7 Janome Sewing Machine Tension Problems And Solutions

Janome sewing machines are amongst the best sewing machines in the world. Compared to other sewing machines, Janome sewing machines can be viewed as user-friendly and a tad more practical without compromising on functionality and uniqueness. It’s often said that good tools are what set experts and amateurs apart, rightly so. Janome sewing machines are good tools, yet they fall subject to the same problems most if not all sewing machines are subjected to. The most prominent being the timeless problem of thread tension. It is not far-fetched to say that almost every problem a sewing machine will ever have is in relation to tension.

Janome is a Japanese company that was started in 1921. The word Janome means “eye of the snake”. They were the first company to offer a computerized sewing machine for the home and the company now manufactures basic sewing machines, treadle powered sewing machines, computerized sewing machines, embroidery machines, and many more.

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What is Thread Tension?

This is the amount of thread that can pass through a machine and eventually create a stitch. The more the thread in a stitch, the looser it will be. The less the thread, the tighter the stitch. It is crucial to remember such distinctions when dealing with your Janome sewing machine to avoid most thread tension problems.

Controlling Thread Tension on Janome Sewing Machines

We can divide thread tension on Janome sewing machines into two categories: Upper thread tension and Lower thread tension. Upper thread tension (Needle tension) is controlled by a dial on the sewing machine’s thread path. Lower thread tension (Bobbin tension) is factory set – which means it cannot be adjusted, and for most normal sewing projects it doesn’t need to be. Although with more premium and high-end machines (typically used by professional sewists) both upper and lower thread tension is automatically adjusted depending on the type of sewing one will be doing (embroidery, quilting). Since upper thread tension is where most of the manual adjustments happen. It is also where most of the thread tension problems originate.

Upper (Needle) Thread Tension Problems

1. Thread Nesting (Birdnest)

This is when thread becomes entangled or disorderly because the thread tension is weak or loose. This tension problem is usually caused by thread that has fallen out of one of the levers or holders (because they keep the thread in place) of the thread’s path.

To ensure this problem doesn’t happen or is at least solved is to make sure your Janome sewing machine is threaded properly. Which means guiding the thread completely and securely along the thread path (most Janome sewing machines have markings on them to guide you). A full re-thread for the machine would also suffice, so as to start the entire process again.

2. Needle Breaking

This problem can be caused by a couple of things like the type of fabric used and wear and tear. The most prominent being thread tension. Especially when the thread is made up of a strong material but the needle is small. When thread tension is too tight it can bend the needle and ultimately break it.

To make sure this is not the case it is best to invest (a rhyme!) in stronger needles and it’s usually not the ones that come with the machine.

3. Uneven Stitches

This tension problem happens when thread tension is either too loose at the needle but tight at the bobbin, and vice versa.

It’s best to set thread tension to an automatic setting because manually solving this problem can be quite annoying and time consuming. Most Janome sewing machines have this automatic feature but with a more basic machine you’d have to toggle until you get it right. Aided of course by the Janome sewing machine’s user manual and a square patch of fabric.

4. Fabric Puckering

This happens when part of a fabric folds over another creating an overlay. A problem created when thread becomes loose at the point where stitching occurs such that the needle lifts part of the fabric and when moving the fabric you don’t notice that you stitched over another part of the fabric.

At such a point you would have to start again. First by re-threading the sewing machine, making sure that the tension is set in conjunction with the type of fabric and thread being used.

5. Unthreading Needle

This tension problem may be more common with new Janome sewing machine users. Either because the machine has been threaded too short or the thread broke somewhere along its path. Again caused by a higher (or tight) tension setting. The thread can possibly break during sewing.

It’s crucial, that before sewing begins, threads from both the bobbin and the needle are 3-4 inches long. The threads should always be the same length. Thread quality is equally important.

6. Needle Sticking/Jamming

This problem may be caused by another one of the Janome sewing machine’s tension problems, thread nesting. Often one problem is the cause of another. When thread bundles up it can catch the needle in the tangle causing a hault.  But it can also be caused by lint build up, specifically from fabrics.

It’s highly recommended to clean your Janome sewing machine every 6 months using effective penetrants that remove dirt and debris from the most important parts. Otherwise cut the bundle of thread and put new thread through the needle.

Lower Thread Tension Problems

7. Thread Catches Bobbin Casing

This Janome sewing machine problem is largely due to an unevenly threaded bobbin. Either the thread is too long (there’s a lot of it) or it was not tightened correctly causing it to become even more loose in the casing. The tension is weak or loose.

It’s always good to thread the bobbin with the recommended thread length (3 – 4 inches). Some Janome sewing machines have automatic threaders, for both the needle and bobbin threads. It’s best to know this before any purchases.

Important: It is highly advised that people service their machines after 5 – 6 months of use. This can save you from most of the problems that appear on this list. Some sewing machines will start to lose presser foot tension as a result of wear and tear, it is also important to know how to clean your machine as some problems are caused by dust, lint and debris build up within the sewing machine.