One of the most common repairs for a sewing machine has to do with bunched-up threading beneath fabric. No matter how much pulling, tampering with the tensions, and oiling a person does, it never seems to do the trick. This only leads to a slippery, jammed machine with its tensions all off beam. Thread bunching can be sign that something is wrong with your machine, and that “something-wrong” could be multiple things.
When it comes to tangled thread, many people assume the issue has to do with the bobbin or bottom thread; but even though the problem becomes evident beneath the fabric, it originates above the top thread. It is the needle and all areas upward that sewers should be investigating first when this happens. Many of these issues that cause thread-bunching can be solved on your own, while others require professional assistance. Continue reading to learn more about thread-bunching problems and solutions for sewing machines.
Steps for Fixing a Bunched-Up Sewing Machine:
Re-Thread the Entire Sewing Machine
Begin by re-threading the machine completely, being extra careful threading through the take-up lever and handling the tension assembly. Always thread your machine with the presser foot in the up-position. Do not miss even one thread guide!
Use a Sharp Needle
Replace your existing needle with a sharper one. After a period of time, needles show signs of dullness and structural deterioration, which can affect stitch quality and throw off a machine’s timing.
Use a Spool Cap
For sewing machines that have a horizontal spool pin, it is strongly suggested to add a spool cap. This cap needs to be properly sized and should cover the end of the spool thread without being too big. A ill-fitting spool cap can throw off tensions.
Thread the Tension Assembly
Top tension dials should be set between 3 and 5. Some machines may vary, but most work well within this range. Thread should be in-between the tension discs. If you have a newer machine, these discs are somewhat hidden, but older machines should have them exposed. Refer to the owners’ manual for instructions on finding your tension discs for newer models. Remember that both top and bottom tensions must be balanced to achieve a quality stitch.
Double-Check the Threading
To make sure you have properly threaded your sewing machine, test it by changing the presser foot position to “down” and lightly tug the thread on the right side of the tension assembly. If it pulls out with ease, it is threaded incorrectly and you must start over at step one! If it has a bit of tension, move forward to the next step.
Check the Feed Dogs
It is important to know if your feed dogs are operational and evenly feeding the fabric on the needle plate. Simply turn the hand wheel toward you three times and check if they are moving up and down. Be sure to engage the feed dogs for machines that have a lever for this function. This could be one reason why they aren’t moving! If your machine does not have a feed dog lever, and they are still not moving, then you might have a broken gear.
Check Your Work
To test whether or not you have solved the issue of bunching thread, start by setting your machine to the widest zigzag mode and the longest stitch length. Take a sample piece of fabric and fold it in-half one time. Place it underneath the presser foot and proceed to sew a few dozen stitches. If it jams, there might be more problems than you can see, but if it threads nicely, then you have fixed your problem!