Why Does My Sewing Machine Keeps Knotting?


I’m sure most of you have encountered a sewing mishap at some point, like a ripped shirt hem or a stubborn zipper, or maybe you just wanted to complete a sewing project. Well, don’t worry. In this article, we’ll discuss common issues with sewing machines and how to avoid them in future projects.

First, the company might not cover all these problems if you borrow a sewing machine. You’ll either need your machine or be ready to learn from a few mistakes.

One common sewing problem is knots. These happen when two threads are tangled up, typically near your bobbin. If you spot a knot, flatten it and keep sewing. Sometimes, if the knot is small enough, you can stitch right over it, and it won’t be a big issue. But if it’s a big tangle, you’ll have to cut both threads and start over. Another trick is to thread your bobbin with a different color of thread. This way, if a knot does happen, it won’t be as noticeable.

Another sewing error many folks face is threading breaking on a horizontal seam, especially about an inch from the end of the seam. Some might think it’s because they’re pulling the fabric too tightly, but that’s not it! The good news is that this problem is easy to fix by switching to a ball-point or stretch needle.

In this article, we’ll dive into Why My Sewing Machine Keeps Knotting and how you can avoid them. We’ll keep it simple and practical, just like you’re learning from a friend. Let’s get started!

Why Does My Sewing Machine Keeps Knotting?

When experiencing knotting issues on your sewing machine, many may think it’s due to the thread being too short for the project. While this can contribute, it is not the only reason behind this frustrating problem. Another common culprit is improper tension settings. Sewing with at least a 1/4 inch tension on your machine can make a significant difference in avoiding knots. This looser setting allows for more fabric movement as you sew and helps prevent stitches from breaking.

Additionally, the color of your thread could be causing knotting problems as well. Darker-colored threads absorb more light and can cause your machine to overheat, leading to knots in your stitches. To tackle this issue, consider switching to a ball-point or stretch needle better suited for darker threads. If you’re facing trouble with knots in the bobbin thread, double-check that everything is taut and tight while sewing. Pay attention to the bobbin tension before each use and adjust accordingly if needed.

By addressing these potential issues – proper tension settings, needle choice based on thread color, and taking extra care with bobbin tension – you can overcome knotting problems on your sewing machine. Don’t let this frustration hinder your love for sewing; make these small adjustments and enjoy smooth stitching without any unwanted knots ruining your projects!

Also Check: Sewing Machine Thread Keeps Breaking

What Are The Reasons For Knotting In A Sewing Machine?

Why Does My Sewing Machine Keeps Knotting

Sewing machine knots can be caused by a number of factors.

  1. Dull needle
  2. Short thread
  3. Thread bunching
  4. Thread tension 
  5. Not clean or old bobbins
  6. Stitching speed
  7. Wrong needle for the thread
  8. Bobbin works in machine improperly
  9. Wrong bobbins for thread
  10. Wrong tension on the machine
  11. Change of stitch pattern
  12. Bobbin tension is too light for fabric thickness
  13. The needle path is improper
  14. Wrong fabric selection.

Dull Needle

A dull needle can be one of the reasons for knots in a sewing machine. When the needle is dull, it cannot cut through the fabric and thread properly, resulting in a large loop left in the fabric. This loop then causes a knot to form. It is important to regularly check and replace the needle on your sewing machine to ensure smooth and knot-free sewing.

In addition to using a sharp needle, using a needle size that is suitable for the fabric you work with is also important. Using too small or too large of a needle can also lead to knots and other sewing issues. Make sure you have the right needle size for your project, and keep an eye on its sharpness to avoid knots in your sewing machine.

Short Thread

A thread may keep knotting together when sewing if the tension settings on the machine are incorrect. When tension is too tight, threads can bunch up and form knots. To solve this issue, try adjusting the tension settings on your sewing machine. Experiment with different settings until you find the right balance that allows the thread to flow smoothly without knotting.

