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Thread: Help with ??tension??

  1. #1
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    Help with ??tension??

    I have several old singers that I have taken apart and cleaned. Now they all seem to have the same problem. I'm getting bird's nests on the back. I got one of the tension testers for the bobbin to make sure I had the lower tension adjusted correctly. No matter what I do, I keep getting bird's nests. Since this is happening with all my machines, I'm assuming I've got the same problem with all of them (Me). Now, I'm having the same problem with my Brother, which is not a vintage machine (but is one of the cheap ones). I do hold the threads when I begin sewing so it is not that. In fact, I can sew several inches before I start to have problems. My stitches look like the top tension is too loose, or the bottom too tight, but no amount of adjusting seems to help. If any of you have suggestions I would love to hear them. I've pretty much quit sewing because I'm so frustrated.
    Last edited by QuiltnNan; 08-07-2019 at 11:29 AM. Reason: shouting/all caps

  2. #2
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    I know this sounds crazy but are you sure you have the bobbin spinning in the right direction? When I had that problem with my 15-91 and my FW, that was the problem. For some reason I didn't think it mattered but when I read the books and went slower it was one thing that seemed to matter.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by quiltingcandy View Post
    I know this sounds crazy but are you sure you have the bobbin spinning in the right direction? When I had that problem with my 15-91 and my FW, that was the problem. For some reason I didn't think it mattered but when I read the books and went slower it was one thing that seemed to matter.
    Yep, made sure that was correct and that partially solved the problem. Checked all threading, changed threads and needles and still having problems. I don't have as bad a problem when piecing, so the thickness of the quilt is part of the problem, but I should be able to fix that by adjusting the top tension. Nothing seems to totally solve the problem. I've already ruined one quilt because I thought I had the problem fixed and did a bit of quilting only to find the problem reasserted itself and it was too knotted to take out without ruining the backing fabric.

  4. #4
    Super Member leonf's Avatar
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    Have you checked to see if the pin from the presser foot lever to the backside of the tension assembly is moving?
    My greatest fear is all of my family standing around my coffin and talking about "how sensible" he was.

  5. #5
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    are you sure the top thread is threaded correctly? mine usually does this when the thread has jumped out of the "take up" lever (I think that is what it is called)

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    Just a thought . . .I have had this happen on a machine my friend rarely used. We changed the needle and thought. That helped for a while. Then birds nests being attacked by snakes. As I looked over her manual and realized we were using the wrong bobbin type. We had to go buy some bobbins and that cleared up the problem completely.

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    It could be your thread. I hope you aren't using polyester thread. I worked on 2 machines 3 weeks ago for a lady and she was using it and when I put my cotton on it ran just wonderful. I'm just giving a suggestion. I also worked on one and it wouldn't use the bobbin she had. I looked hard in my bobbins and put one in that had just One hole in it and the machine came right along and sewed.
    Last edited by barny; 08-07-2019 at 05:46 PM.

  8. #8
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    Putting needles in the "not right" direction also will cause this.

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    I hate to keep talking, but, the tension tester I've never heard of. I looked it up and it was for Longarm quilting. Every old machine has different tensions for each one. I have a hard time sometimes getting my tension right. I wouldn't do much to the bobbin. I've been told if we are adjusting the bobbin, just turn the screw very little.

  10. #10
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    I wonder if your bobbins are wound too tight or too loose? I've had issues with tension with poorly wound bobbins in my (not vintage) machine. Now I tend to go a bit more slowly when winding.

  11. #11
    Super Member leonf's Avatar
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    If I have to adjust a bottom tension...very rarely, I hold the thread with the bobbin dangling from it. If I give it a quick jerk, I expect it to give me a bit more thread. Not very much. Seems to work pretty well. And yes the bobbin screw needs very small adjustments. 1/4 turn is a big adjustment.
    My greatest fear is all of my family standing around my coffin and talking about "how sensible" he was.

  12. #12
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    What generally causes those thread nests at the beginning of a seam is not holding your thread tails. An option to holding on to the ends of the thread until the machine has made it's first stitch, is to turn the handwheel until the needle is inserted into the fabric. After the needle is in the fabric, you press the foot pedal.

    You don't say which vintage singers you are having the problem with, or where the nests occur (beginning of seam, middle of seam, randomly, all the time, on bottom of the seam or on top of the seam). The above suggestion is for all vintage sewing machines when the thread nest is at the beginning of the seam on the bottom.

    If the nest is occurring randomly on the seam line (but sews right sometimes) and it is a drop in bobbin (singer 201, 400 series, 500 series, 66), cleaning the bobbin area meticulously will solve most of the problem. You have to take the bobbin case out and clean under it. Find a youtube video on how to do it on the particular machine you have (involves q-tips, sewing machine oil, cotton balls and toothpicks). The only one I've taken apart and cleaned where it solved the thread nest problem is a 401, but it wasn't hard to do. I took a 201-2 apart for another problem and it was harder to do, but with help from the board, I got it back together.

    If all you are getting is a big thread nest that never goes away, then you may have a tension problem. Generally speaking, that would not occur on multiple sewing machines and would be specific to one. And, as others have mentioned, a mistake in threading, bobbin type or needle direction would be a more likely culprit than tension.

    Tension adjustment problems are usually evidenced in other ways (barring a missing part). Your manual will describe how to adjust the upper tension.

    More information would help narrow the scope of the problem.

    bkay
    Last edited by bkay; 08-09-2019 at 06:47 AM. Reason: clarification

  13. #13
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    One more thought - what type thread are you using? By that I mean how is it on the spool? My 15-91 does not work well with the criss/cross wound spools, so I had to get a thread stand which brings the thread up over the machine and then I use a bobbin with a hole to thread it thru on the pin on top of the machine and then finish threading the rest of the machine. I came by the idea when my machine was acting that way and I semi remembered the man from Superior Threads had a video of the different spools of thread and how different the thread comes off the spool. I have to do that for metallic thread on my embroidery machine too, not sure why but someone said it helps and it does. So I don't care why.

    I use the bobbin on the pin to get the thread back to the level it needs on top. It feeds thru easily - my thread stand is rather tall for my 15-91 which sits in a cabinet.

    Hope you find a solution soon.
    Last edited by quiltingcandy; 08-09-2019 at 01:15 PM.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by novicequiltergrandma View Post
    I have several old singers that I have taken apart and cleaned. Now they all seem to have the same problem. I'm getting bird's nests on the back. I got one of the tension testers for the bobbin to make sure I had the lower tension adjusted correctly. No matter what I do, I keep getting bird's nests. Since this is happening with all my machines, I'm assuming I've got the same problem with all of them (Me). Now, I'm having the same problem with my Brother, which is not a vintage machine (but is one of the cheap ones). I do hold the threads when I begin sewing so it is not that. In fact, I can sew several inches before I start to have problems. My stitches look like the top tension is too loose, or the bottom too tight, but no amount of adjusting seems to help. If any of you have suggestions I would love to hear them. I've pretty much quit sewing because I'm so frustrated.
    Look at the bobbin case and see if it is aligned correctly with the needle plate. If the finger is not between the slots bird nest can occur!

  15. #15
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    Thanks for all the suggestions. I don't have a proper thread stand but use large spools. Since I have the problem with multiple machines, I think that is a good place to start. I'll let you know when I get the problem solved and what worked. Thanks again for the help. Everyone here is so helpful!

  16. #16
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    try small spools first before you move to the drag of big ones. Hope you get it.
    My greatest fear is all of my family standing around my coffin and talking about "how sensible" he was.

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