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Five Tension Issues With Overlockers and How to Troubleshoot Them

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If you're having issues with your overlocker, the culprit may be with the tension. To help you troubleshoot, here's a look at some common issues and how to solve them.

1. The Thread Is Looping

If your thread is making loops rather than lying flat against your fabric, you may need to tighten the tension around the spool. First, however, you should double check that the machine is threaded correctly. If not, rethread the machine and try using it again.

If you still see loops, it's time to adjust the tension. In some cases, the other threads may have too much tension, causing the loosest thread to loop. Because of that, you may want to try loosening the tension on those threads as well as tightening the tension on the thread that is looping. You may have to experiment to find a solution that works.

2. Thread is Puckering

Puckering means the exact opposite is happening. Again, you should check the threading on the machine first, but if that looks right, you need to loosen the tension on the thread that is puckering.

Most machines have knobs, and you simply turn them to the right to tighten them or to the left to loosen them. Try making a small adjustment, doing a bit of sewing, and adjusting again as needed. Note that some overlockers have numbers on the tension dials, and as a general rule of thumb, the higher the number, the higher the tension.

3. The Stitch Is Too Long or Short

You can also use the tension adjustments to shorten or lengthen the stitch. In most cases, if you want a longer or wider stitch, you need to loosen the tension, and on the flip side, if you want a shorter or narrower stitch, you should tighten up or increase the tension.

4. The Overlocker Isn't Working With Your New Fabric

If you're overlocker isn't behaving the way it normally does, it may be because you've recently started working with a new type of material. If you're now using a lighter weight fabric, you need to adjust the overlocker and increase the tension. If you've switched to a thick, heavy fabric, you should do the opposite and loosen the tension settings. Similarly, the thickness of your thread can also require tension adjustments.

5. The Tension Knobs Are Unresponsive

If your tension knobs aren't responsive, it's time to consider taking your machine in for a repair. There are many repair shops that focus exclusively on overlockers and sewing machines, and they can help you find and fix the issue that's ailing your machine.