Why is My Thread Wrapping Around the Bobbin? Here’s How to Fix the Problem

Image of Bobbin of a sewing machine but Why is My Thread Wrapping Around the BobbinThread bunching up and wrapping around the bobbin is a universal problem faced by all sewers, novices, and professionals alike. This nest of tangled and loopy threads is one of the fastest ways to stop, delay or derail the project you are working on. While assuming that the problem is with the machine’s bobbin is reasonable, this is rarely the case. Other reasons are almost always responsible for thread bunching around the bobbin. Fortunately, this problem can quickly get fixed in short order so that you can get back to your sewing. So, if the bobbin is not always the culprit, you may ask, why is my thread wrapping around the bobbin?

Some of the main reasons your thread could be wrapping around the bobbin include lack of proper maintenance, causing a buildup of lint and debris, improperly threading the machine, using the wrong needle, or using a different thread weight that is not recommended. The tension between your top thread and your bobbin is another common reason why thread wraps around the bobbin.

The causes of this frustrating phenomenon are discussed in depth later in this article.

Thread wrapped around your bobbin, though a relatively easy problem to solve, could lead to a host of other frustrating issues and cost you money and possibly time. Paying attention to your machine and taking the necessary precautions to prevent this from happening is therefore crucial.

Why Does My Thread Keep Bunching Up Around the Bobbin Area?

Image of sewing threadsThread nests are a sure way to ruin the workflow you have going and cause you endless frustration. But with the right understanding of what causes this problem, you will be on the right track towards resolving and avoiding this issue again.  Although you might think that this happens with the bobbin, mostly, this is not the case.

Some of the reasons that can cause thread bunching around the bobbin include:

  • Improper machine threading-if the machine’s top thread is not threaded correctly, you cannot pull the upper thread firmly up, causing tangling of thread in the bobbin case.
  • Loose bobbin tension- when extra thread unwinds from the bobbin, this may cause a buildup of thread that can cause bunching. Low tension on the bobbins can also result from using the wrong bobbins for your machine model.
  • The needle- the type of needle you are using and its condition- can also impact whether your thread bunches. Ensure that the needle you decide to use is the proper one recommended by the machine’s manufacturer. Are the specifications right for the sewing material and the project you are working on? A needle is a relatively inexpensive purchase, so you should not have much of a problem replacing bent or inefficient needles.
  • Your machine needs cleaning- a simple reason that could be causing the bunching of your thread is the state of your machine. When did you last clean or perform routine maintenance on your machine? Shredded thread and wads of lint around the bobbin case and the threading path could be what is causing your thread to bunch up.
  • The presser foot position- Forgetting to put the presser foot down is another simple and easily corrected cause of thread bunching. The presser foot is supposed to be down as you sew, but you may forget to lower it, especially when sewing thick or multi-layered fabrics. Leaving it up means that the upper thread lacks tension, is pulled under, and this results in thread bunching.

Another way you can unknowingly alter the presser foot position is by mistakenly touching the knee lever. If you keep exerting even slight pressure on the knee lever, this could lead to you lifting the presser foot and disturbing the upper thread tension.

How Do I Fix Bobbin Thread Bunching?

Fixing thread bunching in your sewing machine is relatively easy. As frustrating as it can be, the remedy is just as simple. Below are several ideas on how to quickly fix any thread bunching issues on your machine.

  1. Clean your machine routinely.

Routine maintenance is the key to the efficient functioning of machines. Routine cleaning and oiling of your machine will help you avoid, besides bunching, many other problems. Clean the bobbin case and extract any lint or other debris that may be stuck there. Also, follow the maintenance schedule and method included in the manufacturer’s manual.

  1. Check the thread tension.

Make sure that the tension of your thread is not too high. If you feel that it is too taut, loosen it in gradual bits, and put it back in until you get the desired results. If the tension is too loose, you will also experience thread bunching up under the needle plate. Adjust the thread tension in small increments until it reaches the optimum value.

