How To Adjust Bobbin Tension On Brother Sewing Machine

Last Updated on 8 months by Susan Mayrich

It’s important to know how to adjust bobbin tension on Brother sewing machine to avoid having problems with the stitches. The good news is you only need to locate the screw on the bobbin case to adjust the tension.

how to adjust bobbin tension on brother sewing machine

For a complete bobbin tension sewing guide, you’ll also know below if the tension is too tight or loose. We’ll help you determine the bobbin tension to which your Brother sewing machine should be set. 

For other instructions regarding Brother sewing machines, browse our blog for different questions and troubleshooting. Here’s how to set up Brother sewing machine to get you started.


How To Adjust Bobbin Tension On Brother Sewing Machine

Before anything else, check your manual for the recommended settings on your Brother sewing machine. This Brother sewing machine bobbin tension adjustment guide is suitable for these models: 

  • Home Sewing Embroidery PE500
  • PE525
  • PE540D
  • PE545
  • PE700
  • PE700II
  • PE750D
  • PE770
  • PE780D
  • PE500
  • PE525
  • PE540D
  • PE545
  • PE700
  • PE700II
  • PE750D
  • PE770
  • PE780D
  • DZ820E
  • HE1
  • NQ1600E
  • NQ1700E


Find the bobbin tension-setting wheel on your machine


Most Brother sewing machines have their bobbin tension adjustment dial near the bobbin case on the side of the machine. Some models have adjustable bobbin cases to accommodate the bobbin tension for embroidery projects. 

  1. Remove the bobbin from the bobbin case when adjusting the case.
  2. Turn the slotted head screw with a small slotted screwdriver.
  3. Do not adjust the Phillips screw on the bobbin case.
  4. If the upper thread on the right side of the fabric is lifting and the bobbin thread is not visible on the wrong side, you will turn the screw counterclockwise to decrease the bobbin tension. 
  5. If the bobbin thread appears on the right side of the fabric, turn the slotted-head screw clockwise to increase the tension.
  6. Be careful not to overtighten or loosen the screw.
  7. If the screw is difficult to turn, don’t be tempted to use force because it can damage the bobbin case. 
  8. The tension is correct when you can see the upper thread slightly on the wrong side of the fabric. 


Use a screwdriver

What Should The Tension Be Set At On A Brother Sewing Machine?

The normal tension setting is 4.0 on a Brother sewing machine. With this default tension setting, the upper thread and bobbin thread of the sewing machine should cross near the center of the material. 

Usually, the bobbin tension on sewing machines is already set to factory specification. It won’t need an adjustment, and the upper thread should be the only one visible from the right side of the fabric. 

The bobbin thread, on the other hand, should be seen on the wrong side. However, depending on the fabric and thread, the project might require an adjustment. 


How to adjust the upper tension on a Brother sewing machine

  1. The upper tread tension is too tight if you can see the bobbin thread on the top side of the fabric. 
  2. The upper thread is too loose if you can see it from the wrong side of the fabric. 
  3. Use the designated “+” or “-” to adjust the thread tension. 
  4. There is also a reset option to return the sewing machine tension setting to default. 
  5. Note that if the bobbin is not installed correctly, you can’t correct the thread tension.
  6. If the tension can’t still be adjusted, re-thread the upper thread. 

If you also own a Singer sewing machine, you’ll like this tutorial on how to adjust the tension on Singer sewing machine


Depositphotos 57037457 L



What Does Correct Bobbin Tension Look Like?

You can check if the bobbin tension on your sewing machine is correct by dropping the bobbin in. This test is for sewing machines where you just drop the bobbin in. 

How do I check the bobbin tension on my sewing machine?

Check the model instructions for pulling the bobbin case out from the machine. Next, follow the manual for loading the freshly wound bobbin, then pinch the thread coming out of the case. 

Ensure the bobbin case is over a soft surface, and flick your hand downwards. The bobbin tension is correct if the bobbin only falls an inch below where you pinch the thread. 

On the other hand, the tension is too tight if it goes nowhere since the thread can’t leave the case. But if the bobbin falls closer to the surface you prepared, it’s too loose since it means the thread is coming out too quickly. 


How Do You Know When The Bobbin Tension Needs To Be Adjusted?

You’ll know the bobbin tension needs adjustments if it’s too loose or tight. A quick test is winding a few inches of thread onto the bobbin, then pulling it from the case, as discussed in the information above.

How to know if my bobbin tension is too loose or too tight?

The bobbin tension needs to be tightened if you can pull the thread easily or loosened if the thread won’t budge. However, the adjustment for bobbin thread tension should be small and no more than ¼ turn at a time.

How to adjust bobbin tension on Brother sewing machine with the dial

Check your specific sewing machine’s manual for the settings and instructions. But you’ll usually turn the dial clockwise to tighten and counterclockwise to loosen.  

Continue making small adjustments until you can see the bobbin thread is pulled up with the top thread evenly. 



How Often Should You Check The Tension On The Bobbin?

You don’t need to adjust the bobbin tension most of the time. However, every sewing project and fabric is different. 

Here are the times when you should check the bobbin tension on sewing machines:

  • Every time you change the sewing machine bobbin
  • When using a pre-wound bobbin 
  • Before adjusting the upper thread tension



How to adjust bobbin tension on Brother JX2517


What Happens If The Bobbin Tension Is Too Loose Or Too Tight?

