Fix Your Sewing Machine Tension

Fix Your Sewing Machine Tension

Occasionally, your sewing machine may throw a tantrum like mine does. It might start skipping stitches, the thread may break, or the bobbin thread may loop - my machine has experienced all of these issues! I think this is partly due to my habit of using various fabrics and threads, which can create a mess after a while. Additionally, my machine is about 60 years old and has seen better days. It's similar to a guitar with old strings; it still plays beautifully, but you need to tune it every 10 minutes to keep it sounding good.

Every few months, when I clean and oil my machine, I also perform a tension reset. However, if I encounter any sewing problems, I do a reset to help resolve them. Most sewing issues can be resolved with a needle replacement and tension adjustment.

Therefore, if you encounter issues like looping stitches on the back, overly tight top stitches, or skipped stitches, follow these steps to achieve perfect tension settings:


Calico fabric
Red Thread
Green Thread
New sewing machine needle
Small screw driver

1. Once you have finished cleaning and oiling your sewing machine, replace the needle with a brand new one. The needle can become dull or bent over time, leading to stitching issues.

2. Thread your machine with the red thread, using your sewing machine manual to ensure it is threaded correctly*.

3. Wind an empty bobbin with green thread, inserting bobbin case the correct way round for your machine. Again, consult your manual book.

4. Set your stitch length to 3.

5. Set your tension dial to between 4 or 5.

6. Fold a piece of calico in half and sew a straight line.

7. Examine the stitches:

a) If the top red thread shows on the bottom of your fabric remove your bobbin and loosen the bobbin screw by a quarter turn.

b) If the green bobbin thread is showing on the top of the fabric tighten the bobbin screw by quarter turn.

8. Sew another straight line.

9. Examine the stitches again and re-adjust again if necessary.

10. Repeat until the top thread only shows on the front of your fabric, and the bobbin thread only shows on the bottom. Thats when you will have perfect tension!

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.