Thread bunching up when using a sewing machine & how to fix it. https://www.itchinforsomestitchin.com

Why Sewing Machine Thread Bunches Up and How to Fix It!

Does this look familiar?

Often called “birdnesting”, this is what it looks like when sewing machine thread bunches up on the top of or on the underside of your fabric.

Why Sewing Machine Thread Bunches up & How to Fix It by www.itchinforsomestitchin.com

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This is one of the most common problems when using a sewing machine.  Not only is this an extremely frustrating issue, it can also put a major stopper in the creative process!

I know because it happened to me.

If this is happening to you, first, don’t panic!  This situation is normally an easy fix and usually doesn’t need a call to your sewing machine repairman.

What Causes Sewing Machine Thread to Bunch Up?

Before I go over all the things you can check to fix this annoying problem, let’s first make sure you understand what’s causing the problem.

The short and dirty answer is tension.  Tension seems to be the culprit in the majority of cases. However, this isn’t always the case, so there are other things you can check as well.

Let’s go over tension so you can understand why this can be such a big issue.

Tension is what keeps the top and bottom stitches in perfect balance with one another.  In other words, it’s what keeps the front and back stitches looking the same.

When sewing, the top, and bottom stitches should interlock smoothly and look the same.  However, if the stitches are puckered, the seam is unstable, the thread bunches up, or the stitches are just plain ugly,  then there is most likely a problem with incorrect tension on either the top or bottom.

It is important that both the top and bottom tension work together to create proper stitches.  For a better understanding of sewing machine tension, I recommend reading the following articles:

Understanding Thread Tension In Your Sewing Machine

Sewing Lesson 10:  How to Fix Tension on Your Sewing Machine

 

Things to Check When Your Sewing Machine Thread Bunches Up.

When your sewing machine thread bunches up you may also experience thread jamming.  In other words, you may have large tangles and huge clumps of bunched up thread not only on your fabric but inside your sewing machine as well.

This typically occurs in the bobbin area and it can be terrifying to witness!

I have had tangles and bunches of thread in the bobbin area so bad that my machine literally became locked up and I couldn’t even pull the fabric out!

When this happens to you, you will want to cry.  Well, at least I did.

You may even panic and schedule an appointment with a repairman.  Fortunately, I left my phone on the hook the first time this happened to me and consulted the great and powerful Google instead.

After lots of research, I was able to successfully fix the issue.  I then wrote down all the tips I learned and decided to share them in this post.

Believe it or not, every time my thread bunches up I consult this checklist.  And, if I learn something new, I add it to this post.

So, these are all the things, in my experience, that you can check before making a 911 call to your sewing machine mechanic.

Note:  In order to go through this checklist, you should be familiar with your sewing machine and the basic sewing process.  If you are new to sewing and/or recently purchased a new sewing machine, make sure you understand all the parts of a sewing machine.

Also please check out the sewing resources page for more information.

“Birdnesting” Checklist

The thread is bunching up on TOP of your fabric:

Whenever the sewing machine thread bunches up, or “bird nests”, on the top of your fabric, the problem typically lies with your bobbin.

Here’s what to check:

1.  Is your bobbin correctly threaded?

  • If the thread has knots, is not smooth, is uneven, or is loose on the bobbin, then it has not been threaded correctly.
  •  If your machine uses a bobbin case, follow your sewing machine’s instructions to remove the bobbin from the case and re-thread it. Make sure you place it back in the case according to your machine’s instructions.
  • Be sure that you have the bobbin thread engaged in the bobbin tension. To test this, hold the bobbin thread with one hand and if the bobbin drops to the floor then you missed the tension spring in the bobbin case.

Check out The Bobbin Tension Trick You May Not Know for more information.

 

2.  Is your bobbin case tension too loose?

  •  If you have loosened the screw on your bobbin case to allow for thicker threads you may need to re-adjust it for a regular thread.
  • After the bobbin case has been correctly threaded, give the bobbin thread a slight tug.  The thread should still move freely with some slight resistance.

 

The thread is bunching up on UNDERNEATH your fabric:

If the thread is bunching up underneath your fabric, don’t assume that the problem is with the bobbin.  This is what most people tend to think, however, your needle tension is more likely the true culprit.

Here’s what to check:

1.  Is the needle threaded correctly?

  •  Cut the thread a few inches from the spool and pull it out of the machine through the needle.   Re-thread according to the instructions for your machine.
  • Always thread the sewing machine with the presser foot up.  The tension is engaged when the presser foot is down and the thread will not engage properly in the tension discs.
  • Complete engagement is necessary so that the discs can snugly “grasp” the thread.

