I hope that you have just the right amount of tension for your machine and your life. Too little tension is not good and too much tension is bad for both of you. Without tension, your machine would not work. Without a little tension, your life doesn't work either. That is enough of that.
Your machine does not need Valium, it needs to be understood. . .
I remember the first time I had thread nesting under my new machine. It got so bad that it was firmly in the opening of the needle plate. It took me a while to get it cleared and remove all of snips, snails and puppy dog tails left behind. As much as I loved to sew, I am no seamstress!!! So, I had never seen anything like it and figured that I ruined the embroidery machine.
Here are a few things that I have found, again around the Net and through discussions with other embroidery enthusiasts. Nothing is ever chiseled in granite, but here are some things to check when tension just is not right.
Sewing and embroidery are NOT the same. They both have a needle, thread and bobbin, but the similarity pretty much ends there.
The top thread is looping -
The top tension is too loose and/or the bobbin tension is too tight.
Changing one may or may not help. That can become an issue because you may feel like it should be OK but you still have a loop. In any misstep, it can be multiple things, so you may want to adjust as you progress to have the tension work its way through correctly.
Machine is not threaded correctly. Don't just look at the path, I recommend cutting the thread near the spool and pulling the thread out through just above the needle. That gives the opportunity for any 'lint' left in the thread path to be history. Rethread and if the machine is new to you, be sure to check the manual, there is always a chance that there is something unique about the threading.
Top thread is fraying -
The needle is nearly always the issue on this one.
The needle is too small for the thread weight. Been there, done that!!! I nearly lost my mind on this simple one.
The thread is too old/dry.
When your favorite jeans get too worn, they fray, duh! On this issue, I have used the silicon spray that is available in the automotive area of your store to spray the spool and let it dry for about 2 minutes. This gives the thread time to absorb the silicon, which dries quickly and does not change the color or leave any sort of mark.
You can try peeling off the top most layer of thread to expose the underneath thread which is likely not to be as dry.
Toss the thread, it is not good for much unless you cut and set it out for the birds to 'feather their nests' with it. Some colors may make a charming nest!
Thread is 'bird nesting' (clumping) under the throat plate and/or embroidery.
Check for extra threads hanging around the bobbin area. Thread uses this slogan 'tell two friends, and they tell two friends . . . and soon there is a party!' I personally have used a flashlight to see because they don't have to be large or easy to see, they just have to 'be.'
Rethread your machine. Somehow, thread can work its way out of the tension bars. They have been trained by professional acrobats, they can jump out of a tension wheel.
Check your bobbin, it can be out of the tension. Additionally, use the corner of a piece of paper to slide under the side 'cover' to remove any lint.
Ever forget to put your bobbin back in after refilling?? Ahem, I have done that too!
Top thread is breaking
The top thread break is a common issue. Remember that all these suggestions are just that, suggestions. Additionally, you may have something that worked that is not shown here. If so, please do give us that info. We need to learn from each other.
Using too much spray adhesive or the adhesive on your stabilizer is just hanging around on your needle. Ann's stabilizers will NEVER do this! Goo is an offender and just taking your index finger and thumb, run them through your hair, close to the scalp, and wipe the needle. It may take multiple times but is a simple repair. After all, you should not have to go looking for your head and fingers. . .
The needle plate could have a burr or other issue that is catching the thread. Check it out with a magnifying glass for the best results.
Dry/old thread, (see the fraying instructions above).
Bobbin thread is showing on the top side.
Bobbin thread positioning for embroidery is really different from bobbin thread positioning for sewing:
Top thread is tangled - Some spools actually can catch, even if you reverse it (up to down). If you notice your thread, occasionally you will see it be not very straight in its path. That can cause thread to land where it does not belong.
Top and/or bottom tension needs to be adjusted. When your machine is running perfectly, make sure you review the tension via pulling with your fingers so you know what the correct tension feels like. Different fabrics need different tension.
The bobbin could be in backwards. Some are clockwise and some counter clockwise loading.
Prewound bobbins are an excellent deal. They hold a great deal more thread and have even tension.
Lastly - I cannot believe it, but this begins my 5th year doing this blog! My first blog was on 5/9/2008. I treasure each one of my readers. You make me feel that sharing with you is valuable to you, even if it is just to see what project I am working on. I wish you all great embroidery and a terrific life journey for you and yours. Thank you so much for being a part of my world!