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Thread: Help With Embroidery Machine - Brother SE-400

  1. #1
    Super Member moonrise's Avatar
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    Help With Embroidery Machine - Brother SE-400

    I'm at my wits' end here. A couple of months ago, I was embroidering just fine, and then my upper thread somehow frayed, with part of the thread still going through the needle, and the frayed part hanging up behind it. I immediately noticed the machine sounded a little strange, and glanced over at the machine to make sure it was okay. The thread hadn't even broken yet, since I was sitting literally inches from the machine. I fixed the frayed thread, and tried to continue the embroidery. However, the machine has never embroidered correctly since then.

    Here's what I've done, and some comments:

    • Changed the needle, figuring it may have a burr on it. It didn't make any difference.
    • Cleaned the machine as thoroughly as I possibly can. Didn't help.
    • Changed and rethreaded the upper thread numerous times. Didn't help.
    • Tried a new bobbin. Didn't help.
    • This is the same exact thread I've been using since I bought the machine.
    • The ONLY way I've found to get it to embroider even "SEMI"-acceptably is to turn the upper thread tension to "high normal". Previously it was set on 4. Currently it's set just a shade below 6 (9 is the highest possible setting). It bird-nests nearly every other time, ruining the embroidery. If the tension is set lower, it always bird-nests.
    • There doesn't seem to be a way to adjust the bobbin tension at all.
    • Turned the machine off, then back on. I've even unplugged it. Neither helped.
    • I've felt along the bobbin, the bobbin case, and everywhere I could reach to see if I could feel any burrs or any place the thread might be snagging. There's nothing.
    • The machine does change over to a regular sewing machine, but I use it as an embroidery machine only. The only thread that's been used it in is embroidery thread.


    And below are some photos showing what the machine is doing. At best, the top threads are too loose, even with the tension being set so high. If you flip the embroidery over, the white bobbin thread barely can be seen. In other words, most of the back side stitching, especially the satin stitching, is created by the colored upper thread. (Hope that makes sense.) At worst, it bird-nests, and ruins the embroidery completely.

    Any suggestions? My only guess at this point is that the upper tension is fried. Thankfully I did buy the extended warranty, but I got the machine at Walmart, and don't have any experience with their extended warranties. I'd really rather not send the machine off to be fixed if there's something else I can check from my end. I've got Christmas gifts to work on!

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    Last edited by moonrise; 12-11-2012 at 09:26 PM. Reason: corrected highest tension number to 9
    Have a wonderful day! If you need to contact me, please use the e-mail address on my profile page. Sometimes I don't get notifications that I have a PM here.

  2. #2
    Super Member Dolphyngyrl's Avatar
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    You might have some thread caught up in the tension disks. embroidery machines are very sensitive, all it takes is a little piece, might be time to take it in for a cleaning
    Brother XL-3500i, SQ-9050, Dreamweaver XE6200D

  3. #3
    Super Member moonrise's Avatar
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    Thanks, Dolphyngyrl. I went back in again and re-cleaned everything that I could reach, but either there's something caught in the machine that I can't see/access, or something else is wrong. Unfortunately there's not enough time (or budget - LOL!) to take it to the shop before the holidays, but it looks like I'll have to take it after the first of the year.

    As a test, I held the upper thread between my fingers as the machine embroidered, creating a little more tension, and the stitching was 95% better. I've cranked the tension wheel up to maximum to see if it makes any difference. So far, it's working, but it's not finished sewing yet ...

    Edit: Nope, it still wasn't enough tension. Looks like I either get to manually hold the thread (oh, joy!), or figure out another way to get this project done.

    Thanks again for the response!
    Last edited by moonrise; 12-11-2012 at 10:16 PM.
    Have a wonderful day! If you need to contact me, please use the e-mail address on my profile page. Sometimes I don't get notifications that I have a PM here.