 

2.  Is the presser foot up?

  •  Don’t worry.  We all do this occasionally.  Just put it down and never speak of it to another soul. ?

Note:  It has come to my attention that this one might be a bit tricky for some sewing beginners.  So, just to be clear, the presser foot should be down during sewing.

 

3.  Does the tension need to be adjusted?

  •  Even sewing machines that can “sense” your thread and automatically determine proper tension are sometimes wrong.
  • Tighten or loosen the tension as necessary.

 

4.  Does your needle need to be changed?

  • Make sure you are using the proper needle for the fabric you are using.
  •  Also, double-check that the needle is not bent.  If you pull the fabric instead of guiding it through the feed dogs as you sew then the needle can bend leading to all sorts of sewing machine problems.

 

5.  Does the sewing machine need to be cleaned?

  •  Frequent cleaning, dusting, and oiling will prevent many stitching problems.
  •  Make sure to dust underneath the throat plate, in the bobbin case, and along the thread path.
  • Proper maintenance takes only minutes and can save you a multitude of headaches.

 

Still having problems after going through the checklist?  

  • Then let’s add one more thing to do.  It’s time to change your thread.  Make sure you are using a high-quality thread.  No folks, not all threads are created equal.  Stop buying thread from the bargain bins!

 

  • Low-quality threads not only tend to break more often, they also generally have looser fibers. Pieces of broken thread and loose fibers mean more lint in your sewing machine.  This can lead to all sorts of problems, including your thread bunching up.  It can even cause irreparable damage to your machine.   A sewing machine is a substantial investment.  You don’t want that investment destroyed because you then decided to use cheap thread.

 

So, what’s the best sewing machine thread?

Good question.  The answer is really one of personal opinion.

  • I love Gutermann, but I’ve heard that Mettler, Aurifill, and Robison Anton are also good.  When I was a beginning sewer I was not so picky.  I grabbed the cheapest thread I could.  I even used old thread my grandma had since the 70’s!

 

  •  Years of experience, sewing machine problems, and projects that literally fell apart at the seams because I used poor quality thread taught me a valuable lesson.  There is no substitute for quality.

 

  •  I use Gutermann because it creates less lint, thus, it gunks up your sewing machine less than other threads.  It also tangles less than other threads and lasts longer than other threads.  Yes, it’s a bit more expensive.  I usually try to stock up while it’s on sale. You can find it at it Michaels or on Amazon.  The price varies by spool size.  (You can also click on the images)

 

 

What do you do when all else fails?

  •  Change your thread and put in a new, sharp sewing machine needle.  It’s a winning combination!

I have seriously been at the end of my rope, pulling my hair out in frustration from episodes of birdnesting… tried everything on the list… and failed… only to have it magically fixed by doing these two things at the same time.  This is not an exaggeration.

  •  Gently hold the end of the thread for the first few stitches when sewing.

Holding thread while sewing to keep thread from bunching up by https://www.itchinforsomestitchin.com

This is a tip given to me by multiple readers (check the comments section) and I have tested it myself.  So far, I think it definitely helps, and it is something I have added to my normal sewing process.

  •  If possible, watch your thread uptake lever while sewing.

What Is the Thread Uptake Lever?

The thread uptake lever is the part of the sewing machine that pulls the thread from the spool, feeds it through the machine, and lifts the thread back up out of the fabric after a stitch has been made.  Basically, it’s the part of the sewing machine that goes up and down as you sew.

It’s located directly above the presser foot and is often concealed or obscured by the top plastic shell of the sewing machine.

Sometimes, for whatever reason, even after I have tried absolutely everything and I am sure my tension should be right, the thread will simply fall off the uptake lever.

And then you know what happens?  Yep, you guessed it… the thread bunches up!

So, now I have removed the plastic piece on my sewing machine so the thread uptake lever is always in view.  When the thread falls off, I use a pen to gently lift up the thread and place it back on the lever.  Magic!


Take my advice folks and learn from my mistakes.  The next time your sewing machine thread bunches up refer to this checklist.

Hopefully, these tips will help you troubleshoot and fix the issue quickly so you can keep the creative juices flowing and keep on sewing!

 

Birdnesting Checklist by www.itchinforsomestitchin.com
Click to Download

 

Be sure to share this post.

Help others solve this frustrating issue!

 

Until next time…  Happy Sewing!

