately, this is not often the case, with other causes more likely. This article will take you through a comprehensive journey of understanding the causes of thread problems and how to fix them best.
Table of Contents
How Do I Keep My Bobbin Thread from Tangling?
Below are the steps you can take to keep your bobbin thread from tangling and how to fix it if it does happen.
1. Thread your sewing machine properly
When troubleshooting problems with your bobbin thread, the first step is to make sure the machine is threaded correctly. To be sure, rethread your sewing machine while following all the indicated thread guides. Most sewing machines come with a threading guide printed on the device. If it is not there, you can check the manufacturer’s manual on the best way to thread your machine model.
You should also note that you should always thread your sewing machine with the presser foot raised. If threading is done when the presser foot is lowered, the machine tension will stay engaged, and the thread will not sit as it should. If the thread does not seat properly in the tension disks, it will not engage any thread tension, and you are likely to have multiple stitch malfunctions.
2. Replace the needle
You should check several needle properties to determine that the needle is not at the root of your bobbin thread tangling. Is it the right size and gauge for the work you are doing?
Is it recommended for your machine model? Is it worn or bent anywhere? You can also cause some of these problems by pulling the fabric through the machine instead of letting the fed dogs feed the material at a determined rate.
Check on these issues and address them as soon as possible if they cause the thread tangling.
The needle makes an essential part of the machine’s upper threading. Also, needles are an inexpensive part to replace whenever you feel there might be a problem.
3. Clean your sewing machine
You could also have problems with your sewing machine due to debris stuck in and around the bobbin case. For example, wads of thread and lint stuck under the bobbin case, and an upper thread that is shredding and leaving some of its pieces in the upper threading path may cause thread tangling.
To remedy this problem, use a paintbrush to clean away dirt. Also, perform routine maintenance on your sewing machine as recommended in the manufacturer’s manual.
4. Check the bobbin for any problems.
Although the bobbin is rarely the culprit, there is a chance that such problems could be behind your tangling issues. Several issues arise from the bobbin that you should check for. First, have you threaded it correctly? There are sewing machines with an automatic bobbin winding feature to ensure that the thread is wound neatly.
However, if you have to do it by hand on your device, an excellent way of doing it well is to, again, consult the manual and follow the instructions therein. After winding the bobbin, the thread should move in the counterclockwise direction.
Second, you may have inserted the bobbin wrongly into the machine. The bobbin placement can also be confirmed using the sewing machine guide. Inserting the bobbin is generally quicker with sewing machine models that have a top drop-in mechanism.
Third, ensure that the bobbin you are using was designed for your sewing machine model. Using a different brand may cause thread tangling in your sewing machine due to incompatibility.
Why Does My Bobbin Thread Keep Knotting?
Knotting thread is a common cause for grief among many sewers. Some of the leading reasons for thread knotting when you sew are:
- An incorrectly threaded machine
- Bobbin tension that is too low
- The needle you are using, its condition (i.e., is it sharp? Is it bent?), and its compatibility with the fabric being sewn.
- The maintenance state of your sewing machine
- The position of the presser foot
Why Does My Sewing Machine Keep Jamming Underneath?
One of the dreaded moments for any sewer, whether novice or professional, is when nothing happens when you try to sew. Couple this with a tangled thread mass after a few stitches, and it turns into a straight-up nightmare. But to fix this problem, you must first know what causes it and how to resolve the issue as efficiently as possible.
Below are some reasons why your sewing machine keeps jamming underneath.
1. Insufficient upper thread tension.
The most likely and common cause of sewing machine jamming is associated with tension in the upper thread. The machine will likely jam because of a lack of enough pressure to pull the thread up through the machine for sewing. The solution is simple enough. First, you need to rethread the device properly.
2. Malfunctioning feed dogs
Feed dogs are essential in any sewing machine’s fabric feeding mechanism. If they are not functioning as they are meant to, they can cause the sewing machine to keep jamming. The most likely reason your feed dogs could be malfunctioning is debris collection in the feed dogs mechanism. To correct this problem, lift the presser foot and clean the feed dogs thoroughly until no debris remains.
The feed dogs could also be malfunctioning due to being worn or broken, in which case you must replace them with another set that is recommended for your machine.
3. Poor thread quality
The thread quality you are using can determine whether or not your sewing machine jams. These problems can arise since poor thread quality can cause shredding of lint which may get stuck in the machine’s mechanisms causing jamming. Besides this, a low-quality thread can also break and knot as you sew.
Investing in a high-quality thread will significantly improve your sewing experience. However, it is also essential to match the thread type to the project you plan to do. Some thread materials work best for specific fabrics and weave types than others.
4. Problems with the needle and the bobbin
Before you start sewing, one of the things you should always confirm is that your needle is sharp. Then check for any deformities on it. Replace your needle immediately if you notice that it is bent. Also, make a habit of replacing your sewing needle after hard use, even before it starts presenting severe complications.
Needles are relatively cheap, so this should not present a problem. Finally, ensure that the needle matches the fabric type and never force into an incompatible machine.
The bobbin problems that can cause jamming are pretty much similar to those that cause bobbin thread tangling. They include debris stuck in and around the bobbin, incorrect bobbin loading, and wrongly winding the bobbin.
What Should My Tension Be on My Sewing Machine?
Your sewing machine does not have one perfect tension setting that will work for all fabric types all the time. This lack is because the sewing machine tension you set depends on many different factors. There are two primary types of tension in sewing machines, the top thread tension and the bobbin tension.
The top thread tension is controlled by a dial on the sewing machine’s thread path. The tension discs on the machine squeeze together the thread as it passes while the tension regulator regulates the pressure applied on the discs.
