The Ultimate Guide to Sewing Machine Tension Issues

Fact Checked By:Aithley Balder

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The Most Pervasive Problems in Sewing Machine Tension Issues: -And How to Fix Them!

Thread tension is the resistance you feel on the thread as it runs through the sewing machine. Stitching on both sides of the cloth will be flawless if you use the correct thread tension. A problem with tension, on the other hand, would irritate you.

A typical cause of sewing machine tension problems is excessive or insufficient tension. The seam might pucker or break if it’s too high. If the sewing tension is too low or the bobbin does not cease unwinding, the seam will have gaps.

When sewing, you may run into complications with thread tension. In this post, we’ll take a look at the most common problems associated with sewing with wrong thread tension.

Common Problems with sewing machine tension issues

sewing machine tension problems

When the tension on your sewing machine is too high.

Seam Cracker

Excessive thread tension may cause seam puckering. The extremely tight tension may cause seam puckering on a lightweight material. The stitch length may need to be adjusted if the puckering occurs after adjusting the thread tension.

Breaking the Seam

If your tension is too high, your seam may break. Stretching your seam might cause it to break if it is sewn with bobbin and top thread tensions that are both excessively tight. You shouldn’t do that for any project, but it’s especially bad for clothing projects.

Breaking of the Thread

If you’re using a different kind of thread, you’ll need to alter your tension accordingly. A lighter or a heavier thread will need a modification in your sewing tension. When sewing, too much stress might cause your thread to snap. Your seams will seem sloppy and uneven if you keep beginning and stopping in the midst of them.

Unwinding a Bobbin Is Difficult

Excessively tight bobbin tension might put too much strain on the thread as it goes through the bobbin case. If this happens, the bobbin thread will not be able to unwind easily. When you use heavier or thicker threads than your tension can handle, this is a regular issue.

Inconsistency in Flow

If you set the tension on either the top or bottom threads to very high levels, you may end up with uneven tension. When your bobbin thread and top thread aren’t at the same tension, you have an unequal tension.

This might cause your stitches to seem knotted or looped. As soon as the bobbin thread starts to peek out from under the fabric, you know the needle tension is too tight. There is too much bobbin tension when the needle thread is visible on the incorrect side of the bobbin.

The bobbin is seldom the source of excessive thread tension. This isn’t always the case, of course. Top-thread issues may be caused by an issue with your tension settings or by a trapped thread. Because the screw on your bobbin case is too tight, your bobbin thread may not be operating.

Sewing tension is too low while sewing on a sewing machine

Asymmetrical Tension

If your thread tension is too loose or too high, you might end up with uneven tension. Because of the improper needle thread showing, the needle tension is too loose. If the bobbin thread shows up on the incorrect side, the bobbin tension is too loose.

You Have Gaps In Your Sewing

If your top and bobbin threads are both too loosely tensioned, you may end up with gaps in your seam. Your stitching will be noticeable because of this. An unfinished seam will be evident in the finished product. If your cloth isn’t properly sewn together, it won’t hold up over time.

There’s No Stopping Bobbin Unwinding

The bobbin thread should not be too slack during sewing. If your bobbin thread tension is too low, you may have backlash.

Backlash occurs when your sewing machine stops but the bobbin thread continues to unravel. When you’re using a fine or smooth thread and your bobbin casing can’t handle it, you’ll have this problem.

Your top or bobbin thread may be the source of poor thread tension. The most probable cause of an issue with your top thread is a malfunctioning tension dial.

A loose screw on your bobbin case may be the cause of your thread problems. It’s also possible that your bobbin thread isn’t wound correctly.

Sewing Machine Tension Troubleshooting

sewing tension

Damage to the machine

Clean and free of nicks and scratches, the neck plate should be checked. Broken needles and pins may cause dents in the throat plate of the sewing machine, which can grab the bobbin thread. It is possible for a technician to buff out tiny nicks. Otherwise, you’d be better off purchasing a whole new license plate.