Another factor that can contribute to thread knotting is using a thread that is too short for the project. When the thread is too short, it curls around itself and forms knots. To avoid this, make sure to use a long enough piece of thread when starting stitching again. Additionally, if a stitch breaks, start the new one at least two inches away from where it broke to prevent further knotting issues.

By addressing tension settings and using an adequate thread length, you can minimize or eliminate knotting problems while sewing and ensure smooth project stitching.

Thread Bunching

Thread bunching on a sewing machine can indeed cause knots to form, and a few factors can contribute to this issue. One common mistake is stitching too quickly, which can bunch up the thread and create knots. Maintaining a steady and controlled pace while sewing is important to prevent this from happening.

Another factor that can lead to thread bunching is using an incorrect tension setting. If the tension is set too tight or too light based on the fabric weight, it can throw off the balance of the stitches and result in knots forming. Adjusting the tension properly according to the fabric used is crucial to ensure smooth and even stitches.

The amount of thread taken out of the spool also plays a role in preventing knotting. Taking out too much thread can lead to tangling and bunching, so it’s best to take out as much thread as needed for your project. Paying attention to these factors and making appropriate adjustments can minimize thread bunching and keep your sewing machine running smoothly.

Thread Tension 

Thread tension is a common issue that can cause thread tangling on a sewing machine. If the tension is too tight or loose, it can lead to problems. For instance, if you are working with thicker fabric layers, such as in applique projects, it is recommended to set the tension lighter to avoid tangling. On the other hand, if you have set the tension too loose while using a different fabric for the top layer of your applique, it may pull the thread out of the bobbin when it gets tangled with the spool.

It is important to find the right balance to avoid thread tangling due to incorrect tension settings. Experimenting with different tension settings and adjusting according to the fabric thickness and project requirements can help achieve optimal results. Regularly cleaning and maintaining your sewing machine can contribute to smooth stitching by preventing lint buildup that could affect thread flow and cause tangles.

Not Clean Or Old Bobbins

If your sewing machine is making a loud clacking noise and constantly knotting, it could be due to not cleaning or using old bobbins. Time after time, lint and debris can accumulate in the bobbin area, causing the thread to get caught and resulting in tangled knots. To prevent this issue, it’s important to regularly clean out the bobbin case and replace old bobbins with fresh ones.

Additionally, improper bobbin thread tension can also lead to sewing machine troubles. If the tension is too tight or too loose, the thread can bunch up and create knots. Adjusting the bobbin tension according to your machine’s manual or seeking professional help can help resolve this problem. By keeping your bobbins clean and ensuring proper tension, you can minimize knotting issues and enjoy smooth sewing experiences.

Stitching Speed

One possible reason for uneven stitches could be that you are sewing too quickly. Sewing machines are designed to work at high speeds, but if you’re a beginner, it’s important to slow down and maintain a consistent stitch length. You can achieve more even and professional-looking results by taking your time and ensuring each stitch is the same length.

Another factor to consider is the speed at which you move the fabric while sewing. Finding a comfortable speed that allows you to guide the fabric smoothly through the machine is essential. If you move too slowly, the machine may get stuck or create knots in the thread. Experiment with different speeds until you find what works best for you and your machine.

Practice makes perfect, so don’t get discouraged immediately if your stitches aren’t perfect. With time and experience, you’ll develop better control over your sewing speed and achieve more consistent results.

Wrong Needle For Thread

Using the wrong needle for your thread can cause various issues while sewing. Different fabric types require different needles, so choosing the right one for your project is important. Using an old, dull needle can also lead to problems such as thread knotting. To avoid this, you should change your needle every time you change your thread and even more frequently if you’re working with dark-colored threads. By keeping your needle sharp and replacing it regularly, you’ll ensure smooth and hassle-free sewing.

In addition to using the correct needle and keeping it sharp, it’s also important to ensure the needle is brand new. In time, needles can become worn out and lose their sharpness. This can result in uneven stitches or even damage to your fabric. Using a fresh needle each time you start a new sewing project will ensure your stitches are clean and precise. Don’t overlook the importance of using a new, sharp needle – it can make all the difference in the quality of your sewing work.

