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Bobbin thread on top of your embroidery? PROBLEM SOLVED

Is your bobbin thread showing on top of your embroidery? Have you tried several times and each time it shows the bobbin on top? Or maybe this happened for no reason, while you were in the middle of an embroidery project of multiple items, like hats, let’s assume?


In this article I will show you why this happens and how to prevent it.


  • #1. Understanding how the embroidery machine works. 
  • The domestic embroidery machine is, basically, an automated sewing machine. It works by uploading to the machine’s software a stitching program created in embroidery software and converted to a format that the machine can read. 

    This means that, just as with a sewing machine, you need to adjust it to the right settings, depending on different factors like thickness and density of fabric, backing and if the material is stretchy or slippery. All these count.


  • #2. Understanding how the fabric behaves on stitching
  • There are multiple types of fabric out there, the most common in the embroidery world being cotton, satin, terry cloth and fleece. Satin, silk and velvet are the hardest to work with, so for a beginner I would suggest starting with cotton fabric or felt. 


     The stretch of fabric. If you are  a beginner, use a fabric that is not stretchy. For example, usually, a t-shirt has a stretchy cotton material. But tea towels and pillow covers can be made of a nice, steady cotton that you can easily embroider as a beginner.


     The thickness of the fabric is very important. It will determine the upper tension you need to apply to the machine and how thick the stabilizer must be. 

    The lighter the fabric, the thicker the stabilizer, this is a rule I learned in my early days of testing. For example, on a tea towel you can use a tear or a wash away backing that is thicker than a terry cloth towel backing.

    #3. Design settings. Choose a design with appropriate settings for the type of fabric you are embroidering. If your fabric is a terry cloth, a denser design might be needed to cover the fluff. A t-shirt might need a lower to medium density design, so it doesn’t pucker and get distorted. 

    You can use free embroidery softwares to visualize the density of the design. 

    For example in Embrilliance, there are 4 colors:

    Light Blue for light density

    Green for normal density

    Yellow for medium density

    Red for very dense design - I do not recommend - you need to lower the density or ask the digitizer to do it. 

    It’s a great idea to talk with the digitizer if you buy the designs and you are a beginner. Let them know what you are trying to do, and you can even ask them how to use it, what stabilizer is needed for their designs depending on the fabric type you have.  

    #4. Top tension. After you decide on the backing and design, it’s time to decide on the top tension. There will be different situations. For example a shirt. If you use a too thick stabilizer on a light fabric like shirts,  a thick stabilizer can become visible under the shirt. So a lower top tension is needed. This is why you need to test before stitching. 

    For the tension to be correct, you need to check the top and the back of the embroidery.

    For testing use a satin column. If on the top you have bobbin thread showing, lower top tension until on the back of the embroidery, the bobbin thread has ⅔ and the top thread is ⅓ visible on both sides of a satin column. This is the correct tension.

    If your tension is too loose(the bobbin is very little or not at all visible on the back), you might get a nesting problem and that is something you never want because it ruins your fabric and you need to carefully clean the machine if this happens.


    As you can see, there are different adjustments you need to make to find the right balance so it stitches perfectly. And this is learned by practicing. Start with scraps of fabrics you plan on using and adjust the settings until you learn what works best on your machine. 


    I hope you found this article helpful. If you have questions you can write them down in the comment section. 





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