 

https://www.itchinforsomestitchin.com

 

 

 

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Itchin4Stitchin

I'm a full time homemaker who loves to crochet, knit, quilt, and sew. I have the best fiancé in the world, four beautiful step-daughters-to-be, an amazing new little baby boy, and six wonderful dogs, who love to keep me on my toes. Life is sweet!

72 Comments

  1. Reply

    Sherrie Vermurlen

    October 25, 2020

    I have a brand new singer machine that I got from Walmart. I have only used it once since I had an indecent with the foot pedal getting damaged and me having to purchase a new one. I finally got one and was going to try to finish a project but now I am getting the bunching when I start sewing. I am going to try your checklist and see if that makes a difference. The only thing I haven’t really tried is to hang on to the threads for the first couple stitches. Is there anything else I might need to try?

    • Reply

      Itchin4Stitchin

      October 25, 2020

      Hi Sherrie,

      Make sure you go through the checklist and even some of the suggestions in the comments (I need to do an update to add them) after that you may want to consider checking with the manufacturer of the sewing machine to see if there isn’t some internal issue they need to take a look at.

      I wish you the very best and truly hope that something on this list helps!

      Best wishes,

      RaeLynn

  2. Reply

    Robert B

    August 23, 2020

    I’e been sewing on and off with different machines and for the last ~20? years I’ve had a Janome serger where before I had Bernina, brother, and elna machines… anywho, today I was doing a small (really small) project adding “markers” to washcloths and suddenly the thing started “nesting”… so I check the bobbin area for dust, check the tension, re-thread and continue and suddenly it bunches up again, but with a distinctive click from the bobbin area under the foot…. I start inspecting everything and notice that the thread had also bunched up at the needle eye (“roped”? one strand broke or something and kept from going through the eye). So I cut the thread again and re-threaded and paid attention to the needle when I see it happening again, so I slow down (very slow) and notice to my relief that the broken thread part is going through the eye and I was able to finish the last part without Any more incidents.
    My question is how or why do these “ropings” occur and how can I prevent them? Could the thread bee either too old or too cheap? I got it at Walmart no idea when (but probably about 15 years ago :/ hmmm ) I do keep it dry and lint-free though…

    • Reply

      Itchin4Stitchin

      August 24, 2020

      Hi there,

      Every time I have had thread break in the way you’ve described it turned out to be because I used very old thread from my grandmother. I would highly suggest purchasing new yarn and trying again. If it continues, then I would suggest maybe a tension issue (too tight perhaps?). This may be something to look into!

      I hope that helps!

      Best wishes,

      RaeLynn

  3. Reply

    Carol

    July 21, 2020

    Thank you for these tips. used to sew industrially for many years. It ruined my neck and spine, so I no longer sew by machine. Only hand-sew now. I make face masks now for those In need. I am very frugal, raveling thread from garments and reusing it and this material for the masks. But once in a while I get bird’s nests, too. It got me thinking that this may be due to my own tension when pulling the thread to tighten the stitches, or just old thread. This was very helpful information. Who knows how old these garments are. Haha. Anyway, I enjoyed your post and these comments.

    • Reply

      Itchin4Stitchin

      July 21, 2020

      Hi Carol,

      I thoroughly enjoyed reading your comment. It never occurred to me that one could get bird nesting while hand sewing. It just goes to show you that you can learn something every day! lol. I am very glad you were still able to find this post useful despite the fact that you no longer use a sewing machine — they can certainly be hard on the body.

      I applaud your efforts during this hard time to help other in need. I am sure they are very grateful for your kindness.

      Blessings,

      RaeLynn

  4. Reply

    Ariachnae

    June 26, 2020

    So I had problems with the thread bunching up, but only at the beginning of a seam. I went through your checklist and found the solution.

    I hadn’t been holding the thread out of the way for the first few stitches…. Thank you for helping me figure it out!

    • Reply

      Itchin4Stitchin

      June 28, 2020

      Hi Ariachnae,

      You are so very welcome! Glad I could help!

      Best wishes,

      RaeLynn

  5. Reply

    Vicki

    June 6, 2020

    In reading many comments I have learned that many readers have a collection of sewing notions from grandmothers or other family members that they don’t know what to do with. I think a sewing wreath would be a sweet decoration using items like old spoils of thread, bobbins, and other small notions. Anyone have anything like that already to share?

    • Reply

      Itchin4Stitchin

      June 8, 2020

      Vicki,

      I have to say that is absolutely a FABULOUS idea! I love it! I am not a great crafter other than crochet, sewing, and knitting – but I think I really want to give this idea a try.

