Superior Education

Eliminating Bird Nests

  • Top Tension
  • Bobbin Tension
  • Top Thread

What Causes Bird Nests?

Unlike the beautiful bird homes outdoors, experiencing bird nests while sewing is anything but cute! Bird nests occur when thread bunches up underneath the needle plate, causing broken threads, skipped stitches, and uneven tension. This is typically caused by the tension balance being out of whack or the top thread is not threaded correctly. Here are a few situations which can cause pesky bird nests:

If your bobbin tension is too loose, extra thread may unwind from the bobbin, which causes a buildup of thread underneath the needle plate. Try tightening the bobbin tension by turning the tension screw on the bobbin case a quarter turn clockwise.

The top thread isn’t threaded correctly. Many times when I experience bird nests while sewing, it’s because I’ve miss-threaded my top thread. The likely culprit: bypassing the thread take up lever. Simply try rethreading your machine (and make sure it’s in the take up lever!).

Top tension is too loose. If your top tension is too loose the bobbin thread is winning the tug-of-war and you will see excess thread build up under the needle plate. To remedy, increase your top tension in small increments.

We recommend trying one of these solutions at a time. This way you can hopefully find the exact cause of your frustration.


Topstitch needle style
The difference between a Universal needle (top) and Topstitch needle (bottom)
Topstitch needle style
Thread shreds as it passes through a too-small needle
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