How To Adjust Bottom Tension On Brother Sewing Machine

If you own a Brother Sewing Machine, there’s no denying that adjusting the bottom tension can often be a tricky business. Whether you’re taking on a basic repair and maintenance task, or need to alter the tension setting while controlling your seam, knowing and understanding how to adjust bottom tension is a key skill. Here’s a guide to understanding how to adjust the bottom tension on your Brother Sewing Machine.

One of the main reasons why adjusting bottom tension is important for a Brother Sewing Machine is to ensure accurate seam control. The bottom tension is one of several components which help to create an even, precise seam between fabric pieces – enabling the seam lines to remain consistent along the entire length of the stitch line.

In order to adjust the bottom tension on your Brother Sewing Machine, you need to firstly identify the tension regulator settings. You can access the tension regulator from inside the loop of the thread, by moving the tension control dial. After carefully unscrewing the tension dials two turns, you can then begin to adjust the needle thread tension, ensuring that it’s just a little bit tighter than the bobbin tension.

It’s worth noting that for different types of Brother Sewing Machines, it’s here that you may need to refer to your instruction manual to identify the settings and exact mechanical settings. Bear in mind that advancing the tension dials slightly will increase the tension on the needle thread, while pulling the dials away slightly will reduce the tension.

However, it’s important to remember that the bottom tension is unlikely to be set to the exact point needed to create the perfect stitch straight away. Therefore, to fine-tune the bottom tension, it’s recommended to test the settings on a sample piece of fabric.

When testing the sample, you should be paying attention to how the fabric is responding to different tension settings. Trying various settings can help to identify the point where the seam is neither too tight, nor too loose. Always remember to refer back to the documentation for the Brother Sewing Machine for more detailed advice.

Sewing Thread Type

It’s also worth bearing in mind that the type of thread you’re using on your Brother Sewing Machine may influence how the tension settings should be set. Different thread types respond differently to tension settings – one thread may be too loose on one Brother Sewing Machine, but just right for tension on another. For example, a heavier sewing silk thread may require a tighter tension setting than a light cotton thread.

By experimenting with different thread tension settings on your Brother Sewing Machine and observing the response of the fabric, it’s possible to determine the ideal settings. Specialists have suggested using a sample of fabric to identify the most suitable tension setting – allowing you to then fine-tune the bottom tension settings accordingly.

It’s always important to remember to double-check the tension settings of your thread before each use, every time you fit a new thread reel and after cleaning your Brother Sewing Machine. Minor changes in the settings can help you create an accurate seam, perfect to your requirements.

Fabric Thickness

It’s worth noting that the bottom tension settings may need to be adapted, depending on the thickness of the fabric pieces being worked with. Generally speaking, for thicker fabrics, the settings for bottom tension need to be more precise, as thicker fabrics require more tension for the seam to remain consistent. This means that for thicker fabrics, the tension needs to be increased. Alternatively, for thinner fabrics, a looser tension setting may be required.

It’s important to realise that if the bottom tension is not set correctly, this may potentially cause a ‘puckering’ effect along the seams of the fabric. Additionally, uneven sewing may occur, even with manual stitches. The good news is that careful and precise adjustments of the bottom tension on the Brother Sewing Machine can help to achieve the desired seam.

When adjusting the bottom tension, it’s best to approach the setting with patience, as it’s a fine art which can take time to master. Understanding the importance of the bottom tension – enabling you to correctly adjust the tension adjustments as needed – is a key skill for any experienced sewer to work with.

Thread Colors

Many sewers have suggested that when selecting the thread type for a Brother Sewing Machine, the color of the thread should be strongly considered. While the type of thread may influence the bottom tension, the color of the thread on the inside and outside should be carefully selected to ensure accuracy. Therefore, if you’re stitching light-colored fabrics, darker colored thread should be used, as this will assist in creating more accurate seams.

If the wrong type of thread is used in conjunction with the wrong tension setting, this could cause your fabric to tear or pucker. Additionally, the bobbin tension may begin to jam, leading to stitching errors. Therefore, it’s wise to always consider the thread color when trying to identify the correct bottom tension settings.


If in any doubt when adjusting the bottom tension of a Brother Sewing Machine, it’s wise to refer to the machine’s instruction manual for further guidance. In addition, it can be helpful to note down the settings that you input – as this can help you reset the bottom tension accurately later on. It’s always sensible to make mental notes of the different settings and ideal tension levels, in order to save time in the future.

Moreover, it’s important to have knowledge of how to ‘troubleshoot’ any issues while setting the bottom tension. Of course, if the fabric is puckering or bunching, this may mean that the tension settings are too tight – in which case it’s necessary to loosen the tension regulation dial. Conversely, if the seam appears to be too loose, it may suggest that the tension settings are too loose, in which case tightening the regulation dial should solve the problem.

Maintaining the Brother Sewing Machine

In order to ensure that the Brother Sewing Machine continues to provide great stitch work, it’s essential to keep the machine well-maintained. This can be enabled through regular oiling and mild cleaning of the machine’s elements and components. If a Brother Sewing Machine is regularly serviced and looks, it will benefit from improved performance and accuracy.

What’s more, if your Brother Sewing Machine starts to sewing inconsistently and loses accuracy, it’s recommended to refer to the machine’s instruction manual. Checking the tension of the needle thread and the bobbin thread is usually sufficient to identify any issues. If the settings are out of balance, it’s usually possible to reset the tension by troubleshooting the machine and adjusting the tension adjustment dials.

Stitch Types and Lengths

Not to be overlooked, different stitch types and lengths may have an impact on the bottom tension settings of a Brother Sewing Machine. Generally speaking, the tension is set to create a balance between how tight the stitches need to be and how much thread needs to be used. For example, when it comes to selecting the stitch length for a futon cover, a longer stitch length may be desired. This could result in the tension being set more loosely, as more thread is needed for a longer stich length.

It’s important to keep in mind that if two fabric pieces of different thicknesses are being sewn together, it’s necessary to adjust the tension to compensate. Thus, while all fabric sewing projects are different, the tension settings don’t have to be. Most Brother Sewing Machines should offer the same standard tension settings – setting the tension should always remain relatively similar, providing the desired tension is met.

Ultimately, being able to identify and adjust the bottom tension on a Brother Sewing Machine is a key skill to be acquired by all sewers. Understanding the need to adjust the tension and to be able to troubleshoot any problems will help to ensure it performs to its optimum and creates accurate seams.

Geoffrey Kirby is an experienced author and sewist who has been creating sewn projects for over 20 years. He has a passion for teaching beginners and inspiring more advanced sewists both online and through his writings. Outside of writing about sewing, Geoffrey loves to explore new techniques and styles of sewing that incorporate upcycling fabric remnants into sweet items with personality.

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