When you first start working with a sewing machine, threading the machine and finding the right tension for your sewing project can be quite tricky.
The most frustrating part happens when you are trying to sew, but the thread keeps getting loose or tangled, especially with the bobbin area.
If your thread is getting caught in the bobbin area, what can you do? If your thread catches in the bobbin area, try adjusting the tension of the bobbin thread, ensuring you have the right needle and thread sizes, checking the bobbin case and bobbin are compatible for the machine, and cleaning/servicing the machine. This will solve common bobbin thread issues.
While working with the bobbin area and threading a sewing machine can feel like rocket science sometimes, there are some quick fixes to common bobbin problems that can make sewing a lot easier for you.
Where is the Bobbin Area?
Sewing machines work by combining a top thread, which comes from a thread spool through a few different holes and tension knobs, and a bottom thread, which comes from a bobbin underneath the presser foot.
When you sew, the bobbin (bottom) thread is brought up through a hole in the needle plate, while the top thread is threaded through the machine’s needle. The sewing machine effortlessly weaves these two threads together to create the stitches of your choosing. The stitches should look smooth on both the right side and the wrong side of your work.
The bobbin case is designed with some tension loops to add tension while the thread is feeding to the fabric. Before you start your project, you should take some time to learn how to thread the bobbin and the top thread properly, which are essential steps to ensure a smooth sewing experience.
Some sewing machines come with a clear needle plate, so you can clearly see the bobbin area and any problems that arise while sewing.
Why is My Thread Wrapping Around the Bobbin?
Sometimes, sewing doesn’t go very smoothly – the thread may not combine properly, getting caught in the bobbin case or becoming too loose. There’s nothing more annoying than sewing a line, only to learn that the bottom stitch did not take at all, and you have to figure out why.
Below are some of the common problems and how to fix them:
Thread Getting Tangled Up in the Bobbin Area
Sometimes, you try to sew a straight line only to find that the bottom thread did not combine correctly while the bobbin keeps working, tangling up the thread under the bobbin area.
This can happen because the tension of the top stitch doesn’t match the stitch type you are using. Try adjusting the tension according to the stitch’s recommended tension. Then try sewing again.
A tangled bottom thread can also happen when the bobbin is not threaded correctly so that the bobbin cannot give out the correct amount of thread to sew. If this is the case, try removing the bobbin from the bobbin case and inserting it again, making sure that the bobbin is in the correct position and the thread is going through the bobbin case properly.
If you are using a different bobbin and bobbin case than the one that came with your sewing machine, it may be a reason for tangling. Each sewing machine works with a specific type of bobbin and bobbin case. So if you are using a replacement, the bottom thread may not be feeding correctly, causing tangling. You may have to invest in replacement bobbins and/or a case that matches your machine’s setup.
Thread Bunching in the Bobbin Case
A similar problem occurs when the thread bunches up in the bobbin case, even though both the top and bottom threads may be in the correct position.
This issue can happen when your top thread and your bottom thread are not the same thread weight, causing the machine to pull them at different rates. If this is the case, you can switch out one of the two threads so that they have equal weights, which allows the sewing machine to run more smoothly.
Loops Forming with the Bobbin Thread
Loops can form when you try to sew a straight line, and the two threads combine in the correct shape, but the bobbin thread is too loose, causing pronounced loops at the bottom of the stitch.
When this happens, you can check whether the tension of both the top and bottom threads is too tight or too loose. Making sure that the threads have equal tension will allow the machine to pull both of them correctly and equally.
If your machine is older, check if the machinery is properly oiled up since this quick fix can help the machine function more smoothly, especially while pulling the threads.
Why is My Bobbin Thread Loose?
Your bobbin thread feels loose when the thread gives too easily without any tension at all, which can cause jamming, tangling, or loops in your sewing as described above.
While the default tension of the bobbin may work fine for most types of threads, some finer or some thicker threads may cause problems to your bobbin case.
If this is the case, try adjusting the tension in the bobbin case to match your thread, tightening or loosening it so that the bobbin adds the right tension to the bottom thread.
How to Fix Thread Caught in the Bobbin Area
If the tips above still don’t work with your machine, below are some of the steps that you can try to “reset” your machine and fix your problems with the threads. Consider this your cheat sheet for troubleshooting bobbin thread issues.
1. Press the Fabric Down with the Presser Foot
This is a classic beginner mistake, but it can definitely happen. A presser foot is designed to secure your fabric while your needle is creating stitches. However, sometimes you can place the fabric under the needle without securing the presser foot, sewing without realizing it.
Securing the presser foot before you sew will help you make sure that your sewing experience is as smooth as possible without any problems in the bobbin area.
2. Use the Right Bobbin Case and Size For Your Machine
Some machines are designed with specific bobbin cases. If you are using a replacement bobbin or bobbin case, this can cause issues in your sewing. Working with the correct bobbin case and bobbin size is essential to help you achieve the desired result.
3. Use a Sharper Needle
A dull sewing needle may not puncture your fabric correctly, causing problems while you sew. If your needle cannot pick up the bottom thread while the bobbin continues to give more thread, the thread can get tangled in the bobbin area.
In this case, replacing your needle with a sharper one will make sure that the sewing machine works properly. A sharp needle that punctures your fabric properly will allow the thread to be fed correctly while you create stitches, creating a smooth line as you work. These are the sharpest I’ve found on Amazon.
4. Match Needle and Thread Sizes to the Material
Similarly, when you use thicker fabric with a very fine needle and thread, the needle may not puncture the fabric correctly. If your fabric is too thick, your needle or thread may even break. This issue is most commonly seen when you sew denim or leather. Using a thicker needle and thread will resolve this problem.
If you are unsure about the correct size needle and thread, you can test your needle on a scrap piece of fabric with a similar thickness first before sewing on your project. This step will help you make sure that you can sew smoothly with your fabric.
5. Don’t Sew at the Edge of the Fabric
Sewing at the edge of the fabric is dangerous because if you go outside of the fabric, there is nothing for the stitches to cling on to, causing jams and tangles. When you sew, make sure that there are at least a few millimeters between the stitches and the edge so that you can avoid missing the fabric altogether.
6. Clean Out the Bobbin Parts and Remove Any Lint
If you have checked and adjusted everything without any luck, your machine may simply just be dirty. Since you are working with a lot of fabric, lint from the fabric can get caught inside the machine and affect its inner workings.
If this is the case, you can clean the bobbin area first, starting with the bobbin case, to make sure that it has the right tension.
If that doesn’t work, you can move on to other areas of your sewing machine, making sure that there’s no lint caught in any area, which can affect the tension of the threads and the effectiveness of the cogs running the sewing machine.
7. Service Your Sewing Machine
If your sewing machine is a little older, some parts may not work together as well as you’d like. There may be some loose or missing parts that you don’t know about and cannot fix on your own.
When you have followed all the tips above and still do not get the right results, you can take your sewing machine to get serviced by a professional to make sure that all the parts are functioning properly.
Servicing your sewing machine will help you identify any potential problems that your machine may have and help your future sewing projects run more smoothly.
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