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Thread: Tension problem out of the blue...help!

  1. #1
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    Tension problem out of the blue...help!

    So in the middle of piecing a quilt, my top thread became a straight line with bobbin thread loops on top. So either my top tension suddenly became too tight, or my bobbin tension became too loose. I lowered the top tension to the lowest setting, and it made only a slight difference. Just for testing sake, I adjusted it incrementally to the highest setting and it got tighter and puckered up the fabric even more so it appears the tension dial is working.

    I re-threaded the machine and changed the needle. It would stitch fine for a few inches and then back to the top thread being way too tight. I removed the bobbin case and cleaned out all the lint. I flossed the upper tension discs. Everything was fine for a few blocks and now the same problem again!

    I've had this machine for nearly a year and until now have never had a problem. It did not happen until some time after I started using a new piecing presser foot (the little foot by Lynn Graves). Could the foot be causing the issue? Is it time for servicing the machine? Is something broken? What should I do?

  2. #2
    Super Member Peckish's Avatar
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    Double-check your bobbin case, make sure it doesn't have a miniscule piece of thread caught somewhere. Have you tried adjusting your bobbin tension?

  3. #3
    Power Poster sewnsewer2's Avatar
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    Clean your bobbin case and run a long piece of UNWAXED dental floss thru the tension disks. Just thread it like you would normally do. You probably have a dust buildup in there or a thread caught.
    Grandma of 5 beautiful grand kids, 4 crazy cats & 1 dog!

  4. #4
    Super Member woody's Avatar
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    as above and try a new needle when you re thread, good luck
    The biggest risk is the one not taken

  5. #5
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    I've double checked the bobbin case and it's spotless. I haven't adjusted the bobbin tension yet because I wanted to be sure that it wasn't anything else before I mess with that little screw.

    I'll try the dental floss and report back.

  6. #6
    Member js3830's Avatar
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    Try a different foot. One that came with the machine.

  7. #7
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    If everything was working fine, you didn't have tension problems, you didn't change anything, and the tension suddenly goes bad - then it probably isn't the tension setting on the machine. More likely the thread path is not right somehow, e.g. the thread jumped out of where it should be and wrapped itself around something else, or there's a foreign object such as lint in the way.

  8. #8
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    Loops on the top is a bobbin problem, loops on the bottom is the top thread problem. Check the tension on your bobbin by hanging it by the thread after loading it and jerking the bobbin like a yo-yo. If it just drops to the floor without any jerks the tension has gotten loosened some how, tighten the screw.

    I know how frustrating tension issues can be. The diagnosis is the worse part, the fix is easy when that is done. Good luck!

  9. #9
    Junior Member homebody323's Avatar
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    I've had a spool of thread with a rough edge catch the thread and play havoc with all the things you mention. Try another spool of thread just to see if the problem is that spool. Having the thread wind off the spool incorrectly can also create problems or the paper on the spool. A lot depends on the particular machine you are using and the type of thread. Good luck, nothing more frustrating than tension issues.
    Sally Dolin
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  10. #10
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    I can't imagine it's the thread. I've been using the same large spool of aurifil for my last three projects (and this problem never presented itself). I've re-threaded the machine a dozen times. I just discovered the last needle or two I had put in were size 90/14 quilting needles, instead of size 75/11 (which I ALWAYS use for piecing). I just sewed a few test scraps and so far it's better, but I still see bobbin thread on top (not as severe) with the upper tension on the lowest setting.

    I've also tried with my previous 1/4" foot, and it's better than with the little foot. But I LOVE the little foot. The visibility is so much better that my seams are more consistent. Maybe I should just bite the bullet and tighten the bobbin tension.

  11. #11
    Super Member grammy Dwynn's Avatar
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    IMHO, it is time to go to the 'doctor'! When you do, take in both feet (1/4 and little foot), maybe the 'dr' can advise you if little foot is the problem.
    "I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand." -Confucius

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  12. #12
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    I can't imagine it's the thread. I've been using the same large spool of aurifil for my last three projects (and this problem never presented itself). I've re-threaded the machine a dozen times. I just discovered the last needle or two I had put in were size 90/14 quilting needles, instead of size 75/11 (which I ALWAYS use for piecing). I just sewed a few test scraps and so far it's better, but I still see bobbin thread on top (not as severe) with the upper tension on the lowest setting.

    I've also tried with my previous 1/4" foot, and it's better than with the little foot. But I LOVE the little foot. The visibility is so much better that my seams are more consistent. Maybe I should just bite the bullet and tighten the bobbin tension.

  13. #13
    Super Member Peckish's Avatar
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    Don't be afraid to adjust your bobbin tension. Turn the screw a quarter turn, rethread, and see if that makes a difference. Turn it another quarter turn if you need to. And, as an earlier poster said, do the drop test on your bobbin. It should drop about 6 inches and then hang from the thread. If it goes to the floor, your bobbin tension is too loose.

  14. #14
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    I'll do the bobbin drop test tonight when I get home from work. Am I going to mess anything up by tightening it? What on earth could have made it loosen on its own?

    Also, when I adjust the bobbin tension, should I do my test stitching with the upper tension set at 0? My machine's upper tension ranges from +3 (tightest) to -3 (loosest).

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    How about looking and feeling for a burr on the bobbin, foot, or needle.

  16. #16
    Senior Member cmrenno's Avatar
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    I had a problem like this. I tried everything that was already suggested and then I turned the thread spool upsidedown and that fixed my problem. Hopefully it will be something simple. Its hell when you have to take the machine in for repair!

  17. #17
    Senior Member leggz48's Avatar
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    Please keep us posted. Tension is so "iffy".....but I recently learned that it is OK to adjust the bobbin tension; prior to this, I thought that was taboo. Good luck.
    Linda

  18. #18
    Super Member Buckeye Rose's Avatar
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    You don't mention what brand of machine you have, but I had a similar incident with my Janome 6600. I tried everything to no avail. I finally turned off the machine and walked away. After calming down and returning, I turned on the machine, rethreaded top thread and bobbin thread.....tada! ....everything was good again. It seems that the thread came out of the tension discs, somehow. By turning the machine off and then on again, it reset.

  19. #19
    Super Member donnalynett's Avatar
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    I had my Viking do this same thing yesterday and never did figure out what went wrong. I just kept rethreading and kept trying to quilt. It would do fine for awhile and then start messing up again. Today it went just fine. There is no bobbin adjustment on the Viking so I may end up taking it in to the "doctor".

  20. #20
    Super Member M.I.Late's Avatar
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    I've had this problem crop up randomly too. Usually it's too full of a bobbin. I unload some and it seems happier. Also, try a different bobbin - if that doesn't fix it - try different bobbin thread. Of course, if it takes oil, take everything down and oil it up real well. I feel your pain though. The only time I can sound like a sailor is when my machine starts doing weird stuff - it makes me so furious. Of course, I'm really only furious that I can't figure it out. Oh - also try turning it off and back on too.

  21. #21
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    It's a cheapie Singer Stylist 7258. I've turned it off and on so many times as I've been troubleshooting the problem here and there for a couple days now, and that made no difference. Tonight I wound a new bobbin and put the aurifil on the horizontal spool pin rather than the vertical spool pin. Seems to have solved the problem for now. The stitch looks good with the upper tension dial set where it was before this issue randomly appeared.

    I'm thinking maybe the presser foot does have something to do with it, but putting the thread on the horizontal spool pin is working for now.

  22. #22
    Super Member newbee3's Avatar
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    is your machine computerized??? I have read that turning it off and back on will reset the tension it might work.

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