Sewing frustrations are the worst. We don’t like it. That’s why we use the best thread. To avoid the frustration caused by using lower-quality threads. Using quality thread should solve half the battle with a sewing machine and yet, we all experience moments and days when things just don’t go right. What’s the most common culprit? Tension. Let’s talk about a few common issues that can be tension related.
Issue: The top thread frays.
Probable cause: When is the last time you changed your needle? Old needles often cause fraying due to worn surfaces. If you’re using a new needle which is the right size (see our Home Machine Thread Guide) and you see fraying, the bobbin may be too tight or the top too loose.
Issue: The bobbin thread shows through on the top.
Probable cause: The bobbin tension may be too loose or the top tension too tight. If you have a metal bobbin case, there could be dust or lint trapped under the bobbin tension spring.
Issue: The bobbin thread does not show on the bottom
Probable cause: The bobbin tension may be too tight or the top tension too lose.
Issue: The top thread snaps and leaves a small hook at the point of the break
Probable cause: The top tension may be too tight.
Issue: The thread gathers under the needle plate
Probable cause: There are a few reasons why thread gathers under the needle plate. The top tension is too loose or your machine is threaded incorrectly, bypassing the take-up lever.
Issue: Thread loops
Probable cause: What side are you seeing loops? This side is winning the tension tug-of-war. Loosen the tension on the loopy side and/or tighten the tension of the opposite side.
Have you been experiencing tension issues? Let us know if the comments below—we’d love to help answer your questions!