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Understanding Your Creative Partner! May 10, 2023

Hello Stitching Community!

Wednesday is Understanding Your Creative Partner, YOUR SEWING MACHINE, Day!

  • In this email I am going to address the cause of LARGE LOOPS on the underside of your fabric.
  • In the past week I had 3 people who had this issue.
  • All of the people have more than 30 years of sewing experience, so I am sure there are more people who maybe frustrated with the same issue.
  • Sometimes there are loops, sometimes no loops!
  • Everyone brought their machines in to have the tension fixed.
  • Everyone was sent away with knowledge. No fix was necessary!

Troubleshooting Large Loops appearing on the backside of your fabric!


Troubleshooting #1

  • Is the tension setting set properly?
  • How do you set the tension on your machine?
    • Does your machine have a dial that you turn to adjust the tension setting? If "yes" then​​​​​​​
      • Usually the machine has a "normal" range indicated.
      • Check that the machine is set in the "normal" range. 
      • Recently, I had a customer who's tension was set at zero. 
      • Of course there was no tension on the thread so there were lots of loops on the underside of the fabric!
    • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Does your machine have a computer brain so that it self adjusts the tension each time you change to a different stitch? If "yes"
      • ​​​​​​​Lucky ​​​​​​​You!
      • Continue to troubleshooting #2.​​​​​​​

Troubleshooting #2

  • Is your thread in your upper tension disks?
  • When threading your machine, should your presser foot be Up? Down? Doesn't matter?


ANSWER! Your foot must be in the UP position when threading your machine.

  • Your tension disks are just two round pieces of metal (shown below) that open and close depending on the position of the presser foot!
  • When your foot is UP  your tension disks are in the "open" position so that your thread easily falls into the slot between the disks.
  • If your foot is down when you thread, the disks are pressed tightly together so that many times your thread sits on the outside of the disk.....meaning there is not tension applied to the top thread....Yikes, loops!
  • So to achieve a balanced stitch, your foot must be up when threading and down when sewing.
  • Ahhh sewing bliss!


  • When did it become necessary to thread with your foot UP?
    • The machines below are very old.
    • One is a very old PFAFF treadle machine.
    • Its tension disk are on the outside of the machine but it still needed to have its foot up to open the tension disks.
    • Remember that when the disks were on the outside of the machine you could see if the thread was in between the disks and you probably just gave it a tug if it wasn't!
    • Please know that in many older sewing machine instruction manuals there was no mention about threading with your foot up so many people are unaware that this is necessary! 


  • For those of you using sergers 
    • Raising the foot also opens your tension disks.
    • Look in the slot by the dials and you will see the disks open as you raise the foot!


Troubleshooting #3

  • How thick is the fabric that is being placed under your presser foot?
  • When you lower the presser foot lever is the presser foot able to drop?
  • It must drop to close the tension disks to form a stitch.
  • If the fabric that is placed under the foot is too thick no matter what you do you will not have a balanced stitch.
  • NO ONE can fix that issue!
  • You have exceeded the capabilities of the machine.
  • Some of the more expensive sewing machines have a higher presser foot clearance so they are able to have a perfectly blanced stitch when sewing thicker fabrics.

Sewing Summary

  • The next time you have loops on the backside of your fabric follow the troubleshooting suggestions given above!


  • I am always available to help you learn more about your machine (classes, phone calls, Zoom, In person)
  • We all should be on a quest to learn new things
  • AND no matter how many years of sewing experience you may have, you can still learn new things!

Be Sew Smart!