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Birds Nests – Do You Have Them?

A birds nest (shown below) is the tangle of loopy threads you sometimes find under your fabric. You may hear a funny little sound while you’ve been sewing, but your thread didn’t break so you keep sewing. Later when you turn over your fabric you’ll find little (or not-so-little) bird nests dotted along your seam line.

Birds nest thread

Most of us will immediately think our bobbin is not working but this could be the last place we need to check. As long as your bobbin is wound correctly, not too tight, loose or uneven, the looping bobbin thread (bird nest) is usually caused by the upper threading of the sewing machine.

Metal and Plastic Bobbins

 Here are some helpful steps to help prevent or overcome this issue. 

1. Be sure the Sewing Machine is Properly Threaded

If necessary refer to the manual for your machine. Rethread the upper part of the sewing machine making sure the thread is passing through every single thread guide on its way to the needle. Always thread the machine with the pressure foot up.

Sewing Machine Pressure Foot Up

With the pressure foot up, the thread can seat properly. When the pressure foot is down, the tension is engaged and it will not allow the thread to seat as it should. If the thread is not seated in the tension disks, it cannot engage. With tension on the thread and stitch - malfunctions are bound to happen.

An easy way to assist with threading is using a product like the unicorn tweezers. This saves the thread coming out again by preventing it being pulled out when it's stuck to your fingers.

Unicorn tweezers have fine, rounded tips which help remove lint from your bobbin holder.

2. Change the Machine Needle

If you’re still experiencing a loopy bobbin thread, changing the sewing machine needle may be a smart next move. Be sure you are using the proper needle for the brand of your machine, the fabric you’re sewing, and the project you're creating. Inspect your needle to see if perhaps it’s slightly bent, nicked or blunt.

We suggest Schmetz and Klasse machine needles.

Please use caution when checking your needle point to avoid injury.

damaged needles

The needle is inexpensive, easy to replace, and an important part of the upper threading mechanism.  Remember - always let the feed dogs do the work! If you are pulling the fabric to the back of the machine rather than letting the machine feed it through, you risk damaging the needle and causing all sorts of other sewing problems.

3. Look at the Bobbin

Occasionally the bobbin can be at fault if it has not been threaded properly. If the thread isn’t smooth and is uneven, has knots, or is very loose on the bobbin -  it has not been wound correctly. It’s also important to check whether the bobbin is inserted in the bobbin case correctly. It’s best to refer to your sewing machine manual for how the bobbin should be properly inserted in the bobbin case and sewing machine. You may be able to find a replacement manual, or other free sewing machine manuals online if you’re unable to locate yours.

4. Clean Your Machine

Still having trouble? When was the last time you cleaned your machine? It’s possible there could be a build-up of lint and thread hiding under or around the bobbin case. The upper thread could be shredding and leaving pieces in the upper threading path. Clean out the lint, and refer to your manual for any other routine cleaning/maintenance advice.

5. Perfect

This is how your stitching should look

Perfect Threads