It’s important to test the bobbin tension to avoid sewing problems. Here are the common issues on the stitching if the bobbin tension is too loose or too tight:


The bobbin tension is too loose

The bobbin thread tension is too loose if the bobbin thread is visible on right side of the fabric. The bobbin thread forms small loops on the top side of the material, and you can correct this by adjusting the needle thread tension.

Locate the dial for your needle thread tension and turn it to a lower number. Of course, you can always test with two different colors of thread to compare the needle and bobbin thread. 


The bobbin tension is too tight

The stitches will also help determine if the bobbin tension is too tight. When working on a new project or changing fabrics and threads, it would help to use different colors of threads to see the bobbin and needle thread.

If you can see the needle thread on the wrong side of the fabric, then the bobbin thread tension is too tight. The bobbin thread pulls the needle thread on the underside of the material, so you should turn the needle thread tension dial to a higher number to increase it. 


How to fix the tension on the sewing machine

What Are Some Common Problems That Can Occur If The Bobbin Tension Is Not Correct?


Bobbin thread bunching on the fabric

You might find your bobbin thread bunching on the fabric, which indicates that the bobbin tension is too tight. Again, adjust the bobbin tension, or if this doesn’t fix the problem, you need to re-insert the bobbin, as it might not be inserted correctly. 

Stitches are too big

Are you noticing that your stitches are too big with gaps between them? Your bobbin tension might be too loose, and you need to tighten it until you get even stitches with no gaps in between. 

How to troubleshoot bobbin problems

  • Hold the bobbin thread and tug it gently to check if the tension is correct; it’s too tight if you struggle with tugging or too loose if it slides too easily.
  • Check if you inserted the bobbin case correctly because an incorrect position will cause the bobbin tension to be off, no matter your adjustment.
  • Locate the tension disc underneath the bobbin case as it might be too loose or too tight; to tighten the tension disc, turn it clockwise and counterclockwise with a screwdriver to loosen it.
  • Consider using a different type of bobbin and ensure it’s compatible with your sewing machine. 
  • Use a scrap fabric and test your stitches; the stitches should not be too loose or tight. 
  • If you’ve made all these adjustments and there are still issues with the stitch results, check your thread; you should always use the tension setting requirement for the type of thread you’re using based on your sewing machine information book. 


Where Is The Bobbin Located On The Sewing Machine?

Before anything else, sewing machines can either be front-loading or top-loading. Always consult your unit’s manual to know what bobbin system it uses to avoid problems. 

Front-loading sewing machines

The bobbin area in front-loading sewing machines is usually hidden. Therefore, you will need to remove the front extension table first. 

Then, open the front cover to get to the bobbin area. Always follow the instructions for the settings required on your sewing machine when adjusting. 


Top-loading sewing machines

How to access the bobbin area on units with a top-loading bobbin system? First, raise the presser foot with the lever.

You can easily remove the bobbin cover with the presser foot out of the way. You only need to unlock the latch to take it off. 



How To Install The Bobbin On Brother Sewing Machine

Besides using the correct bobbin tension, you should know how to install the bobbin on the Brother sewing machine correctly. Refer to your unit’s manual or check this list if your sewing machine is included for the following instructions:

  1. Turn off the Brother sewing machine for safety.
  2. Check if you’re using the recommended bobbin for your unit.
  3. Turn the balance wheel counterclockwise to raise the needle to the highest position.
  4. Raise the presser foot lever and lift the bottom of the extension table up and towards you to open it. 
  5. Open the shuttle cover and pull the bobbin case latch towards you to remove it.
  6. Unwind 4 inches of thread from the bobbin and insert the bobbin with the thread tail hanging out of the bobbin case.
  7. Set the bobbin with the thread unrolling in the right direction to avoid incorrect thread tension.
  8. When inserting the bobbin, the thread should come from the bottom toward the top.
  9. Pull the trailing thread into the slot and down to the left to insert it through the delivery eye underneath the tension spring. 
  10. Place the bobbin case in the shuttle race while holding it by the latch.
  11. Release the latch and check if the bobbin case finger fits into the notch at the race’s top to insert it fully. 
  12. The bobbin case can fall out if it’s incorrectly installed.
  13. Close the shuttle cover.


How do I stop my sewing machine from bunching


What Is The Best Way To Store A Bobbin When Not In Use?

You can be creative and use familiar household objects to store your bobbin when not in use. For example, an empty pill holder can double as bobbin storage because of its compartments.

Another option to neatly stack bobbins, especially if you have a drawer, is with an ice cube tray. Or, if you want to keep the bobbin from unwinding, buy a bobbin doughnut, a ring-shaped storage that can hold many bobbins. 


turning the knob clockwise



Have we solved your problem? To recap how to adjust bobbin tension on Brother sewing machine, remove the bobbin from the case first.

Then, adjust the case with a small slotted screwdriver. Turn the screw counterclockwise to decrease the tension and clockwise to increase it.

Do not overtighten or loosen when making adjustments, and never use force if the screw is hard to turn. You’ll know the tension is correct if you can slightly see the upper thread on the wrong side of the fabric.  

Are you also dealing with bobbin issues on your Janome unit? Read how to adjust bobbin tension on Janome sewing machine!


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