Setting tension on a Kenmore 1560


Old 02-04-18, 07:18 AM
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Setting tension on a Kenmore 1560

We have a vintage Kenmore 1560 sewing machine. I'd like to sew patches on our son's Boy Scout uniform- i've hand-sewn these in the past but with a new shirt there are a handful of badges.

This machine is missing the plastic knob on the tension plate deal, and although i can still torque the plates down i have no numbers or graduations to work with. I'm reasonably certain i've threaded the machine and bobbin correctly and i've made some stitches on practice cloth. The thread bunches up underneath and the troubleshooting i've done suggests this is a tensioning problem.

In the absence of numbers on the knob, how can i properly tension the thread? Any clues for the clueless appreciated! 😁

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Old 02-04-18, 08:50 AM
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Turning to the left will loosen and the right will tighten. If it's just that, without the dial, you just need to keep turning a fraction at a time to get it to the right tension. Turn and sew.
It might need a good cleaning and oiling, too. When was the last time you did that or used the machine last? The tension discs could have built up dirt and dust.
If the thread is old and/or cheap, that could be the problem too. If the thread's been sitting around a long time, it'll fray as it's going thru causing the bunching.
Old 02-05-18, 03:42 AM
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Shadeladie, thanks for your reply. I cleaned and lubed the machine per the manual, and used acetone to clean the tension discs. I adjusted tension on the bobbin too, and got a few good runs, but then it started breaking thread and i wound up re-threading the needle a zillion times. I bought new thread for the project, reduced tension to the point the nut fell off a couple times, made sure the bobbin was full (internet troubleshooting tips). Several frustrating hours ensued.

I saw replacement tensioners online, is this a machine issue or operator error, do you think?
Old 02-05-18, 04:43 AM
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You said you adjusted tension but didn't say which tension you adjusted and how. You also said you adjusted the bobbin tension but didn't say if you tightened or loosened it.

If the thread is bunching up on the bottom side it means the tension on the top thread needs to be increased. You need to increase the top thread tension and reduce the bottom thread (bobbin) tension. You want where the two threads meet to be buried in the fabric.

I have no experience with your specific machine but I had a cheap home use sewing machine and it was pretty limited in it's ability to sew heavy, tough fabric and patches. The thread tension could not be adjusted enough and the internal plastic parts would bend/stretch when sewing very heavy material causing the machine to get out of time.
Old 02-05-18, 05:50 AM
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Bobbin has a small screw to adjust tension on bobbin. You said thread is bunching up u nder cloth. Tighten screw a little at a time.
Old 02-05-18, 11:05 AM
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When the thread bunches up under the fabric, it's the top tension that needs adjusting.
OK, other things to try. Putting a new needle in. Maybe the size is wrong. Sounds like something thick. You may need a 16 or 18 size needle.
Are you pulling the thread out a bit before you start to sew? Sorry, I don't mean to indicate you don't know what you're doing, but sometimes it's a stupid little thing!
Is the length set long enough. Too short can bunch up.
The bobbin shuttle could have dirt or thread caught in it. Did you check there?
Finally, could just need a good servicing. That machine is all metal, so not only fixable but worth fixing.

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