In an effort to sound like we know what we’re talking about we thought we would share some hopefully useful information with you each month. We plan to focus on questions that we get asked all the time and issues that students run into in class frequently that can happen to us all.

This month’s tip is all about

How to Prevent Bird’s Nesting.

Not the cute fluffy tweety kind, the frustrating, knotty, stuck-in-the-machine kind.

This happens to pretty much everyone, it even happens to the liars who say it has never dared happen to them due to their superior sewing, we don’t believe you!

So what’s the one thing you can do to prevent this happening most of the time?

It’s simple, finish your stitch! Ok that’s the short explanation, get ready for the long winded one…

A sewing machine is like a car, your hands on the fabric do the steering and make sure the stitching goes where you want it, your foot on the pedal tells the machine to go, how fast to move and when to stop.

So your machine is all set up and ready to sew. The thread is perfectly threaded, the bobbin is full, you have 2 beautiful pieces of fabric to sew together. You start sewing, it’s all looking good, you get to the end of the fabric, stop sewing, pull the fabric out of the machine, stitching looks perfect and you pick up the next 2 pieces to be sewn together.

You have literally done NOTHING DIFFERENT, yet when you start sewing, you hear a loud clonky munchy sound, the machine is dragging, something is not right. So you stop, turn the fabric over and sure enough there is your bird’s nest, and you my friend are the bird!

If the fabric is stuck in the machine DO NOT DRAG IT OUT, you risk damaging your machine and bending or breaking your needle. There is usually a little bit of movement if you turn the handwheel back and forth slightly while gently pulling the fabric out. It may help to remove the bobbin if the needle is not still down in it. If you can try to clip the threads down there to free up the fabric a little. When the fabric is free make sure to remove every single little thread so they don’t cause trouble when you’re not looking.

Ok so now back to the sewing. If you thread your machine and hold both threads out to the left of the machine with your left hand while turning the handwheel towards you with your right hand, you will notice that there is more give with the threads at some points during the rotation than others. One full turn of the wheel is one full stitch. The machine is busy doing many things during that turn and cannot always let you pull that thread.

So if during sewing, you stop at one of those points you will not be able to properly pull the thread and take out your fabric. Some machines literally will not release the fabric until the stitch is finished, others will let you pull it out but the stitch will not be finished. ?There will be a loop of thread left down by the bobbin that hasn’t been pulled up yet and when you sew your next line it gets caught and causes a jumble.
There is your birds nest.

An easy way to check if the stitch is finished is to gently pull your fabric away from the machine, if you see 3 threads it hasn’t finished, if you see 2 it has.
Note the position of the needle when your stitch is done, how high up is it? After a while and a little observational sewing you will be able to easily know by the needle position if your stitch is finished or not.

There are of course other reasons why you may experience birds nesting and they include using a blunt needle, incorrect threading, missing the tension plates when threading, using incompatible threads in top and bottom, using a thread that is too thick for the needle eye and of course, our old nemesis incorrect tension.

If the cause is not the stitching then try rethreading. If you are unsure of how to correctly thread your machine then reread your instruction book or watch a video on youtube of your machine if you need to be sure. Always make sure the presser foot is lifted while threading to ensure the thread passes between the tension plates.

If after trying these methods your machine is still creating birds nests then it may need a service. Drop it into your nearest service agent. We are an agent for Michael Mooney, a Singer and Brother service and repair expert, although he can service many other brands.

A service with us costs €55 and part may be extra. Check out our guide on what to do before dropping your machine in for repair or service to ensure you get the most out of it.