Q: When I use my sewing machine, my thread tangles, my machine jams and I have a mess! What is causing this and how do I prevent it?

A: This problem can be caused by several things and is one of the most common questions/problems that I am asked. There are two or three things that you need to look at…thread, threading and maintenance.

Let’s start with the thread. Please make sure that the thread you are using is SEWING MACHINE THREAD. So many times, I see folks using HAND QUILTING THREAD on their sewing machine. Hand quilting thread is very stiff, has a waxed finish and is not designed to be used in the sewing machine. It is the cause of many sewing machine headaches and is the cause of many unnecessary trips to the sewing machine repair shop. When you use hand quilting thread in a sewing machine, the sewing machine will respond by making a horrible stitch, or even jam the machine, through no fault of the machine itself. If you look at a regular sewing thread in comparison to hand quilting thread, you will find the machine thread softer, more pliable, and in some cases (but not all) finer. Hand quilting thread is stiffer, has a very smooth feel (because it is heavily waxed and finished). When you thread your machine, your thread is making many ups and downs, turns and angles before heading into the eye of the needle. A stiff thread such as hand quilting thread is not designed for these turns and twists. You can usually identify a hand quilting thread by the color of the label. The most common brand of thread uses a BLUE label for machine sewing and a GREEN label for hand quilting. Check out your thread stash and pull all the hand quilting threads…put them in a separate place away from your sewing machine to prevent this mistake.

The other common cause of thread nests and tangles is improper threading of the machine. Here are a couple of rules to follow:

  • Always thread your sewing machine with the presser foot raised. The presser foot in the raised position will open your tension discs allowing your thread to pass completely into the tension system. (if your thread does not have tension, it will jam)
  • Always make sure your machine is threaded properly. It is very easy to miss the TAKE UP LEVER when threading your sewing machine. If you forget to thread this area, your machine will not form the stitch properly. In fact, it will not sew at all.
  • Always make sure your bobbin case/bobbin holder is inserted properly and seated properly. Also make sure that your bobbin is inserted properly into your bobbin case. And if your machine requires oiling, make sure you place one drop of oil in the hook (bobbin) area.

If you have checked all of this, and are still getting poor results, it is time to take your machine in for service.

Just SEW You Know….
written by Amy Smith

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