  4. #4
    Super Member Mitch's mom's Avatar
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    I feel your pain. I have an older model Brother machine that has decided to wrap the thread around a bearing. It will sew fine but as soon as I want to embroider it goes kerflooey. I am taking it in for repair right after the holidays.

  5. #5
    Member badaisie's Avatar
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    You may try putting the thread on a stand behind your machine so the tread has plenty of time to straighten out before it goes into the tension. It looks like you are getting skipped stiches and that is why you have the loops, or your timing could be off.

  6. #6
    Super Member PaperPrincess's Avatar
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    I agree with Dolphyngyrl. sounds like there's something in the tension disks. The way I've cleaned them is to crank the tension as LOW as it will go to loosen up the disks, then take a piece of unwaxed dental floss and floss between the disks. See if you get any fluff that comes out. Use a longish piece and don't go back and forth as that might just drive whatever's in there farther in. Go in one direction and draw the floss thru. You can also use a piece of heavy thread, like buttonhole twist.
    "I do not understand how anyone can live without one small place of enchantment to turn to."
    Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

  7. #7
    Super Member moonrise's Avatar
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    DH just got home from work and helped me figure out how to take the interior panel off so that the tension discs were accessible. I got the end cap off, but the little interior panel was a mystery! Anyway, once I could get to the tension discs, we both shined a flashlight into that area. We didn't see any lint or stray threads, but we swiped between the discs with a thin flat paintbrush. Then I noticed there's a pre-tension thingy that closes when the pressure foot lever is lowered. I swiped around and between it, too. A tiny (as in 1mm or less) piece of lint came out.

    Then we put the panel and end cap back on, and I tried embroidering a satin-stitched border.

    It worked fine, with the tension set at the usual 4.

    Perhaps we swept out a bit of thread or lint that we didn't see, or perhaps that tiny 1mm piece of lint in the pre-tension thingy was causing the problem, but hopefully it's fixed now, and it better STAY fixed! LOL!

    Thanks again for the responses.

    P.S. If anyone else has this same machine and needs to know in the future, the interior panel comes off by gently pulling forward on the area that's marked with a 3, and an upward-pointing "U" arrow. There are 2 or 3 little plastic clips that will unsnap, allowing the whole panel to be removed, and giving you access to the tension discs. (Don't pull hard! You don't want to break those plastic clips.)
    Have a wonderful day! If you need to contact me, please use the e-mail address on my profile page. Sometimes I don't get notifications that I have a PM here.

  8. #8
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    birds nest help!

    I have a Brother Quattro, 6000D machine which I absolutely love.
    One problem -
    I have a birds nest building up in the bobbin and I don't know why.
    I asked at the quilt shop and the lady said when it is underneath, it's a top thread situation. When it's on top it's a bobbin thread issue. So, with the birds nest it has to be upper thread. She suggested I may not be threading the machine correctly, however it only happens on rare occasion, and my machine tells me if it's threaded incorrectly.
    She also said when the machine is running, the thread can pop out of the take up lever. OK, makes sense.
    I thread and rethread the machine, pull the thread from both sides to make sure it is seated in the tension disks, thread the needle correctly, and still it happens.
    It doesn't happen everytime I sew. I have been trying to make little stocking ornaments, and both times it has nested during the final satin stitch on the border.
    I was working on a star on organza and it did it during the satin stitch on the star edges.
    I've done gift tags and cards and it doesn't happen, but then no satin stitch.
    I was working on a quilt in the hoop and it did it's nasty deed while doing a stipple stitch.

    I am getting so frustrated since I'm going to be starting a big project in a couple weeks, and I am quite concerned about ruining blocks.

    Any ideas, anybody?
    I am working on posting pictures.
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  9. #9
    Senior Member mermaid's Avatar
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    Jratcliff..ck my suggestion in the "Embroidery-let's chat" thread.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by mermaid View Post
    Jratcliff..ck my suggestion in the "Embroidery-let's chat" thread.
    I had posted here first and couldn't fine the thread again so went to let's chat to post. Thank you. Going there now.

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