  1. Replace the needle.

As mentioned above, the needle is an easy and affordable part to replace. Do routine checks to buy and replace worn-out and bent needles. Also, make sure that the needle you are using is the type recommended by the manufacturer and that it is the right type for the fabric you are sewing. Needles that are too thin for the fabric and thread are more likely to jam than thicker and sturdier needles.

  1. Use the same thread in the top thread and the bobbin.

If you use different threads in these components with different thread weights, your sewing machine will pull at the threads at differing rates, which may cause bunching. Using the same thread will ensure that the rate of pull remains the same.

Apart from using the same thread in the bobbin and top thread, buy threads of high-quality. Low-quality threads will break and loose fibers, which will increase the frequency at which you need to clean your sewing machine.

  1. The Bobbin

Even if you have threaded the machine as needed, the bobbin may still have other faults that may be causing bunching. First, check how well you inserted the bobbin into the bobbin case. Most, if not all, sewing machines will come with a guide that shows how to correctly place the bobbin or drop it in, as found in many newer models. Follow the instructions provided to ensure that the bobbin is correctly placed.

The bobbin case could also be loose, in which case you will need to readjust it and tighten any loose screws, and then tug on the thread gently. You can also check on whether the thread might have come out of the bobbin case. Rethreading the machine in this scenario would prevent further incidences.

  1. Thread your sewing machine correctly

Ensure that the thread passes through all the thread guides before going through the needle when you thread your machine. To make sure that you are doing this correctly, follow the machine’s provided manual.

For you to thread your machine correctly, the presser foot will also need to be up so that the thread can sit properly. If you thread your machine when the presser foot is down, the thread will not seat properly, the machine will not engage the tension, and bird nests are bound to form.

Another tried tip is to hold the end of your thread as you sew the first few stitches.

Here’s how to stop the bobbin thread bunching problem:

What Should I Do If My Sewing Machine Is Still Blocked?

Image of Janome Magnolia, the Janome sewing machine for beginnersDespite your best efforts to avoid tangled and bunched threads and fix them as soon as they occur, if they do, there still may be instances where your machine stays blocked. Here are some tips on some actions you can take to get back to sewing faster.

  • Do not pull the fabric or the threads as this could damage sensitive parts of the machine.
  • Get a blade and carefully cut the threads that are above the stitch plate.
  • Try to release the blockage carefully by turning the handwheel forward. Do not turn the handwheel forcefully, as this may cause the lower thread to be picked up incorrectly and cause incorrect forming of stitches.
  • Again, make sure that the machine has been treaded correctly, and if not, rethread it again.
  • Try replacing the hook, bobbin, stitch plate, and bobbin case.

Why Is My Top Thread Getting Tangled In The Bobbin?

The most common reason why the upper thread gets tangled in the bobbin is due to incorrect threading. Improperly threading the upper thread makes it impossible to firmly pull up the thread that was passed through the fabric, causing entanglements. Incorrect threading often causes a rattling sound from your machine.

How to Stop My Sewing Thread from Wrapping Around the Bobbin.

If this happens, the best action would be to rethread your machine. Make sure that your thread goes through every guide before the needle. Pull out the manual that came with the machine for detailed instructions on how to do it, and if your machine does not come with a physical manual, head over to the company’s website for threading guides.

The thread getting stuck around the spool holder may also be the cause of the tangling, in which case the remedy is the same. Take out the upper thread (if possible, do not cut it) and carefully rethread the machine.

How Do You Tell If Your Bobbin Tension Is Off?

When the word tension comes up in a sewing context, the top tension is likely mentioned. The bobbin tension, which is the other side of this term, is equally important in achieving the perfect stitch. If the bobbin tension set is not enough to apply enough pressure on the thread, the machine may experience backlash- where the bobbin keeps unwinding even after the machine stops sewing.

If, on the other hand, the bobbin tension is too tight, the pressure applied on the thread may be too much, and the opposite will happen; the bobbin will not unwind freely.

But how will you be able to know that the bobbin tension in your machine is off in either direction or needs fixing? The signs of this will show in the appearance of your threads as you stitch. Below are some common signs that should alert you to a problem with your bobbin tension.