Bobbin Works In Machine Improperly

When experiencing knots on a sewing machine, one possible cause could be that the bobbin is not working properly. If you hear unusual noises like popping or choking while sewing, it may indicate an issue with the bobbin. The bobbin should be taut, firm during sewing, and slightly larger than the needle. It can affect the tension on your machine if it becomes too hard or too soft. To fix this problem, try using a new brand of bobbin. A brand-new bobbin will not have been worn down from repeated use in the machine and should have the proper texture and tension.

In conclusion, if you are encountering knots on your sewing machine, consider checking the condition of your bobbin. It should be in good shape, neither too hard nor too soft. Replacing it with a new one can often resolve issues with tension and improve overall sewing performance.

Wrong Bobbins For Thread

Using the wrong bobbin for your thread can cause issues with your sewing machine. Different threads require different types of bobbins to ensure smooth and even stitching. If you are experiencing binding or knots, it is possible that the bobbin you are using is not compatible with the thread you have on top. 

To fix this problem, use the correct brand of thread or the appropriate type of bobbin recommended by your machine’s manufacturer. This will help prevent tension issues and ensure your stitches come out neat and consistent. Taking a moment to double-check and match the thread and bobbin can save you from frustrating sewing mishaps in the long run.

Wrong Tension On Machine

One possible reason for the wrong tension on your sewing machine is that it is set too tight or too loose. If you have fully wound up your bobbin but still have a lot of thread left, this could indicate incorrect tension. To fix this, try turning the tension knob on your sewing machine down and slowly turning it back up. If you encounter difficulty turning it back up, your tension is set too tight.

Another way to check if the tension is correct is by conducting a test stitch on a scrap piece of fabric. If the stitches appear too loose or tight, adjust the tension accordingly until you achieve balanced and even stitches. Remember to make small adjustments at a time to avoid overcorrecting and causing further issues with your sewing machine’s tension.

Change Of Stitch Pattern

Using a different stitch pattern than recommended on the sewing pattern can cause issues with your sewing machine, including causing it to stop stitching or creating tangles and knots. This is because different stitch patterns have different tensions and requirements, which may not be compatible with the type of fabric or thread you’re using.

When facing such problems, starting from the last stitch you sewed and working your way back can help identify where the issue started. If you are unsure of what stitches you’ve used in your fabric, it might be best to remove them carefully and start with the correct stitch pattern per your sewing guide. Always ensure that your machine settings match the specific stitch pattern required for smooth functioning.

Bobbin Tension Too Light For Fabric Thickness

Adjusting the bobbin tension can help resolve this issue. You should try to increase the tension if it’s too light for your fabric thickness. This can be done by slightly clockwise turning the screw on the bobbin case. Remember that adjustments to bobbin tension should be made sparingly and slowly, as too much tension can cause problems.

If you’re still experiencing issues after adjusting the bobbin tension, it may be worth considering a different thread weight or type more suitable for your fabric thickness. Additionally, ensure that your overlocker is properly threaded and clean of any lint or debris that could cause tangling and knots. Regular maintenance of your sewing machine can prevent many common sewing issues.

Needle Path Is Improper

Indeed, the needle path plays a significant role in properly functioning a sewing machine. If the needle path is too thin for the thread or not large enough for thicker fabric, it can lead to knots, tangles, and even damage to your fabric and your sewing machine. It’s crucial to match the thickness of your thread and fabric with an appropriate needle size.

Additionally, frequently changing needles is essential, especially when switching between different threads or fabrics. Using a blunt or worn-out needle can cause skipped stitches and uneven seams and may even break or shred your thread. Therefore, maintaining a proper needle path and using suitable needles can significantly improve your sewing experience and prevent issues like machine knots.

