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Michelemarie 11-30-2007 07:20 PM

Sewing Machine Question
Hi friends, I know this is a cooking forum but I know some of you sew and I'm in a bind -- big dance weekend for my daughter - I need to sew something on her costume. Everytime I stitch the thread on the bottom of the fabric (from bobbin) is all bunched up and a big mess. What the heck am I doing wrong? I searched the machine's manual and can't find one thing about this. I am using a very basic Singer. Any help would be great!

pacanis 11-30-2007 07:26 PM

I don't sew, but I did mess around with an old Singer 3300 (?) once.... I think it has something to do with setting the tension on the bobbin. I remember adjusting something down there to stop that from happening when I was practicing to be a rigger.

Katie H 11-30-2007 07:30 PM

Michele, the first thing I would suggest is that you remove the bobbin and clean any lint/threads from the area near the bobbin case and under the thread dogs (those are the parts of the machine that move the fabric under the presser foot). Check the bobbin to see if it's wound correctly. Maybe even try a new rewound bobbin. Next, check to see if your tension is correct.

Is the machine threaded correctly? Sometimes if a machine is not threaded correctly, that will throw off the stitches.

Although, it sounds as though you are having a tension problem.

FYI, I've been sewing for nearly 40 years so I have a little experience.

Michelemarie 11-30-2007 07:32 PM

Thank you! I just read something online about the tension - I have no idea what it is supposed to be set at? Does anyone know?

suziquzie 11-30-2007 07:33 PM

I would guess tention too, I had a similar problem when I got my new machine, but luckily my MIL had the same machine and helped me thru it. I would look in the manual about tention and see what you can find.

Michelemarie 11-30-2007 07:34 PM

Thanks Katie - I checked everything. I just increased the tension and it did stop the underneath looping but the top thread was real tight - so I lowered the tension this time. For right now it is okay but I just put a quick stitch in for the coach to check tomorrow. If it gets her approval I will sew it permanently. Thank you so much!

Katie H 11-30-2007 07:34 PM

Michele, look in your manual under "setting tension." It should address that question and should also provide photos/drawings of what stitches with proper tension should look like. The upper thread should drop into the fabric equal to how the lower thread goes "up" into the fabric. This is hard to explain without having you sit next to me to show you.

Michelemarie 11-30-2007 07:36 PM

Katie, no one wishes they were setting next to you right now more than me! I checked the manual and it said they loopy thread is because the tension is too low so I raised it, apparently too high. Boy, my sewing skills are rustier than I thought!

pacanis 11-30-2007 07:37 PM


Originally Posted by Michelemarie (Post 514951)
Thank you! I just read something online about the tension - I have no idea what it is supposed to be set at? Does anyone know?

Again, from memory, though I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express the other night :lol: I adjusted mine so the stitch on the bottom was the same length as the stitch on top.
I'm sure there's a more definitive way to do it now.

Uncle Bob 11-30-2007 07:37 PM

I adjust my tension with bourbon!:rolleyes:

Michelemarie 11-30-2007 07:39 PM

That will work! Good idea!:wink:

suziquzie 11-30-2007 07:39 PM


Originally Posted by Uncle Bob (Post 514960)
I adjust my tension with bourbon!:rolleyes:

I would have to say Brandy.....

Uncle Bob 11-30-2007 07:42 PM

Or like tonight it was/is a Vodka martini........:rolleyes:

Fisher's Mom 11-30-2007 07:43 PM

Katie is steering you right - take out the bobbin (and bobbin case called the race, if possible), and brush out any lint. Reinsert the bobbin, making sure you have the thread guided correctly through the little notches in the race. Then re-thread the upper thread and needle. Then try it. If that doesn't fix it, then change the tension settings gradually, sewing on a scrap piece of fabric to test. If it's a newer machine, lint in and under the race is usually the culprit.

*amy* 11-30-2007 07:54 PM

I've done fashion designing & coutourier (can't spell it, but did it), & home sewing for many years. I use a sear's kenmore. The problem could be a few things - first adjust the tension (at the top pf the machine), next make sure you are using the proper thread and needle size for the fabric. Rethread the machine & make sure your bobbin isn't catching (knot etc) & pulled through correctly. Test first by hand lowering the needle through the platen/metal guide & raise it to get a loop. Pull the thread under the needle to the back. Correct or change the pressure foot if needed - you may have the wrong attachment on from the last time you worked w the machine i.e. platen or foot. Check to see if something is lose - presser foot etc. If need be, rethread your bobbin. Check your stitch length. Run the machine through a swatch first so you don't ruin the fabric. I messed up silk once, and just about had a fit. (No pun intended.)

Another thought - there should be a few platens & presser foots. Make sure you don't have the zigzag foot or platen on. If all else fails, and you have a serger, switch over to that.

jabbur 11-30-2007 08:28 PM

In mt experience, this problem is the tension. Sometimes it can be corrected by adjusting the tension at the top of the machine. If that doesn't work, there is a tension setting on the bobbin but haven't had to adjust it on my Singer machine. I have on my old Kenmore which had the bobbin case removable and there was a small screw that adjusted tension on the bobbin. I know you'll figure it out and make a wonderful costume for your daughter.

Michelemarie 11-30-2007 10:46 PM

Thank you all for your help! I think the tension adjustment worked - I will know for sure tomorrow when I "resew" it. My, it is a sensitive knob, isn't it? Thank you all for coming to my rescue so quickly! I will post a picture of the costume!

Home-art studios 12-01-2007 02:27 PM

Alternate repair
If nothing else works, take a look around the hole where the needle goes through the feed plate.
I had just spent a couple of hours trying to fix the thread 'birdnesting" under the fabric. I changed needles, changed thread, adjusted tension, cleaned the machine and beat my head against the wall. I finally noticed that the feed plate had a couple of burrs and a dent in it, presumably from a heavy duty needle that I recently bent trying to sew jeans. I took off the plate, pounded out the dent, and sanded off the burrs with a nail file. It worked perfectly!

Michelemarie 12-01-2007 02:31 PM

Home - thanks for the tip - if I have further problems I will check that out!

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