It’s happened to us all at one point or another– wonky tension, a bird’s nest– I’ve even heard it called “thread barf.” If the underside of your fabric is a mess, here are a few things that you can do to troubleshoot and fix the problem.

As a rule of thumb, thread issues on the underside of your fabric are often caused by an issue on the top side of things.10924754_915629555143366_1447883362103604860_n

First, make sure that you are using the appropriate weight thread for your machine. I’ve encountered many people who have had this issue purely from using a heavy weight thread on a home sewing machine that wasn’t equipped to handle it.

Once you’ve made sure that you are using the correct weight thread, check your needle. If it has been a while since you’ve changed it, now would be a good time. When I started sewing I underestimated the power of a new sewing needle that was the correct type for the project. Sure, I pushed a lot of things out back then, but I would have saved myself a lot of headache.

If you’ve checked your thread and changed to an appropriate (new) needle, here are a few more things that you can try:

  • If you’re sewing through a thick section, try ¬†adjusting your stitch length to make it longer.
  • Rethread your machine with the presser foot up (sew with the presser foot down)
  • Make sure that your thread is coming from your spool properly– as a beginner, I would place my thread on the spool pin in any orientation and had no idea that it mattered which way the thread was feeding off of the spool.
  • Ensure your thread has passed through the tension discs when you have gone through the thread channels (you can check this by lowering your presser foot and giving the thread a tiny, gentle, tug. If it is harder to pull than when the presser foot is up, you’ve passed through the tension discs.
  • Bring the thread through all thread guides.
  • Check your needle– it is inserted properly when the flat side of the shank is facing toward the backside of the machine.
  • Consider making an adjustment to the upper tension (higher) depending on what type of fabric you are sewing.
  • If everything above is correct, try cleaning your machine.

As you grow comfortable sewing and get acquainted with your machine, rest assured that these types of issues happen less and less.