Wrong Fabric Selection

Yes, using the wrong type of fabric for a specific project can lead to your sewing machine getting tangled up in knots. Different fabrics require different tension settings on your sewing machine. Heavier fabrics usually need a higher tension setting, while lighter ones require a lower setting. 

If you’re experiencing this problem with multiple fabric types, the tension on your sewing machine is likely set too high. You should try adjusting the tension settings according to your fabric. If unsure about the correct settings, refer to your sewing machine’s manual or look up guides online for specific fabric types. Remember, practice makes perfect; every new fabric might need trial and error before finding the perfect tension setting.

How To Prevent Sewing Machine Keep Knotting

I have some handy tips to help you keep your sewing machine running smoothly without those annoying knots. Let’s dive right into it, and I’ll explain everything in simple terms.

1. The Right Needle: First, ensure you’re using the right needle. You see, needles come in different sizes and widths. Always go for the one that your sewing machine’s manufacturer recommends. This ensures a good fit for your machine.

2. High-Quality Threads: Don’t skimp on threads. Low-grade threads can cause trouble, especially when you’re doing topstitching, cording, or lacing. To prevent knots, invest in high-quality threads. They’ll keep your machine happy.

3. Tension Control: Imagine a tug of war. If you’re using a thin thread, tighten the tension a bit. But if you’re working with a heavy, thick fabric like denim, use a bigger needle. Proper tension keeps everything in line.

4. Bobbin Basics: Your bobbin is like the heart of your machine. If it’s not working well, knots are likely to happen. Always use new, good-quality bobbins that fit your machine. This can make a huge difference.

5. Clear away old thread: Once you’re sewed, don’t forget to clean up. Remove the old thread from the bobbin case. Leaving it there can lead to tension issues and, you guessed it, knots!

6. Choose the Right Needle for the Job: If you’re tackling thick fabrics or dealing with many seams and corners, use a size 10/70 needle. It’s like having the right tool for the job.

7. Storing Threads: Store your thread properly when you finish a sewing project. Put the spool in a plastic case to prevent it from tangling with other threads or fibers. A little trick is to use scotch tape at the end of the spool to stop it from unraveling.

8. Thread Conditioner: Consider using a thread conditioner to protect your machine, especially when working with high-grade or poor-quality threads. It’s like giving your machine a shield. One option is the Brother ST-300P Olfa Sewing Machine Oil with Thread Conditioner. It keeps everything running smoothly.

9. Keep It Clean: Just like you wouldn’t want dust and dirt in your gears, your sewing machine doesn’t either. Regularly clean your machine with a brush and vacuum. This helps maintain its hygiene and functionality.

10. Sewing Machine Oil: Treat your machine to some sewing machine oil. It’s like giving it a spa day. This oil lubricates the moving parts and keeps everything running smoothly. Ensure that the thread has a low latex content or a polyester thread to prevent static.

There you go! These are some simple and practical steps to keep your sewing machine knot-free and working like a charm. Remember, caring for your machine is like caring for a friend – it’ll be there when you need it most.

Also Check: Sewing Machine Motor Problems (19 Common Issues & Fixes)

Why Is My Sewing Machine Knotting Underneath?

It can be pretty frustrating when you’re sewing and your sewing machine acts up. One common issue is when your thread gets all tangled up, and your machine refuses to cooperate. Let me help you figure out what to do.

Check if your bobbin is causing the trouble. The bobbin is like a little spool that holds the thread underneath your fabric. It can make your thread go haywire if it’s twisted or not set up right. If you suspect this is the issue, don’t worry; it’s fixable.

Here’s what you can do: Stop your machine and grab the thread underneath with one hand. Then, try turning the top spool manually. This might untangle things. If that doesn’t work, the next step is to remove the bobbin from the machine and re-thread it properly.

If you’re into embroidery, using a stabilizer can be a lifesaver. It keeps your fabric steady, so your stitches don’t get messed up by any knots that might pop up.

When you’re sewing regularly, remember to adjust your tension settings occasionally. If you’re working with thicker fabrics and heavier threads, ensure your needle is set up snugly. This can prevent those annoying tangles.

