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Topic: Need help from vets; tension issues w/more than one machine +fleece toys  (Read 1560 times)
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« on: August 01, 2011 07:05:55 PM »

Hi all, hate to have this be my first post here since I've been intending to join for years... but I'm at my wit's end and need some fellow crafter support.

I've been sewing for around 10 years; started in costumes and have largely moved on to plush toys, which has become my business. Safe to say I know my way around a sewing machine, from troubleshooting wonkiness to sewing on difficult fabrics like clothing PVC. This is to let you know that yes, the bobbins are wound properly, the machine is clean, I have a new needle, etc; I know the basics and they've all been triple-checked. Wink

Started with a Singer from the 1970s, moved on through two Kenmores (both of which I hated), to a Brother NX-450 at a sewing machine store's recommendation. Loved the Brother for the most part, except it tended to go out of tension and need repairs every year and a half. I recently moved the machine cross-country (in my car) and it's been nothing but trouble since. Figured it got jarred somehow in moving, and took it for repairs; it's a small town with only one repair place. But they've had the machine TWICE now and it's not been right for longer than the length of one seam. Decided I don't trust them; found a small nick in the (plastic) bobbin case, which I replaced myself, and it's still not right. Finally assumed they've damaged the machine in some way and ordered a Brother SE-400 from Amazon for an emergency use.

And darned if IT didn't go out of tension right away as well. Better than the old machine by a longshot, but I'm still seeing needle thread in the seams when I open them, in spite of tension adjustments. It's a big issue since there's pressure on the seams when you stuff plush. I did break a needle by accident when I first used it, but checked bobbin case, race, and throat plate for damage and don't see any. Have trouble believing that one broken needle = busted tension?

Can't figure out how I never had so much trouble before. Have I totally lost my touch with sewing machines? Is the Brother SE-400 just not up to the task of thick fleece? The repair place here is a Husqvarna dealer and they tried to sell me a $6000 sewing machine the day I came in (do I really need or want all that electronic nonsense?). They insist that Brothers are junk, and can't handle fleece at all. They also insisted I'm using the wrong needle because fleece is a stretch fabric, though I can't imagine why a 90/11 was fine til now.

Am I doing something horribly wrong, or do I need to get another machine? I've used a friend's industrial Juki before, and wonder if it'd take an industrial to manage quantity sewing on fleece. I'm willing to upgrade if it'll solve my troubles, but I need to hear from someone NOT trying to sell me one that I need a multi-thousand dollar machine.

Thanks in advance, sorry for the long post, I err on the side of TMI... I just need to get back to work, for the money, and so I can finally get round to sharing work here!

« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2011 04:58:06 PM »

If it's the tension on the bottom have you tried tightening/loosening the tension on the bobbin.  There's a tiny screw on the side of the bobbin that adjusts that (Ugh - I hate my brother machine).
« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2011 03:15:16 PM »

Thanks for your reply, still. Kinda forgot about this thread...

As an update in case anyone else is Googling the same problem... I got the SE-400 to behave for the length of a few projects by moving it to a different table. Definitely not a tip I've ever encountered, but as far as I can tell, my glass/metal desk got jacked up in the cross-country move. I put it on an antique wood farmhouse table and the tension issues improved after more adjustments.

Now, though, it's gone out again. Apparently the upper thread tension this time instead of the bobbin! I replaced the needle, rethreaded, put in a different bobbin, cleaned it, changed the tension settings from here til Tuesday... but as soon as I get the tension acceptable on scrap and try sewing a seam it gets worse again.

My best guess at this point is that the tension discs in the Brother machines are somehow...not strong enough for extensive heavy-duty sewing, and they go out of whack very easily, and while I found they performed quite well when I was mainly doing costume sewing, they can't hold up to this much fleece work.

Think I have to buy *another* machine in order to finish commission work, not sure what I'm going to get or I'd post it here (maybe Janome or Juki).
« Reply #3 on: August 16, 2011 06:28:18 AM »

The same thing happened to my se-400 last night. My two year old loves watching it stich out embroidery but she got a little over-excited and whacked the machine.  It must have moved slightly and landed on something because the tension went seriously wonky.I tried everything.  Then I decided I was too upset to take the machine apart to see if I could see the problem so I cleaned my table.  On a whim I tried "just one more time" and it worked.

Maybe these machines just like being very level?

« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2011 05:06:19 PM »

When sewing fleece you will need a heavier needle then the one you are using possibly a 12/80 universal or some swear by ballpoint needle. A walking foot or roller foot will help also with the thickness of the fleece.  Sone even use tear away tissue on the top and bottom so that it will glide through instead of change the feet. Fleece projects put a lot of wear on the needle so change it often.


Sewing machines: Universal KAB, Kenmore 150 385.19150090, Brother XL-3125, Brother LS-2000

Combo sewing and embroidery machine: Brother SE270D

Sergers: Sergemate Companion 5040, Simplicity Serge Pro
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