      Thanks so much!

      Best wishes,

      RaeLynn

  6. Reply

    Suzanne

    May 25, 2020

    Great article, thank you for the tips. I, too, have found that old threads are a big problem in sewing. I have had any issues using threads passed down to me from my grandmother. Oh well, time to go shopping for sewing supplies I guess. Thank you again, Suzanne

    • Reply

      Itchin4Stitchin

      May 26, 2020

      Hi Suzanne,

      Oh yes! I have had the same issue! My grandmother gave me a ton of threads – but I learned they actually wear out and break easily and can cause bunching up issues. Since then – I only use them for practice. I appreciate the thought grandma, but only fresh threads for me! lol

      Best wishes,

      RaeLynn

  7. Reply

    Joe

    May 19, 2020

    Another often overlooked point that needs oiling is the feed dog arm and stitch adjuster movements. Even on a newer machine parts tend to gum up if not used. The feed dog arm moves on a roller bearing when the machine actuates the feed dogs to go forward, backward, up and down. If these motions are not smooth, everyone starts messing with the bobbin. Bobbins are an easy check and fix, but before you adjust the lower tension, make sure the parts on the motor end and underneath for the feed dog are oiled and moving right.

    • Reply

      Itchin4Stitchin

      May 20, 2020

      Hi Joe,

      This is a fabulous suggestion! Thank you so much for adding it to this list. I am sure everyone appreciate all the tips they can get!

      Best wishes,

      RaeLynn

  8. Reply

    Kindy

    April 19, 2020

    I worked at a sewing factory right out of high school making big lifting slings for cranes and such (not very glamorous). We used big giant ancient looking industrial sewing machines that were very intimidating at first. I spent many frustrated days switching around on machines and hunting up the mechanic because no matter what I did the bobbin thread would nest. It would happen every time I cut the threads and started a new seam. I finally learned while sewing on my own machine at home one weekend that all my problems were caused from yanking the thread out way to fast when finished with a seam causing the bobbin to get spinning too fast and then it would stop and spin backwards causing the thread to get way too loose on the bobbin, especially when it’s almost empty. If you pull your threads out in a slow smooth motion it won’t unwind and keep that bobbin running smooth all the way to the end. This is a very easy fix so hopefully I can help people not have the frustration I experienced.?

    • Reply

      Itchin4Stitchin

      April 20, 2020

      Hi Kindy,

      Thanks for the great tip! Although I have never experienced this – I think I always pull mine out slowly for fear of wasting thread (I know, it’s silly – ha ha), but this may be the issue for others and I appreciate you letting know. Also, super cool that you worked with large industrial sewing machines! I would be so intimidated. LOL.

      Take care,

      RaeLynn

  9. Reply

    Karen Pittman

    April 1, 2020

    Hello, I have had the same problem with nesting. Thanks for the tips.

    I have a Singer CG-590 commercial sewing machine and a 1951 (which happens to be the year I was born lol) Singer in a cabinet.

    I have been sewing on the CG-590 and all of a sudden, my needle keeps breaking or bending and the thread keeps breaking. Do you or any of your readers have any possibilities that I can try to locate the problem?

    Thanks in advance for any ideas I can try.

    • Reply

      Itchin4Stitchin

      April 4, 2020

      Hi Karen,

      Gosh I really wish I knew the answer to this! I know the needles can bend or break if the needle is dull. Have you tried changing out your needles frequently?