Make sure you’re using the right needle for your project. If you’re dealing with thick seams, tight corners, or heavy fabric, go for a size 70/10 needle. It can help keep your sewing machine from acting up.

If your thread is constantly breaking or you hear weird sounds like “rat-a-tat-tat,” it’s a sign that your machine isn’t threading properly. The culprit could be a broken or worn-out needle threader. This little part helps get your thread where it needs to be, and tangles can happen when it’s not working right.

If you’re facing this issue often, having your machine checked by an expert might be a good idea. They can sort out any deeper problems. And if you’re trying to thread your machine by hand and it’s still misbehaving, take a peek under the needle area. Sometimes, something might be stuck down there, causing all the trouble. Give it a look and see if that helps. 

Remember, sewing is all about patience and a little problem-solving. Don’t let those machine hiccups slow you down. You’ve got this!

How Do I Stop My Thread From Tangling On My Sewing Machine?

To prevent your thread from tangling on your machine, there are a few steps you can take. First, thread the needle by hand instead of relying on the automatic threader. This will prevent the thread from being accidentally sucked into the machine. A ball-point needle or needles for handheld use can also help prevent tangling.

Another important step is to avoid sewing over the same area repeatedly. This can cause excess friction and increase the chances of tangling. Change your thread when needed, even if you still have enough left. When you run out of thread when working on a project, it can lead to tangles and frustration.

Keeping your thread spool on a thread stand and ensuring it does not touch the floor can also help minimize tangles. When the thread touches the floor, it may pick up lint or debris that could interfere with smooth stitching.

Pay attention to your tension settings. If your tension is too tight or loose, it can cause problems with grabbing and pulling at your thread, leading to tangles. Make sure your tension is set correctly for optimal stitching.

A stabilizer underneath your fabric can also help prevent knots and keep stitches in place. The stabilizer provides extra support and stability during sewing.

Following these tips and taking preventive measures can significantly reduce or eliminate tangling issues with your sewing machine’s thread.

FAQ about Sewing Machine Knotting

What should I do if my sewing machine keeps making knots on the underside of the fabric?

If your sewing machine keeps making knots on the underside of the fabric, you can resolve the problem in a couple of ways. First, check that you have threaded the machine correctly. Ensure the thread is properly seated in the tension discs and passes through all necessary guides. Also, ensure that you use the correct thread type and weight for your fabric.

Another possible cause of knots on the underside of the fabric could be an issue with the bobbin. The bobbin should be inserted correctly and wound evenly and tightly. If needed, re-thread or replace the bobbin.

Additionally, adjusting the tension settings on your sewing machine may help alleviate this problem. Experiment with increasing or decreasing the tension until you find a setting that produces even stitches without knots on either side of the fabric.

Suppose these troubleshooting steps do not solve the issue. In that case, it may be helpful to consult your sewing machine’s manual or hire a professional technician to diagnose and fix any mechanical issues with your machine.

Can using low-quality threads cause knotting in my sewing machine?

Yes, using low-quality threads can cause knotting in your sewing machine. When you use threads of poor quality, they tend to have inconsistencies in their thickness and strength. This can lead to the thread breaking or getting tangled in the machine, resulting in knots.

Low-quality threads may also have more lint and loose fibers, which can accumulate in the machine’s tension discs or bobbin case. This buildup can interfere with the smooth movement of the thread, causing it to get caught and form knots. These threads may not have been properly wound onto the spool, leading to snags and tangles as they unravel during sewing.

To avoid knotting issues, investing in high-quality threads specifically designed for sewing machines is recommended. These threads are usually made from stronger materials and have a more consistent thickness. They are less likely to break or tangle, ensuring smooth stitching without any knots forming in your sewing machine.

How often should I change my sewing machine needle to avoid knotting issues?

