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Brother Sewing Machine Tension Problems and Solutions

Isn’t it frustrating when you think you’re stitching well and then you flip the fabric over and see an absolute mess? This is a common grievance of many Brother sewing machine users. This is usually due to inaccurate thread tension. But you don’t have to stress anymore because we will guide you through various Brother sewing machine tension problems and how to solve them without the help of a professional.

Sometimes there are problems with the top thread tension, and sometimes the bobbin thread tension is off the rails. The problem could also be how often you do maintenance of your machine. But all these problems can be solved simply, and you don’t have to change your device at any point.

Here are a few convenient tricks you can use to identify the problem and resolve it.

How to Identify the Problem?

Identifying the problem should be your first concern. You need to consider that the bobbin thread should only be visible at the lower side of the fabric. Likewise, the top string should only be visible at the upper side of your material. If you see the wrong thread on the wrong side, that is what’s causing the error.  Here are some ways you can find that error easily.

  • It can be tough to identify and rectify a problem precisely if the top thread and bobbin thread is the same color. So the first task is to use different thread colors for the bobbin and top. This will help you see the error clearly.
  • Instead of directly experimenting on your project, you can also take a piece of scrap fabric and sew on it to check how the stitches turn out. Using multicolor threads, as suggested, can really help in this part. You will be able to easily see which string is causing the problem.

By using these tricks, you will get a better look at what you are dealing with. Once the problems become more visible, you can finally start working towards solving them.

Common Tension Problems  And Their Solutions

There are a lot of typical thread tension troubles that beginners face. The top thread is so tight that the fabric starts to fray or so loose that the stitches immediately become undone. The cable can even break occasionally. All this can easily cause a novice tailor to freak out. So let’s start talking about how to overcome these obstacles and stitch more smoothly.

Related Article: Sewing Machine Problems

1. The top thread is too tight

You can declare that the top thread is too taught when you see the bobbin string peeking through the stitch holes. This tells you that the top yarn was so tight that it started to pull the bobbin thread through the holes and can even cause the fabric to fray.

The top thread is too tight

This problem can be overcome if you turn the tension dial of the machine towards a lower setting, But don’t immediately turn it zero. Gradually decrease the tension and make a stitch each time. This way, you can stop at the perfect pressure.

2. The top thread is too loose

You can tell that your top thread is too loose if you can see it at the bottom of your fabric. This indicates that the yarn did not have enough strength to try and pull the bobbin thread. A stitch like this is temporary and can cause your entire project to unravel.

The top thread is too loose

Thankfully you can avoid such misfortune by simply amping up your thread tension. But don’t make it too taut because that would be counterproductive. Slowly increase the tightness of the string to get ideal results.

3. Thread breaks frequently

Threads can break due to a lot of reasons. It can be because you are using a weak cable, to begin with, or your machine isn’t adequately threaded according to the guidelines.

Thread breaks frequently

You can correct this error firstly by making sure you thread your machine accurately. Also, make sure that the spool on top of the machine feeds string from behind and not the front. This means that the thread should be at the back of the spool so it can unwind smoothly. The same goes for the bobbin thread.

Next, check whether the tension mechanism is clean or not. Sometimes gunk in the machinery can cause the thread to break. So be on the lookout for that. This will fix your thread-breaking problems.

4. Bobbin tension is too loose

The bobbin tension is considered loose when you see loops form on the lower side of your material. The front of the fabric may look normal, but the loops at the back make it very unreliable. The thread can come out fairly quickly, which is definitely not ideal.

Bobbin tension is too loose

Preparing the sewing machine for work. Seamstress tucks thread into the eye of a needle. Installs the bobbin in the shuttle. Close up view.

To rectify this problem, all you need to do is increase the tension of the bobbin. To achieve this, you need to tighten the screw at the side of the bobbin until you get your desired pressure. After you change your settings, try to stitch again to check whether the problem is solved or not.

Tips for Avoiding Tension Errors

Although tension errors can easily be overcome, trying your best to steer clear of them is still advised. Here is a myriad of ways you can achieve this.

  • Always thread your machine when the foot and needle are in an upward position. And when you start stitching, make sure to manually put your needle in the down place. This step is crucial because if the needle is in an up position, your stitches will not be clean no matter which setting your tension is on.
  • Another crucial thing you should keep in mind is to use the correct needle for your fabric. For example, suppose you try to use a thin needle to stitch denim together. In that case, your spike will break, or the stitches will be so delicate that they won’t affect the material. Thus it is essential.
  • You should also be aware that the more often you use your machine, the less tight the tension will get overtime. Hence you might have to use much stiffer settings compared to what you used when you first bought the machine. This can be rectified if you regularly service your appliance and keep it in good condition. You should make a habit of periodically cleaning the machinery with rubbing alcohol. Additionally, you should also give your machine to a professional to get it tuned up. All of this will allow your device to last longer and give you consistent stitches.
  • Make sure you thread your machine tightly. If you use loose thread while threading your device, it messes up the whole mechanism, and no matter which tension setting you to use, it does not look great. So take extra care when you thread your machine.
  • Lastly, ensure that all of your machine parts are in working condition. No amount of thread adjustment can save you if your machine is broken. Thus be vigilant and try to treat your device before it goes off the rails and stops you from stitching completely.


Adjusting the thread tension of a sewing machine can seem like a daunting task to a beginner. The endless failed attempts and bundles of thread on either side of the fabric can be very frustrating. To make things easier, we have shared numerous Brother sewing machine tension problems and how to identify and solve them. After browsing through this guide, we hope you have no questions left and can navigate through any error.

To summarize it all, if you see the bottom thread on the upper surface, you need to loosen your top tension. And if you can see loops of the uppermost string on the lower side of the stitch, you need to tighten your upper tension. Any other problem you face can be solved by re-threading your machine or cleaning it out. It is really that simple.

So without further delay, start stitching and make your dream projects!

Related Article: Common Embroidery Machine Problems

Related Questions

After thorough research, we have answered some of the most frequently asked questions related to Brother sewing machine tension problems.

If you notice your thread looping on the underside of the fabric, that might indicate that your top string tension is too loose compared to the bobbin tension. You can simply tighten the upper string, and the problem will go away.

One way to check if your bobbin has the correct tension is to hang it from its thread. If the string unwinds a little and then stops, you’re good to go. But if it unravels without resistance, you should tighten the bobbin spring.

A general rule of thumb regarding sewing machine maintenance is to oil it after every two or three bobbin changes. This also depends on how consistently you use the machine. If you use it daily, then you should service it on alternate days. You should also get it professionally cleaned once every one or two months to ensure high-quality stitching.

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