      Sincerely,

      RaeLynn

  10. Reply

    Grandma G

    February 9, 2020

    As one who’s been sewing for over 60 years, (Yeah, I’m really old) I’ve experienced this problem myself – more than a few times! I’ve learned that (unfortunately) there can be many reasons for it; most of them already discussed above. But there is another that I know can cause it. Of all my machines, some very new, some from the 90’s and a few vintage models as well, most have more than one needle plate (the flat piece of metal that goes around the feed dogs). One plate has a wide needle hole for zig-zag sewing and one has a small round hole for straight stitching. The best ones have a metal insert IN the needle plate, which can be quickly and easily reversed, end to end, to switch back and forth. Others require that the whole plate be removed and replaced with another. Until the mid ’60’s I had sewn with a straight stitch machine only and didn’t know there were different plates. When I got my first Kenmore zig-zag in ’69, it came with an insert as I described.
    SO, why am I boring you with all of this detail? Because, I never bothered to switch plates from zig-zag mode and couldn’t figure out why I was getting nests and fabric stuck. I didn’t know to switch the insert! When you use a single hole plate for straight stitching, you are MUCH less likely to get fabric snagged and/or thread nests. The hole is too small to pull fabric into the machine. And as others mentioned, leaving your threads long enough before cutting them off is good to do, so you can hold both threads as you begin sew again. But the best technique I’ve found is what Cheryl Taylor said: “Leaders and Plugs” I use leaders – a scrap of thread folded over at least once or twice and put under the presser foot just before your good fabric. Stitching on the leader first ‘pulls’ the fabric along behind it and eliminates thread nests. This often eliminates the need to hold threads as well. It’s wonderful if you’re using a very delicate fabric such as organza, and MAKE SURE you are using the single hole needle plate that hopefully came with your machine. If not, try looking for one on the internet – they really make a difference!
    One last little tidbit: I have a student just learning to sew, who became frustrated every time she stopped stitching, lifted the presser foot and tried to pull out a length of thread before cutting. Her threads wouldn’t budge! What she didn’t realize was her needle was NOT all the way up. If you’ve ever had this problem, watch the thread lifter lever. If your thread won’t pull out, hand-turn the wheel toward you a little until you can see the lever is up as far as it will go. Then you’ll have no problem drawing out your threads.
    I lied! – another bit: Whenever you have anything difficult to sew, be it organza or elastic, straight stitch or zig-zag, laying a piece of tissue paper beneath it makes the process much easier, and it tears away very easily! Fold it over your stitching line, score it with a fingernail and zip! it comes right off.
    Keep on sewing!!

    • Reply

      Itchin4Stitchin

      February 12, 2020

      Hi Grandma G,

      Thank so much for your wonderful and insightful comment. Wow, over 60 years of sewing experience – that’s AMAZING!!!

      Your mention of different plates for straight and zigzag stitches is very interesting. I will have to check into it as I believe I always use only one plate! I will do some Investigating to see if I have a second plate. I am pretty are that I don’t have an insert.

      I am very curious about the “leaders” idea and am very excited to test it out! I will certainly update this post if I find it is in fact helpful.

      Sincere thanks,

      RaeLynn

  11. Reply

    Alice

    November 15, 2019

    I am so very late to the party here, but I had the darnedest time with birdnesting! I tried everything; new thread, rethreading, adjusting the tension screw. Finally, I took it in to be cleaned and tuned. You know what I finally figured out? It was the bobbin! I had bought cheap extra bobbins, and when I used those, it nested every time. When I used the proper bobbin, it ran smooth. No more cheap bobbins for me!

    • Reply

      Itchin4Stitchin

      November 21, 2019

      Hi Alice,

      You are absolutely right! You really must use the proper bobbin for your sewing machine. This is something I will definitely add to this post!

      I have a whole thing of bobbins my grandmother gave me and I have no idea what to do with them because I don’t want to use them with my machine. LOL

      Best wishes,

      RaeLynn

  12. Reply

    Lesa

    May 30, 2019

    Thank you so much for these very helpful tips!!!

    • Reply

      Itchin4Stitchin

      May 30, 2019

      You are so very welcome! Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

      Sincerely,

      RaeLynn

  13. Reply

    Virginia

    May 13, 2019

    Very helpful! Thanks for sharing. Another thing to check is bobbin size! I was gifted a sewing machine by my aunt. I was new to sewing and never thought it would be the bobbin. A friend switched one of her bobbins with mine. It fit perfectly. I had no idea there were different sized Bobbins!

  14. Reply

    Karen

    November 11, 2018

    You just saved the day!!! 🙂 Thank you so much! I pretty much only have a machine to hem pants and stuff like that. Well, my middle-school daughter has always sketched clothing design and expressed an interest in trying her first project – a drawstring bag. So, we got the machine out & I threaded it for her, and sure enough, we were getting this awful bunching on the underside. I did everything I could think of to fix it and read other blogs/websites. Nothing. Well, finally came across YOUR blog. Sure enough – I was putting the presser foot DOWN while threading (just to get it out of the way – I didn’t realize how critical that was to have it up)! I am so grateful – honestly, my daughter was looking so disheartened when the machine was acting up (who knows? maybe she would have given up altogether), and now she is sewing on her own for her VERY FIRST TIME! 🙂 If I don’t find a link to donate to blog, I will at least be clicking all the ads!

    • Reply

      Itchin4Stitchin

      November 16, 2018

      Hi Karen,

      I am so glad this post helped you! Thread bunching up really can be a pain and I have been compiling different methods to combat it for a long time now in hopes that at least one method will be able to help anyone who suffers from this issue. Even after all this time, I still struggle with this issue from time to time and have to recheck my own article. LOL.