When the machine’s presser foot is raised, the tension discs in the device are open, hence no top thread tension. When the tension regulator is adjusted to a higher number, the tension discs move closer together and increase the pressure, with the reverse being true.
The bobbin tension is generally pre-set in the factory, so adjustments are not usually necessary, though they can be done. Thus, tension adjustments are typically made mainly for the top thread manually.
The top and bottom tension work in harmony to ensure that the stitches formed are consistent. With perfect tension, the machine stitches will look the same on both sides of the fabric. The stitches should also be evenly spaced, and the threads lie flat on their side of the material.
How Do I Adjust the Tension On My Sewing Machine?
There are two general tension adjustments you can make on your sewing machine. First is the basic adjustment, which is done for everyday sewing. Second is the temporary tension adjustment done when you make significant changes to the types and sizes of threads, the fabrics, and the stitching.
Before you adjust the top thread tension, we recommend going through a list of some things that could cause low tension before checking the tension regulator. These include:
- A dirty machine
- Machine parts that are damaged, worn or malfunctioning
- An improperly threaded machine
- An improperly wound bobbin
Adjusting the top thread tension is a reasonably straightforward process. First, the tension is adjusted using the tension regulating dial. This knob is found in different locations in different sewing machines. If you are not sure where it is on your sewing machine, you can use your manual to refer.
If the top tension is too loose, increase it by turning the knob to increase the digits. If the tension is too taut, decrease it by turning the knob so that the numbers are declining. Turning the tension dial on a sewing machine should be done gradually.
After turning the knob a bit, test sew on a scrap of fabric to see if the stitches are balanced. Do this until you get the tension right. If you cannot get the stitches fully balanced, you can also try adjusting the bobbin tension as listed below.
While it looks intimidating, changing the bobbin tension is much easier than you may think if you follow all instructions carefully. For drop-in bobbins, you will hardly need to change the tension that is factory-set. The bobbins are not likely to have changed from their original settings unless you changed them yourself.
Adjusting the tension here requires taking off the needle plate and then the bobbin case to access the tension screws. If the machine has a drop-in bobbin with a non-removable bobbin case, you cannot adjust the bobbin tension. You can instead change the top thread tension.
Most older machines, instead of a drop-in bobbin, have a front-loading bobbin. The tension screw in these bobbins has a higher probability of being moved, even if it was accidentally, from the pre-set factory settings.
You can use a simple method to test and know if the tension is off before adjusting it. Do this test by inserting the bobbin in the bobbin case and holding it up by the thread. The bobbin case is not supposed to move. If the string is jerked slightly and the bobbin case slightly slides down, then the tension is okay.
If the case freely slides down, then the tension is too loose, and if it stays entirely in position, the tension is too taut. To change the tension, use a small screwdriver on the tension screw. Turning the screw clockwise will tighten the tension, while turning it anticlockwise will loosen it.
Some professional sewers prefer to keep more than one bobbin in hand to avoid the hassle of regularly adjusting the tension. One is used for basic sewing, and another with the tension set for when they are working on certain fabrics or projects.
Here’s how to adjust thread tension:
Why Is the Stitching Loose Underneath?
The reasons that cause loose stitches underneath are almost similar to the causes of tangled bobbin thread. They include:
- The thread tension- if the tension of the upper thread is too low, the thread will be unable to sew through the fabric and create firm stitches. You can quickly resolve this problem by readjusting the tension levels to the appropriate levels.
- A wrong needle-thread-fabric combo- When sewing, it is essential that you use a high-quality thread and the correct type of needle, both of which should be compatible with the fabric you are a sewing machine. Doing otherwise could get you loose underneath stitching.
- The sewing machine is threaded incorrectly- threading a machine the wrong way increases the likelihood of loose stitches. It also causes the threads to break quicker, which becomes another source of frustration.
- The bobbin case is threaded incorrectly – Make sure that the bobbin case is threaded in the right way as indicated in the manufacturer’s manual, and if not, rethread it.
When Should I Adjust the Tension on My Sewing Machine?
If either the top or bottom machine tension is off, you will likely experience several frustrating problems as you sew. For the case of bobbin tension, if the tension is set too low, the machine will apply insufficient pressure on the thread, and you might experience backlash.
In this situation, the bobbin continues unwinding even after you stop sewing. However, if the tension is too taut, the applied pressure may be too much, and the bobbin will not unwind the thread freely.
Below are some signs that indicate a problem with your bobbin tension:
1. Breaking and puckering seams – Tension that is too tight could cause the seams in your fabric to break when stretched and the occurrence of gathers and ruffles.
2. Gaps in the seams- Gaps in the seams you sew are also a problem of bobbin tension not set correctly, and they cause garments to fall apart quickly and have low durability.
3. Backlash- As mentioned above, when the tension is insufficient, you may experience a situation where the bobbin does not stop unwinding. It is common when using fine threads that the machine was not made to handle.
4. The bobbin refuses to unwind- This problem is encountered when the tension is too high. It is common when using threads that are much thicker than the recommended size or when doing thick sewing fabrics.
Understanding the problems that cause thread problems when sewing is the first and crucial step to avoiding these issues and handling them promptly if they do happen. With the proper mechanisms, you can have a stress-free sewing experience. So, the question remains,
Why Does My Bobbin Thread Keep Tangling?
The main reasons that your bobbin thread tangles and forms a nest on the fabric include not threading the sewing machine properly, problems with the machine’s tensions, a device that is not correctly maintained, and issue with the actual bobbin.
We appreciate you for reading to the end of this article and hope that it has been informative and we have answered any questions you had. Our comment section below is open to receive any questions, comments, or suggestions.