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5 Brother Sewing Machine Tension Problems and Solutions

If you own a Brother sewing machine and are currently facing tension problems, it can be quite a difficult situation to be in. You’re most likely caught between trying to fix it yourself or hiring a professional. It’s one thing to decide you want to fix your Brother sewing machine tension problems and it’s a completely different thing to fixing the problem correctly. I have compiled a list of common tension problems you’re likely to face on your Brother sewing machine and how to solve them.

5 Brother Sewing Machine Tension Problems

There are several tension problems that could arise in your Brother sewing machine. It could be that the top stitch is too tight, upper stitch breaks often, problem setting the tension or top tension is too tight. If the top stitch is the problem, you can tighten the bobbin tension while you can turn the knob to lower the top tension if it’s too tight. Other problems can simply be solved by cleaning out dirt and gunk from the sewing machine, rethreading the machine completely, or replacing damaged parts.

The first thing to do while facing a tension problem on your Brother sewing machine is to determine the exact cause of the problem. Once you’re sure why your machine is not working well, you can proceed to apply the appropriate solution.

Top Stitches Too Tight

One common tension problem people face on their sewing machine is when the top stitches don’t come out well. They usually appear like straight threads with small loops emerging from the underside. This makes the stitches unusually loose and causes the cloth to pucker. Usually, the bottom stitches come out just fine leading most people to believe it’s a top tension problem.


This problem might be affecting the top stitch, but it’s got nothing to do with the top tension. Instead, it’s all about your bobbin tension. All you need do is tighten your bobbin tension and your machine should be back to normal again.

Upper Thread Keeps Breaking

When the upper thread keeps breaking, there are several reasons for this problem. It could be that your thread is old or is of low quality. It could also be that the machine is not threaded properly or the needle is not right for the kind of fabric. Yet, from experience, I have come to understand that this usually occurs when the tension device has some gunk in it.


When you have confirmed that your thread and needle is fine, your best solution is to clean out the gunk in the tension device. To do this, take off the top thread and loosen the tension disk completely. Raise your presser foot and try to clean out the gunk with Perl cotton dipped in rubbing alcohol. Clean the tension mechanism thoroughly and set tension back to the midpoint. Rethread your sewing machine. Your machine should be working perfectly again. If it doesn’t, you should think about taking it to a professional for servicing.

Setting Tension

Some times, you could have issues setting tension. If you try again and again and still fail at it, it’s probably due to a number of reasons. Firstly, it could be that the upper thread is tangled. It could also be that your presser foot was not raised while the machine was being threaded. This problem can also be caused by the use of incorrect bobbin or needle type.


As always, the first thing to do is to determine the exact cause of the problem. If the thread is tangled, remove it completely and rethread your sewing machine. If your presser foot wasn’t raised while threading the sewing machine, rethread and be sure to raise your presser foot so the thread can go into your machine’s tension disk. Also, be sure to set your tension dial between 4-5. If the problem is connected to the shuttle race, clean out any lint accumulation and rethread the bobbin in the shuttle race. Lastly, check your bobbin and needle to see if you’re using the correct type for your sewing machine.

Top Tension is too Tight

Getting your tension right is crucial to your sewing machine’s ability to deliver at the optimum level. If your tension is too tight, you should know as the bobbin thread should be visible on top.


Once you’re sure your top tension is too tight, the only solution is to loosen it. To do this, turn the knob in a way that has the number decreasing. You can try going half or a number lower than the current top tension. Test this new tension with a small piece of fabric using a different thread color. Keep going low until you’re able to sew evenly on both sides and until the bottom thread no longer shows at the top.

Top Tension is too Loose

Another frustrating tension problem you can face on your Brother sewing machine is when the top tension is too loose. This problem is similar to top tension being tight. The major difference is that the top thread is visible at the bottom.


The solution to top tension being loose is to increase the tension until you can no longer see the top thread showing at the bottom. To increase your top tension, go from half to a number higher than the current tension. Practice on a piece of fabric and continue to increase until your sewing looks even on both sides of the fabric and without seeing the top thread on the bottom.

Common Causes of Brother Sewing Machine Tension Problems

The following are the most common reasons why your Brother sewing machine has tension issues.

  1. Incorrectly Threaded Machine: Many tension issues arise from machines that are incorrectly threaded. This mistake usually happens when sewers thread with the presser foot down stopping the thread from slipping all the way between tension disc. The best solution is to rethread the sewing machine completely and with the presser foot raised upwards.
  2. Dirty Machine: A sewing machine that hasn’t been cleaned for a long while will certainly pose several problems. For sewers who sew regularly, it is always best to clean your sewing machine at least once every week. This takes away the lint and gunk that would otherwise be hidden between the tension discs. Always see to it that your Brother sewing machine is lint-free to ensure you don’t have tension issues.
  3. Damaged Parts: So what’s the state of your machine? Is your needle broken? is it the thread guide, tension disc, or take up lever? Always be careful not to leave any broken parts without fixing it as this could seriously affect your Brother sewing machine’s tension. Once you notice your machine has been damaged in any way, be sure to get professional help.
  4. Thread, Needle, and Fabric: If your needle is not the right size for the project, it could easily affect your machine’s tension. Also, the wrong thread size can get your tension settings messed up. The solution is to always get the right needle, thread, and fabric for the project at hand.

Brother sewing machine is one of the finest brands of sewing machines on the market. If you ever face a tension problem, always be sure to consult your manual guide to see if there are directions for tackling such problems. If you do try the above solutions to their corresponding problems and they fail to work, simply hire a professional to service your machine and get it working properly again.

Related Questions

How do I know if my sewing machine tension is the problem?

If the stitches stops turning out like a professional job, then it’s probably the tension. It could be that the stitches are loose or they don’t form properly.

What is the most common Brother sewing machine tension problem?

The most common Brother sewing machine problem for most sewers is setting the tension. If you ever need to reset tension, simply refer to the manual guide to see directions for how to set tension on your Brother sewing machine model.

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