Sewing and embroidery is such a joy! UNTIL something goes wrong... You start sewing and your stitches are loopy, or thread is nesting under your fabric, or your thread is breaking or shredding. You have to finish the project you are in the middle of and your favorite quilt shop is closed! What should you do???


The best way to solve your problem is to use the TNT approach:


Thread - Needle - Tension



In general if the problem is below the fabric the source of the problem is on top. So if you see a mess of threads under your fabric or loops hanging down - check your thread path.

  • Re-thread your machine.
  • Make sure that you follow the correct path and that your thread is going through all the guides and tension points that your machine path indicates.
  • Make sure that your needle is in the fully up position so that the take up lever is in the correct position - missing the take up lever will cause thread to gather under the material.
  • Re-thread the top thread, with your presser foot raised. Threading your machine with the foot down will result in no tension being applied to the top thread because the tension discs are closed.

  • If the problem is on top of your fabric - the source of the problem is in the bottom.

  • Take out your bobbin and examine it. Make sure your bobbin thread is evenly and snugly wound on the bobbin.
  • Make sure you are using the proper bobbin for your machine! Bobbins are often not interchangeable between machines.
  • Make sure the bobbin is inserted correctly and that the thread is coming off the bobbin in the direction indicated in your manual.
  • Check the position of your bobbin case and reset if necessary.
  • Check that your bobbin case has not become dented (this can happen if the case is dropped).


    Needles are perhaps the most important part of your sewing machine and will directly affect the quality of your stitches.


  • Change needles after every 8-10 hours of sewing, or when you notice a difference in the quality of your stitches.
  • NEVER sew with a bent needle! It can be dangerous since the needle may break while the machine is being operated.
  • Use the right size needle for the job. The smaller the needle number, the finer the needle. As the numbers increase, the needles get thicker.
  • Use fine needles with lightweight fabrics, and thicker needles with heavyweight fabrics.
  • To avoid skipped stitches use ball point needle 90/14 with stretch fabrics or when sewing character or decorative stitches.
  • Use a 75/11 Embroidery needle for embroidery on light weight fabrics
  • Use a 90/14 Embroidery needle when embroidering on heavyweight fabrics or stabilizing products (for example denim, puffy foam, etc.).

  • Tension

    Perfect stitches are formed when the tension of the upper thread is properly balanced by the tension of the bobbin thread. If you are getting stitches that are not forming properly AND you have already ruled out any problems with your thread and needle, examine what might be causing tension problems.


  • Check the tension settings on your machine, try resetting your upper tension to the default value.
  • Make sure that the upper thread is properly seated in the tension disc. With the presser foot UP pull down gently on the thread – it should move freely. Put the presser foot DOWN and pull down gently on the thread you should feel significant resistance.
  • Check your bobbin case for any lose threads that might be caught.