      I hope your daughter’s project turned out amazing!

      Sincerely,

      RaeLynn

  15. Reply

    jan owens

    September 19, 2018

    I learned a long time ago from an upholstery seamstress to glue a small spot on a quarter in the back of the plate. wrap your thread around that before starting to sew. Works every time!

    • Reply

      Itchin4Stitchin

      September 21, 2018

      REALLY?? I am definitely trying this! Thank you so much for the tip, I will certainly pass this onto my readers. I just want to test it out first. 🙂

      Sincerely,

      RaeLynn

  16. Reply

    Janita

    August 26, 2018

    Also the bobbin or the bobbincase can be damaged and in that case need to be changed to new ones.

    • Reply

      Itchin4Stitchin

      August 30, 2018

      That’s a very good tip! I will add it to the post. Thank you so much. 🙂

  17. Reply

    Goldie

    April 17, 2018

    Save thread and rough starts to a seam line by using a bridge. This is a small piece of scrap fabric that you butt up to the end of your seam, stitch onto, and leave behind under the needle. To start the next seam, sew off the bridge and onto the fabric you have butted up to position for a smooth start. This saves on thread tails and prevents those stinkers from wandering below deck and causing mischief.

    • Reply

      Itchin4Stitchin

      April 17, 2018

      Hi Goldie,

      Thanks for stopping by & for the great tip! I will test it out and add it to the list. I just know others will benefit from it.

      Sincerely,

      RaeLynn

    • Reply

      Cheryl Taylor

      November 11, 2018

      Goldie, Also known as “leaders and Plugs”. Don’t ask me why but if you watch Margaret Leuwen Quilting on Youtube, she always uses them. They really do seem to prevent birdnesting. A bit of a nuisance if you are in a hurry to finish a project but it works.

      Good luck to anyone with this problem.

      Cheryl

  18. Reply

    Abby

    December 13, 2017

    Thank you for this post! I am still having issues:( I have a brand new spool of thread, the brand you use, and a brand new needle and I am still having this issue underneath my fabric. I am making a ruffled christmas tree skirt with a felt base and layers with burlap, a think plaid fabric, and a knit lace. With all three fabrics I am having this issue. I have had my Singer Talent 3323 machine for a few years and am certainly still a novice. I am pretty much winging it for every project. My tension is sent to 4. I have messed with that and it doesn’t seem to be making much difference:( Any other thoughts for me?! Im super tired of having to stop and clean out a jammed up bobbin every few inches:(

    • Reply

      Itchin4Stitchin

      December 13, 2017

      Hi there,

      I am sorry to hear that you are struggling so much with this issue! It can truly be a frustrating one. When thread bunches underneath it is usually a sign that your needle tension is too loose or the bobbin thread is too tight. Unfortunately, tension is a finicky thing and can get out of whack over the tiniest change… different fabrics, a scratch in your bobbin, lint, etc…

      Is your bobbin threaded correctly? Is there any damage to bobbin spring or case? Is there any lint or thread in the bobbin area? These may seem like silly questions, but they are important to check. I am focusing on the bobbin because you said that you already played with the needle tension and that doesn’t seem to be helping. Just to be sure, have you tried slowly increasing the needle tension?

      You could also try adjust the bobbin tension by using a small screwdriver to turn the screw on the bobbin case. Clockwise should increase the tension and counterclockwise should reduce tension. Be sure to turn it in small increments.

      I sure hope you get it figured out. If so, please let me know what worked for you. If not, let me know and I will do some more research to help the best that I can.

      Sincerely,

      RaeLynn

      • Nelda

        December 14, 2017

        RaeLynn, I’m wondering if Abbey is using thread to match her needle? She mentioned burlap & felt, not sure what the other fabrics are but if she opted for a 90/14 or higher needle but didn’t change to a heavier thread, that could cause some problems as well. Another thought, sewing burlap especially can leave tiny threads and fibers that get down in the bobbin case. I would remove the bobbin, and using a flashlight to look into the case, gently rotate the hand wheel to see if there are threads caught there. They will usually come out with tweezers (UNPLUG MACHINE). If they don’t come out…..time for the shop.

      • Itchin4Stitchin

        December 14, 2017

        Hi Nelda,

        Great idea about the heavier thread! I also wonder if Abby is using the proper needle for the fabrics she is using.

