“The thread is balling up under my project”
“There’s a bird’s nest under my embroidery design”
Any way you say it, this is one of the most common problems we see in our repair department. People try to sew, and they end up with a big nest of thread under their project. So, then…
“I changed the bobbin tension”
“I think there’s something wrong with the bobbin”
These seem like reasonable assumptions- but those solutions are WRONG!
When you have looping or nesting underneath your project, you have a TOP tension problem. Vice versa, looping on top is caused by a bobbin tension issue- but that will be another blog post.
I know that this might take a minute or two to sink in, and you might not believe me- but trust us, we’ve fixed a lot of machines. All those people who bring in their machine with this complaint look at me skeptically when I offer this explanation.
And here’s the other funny thing, we normally don’t have to change the tension to fix the problem.
“What? You told me it was a tension problem! Shouldn’t I turn this little knob up here? I’m not sure whether I should turn down to 1 or up to 6, but why don’t I just try it and see what happens?”
Here’s the deal, you probably threaded incorrectly. And this it such a simple problem to fix! Let’s do it!
Thread with your presser foot up!
If you’ve been around Zede’s Sewing Studio, or taken Mallory or Zede out for dinner or drinks, you’ve heard us say “Thread with your foot up!”. We can’t say it enough. This is the singular most important thing you can do in your sewing room to ensure success.
I challenge you right now; go to your sewing room, dust off that owner’s manual, open it up and see what step 1 is in the threading instructions. It’s probably small and it doesn’t have a picture next to it or anything, but it says
1. Raise your presser foot.
If I could, I’d go into everyone’s home and highlight that line in the manual, or just dance through the house singing the “Thread With Your Presser Foot Up” theme song (video coming soon…maybe).
The reason we thread with our foot up, is for proper tension. Leave that dial alone and read this:
When you raise your presser foot, the tension discs on your machine open up- picture cymbals opening and closing. If the presser foot is up when you thread, your thread will slide right between the discs and then, as you sew, it will be properly regulated by your machine.
If you thread your machine with your foot down, the thread will most likely not slide between the tension discs. Sometimes you get lucky and pull hard enough that it gets in there- but most of the time, no. Thereafter, your thread has absolutely no tension and it is free to feed through your needle down into your bobbin area and get pulled all willy-nilly into a bird’s nest.
That’s why you thread with your foot up!
But, one quick note. If you continually thread with your foot down and get multiple bird’s nests underneath your foot or feed dogs, you can cause other problems in your machine. Stray threads can jam the bobbin area. You can pull and push to release the tangle and bend a needle or yank your machine out of time. Threading with your presser foot up is one of those best practices that can make your sewing life so much easier, a lot more fun, and infinitely more successful.
So, give it a try!
Did you know to thread with your foot up? We want to know!