  1. Puckering seams– puckers are seam gathers that occur when you sew with too much tension and cause a stretch in the thread. The gather occurs as the thread attempts to recover the original length. Puckers occurring as you sew are a pretty good indication of a problem with the bobbin tension.
  2. Breaking seams– If your machine’s bobbin tension is too tight, you could also experience breaking seams if you stretch them. Broken seams can be problematic for garments intended to be worn.
  3. Bobbin does not unwind– this happens when the bobbin tension is too tight as it puts unnecessary pressure on the thread as it moves through the bobbin case. Bobbins that will not unwind are mostly experienced when sewing thicker fabrics or using threads that are much thicker than those recommended for the machine.
  4. Bobbin keeps unwinding– When your machine experiences backlash, this is almost a sure way to know that your bobbin tension has been set too low. Backlash mostly happens when you use very smooth thread, which your sewing machine was not designed to handle.
  5. Gaps in your seams– gaps in your seams will reveal and expose the threads between sections, causing your work not to have a clean and continuous seam. Gaps can be problematic as such constructions have a short shelf life and fall apart quickly as it is not held together appropriately.

 What Tension Should My Sewing Machine Be On?

There is no one perfect setting for tension for every sewing occasion that will work for everyone. The bobbin tension that you need at any point will depend on many factors such as the fabric thickness of the material you are sewing, the number of fabric layers, the type of stitch you plan to use, and your sewing technique.

Knowing when to adjust bobbin tension beforehand will save you from a lot of wasted time and effort. Adjusting the bobbin thread tension will be required on much fewer occasions than for the needle thread tension. Cases, where you may need to be careful with the bobbin tension include:

  • When you plan to use elastic thread for shirring in the bobbin.
  • When you are using the twin-needle setting, such as to create an equal double hemline.
  • When you are sewing with a thread of an unusual weight than you usually use. Different thread weights give the best performance with various bobbin tensions.
  • When you sew with fine thread or very thick thread.
  • When doing free motion quilting.
  • When doing stippling.

How Do I Adjust My Bobbin Tension?

Image of bobbinAfter ruling out other problems and ensuring that everything else is in order, you can adjust the bobbin tension. In most machines, the bobbin loading mechanism is either front-loading or top drop-in loading found in most modern machines.

For a front-loading machine, first, find the screw located on the bobbin case. Some machines will have two screws; a smaller one holding the tension plate in place (do not touch this) and a second adjusting screw that you can tighten or loosen. Turn the screw clockwise to increase the bobbin tension and counterclockwise to reduce the tension. It would be wise to use some permanent ink to mark the original position of the screw in case you want to reset it back to the original settings.

For a top drop-in bobbin, remove the throat plate and take the bobbin case out of the machine. You can then reach the adjusting screw and set the tension to your desired value. Some bobbin cases will have this screw covered in tape, while for other machines, you cannot adjust the bobbin tension if the machine is still eligible for the warranty. Carefully read the manufacturer’s included manual on this before attempting anything to avoid voiding your warranty. The manual may also have machine-specific instructions on how to change the bobbin tension.

Here’s How to Adjust Bobbin Tension:

Final Thoughts

With the necessary precautions, you can prevent thread bunching or significantly reduce its frequency and increase your efficiency and productivity. If you experience this problem and fix it by setting the bobbin tension to the desired level, how will you know if you have set it correctly? Test the machine. Get a strip of fabric and sew a stitch on it after adjusting the tension. If the stitch looks the same on both sides of the fabric, is evenly spaced, and lies flat on the fabric, then you are good to go. If you can easily pull out the thread, have gaps, or the thread is still bunching up, the issue is still unresolved. So, to answer your question in summary…

Why is My Thread Wrapping Around the Bobbin?

Your thread could e wrapping around your bobbin due to several issues with your machine, from tension to low maintenance and machine threading, as mentioned above.

I hope that this article and provided the information you needed on the thread wrapping around your bobbin. We would appreciate it if you left any questions you have or share your thoughts and suggestions in the comment section below.

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