        Lint & thread in the bobbin case is a huge problem. I have this issue all the time and it definitely affects my tension. I completely agree with your advice to make sure it is completely cleaned out.

        Thanks so much for your wonderful input!

        Sincerely,

        RaeLynn

    • Reply

      Trish

      November 9, 2019

      I’m a beginner and have googled my way through a lot of problems one thing I learned with tension is to adjust it with foot down which is hard to remember since it was drilled into my head to thread with foot up but it was a game changer to adjust tension correctly…way fewer “nests”

      • Itchin4Stitchin

        November 9, 2019

        Trish,

        This is a very good tip. Thank you! It is something I will be sure to add to the post.

        Sincerely,

        RaeLynn

  19. Reply

    Esme Gibson

    November 14, 2017

    I use a Bernini 240. Holding the tails is a must. I grew up using a Singer Featherweight and as I recall, holding the tails was required with it.

    • Reply

      Itchin4Stitchin

      November 14, 2017

      Hi Esme,

      It sounds as if this tip seems to work with nearly any sewing machine!

      Thanks so much for stopping by & giving us your input. ?

      Best wishes,

      RaeLynn

  20. Reply

    Rosetta Sungu

    September 24, 2017

    Thanks. I have always taken the upper nesting as a needle problem. Thanks.

    • Reply

      Itchin4Stitchin

      November 6, 2017

      Hi Rosetta,

      I did too when I first started sewing! I hope you found this post useful when troubleshooting your birdnesting issues. 🙂

      Best wishes,

      RaeLynn

  21. Reply

    Rachael

    July 3, 2017

    Hi i have just started sewing. This has happened to me on the bottom stitching. Im a beginner and didnt realise that when you thread the sewing machine around the round dial biit, and you get to the little wiry loop, you need to pull the two sides of the thread up and the wiry loop pushes up and makes a clicking sound. The thread should go into the wiry loop itself when it happens.

    • Reply

      Itchin4Stitchin

      July 13, 2017

      Hi Rachael,

      I’m curious, what type of sewing machine are you using? I don’t have a round dial or wiry loop on my sewing machine, but I’d like to get a better understanding of the issue you are mentioning. I am sure that lots of others may have the same issue and I’d like to be able to clarify how to help them. Thanks so much for stopping by!

      Sincerely,

      RaeLynn

      • Nelda Knight

        November 5, 2017

        Most of the vintage machines has the “wiry loop” Rachel mentions. It’s part of the tensioner. With all of my machines, I have the habit of holding the thread tail for the first stitch or two and rarely get a birdsnest. If I do, I go looking for all of the above. Very helpful information RaeLynn. Thank you,
        Nelda

      • Itchin4Stitchin

        November 6, 2017

        Hi Nelda,

        Thanks so much for clearing that up about the sewing machines with the “wiry loop”. Although vintage machines are lovely, I personally have never sewn with one. I love the tip about holding the thread tail for the first few stitches. I hope you don’t mind if I add that to this post the next time I do an update. If it is a problem, please let me know, but this is a great tip and I’d love to share it!

        Sincere thanks for stopping by and I am glad you found the information useful.

        Best wishes,

        RaeLynn

      • Nelda Knight

        November 6, 2017

        By all means, share away. I have a Bernina 730E that I use for fancy stitching and embroidery, but when it comes to piecing and quilting I go to my old (1950s) Singers. They have such a beautiful stitch. Holding the tails works for any machine I think.

      • Itchin4Stitchin

        November 13, 2017

        Hi Nelda!

        First off, let me apologize for the late reply. My notification system never notified me of your response. I found it by accident just now!

        Thank you so much for allowing me to add your tip to this post. I know others will greatly appreciate it.

        I will first try it with my Husqvarna, which is the one I use for all sewing and embroidery. Then I’ll break out my mom’s old Singer and try it again. I am sure it will be helpful! ?

        Best,

        RaeLynn

      • micka

        November 7, 2017

        I agree with Nelda, for some reason holding the thread tail for the first couple of stitches helps…but all your tips are a necessary starting base as well as a good reminder, thanks!

      • Itchin4Stitchin

        November 7, 2017

        Hi Micka,

        Glad you stopped by! It sounds like holding the thread for the first 1-2 stitches is definitely a valuable tip. I will definitely be adding it to this post. Thanks so much!

        Sincerely,

        RaeLynn

  22. Reply

    elizabeth

    June 30, 2017

    Thanks, I am an experienced seamstress but it has been awhile. I was doing just about everything wrong. Will go back and fix. I have been making bags and the frustration level is high.

