How To Fix Tension On A Singer Sewing Machine


Singer sewing machines are a great tool for garment repairs and alterations, but it is essential to be aware of the signs that the tension is off balance. Poorly working tension can cause knitting fabric to unravel, or stitches to be loose and uneven. Regular maintenance and cleaning is crucial to ensure that the machine works correctly. It is important to check the tension on the machine regularly, and if required make adjustments to maintain optimal performance. In this article, we will discuss the various ways to fix tension issues on a Singer sewing machine.

What is Tension on a Sewing Machine?

Tension on a sewing machine is the force that is used to keep the thread from unravelling. The tension affects the amount of thread that is pulled through the fabric and how it is held in place. If the tension is too high the stitches will be too tight, and if it is too low the stitches will be too loose. Maintaining the correct tension is essential for creating strong and neat stitches.

Steps for Adjusting Tension On a Singer Sewing Machine

It may feel daunting trying to adjust the tension on a Singer sewing machine, but there are several steps to follow that will ensure the tension is properly balanced.

  • Step 1: In order to start, turn the machine on and set the thread to the correct tension –  the middle position will usually give the best result.
  • Step 2: Use the fabric sample to check if the tension is correct. First, select a test fabric that is close to the one you will be using for the finished project.
  • Step 3: Sew some test stitches on the sample fabric and examine the stitching. If the stitching is loopy or loose at the edges, then the tension should be increased. If the stitching is too tight or has skipped stitches, then the tension should be decreased.
  • Step 4: To adjust the tension, twist the upright screw in the center of the tension assembly –  this will raise or lower the tension accordingly.
  • Step 5: Once the tension is adjusted, sew a few test stitches on the fabric to check if the tension is balanced. If it is, then the stitches should be snug and even. If not, then the tension will need to be adjusted a little more.
  • Step 6: When finished, turn off the machine and wind the bobbin thread back onto its spool.

Common Tension Issues on Singer Sewing Machines

The most common tension issues on Singer machines are caused by the thread being tangled or the tension being unbalanced. Thread tangles happen easily when the bobbin is not wound correctly, or if the needle is not inserted properly. This can cause the thread to snag, leading to poor stitch quality. To avoid this issue, always ensure the bobbin is correctly wound and the needle is correctly inserted.
If the tension is unbalanced, it usually needs to be adjusted. Unbalanced tension will result in stitches that are too tight or too lose, or the thread may the skipped altogether. If this happens, simply follow the steps outlined above to adjust the tension and achieve the correct balance.

Cleaning the Singer Sewing Machine

In addition to adjusting the tension, cleaning the Singer sewing machine regularly will help to ensure the machine works properly. Cleaning the machine helps to remove any build-up of dirt, lint, and thread that can accumulate over time and disrupt the tension balance.
To clean the machine, first switch it off and unplug it from the power source. Then, use a soft cloth to wipe down the outside and remove any lint or debris. After this, remove the bobbin case and clean any lint from the area. It is also important to check for any broken or damaged parts, such as a bent needle plate, and replace them if needed. Once everything is clean, replace the bobbin case and give the machine a light oiling.

Advice From Sewing Experts

The experts at Singer have some helpful advice on maintaining sewing machines:

  • Lubricate the Machine: It is important to lubricate the machine regularly, as this will help the thread to move smoothly between the bobbin case and needle.
  • Replace the Needle: Sewing with an old needle will cause the thread to break or snag easily. It is recommended to replace the needle about every 10 hours of sewing –  this will ensure that the thread glides cleanly through the fabric.
  • Replace the Bobbin: A full bobbin should always be used, and a new bobbin should be inserted when the old one runs out. A full bobbin ensures that the thread is evenly wound and that there is no tension imbalance.

Use the Right Thread

Using the right kind of thread will also help to keep the tension balanced. If a heavier thread is used, the tension should be increased slightly. It is important to match the size of the needle to the thread –  a finer needle should be used with finer threads, and a larger needle should be used with thicker threads. When working with different types of fabric, it is important to use a thread that is suitable for that fabric.

Use the Machine Correctly

Finally, it is important to use the machine correctly. Sewing too quickly will put too much strain on the machine, and can cause the tension to become unbalanced. It is better to sew at a slow, steady pace to ensure that the machine is not overworked.

Protect the Machine

Protecting the machine from dust, dirt and other debris is also important for keeping the tension steady. Cover the machine when it is not in use, and remove any dust regularly. This will help to keep the machine clean and operating efficiently.


To summarise, maintaining the correct tension on a Singer sewing machine is essential for creating strong and neat stitches. By following the steps outlined in this article, it is possible to adjust the tension and ensure that the machine is working correctly. It is also important to clean the machine regularly, replace the needle and bobbin, use the right thread for the fabric, and sew at a slow and steady pace. By following these tips, the machine can be kept in peak condition for many years.

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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