You're in an excellent sewing groove, your machine humming along, when out of nowhere your thread begins tangling on your fabric. So. Very. Annoying.
Known as bunching or bird nesting, this is one of the most common — and maddening — sewing-machine headaches . But it's also one of the easiest to fix without requiring a desperate trip to the sewing-machine mechanic.
Here's how to untangle the problem.
If the Thread is Bunching on Top of Your Fabric
The culprit is most likely your bobbin.
1. Is Your Bobbin Thread Threaded Correctly?
If your machine uses a bobbin case, take the bobbin completely out of the case and re-thread it. Be careful to follow the instructions for your machine.
Also make sure you have the bobbin thread engaged in the bobbin tension. A good test: Hold on to the bobbin thread with one hand. If the bobbin drops all the way to the floor, you missed the tension spring in the bobbin case.
2. Is Your Bobbin-Case Tension Too Loose?
Have you loosened the screw on your bobbin case to accommodate thicker threads for surface design work? If so, you may not have re-adjusted it correctly for regular thread. After properly threading the bobbin case, tug gently on the bobbin thread. You should feel some resistance, but the thread should move freely. If you do make any adjustments to the screw, do so in small increments to avoid dislodging it entirely.
If the Thread is Bunching Underneath Your Fabric
The problem probably has to do with your needle tension.
1. Is the Needle Thread Threaded Correctly?
Cut the thread a few inches from the spool and pull it through the needle. Then re-thread it, taking care to engage the upper thread completely in the tension discs.
A little trick: Hold the thread on either side of the tension disc, then slide it back and forth a bit between the plates with a flossing motion. The tension discs need to "grasp" the thread snugly.
2. Is the Presser Foot Up?
Duh. We've all done it!
3. Is Your Machine Clean?
A good cleaning may solve your bunching woes (check your manual for guidelines on cleaning and maintenance; your machine may also need to be oiled).
To prevent stitch glitches, be sure to frequently dust underneath the throat plate and along the thread path, and to periodically clean and oil your machine. Also, always use the correct bobbins for your machine's make and model, along with good quality thread, and a new, sharp sewing machine needle.
This should keep your machine — and all your awesome sewing projects — humming along.