    • Reply

      Itchin4Stitchin

      July 13, 2017

      Hi Elizabeth,

      I completely understand! This kept happening to me while I was trying to quilt, which is why I decided to find the solution and write this post. I hope it helped and your bags are turning out beautifully. 🙂

      Best wishes,

      RaeLynn

  23. Reply

    Jess

    April 13, 2017

    Number 2 is confusing, isn’t the foot supposed to be up?
    Thanks for the tips, I’m still trying to solve tension problems.

    • Reply

      Itchin4Stitchin

      April 13, 2017

      Hi Jessica,

      Thanks for the question. During sewing the presser foot should be down. However, on occasion, we can all make the mistake of putting the needle down, but leaving the presser foot up. This could cause tension problems that lead to the thread bunching up. You are very welcome for the tips! If you try all of them and have no luck, make sure you are using a high quality thread and are using a fresh needle. I found that this sometimes helps when all else fails. I will be updating this post soon with this little tid-bit.

      Best wishes,

      RaeLynn

  24. Reply

    Rita Rinaldi

    March 6, 2017

    I love your tips. I havent done any sewing for 50 years and needless to say the machines have changed so much. My machine keeps bunching up below where the bobbin is . I keep clearing it and rethreading but after two stitches it just bunches up again.Please help I am quarter way sewing the squares for a bed spread.

    • Reply

      Itchin4Stitchin

      March 6, 2017

      Hi Rita! First of all, let me apologize for taking so long to get back to you. I had written you a response first thing this morning, but apparently forgot to hit the reply button! So, let me try again, is your thread bunching on top of the fabric or under the fabric? Are you using a high quality thread & did you try the tips? Are you using an older sewing machine? If so, it may need some maintenance. Feel free to send me an email if you like and I will do my best to help!

  25. Reply

    sholder

    February 18, 2017

    If these adjustments don’t fix the problem???

    • Reply

      Itchin4Stitchin

      February 21, 2017

      Hi there, thanks for this great question! This has only happened to me once. Changing the needle & using a higher quality thread fixed the issue. If you’ve tried everything on the list and anything else you know of, you may want to bring your sewing machine in for service or cleaning.

  26. Reply

    Roxann Morley

    February 14, 2017

    Thank you for this information. Some of it I already knew, but needed a refresher. And then I learned something that should have been obvious.

    • Reply

      Itchin4Stitchin

      February 16, 2017

      Hi Roxann,

      I am so glad you found this post useful! It really is a great guide to keep around, especially if you do a lot of sewing as tension seem to be a common issue. Thanks so much for stopping by. 🙂

  27. Reply

    Tringa

    August 24, 2016

    Thank you for the tips!

    • Reply

      Itchin4Stitchin

      August 24, 2016

      You are so very welcome!

  28. Reply

    Anne

    July 8, 2016

    Thread snarls are no fun! Thanks for sharing the fixes. I’ve got a Craft Gossip post scheduled for later this evening that features your post: http://sewing.craftgossip.com/?p=88688 –Anne

    • Reply

      Itchin4Stitchin

      July 8, 2016

      Hi Anne,

      Thanks for stopping by! I hope these tips come in handy. I did check out your like but got an error message. I appreciate you sharing the post though & would love to see it!

      Best,
      RaeLynn

  29. Reply

    The Eclectic Abuela

    March 16, 2016

    Great tips–thanks!

    • Reply

      Itchin4Stitchin

      March 16, 2016

      You are very welcome! ?

  30. Reply

    Kristina & Millir

    March 15, 2016

    yes! that looks so familiar 🙁 thanks for the tips and help! pinned to my tips board!

    • Reply

      Itchin4Stitchin

      March 15, 2016

      I feel for you. It really can be frustrating! I hope this guide helps & feel free to contact me if you have any questions. 🙂

      • Kris Kuhl

        April 14, 2018

        Thanks for these tips. I have found that holding the thread for the first few stitches does help. But I have found it difficult to do that with some smaller items. I am now using poster tacky and pushing these first threads into it to hold these threads works great.

      • Itchin4Stitchin

        April 17, 2018

        Hi Kris,

        Thanks for the new tip! I will give it a test. 🙂

        Best,

        RaeLynn

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About Me

I'm RaeLynn - wife to an amazing man, step-mom to 4 beautiful daughters, & mommy to one rambunctious little boy. I am a self-taught crocheter who has a passion for teaching others this wonderful skill. Join me on this crochet journey and let's create something beautiful!

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