Saturday, 28 August 2010

Thread Tangle Nightmare

I have been having a nightmare with my sewing machine and then found this on Yahoo Answers.  I've put it here for my future reference and to help anyone with the same frustrating nightmare - why didn't I learn this before?
This works beautifully, no more tangles and frustration.  I am a happy sewing bunny this morning :) 

Question:  What's wrong with my sewing machine and how can I fix it?

When I run it, after a couple seconds the thread gets screwed up and jerks and then basically creates this huge snagged tangle on the bottom side of the fabric and I have to rip everything out, and re-thread the needle etc. It takes forever to get anything done when this keeps happening every five seconds after I've rethreaded.
Is something misaligned in my machine? and what can I do to fix it?
Answer:  from Kay at
Most likely, you're just starting your seams incorrectly, but let's do the whole bit...

1) Take all the thread off of/out of the machine. Completely. Spool off the spool pin. Backlashed thread can cause some strange symptoms.

2) Using your manual, and a brush and vacuum (NOT COMPRESSED AIR!) clean the sewing machine as best you can. Oil all the oiling points with sewing machine oil (not 3 in 1 or WD40).

3) Put in a new needle of the proper type and size for the fabric. If you have no idea of what to use, a size 80/12 universal point needle will work with most fabrics. Make sure the needle is correctly inserted... backwards needles give you no stitching or skipped stitches. Dull or slightly bent needles produce really strange symptoms, too.

4) Rethread the sewing machine from scratch, leaving about a 4" tail of upper and lower thread after you've fetched the bobbin thread up through the needleplate. Make sure you thread with the presser foot UP, which allows the upper thread to properly enter the upper tension.

5) If you 've been playing with the upper tension, set it back to 4 -- that's normal tension for most fabrics and most stitches.


Each and every seam you start from now on, you'll do this:

1) Raise the presser foot and place the work under the needle.
2) Use the handwheel on the right to lower the needle into the work.
3) Drop the presser foot.
4) Grab the ends of the threads (both bobbin and top) and hold them in your left hand behind the foot. Don't let go.
5) Take a couple of stitches
6) Drop the thread ends
7) Sew normally.

What's happening is that the loose tail of upper thread is getting sucked back into the bobbin case area when you start to stitch, and then the upper thread starts making a birdsnest on the bottom of the fabric with more upper thread that it captures in the next few stitches. Eventually it jams the bobbin and your machine stops. If you're unlucky, it also breaks the stitch finger and you've got a repair bill.

I charge my sewing students a quarter every time I catch them making rats nests at the beginning of seams. It rarely costs them over $2 to learn    Kay


  1. I used to have that problem but I figured out what I was doing to cause it...I don't however lower the needle by hand first before I lower the pressure foot..will do that from now on! Thanks for that tit-bit :-)

  2. My quilting friend told me to do this when I first attended her club. I thought she was being fussy and didn't always follow her instructions, to my cost as you have found out!!
    Teresa x


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