Debris in various portions of the sewing machine

Look for any fluff stuck in the wheels, throat plate, or bobbin. The system may be thrown off by the smallest amount of coat. Cleaning your equipment is as simple as using a small, stiff paintbrush. The needle’s eye might potentially get clogged with fluff.

Incorrect configuration of the dial

All of your dial settings should be checked to make sure they are correct and that they haven’t moved. You never know who’s been messing around with the machine’s settings and knobs, so be cautious. Those dials seem like they would be a big hit with toddlers.

Sewists often set the tension dial to 4 for most sewing projects. Consult your sewing machine’s handbook for the best settings for your cloth.

Thread of poor quality

Make sure you’re using a reputed brand of thread when you replace your current one. Inexpensive products have a tendency to be uneven and break easily. Sewing machine problems may be alleviated by using better-quality threads.

The Most Common Causes of Broken or bent needles

Replace the sewing machine needle if it is worn out or damaged. If your needles are crooked or dull, your tension will be thrown off.

Check to see whether it’s securely fastened into place. Needles should have a flat portion at the back and be matched to the kind and weight of cloth being worked with.

Incorrectly threaded machine

Check to see that the sewing machine is threaded properly before you begin. Do not hesitate to replace both the top and bobbin threads if you are in any doubt. The bobbin winding should not have any loops in it. It is critical that the thread be properly inserted into the tension disks.

 A mismatch in the threads

Top and bobbin threads must be the same brand, quality and weight in order to work together. Conflict may emerge if they are not compatible. If they’re of the same kind, then it shouldn’t matter what color they are.

Top thread is caught

Make sure the spool’s base isn’t clogged with the top thread. If it becomes caught, the strain at the top will be too high. Also, look for any knots or tangles in the thread.

Unevenly wound bobbins

Make that the bobbin is not too tight and is wrapped evenly. Look for any hiccups along the way.

Incorrectly placed bobbin casing

Always make sure the bobbin is properly placed before sewing. An adjustment screw may be found on the bobbin casing of certain machines. Find out whether you need to make any modifications in your vehicle’s instruction handbook.

Professional Advice When You Need It

It is possible that you have tried all of these suggestions and still have not found a solution to your stress. However, you’re still experiencing the same issues. Taking it to the shop is a must if you’ve reached this stage.

Having a little “bad” tension may really be a positive thing. When basting a garment, make sure the stitches are loose by adjusting the tension. You should be able to simply and swiftly remove the basting stitches once they have been firmly stitched. Always check the tension before you sew additional seams to avoid tearing the fabric.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

How can I adjust the tension on my sewing machine?

You should be able to locate a little screw on the side of the bobbin case that is flat and closed. The bobbin tension may be loosened by rotating the screw a very little amount in the counterclockwise direction, and it can be tightened by twisting the screw in the clockwise direction.

How can I detect if the tension on my sewing machine is bad?

To determine whether or not the tension is appropriate, place a bobbin inside the bobbin casing. The bobbin casing shouldn’t move at all when you’re holding it up by the thread alone. Simply give the thread a small yank and check to see whether the bobbin casing moves down at any. If it does, the tension is just right. If it can be dropped easily, then the fit is not good.

When using a sewing machine, what number should be set for the tension?

The settings on the tension meter may be anything from 0 to 9. Position 4.5 is the default setting for most sewing machines, and it is where the stitching function is normally set to be a straight stitch. This should work with the majority of textiles.


It’s vital to use your sewing machine with the proper tension. Your fabric, thread, and even your sewing machine may all suffer from tension difficulties if you don’t address them. Keep an eye on your sewing machine’s tension and get it serviced at least twice a year to prevent problems.

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Aithley Balder

Hello there, my name is Aithley Balder from Texas. I am a cookware, sewing, toilet, technology enthusiast and I have been sharing my passion with my friends and likeminded folks for close to 4 years now. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with me via the contact page.

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