Rhinestic's Knick Knacks

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Sewing Tip #2: Adjusting bobbin tension on a Brother machine

Yes, my machine did a tension mess again when I was sewing my It's the Pockets dress. I had already have my upper thread tension dropped to 1, but the upper thread still seemed tight. Dropping the upper thread tension by 1 tiny notch seemed to solve the upper thread problem, but the bottom thread was in a total mess (too loose).


After pondering over this problem, and after re-reading a post by Grosgrainfabulous about shirring using the Brother machine, I figured my bobbin case tension screw must have loosened somewhat due to my pretty heavy use of the machine over this past year. And that resulted in my need to drop my upper thread tension pretty drastically to match the tension of the bottom thread so that the stitches could appear reasonably even.

To solve this, I need to get to my bobbin case. Unlike Kathleen's (Grosgrainfabulous) Brother machine, my bobbin case is stuck to the machine (I guess I could remove the upper plate but the screws were too tight. edit: after reading the manual, you can use a coin to unscrew them). However, I managed to lift the bobbin case up a little and that was sufficient for me to tighten the screw:


If you are unsure of how to get to your bobbin case, here's a very short tutorial:

To adjust your bobbin thread to the correct tension, there's a bit of trial and error to be done. First, thread your machine with a thread of normal thickness. Next, set your upper thread tension to 4 (the normal setting). Then, tighten your bobbin case tension screw. Once done, set your machine to zig-zag stitch (if your machine does not have that, you can use a running stitch, but it might be harder to see) and start sewing.

If the stitches at the bottom look funky to you, it means the bottom bobbin tension is too tight. You'll need to loosen the screw a little. If it's the stitches on the top that look funky, tighten the screw a little. Repeat this step until both the top zig-zag stitches and bottom zig-zag stitches look even.

Here's how my stitches look like after re-adjusting:



Anonymous said...

When loading the bobine MAKE SURE that you catch not only the gray plastic guide but also the metal one under it.

Anonymous said...

I mean the thread has to cath both guides. I think the plastic one is supposed to make you pull the thread in such a way that you catch the metal guide. This at least for Brother xl-3750. This principle is similar to the threading mecanism that you pull down. Two guides are there for you but really what you are aiming is a small hook that enters the needle. Bonus when changing the presser foot, dont try to pry it of! There is a black botton at the back of the presser foot holder. Thank God I found out that timely!

Rhinestic said...

Hi! Thanks for your input!

I guess you meant the tiny hook that's lying against my finger in the picture? Yep, it's exactly that portion that has come loose on this machine of mine (I've since passed it to my friend after mending the tension). After tightening the screw, it sews much better. =)

Talking about different Brother machines.. I find it interesting that they have "locked" the screw for the bobbin case in my newer Brother machine. (the screw is painted over with a layer of paint??)Which kinda sucks because Brother machine can't do shirring properly and one of the tricks is to tighten that screw! >< And for my cousin's machine, not too sure if she's pried off the bobbin case accidentally, but the whole thing was removable! O.O

And yes, the lady who sold me the machine did keep telling me to press that button at the back when changing presser foot. Hee! =) Perhaps I can have a post on that!

Juli said...

Thank you for this post. I have been having such trouble with my machine but just tightening that pesky screw has made all the difference. And my bobbin case was removable. It slipped right out and then right back in. Thank you again!

Rhinestic said...

No probs, Juli! Glad that my post helped!

Unknown said...

I have a brother and my case is removable but now I find that the case itself is loose so much that it causes the machine to make loud noises and makes the tension all out of sorts...not sure how I can fix this without having to take it in...help anyone?

Rhinestic said...

Oh no! I'm so sorry to hear that. The case might have been misaligned.. Have you tried taking the case out and slotting it back?

MacBee said...

I'm so happy to find this post! I'm a new sewer, and these little glitches are still uncharted territory for me. You are describing exactly what is happening with my Brother machine, right down to having to turn upper tension way down to 1. I think it might have happened, or at least the problem started, a little while back when I had a bad jam of fabric/fiber in the feed dogs and had to take things apart. I managed it okay, but I now suspect that wiggling parts out of and back into position must have loosened the screw. I took a look last night, and I do not believe the screw is 'locked' although it is painted. But it does not appear to be glued in place or anything. Couldn't be or it wouldn't have loosened, would it? I shall wait until I have time and a supply of patience for the trial and error portion, and will report back with results.

Thanks again!

Rhinestic said...

Hi MacBee, no problem! Hope to hear good results from you!

Rhinestic said...

Oh, also, do check if your bottom thread is also under the metal prong in the bobbin casing.

Teryl Jean said...

Thank you so much! I had cleaned and rewound bobbins and was about ready to just take my Brother XL3750 to the repair shop when I found your response in this thread. I found I had to press down the plastic guide flap and hold down the bobbin itself to get it to thread through BOTH the metal and plastic guide. If I do this, the tension top and bottom are great.

Anonymous said...

thanks SO much for posting this! i had a lot of trouble with the tension of my bobbin, but i didn't know how to fix it until i saw your pictures of the screw! can't tell you how relieved i was to see your post and it's the exact configuration of my own brother sewing machine. helped so much. thanks! (:

also, your blog looks really cool! looking forward to wandering around ^_^

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