To avoid knotting issues, changing your sewing machine needle after every 8-10 hours of sewing is recommended. The needle can become dull or damaged with time, leading to skipped stitches, thread breakage, and knotting issues. Regularly changing your needle ensures that it is sharp and in good condition, allowing for smooth stitching and preventing any potential problems.

Additionally, it is important to consider the type of fabric you are working with. If you frequently sew with heavier fabrics like denim or canvas, it may be necessary to change your needle more often as these materials can put more strain on the needle and cause it to wear out faster. Paying attention to the quality of your stitches and any signs of difficulty during sewing can help determine when it’s time for a needle change.

Does adjusting the tension dial affect knotting issues with my sewing machine?

Adjusting the tension dial can impact knotting issues with your sewing machine. Tension dials control the tightness of thread as it passes through the machine, and if it is set too high or too low, it can cause knots to form in the stitching. If you are experiencing knotting issues, try adjusting the tension dial slightly to see if it improves the situation. Start by turning it slightly in one direction and test sew a few stitches. If the knotting persists, try turning it in the opposite direction until you find a setting that produces clean and smooth stitches without any knots.

In addition to adjusting the tension dial, a few other factors can contribute to knotting issues with your sewing machine. Make sure you use the correct type and weight of thread for your project, as using thread that is too thick or thin for your machine can cause problems. Also, check that your needle is properly inserted and not bent or damaged, as this can lead to knotting. Finally, ensure that you are using good-quality thread and that it is threaded correctly through all of the necessary guides and tension discs on your machine. By addressing these potential issues and adjusting the tension dial, you should be able to resolve any knotting problems with your sewing machine.

Is there anything else I should check if my sewing machine continues to produce knots despite troubleshooting steps?

If your sewing machine continues to produce knots despite following troubleshooting steps, you can check a few other things. First, make sure you use the correct type and size of needle for the fabric you are working with. Using the wrong needle can cause tension issues and result in knots. Also, check if the bobbin is correctly threaded and inserted into the machine. A poorly threaded or incorrectly inserted bobbin can cause knotting as well.

Another thing to consider is the tension settings on your machine. Check that both the upper thread tension and bobbin tension are properly adjusted. It can lead to knotting if they are too tight or too loose. Additionally, inspect the threading path of your machine. Ensure that the thread correctly passes through all necessary guides and tension disks without obstructions or tangles.

If, after checking these factors, your sewing machine still produces knots, it may be worth taking it to a professional for servicing or repair. They can diagnose any underlying mechanical issues that may be causing the problem and provide a solution to resolve it effectively.

Can improper bobbin winding cause knotting in my sewing machine?

Yes, improper bobbin winding can cause knotting in your sewing machine. When you wind the bobbin, it is important to ensure the thread is evenly distributed and tightly wound onto it. If the thread is not wound properly, it can lead to uneven tension when sewing, resulting in knots or tangles in your stitches.

To prevent knotting caused by improper bobbin winding, make sure to follow these steps: 

1. Attach the spool pin to the spool of thread and secure it with a cap or holder.

2. Guide the thread through any necessary guides or tension discs.

3. Insert the end of the thread into the bobbin and secure it with a few manual turns.

4. Press down on the foot pedal or start button to begin winding the bobbin.

5. Keep an eye on the thread as it winds onto the bobbin, ensuring it is evenly distributed and not overlapping or tangling.

You can minimize knotting issues and improve your sewing machine’s performance by taking care during bobbin winding and ensuring that the thread is evenly distributed.


In conclusion, proper maintenance and troubleshooting of your sewing machine are crucial for avoiding common issues such as thread tension problems, faulty needles, and twisted bobbins. Taking the time to inspect and correct these issues can often resolve the majority of problems that arise. It is highly recommended that you consult a professional if you have exhausted all options and are still experiencing difficulties. They possess the expertise to diagnose and address more complex or underlying problems with your machine. Ultimately, if all attempts at repair prove futile, it may be time to consider replacing or upgrading your sewing machine. Don’t let frustration hinder your creativity – take action today to ensure smooth sailing in all your future sewing endeavors.

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